Sunday, November 29, 2009

Country Living Christmas

Here is my dining room hallway in the mood for Christmas and ready for it's Country Living magazine close-up! That's right...Country Living was here last winter and decked the halls with me. You can see the results in this months December issue. Amid a flurry of wheat sheaves and pine boughs stylist Karen Lidbeck-Brent and her sister arrived one cold winter morning. Lots of baking, trimming and sharing of our favorite Swedish Christmas traditions took place in preparation for the arrival the next day of the magazine's Style & Market Director Natalie Warady, photographer Lisa Hubbard and their crew.

As soon as the photographer looks through the lens - everything changes.
To give you an idea, this shot was done three or four times using different
height tables, chairs and ornaments of mine before this arrangement was
selected by Lisa, Karen and Natalie.

To give the room a more cozy country feel, out went my French settee and Gustavian chairs and in came Lars' armchair from his bedroom! The kids and I loved the armchair downstairs so much so that after the photo shoot I incorporated it into the room.

The straw goat next to the Christmas tree is called a Julbuck and is one of the ancient pagan symbols of the winter solstice that has made it's way into the traditional Swedish Christmas. In Norse mythology, a pair of goats pulled Thor's chariot and the sun across the Northern sky and so the goat made of straw came to symbolize hope for the life giving return of the sun and a fruitful harvest. Little straw goat ornaments also hang from the tree along with bundles of wheat sheaves.

There is nothing more evocative of winter to me then fir garland hung against antique wood panelling (as in this photo of the front hall stairwell). The giant star in the picture is made from wheat stalks and ribbon. This is easy for kids to make and the stars look great hung outside on trees or in windows. Karen rested the star on an open 19th c. Lappland Dowery trunk that I use to keep my most precious holiday ornaments and mementos.

The straw theme continues in the bedroom where small straw star ornaments are hung in the
window. I usually love patterned sheets, preferably a bold toile by Pierre Frey, but for a soothing winter sleep, organic linens and flannels of pale blue can't be beat. A faux fur throw, borrowed at the last minute from our old school chum Alex Smith at Dovecote, Westport, adds a glam touch. Thanks Alex!

Here is the breakfast room of the kitchen laid out for Christmas Eve breakfast. The wheat stalks in hurricanes would look equally dramatic on a very modern dining table, don't you think? I wish I had a close up of the center of the table to show you the giant candle surrounded by crab apples on a massive Swedish wooden berry sorter.

Rhonda and I thought of bringing in this authentic 19th c. Swedish chandelier for the photo shoot
from our Eleish van Breems showroom. Alas, Rhonda knows me too well... Once in my home, she was afraid there would be a good chance of the chandelier never making it back to our sales floor so it stayed in Washington Depot! Isn't it fantastic?

The chairs around my kitchen table are called Draken chairs from our Eleish van Breems reproduction line of furniture. All made in Sweden, the furniture we carry arrives raw and is painted in our workshop to clients specifications. We offer a huge range of colors and finishes and most of our work is custom - meaning we will match colors exactly to upholstery, paint chips etc. and do custom finishes. For my own kitchen I chose to have these Draken chairs done in a deep blue green with Elmo leather upholstered seats.

My only regret about the photo shoot is that we did not bring in a real Swedish trestle table.We carry many wonderful antique Swedish trestle tables such as the one pictured above. They make super kitchen tables as well as worktables for offices.

Wooden farm containers and bowls filled with greens, ornaments and pine cones are displayed on a Finnish kettle cabinet in this holiday card vignette. The empty frame idea is something children love and you can set up these "holiday frames" to have in their own rooms to decorate
and collect their cards from friends and relatives.

Banded wooden drinking flasks, such as this one from Sweden, are wonderful to bring out anput sprays of greenery in .

We have always used copper vessels of all shapes and sizes at Eleish van Breems for seasonal arrangements and in fact, they've become something of our signature. These wonderful Swedish copper pieces will always be my favorite forms of planter as they add a warm glow to a room, offsetting the flowers they hold so complementarily.

The antique Swedish copper foot bath pictured above needs only to be lined with a plastic sheeting and filled with pots of amaryllis or narcissus bulbs to make a full holiday centerpiece. Rhonda and I like to "finish " off the copper containers with either stones or moss nestled into the base of the plants.

