A Darkly Romantic House in Sweden by Skälsö Architects

After living in a Modernist villa, Ulrika and Daniel Prytz were ready for a change. They wanted a home that would suit their family of six better – a home that not only kept them away from the outdoors, but also evoked the very qualities of nature in the design itself. They asked architect Sofia Nyman of the Skälsö company to reinvent and expand a 19th-century house perched on the waterfront in the small coastal town of Härnösand, Sweden.

“They were looking for a different feeling in their new home and asked for peace and harmony – to live closer to nature,” says Nyman. The couple, along with their four children, lived in what she describes as a house with almost all-white interior and Modernist furnishings, punctuated with colorful art.

Now they were looking for something different, something stripped down that communicated with the landscape in a calm and intimate way. Nyman has achieved this through a carefully selected monochrome color scheme: the exterior facade, roof and windows of the original structure are painted in green tones, while the interior rooms are a mixture of gray tones. The result is both striking and subtle. “By using this color palette, you don’t read rooms as multiple surfaces, you read them as one quiet space.”

Photograph by Stefan Isidor Bergkvist, courtesy of Skälsö Arkitekter.

The exterior facade of the original structure is painted in two shades of green, so it's really “merged with the surrounding nature,” says Nyman.
Above: The exterior facade of the original structure is painted in two shades of green, so it is truly “fused with the surrounding nature,” says Nyman.
The entrance has a glossy dark gray floor;  the joinery and recessed walls of the cloakroom are painted a complementary lighter shade.
Above: the entrance has a glossy dark gray floor; the joinery and recessed walls of the cloakroom are painted a complementary lighter shade.
  With a minimalist and unassuming approach, the family furnished the house with simple, understated pieces - and in true Swedish style, much of Ikea.
Above: Following a minimalist and unassuming approach, the family furnished the house with simple, understated pieces – and Swedish-style, much of Ikea.
An upright piano with a bench draped in sheepskin anchors a corner of the living space.
Above: An upright piano with a draped sheepskin bench anchors a corner of the living space.
The kitchen is lined with cupboards with little detail.
Above: The kitchen is lined with low-detail cabinetry.
A tiled ventilation hood floats above the Bertazzoni 36-inch Induction Range.
Above: A tiled ventilation hood floats above the Bertazzoni 36-inch induction range.

A view of the dining room, with chairs by Ingegerd Råman and a Sinnerlig bamboo pendant lamp by designer Ilse Crawford - both for Ikea - contrast with the dark gray walls.  John Kandell's black Pilaster shelves for Källemo serve as a bookcase, tucked away next to the door.
Above: A view of the dining room, with chairs by Ingegerd Råman and a Sinnerlig bamboo pendant lamp by designer Ilse Crawford – both for Ikea – contrast with the dark gray walls. John Kandell’s black Pilaster shelves for Källemo serve as a bookcase, tucked away next to the door.

A new one-story addition – consisting of almost floor-to-ceiling bay windows, pinewood, and concrete floors – provides a bright, open living room with sea views. In designing this space, Nyman created a contemporary counterpoint to the original and historical structure – while integrating it into the surrounding environment through the use of simple raw materials. “So many surfaces of the existing house are treated with paint, which is why I wanted the new addition to have more materiality compared to the original pieces.” Over time, however, she says the larch facade will turn gray and “blend in more.”

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