COTE DE TEXAS: A Swede Designs

A Swede Designs

Traditional Home:  Swedish design by Loi Thai


It seems to happen each month, one or another decor magazine will feature a house designed in the Swedish style, this month two magazines actually featured Swedish styled homes.   Swedish decorating burst on the scene a few years ago, fueled by a hunger for quiet, simple, grayish-white  interiors after a decade of the overindulgence of the earth-toned Tuscany style.     The pages of the decor magazines are filled with American interior designers' interpretations of the Gustavian style.    Designers from Texas, of all places, seem to be heavily invested in the Swedish look, designers such as Jane Moore, Carol Glasser, and Shannon Bowers to name a few.   Texas and Sweden?   It always makes me wonder what do Swedish designers think of our American interpretation of their homeland?      And how would a Swedish designer actually design in America?    


House Beautiful:  Texan Carol Glasser does Swedish


 You don't have to look far to get an answer.  Lars Bolander is a Swedish interior designer who lives and practices in Palm Beach, Florida.    His clientele list is international, though lately he seems to do the bulk of his business right here in America.   Bolander is a much respected antiquarian who started out in the United States  with a store in the Hampton's some years ago.  Today, he owns two stores, one in Florida and one in the meatpacking district of NYC.  His two sons run the NYC store, while he and his wife manage the Florida store since they live in Palm Beach.



         The boyishly handsome Lars Bolander



It was this house in Palm Beach which first made Lars Bolander a household name in the United States.  Featured in Southern Accents, the home is light and airy with luscious silk curtains at every window.




The main living area is a stone, cream, and Gustavian blue vision.  Bolander's design for his Palm Beach clients is not typical Swedish design.  Instead he chose to create a true American house using the lightness, airiness, and colors of a Swedish home.  Be sure to take note of his window treatments - the long, flowing silk taffeta curtains are the focus point of each room.



The blue dining room is the most Gustavian feeling room in the house, though there isn't any Swedish furniture here.  Swedish Gustavian furniture is a close kin to French Louis XVI furniture.  Hallmarks of Gustavian design are:  crystal chandeliers, blue and green colored fabrics such as damasks and checks, gray painted walls, giltwood framed mirrors and the Swedish tiled stove.




A beautiful corner of the dining room with a French painted chest and beautiful silk taffeta curtains.




The entry hall to the master suite features coral silk taffeta curtains and gray painted paneled doors.



The master bedroom features a Bolander designed four poster bed.



The master bathroom has a shower that seems to be out of doors.  The walls appear to be tiled in limestone.  Notice how he used a decorative mirror at the sink and be sure to notice the beautiful sink console itself - a work of art.



In the house's remodeling, the loggia was created by fashioning french styled doors that slide out of view - making the room open to both the pool and the gardens.  Slipcovered sofas and chairs.



Another view of the open aired family room.



The swimming pool is a free form oasis in the garden.



The pool house is open to the pool on one side and the tennis courts on the other.



So, how does the Swedish Bolander design a home for himself?  Like this!  Bolander and his wife live in a flat above the stores on Worth Avenue.  One side of the flat overlooks Worth Ave. and the other side opens onto an enclosed outdoors terrace.  The  Bolanders blur the line between inside and outside living.  Originally the Bolanders bought one flat, but recently added two more flats to the original one, creating a large, rambling living space.  Here, is the main room, with its wooden, vaulted ceiling.   The space is organized clutter, an array of accessories and paintings collected over the years.   Some of the more valuable antiques are for sale on Bolander's web site.   One element of design Bolander frequently uses is frameless paintings, as seen above.  The flat is paneled in cream painted wood.



The other side of the main living area.  Above the sofa, early 20th century copies of ancient Roman cameos.  The Indian day bed doubles as a coffee table and is a makeshift library, piled high with numerous books.



In another area of the main room, an antique Swedish sofa sits under a trumeau mirror.   Through the open doorway on the left is the library that leads to the master bedroom.   The room is carpeted in wall to wall seagrass.