Here, a feather tree covered in candy canes and marzipan fruits is put into copper pot.
The Dala horse cookies on the sideboard are actually nestled into a 19th c. Swedish
butter mold from a farm in Dalarna. Dalarna is a province north of Stockholm and one of Rhonda's and my favorite places to find our antiques.

Two more examples of the 19th c. Swedish copper molds...

This one is a steamed pudding mold. Many of our culinary clientele have these antique
pieces professionally re-lined by metal smiths in order to use them. NEVER cook with an antique copper mold that has not been professionally re-lined. Never. Never. They all went a bit kookey
in the olden days from trace elements of lead, mercury etc. in the tin so please everyone - professional relining or just enjoy antique molds decoratively.

Taking out the giant cookie cutters, variously shaped as reindeer, stars, snowflakes and
angels and spending the afternoon baking pepparkakor is one of our family rituals captured
here by Lisa. For those unfamiliar, pepparkakor are the fragrant ginger, cardamon and
cinnamon infused cookies served throughout the holiday season in Sweden. We also have a lot of fun making marzipan and shaping it into animals. The pig is the most traditionally Swedish of these.

Ultimately, it fell to writer Paige Orloff to bring our Christmas rituals to life in words for the magazine. I knew I was in good hands when I realized that Paige is among the founders of The Sister Project blog!

Many thanks to everyone at Country Living for such a fun article on our Swedish
Christmas. I hope this inspires you, adventuresome reader, to bring the outdoors
in and gather your loved ones close for some holiday fun!

Happy December!


All photos of Edie's house in this post are by: Lisa Hubbard
To read the Country Living article Home Swede Home in the December, 2009 issue go to

To shop Eleish van Breems

For Swedish decorations

To say Hello to Alex and grab a throw


  1. I adored this article when I saw it in Country Living. Thank you for sharing more information on what was shown in the magazine as well as things we didn't know!

  2. I could look at Swedish decor all day; it's so serene.

  3. Everything is so lovely, unstyled in appearance and warm. I love the Swedish traditions of holiday and it is beautiful to see them in the perfect environment! A wonderful article and can't wait to read more. la

  4. I adore your Swedish home!! It is so warm, inviting and lovely. It was great fun to go "behind the scenes" and hear and see all the planning and placement that took place to get the wonderful shot. Thanks so much! Everything is beautiful!!

  5. It's all just beautiful! I'll be sure to pick up this month's issue of Country Living Magazine. I also plan to spend more time looking through your lovely blog!

  6. I enjoyed your post a lot!!!! I love your Swedish style! Just gorgeous!
    And congratulations with the article in the Country Living Magazine!


  7. Thanks to Everyone! I am so glad you enjoy Swedish style! One is always nervous showing the "inner sanctum" but among blogging friends I am feeling as Pam Carter says - huggly! and hugged.


  8. Hi,
    It is me again! I just wanted to wish you a wonderful Christmas time and a Happy New Year!!


  9. A very comfortable and serene setting. I could move right in. You have very unique touches in every room!

  10. My first visit... your blog is lovely. I will be back.

    cristin @ simplified bee

  11. Edie and Rhonda, where on earth have you been!? I miss you guys! (Come and visit sometime, wink, wink!).

    I hope that all is well with you. Just wanted to wish you and your beautiful families a fun, creative, happy and healthy 2010! I look forward to following you closely.

    Much fondness, Monika

    P.S I commented on the Country Living article long before you posted it on your blog! I have saved the magazine. So much inspiration! So lovely!

  12. Just come across your blog and have been daydreaming about your beautiful house all morning. I adore Swedish interior design and have added you to my blog list, hope that's OK. All good things to you for 2010!

  13. A lovely blog.
    For me as a swede, its a kind of cute, this interest in the Swedish home furnishings.

    I live in Sweden and recognize most of the things and interiors you describe.

    I will just tell, that the copper kitchen items you show in this post often originally has been tinned. Sadly, in the seventies, it was fashionable to grind away the tin to obtain the underlying kopper, which is a more precious metal.


  14. I am so happy you popped it on your Christmas tree! I love the lights and decorations you have. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  15. Beautiful home! What is the yellow/gold color on the walls in many of the pics? I have been through 3 different paints now looking for this type of color and I just can't get it right.
    Thanks for any info!
    -Macksi Warner

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