First Cozy Blizzard of 2014


The weatherman goes crazy for storms such as this. I get excited with the anticipation of being stuck indoors and looking out at the bright, beautiful snow. My first item that I must stock up on? Hot chocolate! Blizzard = fire in the fireplace = hot chocolate. Does being cozy, warm and calm inspire you when gorgeous snowflakes fall from the dark sky?

KITCHEN! {sigh}

Screen shot 2013-08-09 at 9.31.54 AMI don’t have much to say about this image except that I love it. This will definitely be put aside as a reference for when it’s time to renovate my kitchen. Does this kind of kitchen inspire you? This is my dream counter and island! The flowers add a lot of beauty, too.

Having the Outdoors Indoors

These courtyards are magnificent. When it’s a beautiful day, I could sit outside with the comforts of home. If it’s a rainy day, I could still open up the indoors to experience the outdoors… this is the best of both worlds. They inspire Ma!

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Grand Space of a Loft

 The definition, according to Wikipedia, of a loft apartment is:  it “refers to large adaptable open space, often converted for residential use from some other use, often light industrial.” It’s exciting to have an industrial history to your home. What cool stories are involved when living in a space where chocolate chips were dropped into cookie batter, for example!  A loft can allow you to be creative with clever ways to partition the open space. Do you think a large space separated by bookshelves or a short wall is cozy? There are unconventional details with ceilings and exposed duct work. What if the space has an echo? There are certain aspects of a loft that I do find inspiring, such as the large, multi-paned windows found in some old factories (and in the first loft below). I would love that touch in my own home… in my breakfast nook.

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A Beautiful Table Setting

What is it that creates a beautiful table setting? The centerpiece? Linens? Dinnerware? Needless to say, a beautiful setting on the table is very inviting. I gravitate to my seat and am excited to eat and chat. However, a pile of papers sometimes gravitates to my dining room table before a crowd of dinner guests. These photos are so gorgeous because of the full effect. It’s not just the centerpiece or the flatware but all the pieces combined. I have a simple unified piece in the center of my table. It consists of a round bamboo-type material place mat with two candles and a vase filled with dried lavender from my yard. I now feel inspired to leave out dinnerware… but I need the space for my children to work on their art projects! Is your dining room table usually left casual or formal?

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Pretty Papers

It seems that whenever a person looks at a house to buy, one of the first things she wants to do is take down the wallpaper. They contain such beautiful patterns and colors, though! Now there are such unique papers that are trompe l’oeil, paintable and even ones that have texture. Graham & Brown is certainly a personal favorite. Below are some images that caught my eye. My wheels are now turning and I’m getting great ideas for my home! Do you find pretty papers inspiring?

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Swedish Interior Design – Creating a Bedroom from Heaven

photos and text by Jo Lee for Inspire Ma

When we bought our 1886 apartment on the seafront in Hove (UK) that now doubles as Swedish Interior Design HQ, we instantly fell in love with the 14’ ceilings, huge double sash windows overlooking the sea and wonderful original period features. The light pours in off the sea creating stunning shadows in the south-facing rooms and it changes by the minute as the sun shifts across the sky. Our aim for our bedroom (which faces north and so gets slightly less light) was to create a sensitive quiet soothing holistic womb-like sanctuary in the classic Swedish style we both love using a Swedish colour palette that would react to changing light.

So first to the painting.

After a complete but sympathetic renovation of the apartment, we decided to use an organic non toxic and “super chalky” wallpaint in a custom colour from Ecos that shifts from off white thru light grey into almost blue at night – making use of the available light tumbling through the huge bedroom windows to create the soothing ambience that would ‘hold’ the bedroom space.

We then accented the walls with a dado rail in a special darker ‘Jo Lee’ custom grey and painted trompe l’oeil bows around the upper walls copied from a Swedish manor house we had visited near the town of Trosa in Sweden. So far so good.


Now we like to spend time in bed, so it was very important that the bed was exactly what we wanted and that the view from the bed of the rest of the room needed to be equally satisfying as we would spend lots of time looking at it enthroned in bed. So we looked for an antique bed but couldn’t find one large enough, so we took a 4’ 6” antique bed with lovely carved detail on the footboard and took it to pieces in our bespoke workshop. We extended to 6’ wide and then made a new headboard for it and repainted in cornflower white and antiqued it. Just lovely.

