A family homestead with deep roots
Escaping to the country is a dream many of us share. Five years ago, when Helena was starting her own family, she bought an old wooden house close to where she grew up. Moving back made sense to her and when we made our escape to the country to hang out in her hillside home, we understood why. ‘My family has lived here for 14 generations,’ she says. ‘There’s something nourishing about this place – our roots here are dug deep.’
Helena’s home truths
I live... with my son, Viggo (5), next door to where my parents live. We’re high on a mountain above a lake, so it feels like we’re on top of the world.
Our home is... an old wooden house that I restored with my 73-year-old father. It’s traditional, but with a modern twist. In many ways it tells our history. The timber we used to refurbish it is from trees my father planted 60 years ago.
In another life... I would probably be a nomad. Part of me wishes that our home was a boat and that I could sail the Atlantic like I did in my twenties. But this felt like the right place to settle.
Let in the light... It’s a kind of mantra for me. I’m a photographer – as well as a cook and restaurateur – so I’m obsessed with light.
For us, food is... everything! I love the creative cycle of nourishing your body to stay healthy and strong.
A traditional family kitchen with a twist
Helena planned her IKEA kitchen to complement the traditional character of the house, but with modern functions. ‘I was inspired by restaurant kitchens,’ she says. ‘Most of the storage is below waist-level, so you get a good overview of the space and I chose drawers instead of cabinets because they’re easier for finding things. During the summer, I run a restaurant on my parents’ campsite – I’ve been doing it every year since I was 13.’
If we’re not outside, the kitchen is where we spend the most time. I cook, work on my laptop, or plan dishes while Viggo plays”
Helena, cook and photographer, Sweden
Create a retreat for one or more
With a few comfy chairs, a rug and some throws, Helena made a cosy upstairs sanctuary. ‘Guests love it,’ she says. ‘But I also spend a few moments here every day. My work and life at home keep me very busy, so I sometimes forget to take care of myself. But on a recent trip to Bali, I learned a few rituals for giving myself space. I love to sit here and contemplate the view. It keeps me connected to nature and the world outside.’
Decorate with textiles for a soothing bedroom
Helena likes to keep her bedroom simple and uncluttered, without many objects or clothes on show. ‘I think of my bedroom primarily as a place to rest and recharge,’ she says. ‘So the bed is the only real focal point. Just layering a few favourite textiles on top is enough, and I added the canopy to make it more cosy. As I have no headboard, I created one with wallpaper.’ Hanging a length of your favourite fabric or using wall stickers to decorate behind the bed will have the same effect.
Make a feel-good dressing area
Mix old and new storage and display solutions to create a personal walk-in wardrobe.‘I wanted my dressing room to feel like a little vintage store in Montmartre,’ says Helena. ‘So that you come in and feel like you want to explore. I made the rail myself. I have hundreds of outfits because I used to be a wedding photographer, and I had to look the part. I loved it! Now every person who comes to the house changes the outfit on the mannequin, and kids like to come in here and dress up. For me, clothes are an opportunity to be creative and have fun.’
We lead a simple life here, close to the land. Just outside the door, we can grow and pick everything we need to eat well – from the fields or the forest.”
Celebrate organic style
Make a feature of worn, vintage items and invite nature inside with plants. ‘Authenticity is important,’ says Helena. ‘I prefer materials like wood and I try not to change things too much. If a table is old, let it be – celebrate the beauty of imperfection.’
A home for family and friends
‘This place would feel big for us if it was just Viggo and I,’ says Helena. ‘But there are often people staying over, like my artist friend Anja. We like to throw parties and this is a great place to have them!’
Helena’s home in the Swedish countryside
Helena has worked hard to renovate the mountainside house of her childhood dreams, without losing any of its original charm. Video created in Helena’s country home in Sweden. To see more ideas, visit: www.ikea.com
Photography: Dan Duchars
Styling: Carl Braganza