Monday, August 9, 2010

Swedish Country Furniture

Some things are just plain hard to find.

Like an effective weight loss program that includes all-you-can-eat bowls of ice cream. An Elvis impersonator who looks like the young Elvis. A fat, 3-legged, vision-impaired ground hog that can't outrun my lazy dogs.

And books on Swedish country furniture.

I've been looking for images that reflect the characteristics of old world folk and peasant furniture found in Sweden.

Thanks to an online friend, Byron Wiley, who belongs to a Scandinavian dance band in Lawrence, Kansas, these images have found me.

Byron recently returned from a month-long trip to Sweden, where he snapped a number of photos of just the types of pieces I've been looking for.

All of the photos in this post and all of the accompanying information have been supplied by Byron, to whom I am enormously indebted.

To read more about the places referred to in the photo pages, visit the websites for the Älvros Farmstead and the Nordiska Museet.


JMK89 said...


Some beautiful and familiar shapes there!

I really feel that the Anglophone world needs to look more closely at the furniture from Europe (whether made by cabinetmakers, village carpenters or talented farmers) from the same periods as we look at from GB&I and the USA. Especially in the US and Australia, these are a distinct part of our cultural heritage. They should be studied for their own worth, for reproduction, when appropriate, and as new sources of inspiration.

I do like Hepplewhite and Chippendale and Arts & Crafts and Shaker, but there are so many other influences both folk and fine that can inspire our furniture creations.

Thanks for sharing these with us.


mdhills said...

For the dogs, I'd recommend young voles. An amazingly underwhelming hunt that even our dog was able to catch.

Unknown said...

While I know the Alps have nothing to do with Sweden, I found a very small book (4x6x3/8) recently at the used book dealer in town titled "Peasant furniture of the Alps". It was printed in Austria in 1969 and while it has no author that I can discern, the forward is by Dr. Franz Colleselli. The images contained with-in are very similar to this post and , having read your entire blog, are very much in the PA Dutch and German style that you seem to gravitate towards. Let me know if you would be interested in borrowing the book. Keep up your great blog. I love reading it.

Ian Mackay said...

Would it be wrong to post a link to an Ikea catalog? Probably...

I'm curious as to what inspired you to look for this. It makes sense that cultural differences throughout the world will produce different styles and such, it's just not something you see much of.

It makes me wonder what else I'm missing. I think I'll have to go look for Scottish highland furniture...which hopefully isn't just a patch of heather.

Ian - woodcanuck

Sean said...


Do you know _Making Swedish Country Furniture & Household Things_, by Hans Keijser, Lars Sjoberg, and (translated/adapted by) Ron Willick? I really like the pieces, which are included both as plans and pictures of historical examples. Most of them are far more rustic than the work in your pictures, but most are still a challenge to my hand-tool skills.


Anonymous said...

Kari - here are a few sources for you. Pete

First, my favorite book in this list...

Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style. Edited by Michael Snodin and Elisabet Stvenow-Hidemark. Bulfinch Press (Little, Brown), 1997, ISBN 0-8212-2481-6

Decorative Arts of Sweden by Iona Plath. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948. Lots of black and white photographs of Swedish furniture.

Swedish Folk Art edited by Barbo Klein and Mats Widbom. Abrams/Kulterhuset, Stockholm 1994. ISBN 0-8109-3849-9. This is poublished in conjunction with a joint international exhibition entitled "Swedish Folk Art: All Tradition is Change". More for what goes along with furniture, but plenty of photographs all the same.

Bringing It home Sweden by Cheryl MacLachlan. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-517-70783-7. A design book.

Country By Design: The Scandinavian Look. Hearst Books, 1997. ISBN 0-688-15096-9 A home built in rural Wisconsin echoing the Larsson influence.

From Log to Log House by Sven Gunnar Hakansson. Algrove Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-894572-72-6 (more for the background on rustic houses than on furniture)

Scandinavian Painted Decor by Jocasta Innes. Published by Rizzoli International, 1990. ISBN 0-8478-1235-9. Excellent photography of furniture in this how-to book by the famous painter.

Scandinavian Living Design by Elizabeth Gaynor. Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1987. ISBN 1-55670-009-1.Excellent photography of furniture across Scandinavia.

Kari Hultman said...

Jeremy, I think it's also cool the way different folk cultures influenced one another throughout Europe. You can see some German and English influence in the Swedish furniture in this post. I'd love to get my hands on more images of peasant furniture images from all over Europe.

mdhills, I've never seen a vole around here, but we have tons of chipmunks. Unfortunately, they move very fast. Just about the only things my dogs can catch is sleep.

Adam, thanks for the book reference. I checked a few places online and haven't found it yet, but there are some bookstores that carry hard-to-find books where I might find it. It sounds great! That's really nice of you to offer to loan me your book. I'll see if I can get ahold of a copy first. Sounds like a book that I'd like to own.

Ian, Ikea is a dirty word in some woodworking circles. ; ) I'm interested in all kinds of folk furniture, but Swedish pieces interest me because my family is originally from Sweden. Let me know if you find any cool highland furniture, please.

Sean, I have that book and one other: Swedish Folkart, by Diane Edwards. They are nice books, but I was looking for larger, more decorative (carved) pieces. The projects would definitely be fun to build with just handtools, though. I thought the chandelier was especially cool.

Well, Pete, the next time I go looking for something, I'm coming to you first! Wow, how the heck did you find all these books? Thanks so much for the list.

Kari Hultman said...

Oh, and Pete? I love you.

james conrad said...

Anonymous said...

I started reading your blog a few months ago, and really enjoy it. This post struck me kind of close to home, as my ancestors are also from Sweden, and emigrated to America 150 years ago. Through and odd twist of fate I moved to Sweden 6 years ago. So if you need any help finding any information on Swedish furniture, let me know if I can be of any help.

Just let me know where you want me to send my information and I can do that.

I am at work right now but will try to remember to add to comment again when I get some book links that have not been posted here.

/Robert Anderson

Kari Hultman said...

James, thanks for the link! Those chests look very similar to a lot of the antique German chests here in PA.

Robert, that would be great! You can email me directly at:

Susan Graham said...

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