Then we added the must have TEMPUR mattress – we recommend them to all the clients we handmake bespoke beds for. It’s the ultimate in comfort. (Don’t be fooled by other cheaper memory foam mattresses. TEMPUR is the only way to go).

We also had an old 6’ Swedish carving lying around and we thought – lets make a half tester for fun that we can drape with a lovely fabric to create a cocooning effect for us.

So that’s the sleeping sorted. But what about the rest of the room? We had specific requirements re storage and usage that needed to work within our classic design – so we had to do some serious thinking about what goes where for ease of use while still looking amazing.

First off Madeleine (Creative Director of Swedish Interior Design) is also the UK ambassador for Swedish fashion label Ewa I Walla and so has lots (and I do mean LOTS) of amazing dresses to accommodate. As usual we couldn’t find an armoire big enough to house her collection, so we designed and handmade this bespoke armoire from antique oak from old church pews. It’s about 10’ wide x 8’ high and has a great combination of hanging and shelving. That’s why it’s so good to make a bespoke piece – you get exactly the dimensions and storage that you need.

It also needed to look amazing with lots of detail as we would see it every day so we installed mirrors in the doors which really opens out the bed room and used another original Swedish carving from our collection on the cornice.

For other storage we made a gentleman’s wardrobe also from antique oak in gustavian style with gilt detailing to stay in keeping with the main armoire and also a handmade heavily carved settle with massive underseat storage to sit under the windows.

Next to the armoire there’s one of our own bespoke server tables made from antique pine and finished in an off white 50% wash to allow the lovely grain to show thru standing next to a completely OTT freestanding mirror. We had various carvings lying around and thought – lets see if we can get all this delicious carving into a single piece with antique bevelled glass. We did and it looks great in an antiqued cornforth white.

For comfort, we handmade a bespoke 20’ square antique hemp linen striped rug for the floor with lots of foam padding underneath to make it really squishy to stand on and the blue stripes in the linen are in sympathy with the wall colours as day turns to night.

Finally we turned to the big bedroom windows. To soften the light, we handmade 16’ double drop muslin curtains which give a very intimate feel to the bedroom and for sleeping we matched them with handmade antique oak 12’ decorated blackout shutters again from the Swedish Interior Design bespoke workshop.

Of course, no bedroom is complete without an original mora clock – we have about 60 mora clocks for sale so there were lots to choose from- and decided on a very early 1790s mora clock to stand guard over us while we sleep!

Overall I think we succeeded in creating a wonderful relaxing space that is physically super comfy, emotionally supportive, visually engaging and practical to live in. I hope you think so too.

Jo Lee is director of Swedish Interior Design.

We have Europe’s largest selection of Swedish antiques, over 60 antique mora clocks and our bespoke furniture at or do follow our blog at
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Colorful Mondays {lime green}

Yesterday, my husband called our three children outside to the patio to watch a bright green caterpillar cross the stone patio. I ran out to check out the colorful bug as well and could not get over the bright, wonderful color! It’s amazing to see colors from nature be incredibly vibrant. It reminded me of my son’s wall color but where else could I use such an intense color in my home. Have you ever been inspired by an insect?! I hate bugs but this time, I was in awe of its beauty!

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A Dog on the Formal Sofa!

The intricate frame of the sofa with the luxurious fabric is stunning. The antique piece filled with books in the background adds warmth to an otherwise formal room. Wait, do I see a dog?! Not only is he in the formal room, but he is sitting on the opulent piece of furniture! It’s so cool to see this. I must admit, I’m not sure I could allow this. My formal sofa is not nearly this gorgeous and I get nervous when I see my children run into the living room with Nutella fingers and mustaches. Do you find this inspiring? It is inspiring to me to let loose a little! Maybe the formal room could be a bit more relaxed. I love this picture. The dog might add the most warmth here.

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Welcome Door

When a person visits another, they are found standing on the front porch knocking on the front door. As he waits for the door to open and be welcomed, he stands there staring at the door. This is the first impression. My door is bright red with a few windows along the top. It is in need of a wreath. A wreath would add the special, warm touch to welcome a visitor at the door, before I have the chance to do so first-hand. Is your door decorated to welcome visitors?

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