Another shot of the same area, styled differently, showing the terrace.



A gorgeous vignette in the Bolander flat.  A ticking covered settee sits under a portrait and two smashing red lanterns.




Another gorgeous vignette, a velvet covered skirted table, piled high with books and a bust.  An antique screen is off in the back, left.



Another wonderful space, very Gustavian in feel.   Swedish antique sofa and French chair share space with gray herringbone floors.  Nice enfilade into the next room where Bolander has created a beautiful vignette to catch and hold the eye.



A library leads into the master bedroom.



The dining room features a Gustavian dining table and raffia covered chairs. 



In the dining room, the floors are painted in a diamond pattern. 




The outside terrace.

Note:   The Bolanders recently sold their Worth Avenue flat after building a new home in West Palm Beach.  To see photos of their new home, go to the  New York Social Diary.  Thanks to a Cote de Texas reader for that information!



So, how does an ex-pat Swede really get back to his roots, decorating-wise?  He goes to his boyhood home and buys a house!  Here on the island of Oland in Sweden, the Bolanders purchased a wooden house and nearby barn in the place he grew up.  Bolander connected to the two buildings and designed his home in his own vision of Swedish decor.


The connecting building with original outdoor pavers.  To the left atop the stairs is the living area, shown below.



The charming main living area, here in seagrass matting again.  Antique French and Swedish furniture were both used.   The master bedroom overlooks the room through the French doors and iron balcony.




Another view of the main living room with slipcovered sofa and traditional Swedish checks.  Notice the charming framed portrait on the right, hanging inside an empty frame.



Another view of the living room, styled somewhat differently with a large cowhide over the seagrass.  Fabrics are by Chelsea Editions.  Again, the area between the living room and the master bedroom seen through the balcony is the connecting building Bolander constructed between between the barn and the house.



A charming vignette, the kind that Bolander is known for.  Bolander collects both busts and portraits.



The dining room with antique portraits and furniture.  Most of the fabrics in the summer house comes from England's Chelsea Editions, who also make a fabulous line of reproduction Swedish furniture.



Another view of the dining room shows a Swedish antique cabinet and on the left, the traditional Swedish columnar, tiled stove.




In the stair hall, a traditional Swedish clock, the Mora, perhaps the greatest symbol of Swedish design there is!



Styled differently, much prettier with matching Swedish tables below two black cameos, the Mora clock.   The dining room is seen through the back door.



This gorgeous guest room was fashioned out of the garage building.  Sprinkled with French and Swedish chairs and antiques, the fabrics - checks, stripes, and embroideries - are from Chelsea Editions.  Wall to wall seagrass matting completes the looks.  Just beautiful!!



By contrast to the lofty guest room, the master room is small, cozy, and inviting.



A larger view of the master bedroom.  Through the French doors and balcony is the main living area.  The ceiling reveals the old rafters.



Bolander built out this large and unusual bathroom.  Again, quite a charming space, something Bolander excels at!



An antique Swedish armoire becomes the linen closet.


The moss covered roof at the summer house.


A collection of items available from Lars Bolander's store.  I love every single thing in this picture!!


Another collection of items available from Lars Bolander.


A view in the store.


And one last picture from the store.


If  you are interested in seeing more of Lars Bolander work, be sure to visit his web site here.  Additionally, this month's Veranda magazine has a wonderful Swedish styled home by Texan Shannon Bowers - don't miss it, along with the Swedish style home in this month's Traditional Home magazine.


  1. I have loved this guy forever!! Every piece he has is important and then he has the talent to put it all together in the most beautiful, interesting way. Clever are his use of overscaled objects, with say, a little settee or chair. Just when I thought it was safe to go into the you come with another wave of fabulous. Ginny

  2. I need to pay more attention. I love both of the Swedish articles you mentioned, but I didn't note the designers. I'm learning, though. I have the benefit of being on the West Coast and reading your late posts right away. I'll start paying closer attention to the names. Thanks for interesting information.
    Karen B.

  3. This post shows the true beauty of Swedish style. But what makes Lar's Bolander's design so uniquely wonderful is the amount of personality injected, unlike some Swedish design, while undeniably beautiful, leaves no impression of the owner's personalities.

    Joni, you should be called soon by some major shelter magazine to write a monthly column. You are a major talent. Always a beautifully written piece.

  4. Fabulous…. Your home decoration is so beautiful. I too have decorated my home with beautiful decorative accessories from Home Depot.

  5. All my blogging efforts seem pathetic after visiting your blog! I love every picture here - what an amazing designer.

  6. OK, if I were to do a top 10 designer series, this guy would be very very high up there. His style is so layered and beautiful. Although some of the Swedish style out there seems like it is getting a bit trendy, Bolander's work seems truly timeless.

    I remember when I moved into my house over 10 years ago, this is the look I wanted, but it did not seem to be out there (at least, on by budget at the time). I am loving all of the light and airy rooms featured in so many magazines these days.

    What is the date on that Southern Accents that first featured Bolander?

  7. Oh Joni - You are such a master! You continue to inspire all of us with your outstanding posts and fabulous research! Each time I am sure you can not possibly top the last post and sure enoguh you do it again, again and yet again. I love all the photos and of course anything Swedish. Amazing post!

  8. I award the Gold Medal of Blogging to Ms. Joni Webb of the USA!!! How, how, how can each post get better? More delicious? Are you on steroids? Do we need to turn you in? Keep it up, we're never disappointed!

  9. Joni - I loooove the red lanterns in the Bolander home. Another fabulous post! I look forward to opening my e-mail now because of your posts! Thank you!!! Nancy

  10. Ok...I am LOVING that Palm Beach house...sure doesn't look like a "flat" above Worth Ave shops! There are so many hidden alley ways and courtyards in that area. I love his swedish roots entwined with some Florida style.

    Ya done good.....again. Gorgeous post!

  11. Ok...I am LOVING that Palm Beach house...sure doesn't look like a "flat" above Worth Ave shops! There are so many hidden alley ways and courtyards in that area. I love his swedish roots entwined with some Florida style.

    Ya done good.....again. Gorgeous post!

  12. OMG!!! Love him. These have to be the most beautiful photos yet!
    You are amazing. WONDERFUL post!!!
    I know you cannot be sleeping doing post like this. Merci beaucoup for all your work!!!

  13. I love swedish style. We lived there when I was young and the surprising thing is that most young people in Sweden prefer a more modern 'ikea-ish' style. I hope swedish style doesn't die in its home country!

  14. WOW... all of those curtains are so simple, but sooo lush. You've outdone yourself!

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  16. Totally wonderful rooms -- spare yet beautiful! The rooms are carefully edited; each piece is wonderful. And the colors -- gorgeous!

    Thanks so much for this beautiful post, Joni. You really should be writing for a major magazine. :)

  17. Your blog is always a feast for the eye. I find myself studying every picture and going back to reread about different details. Thank you for exposing your fans to something other than Tuscan design (not that there's anything wrong with that).

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  19. The Bolander post is incredible and you are incredulous! Every photo is worth minutes of eye study. Makes me want to walk out my front door and throw in a match to start all over. Just kidding! Yes ... let us know the Southern Accents issue date.

  20. Joni, you are such a talent!!! How do you come up with so many wonderful facts and pictures each time? You have certainly educated my eye. I feel like a major magazine needs to grab you or perhaps a book publisher.
    Thank you so much for the high bar you have set and continue to meet.
    Your blog is a daily visit for me. I have to read your posts several times there is so much content and I don't want to miss a single detail.
    Veranda, Southern Accents are you listening? You need this woman's talent in your publication!!

  21. A reader just let me know that the Bolanders recently built a new home - to see pictures of the house go here:

    second story down.

    thanks so much for letting me know!!!

  22. Beautiful images Joni!
    I like the "luscious silk curtains" and the crisp white linen slipcovered sofas. Such a nice juxtaposition.
    Great Post.

  23. I second Patricia! The silk curtains throughout are wonderful. I love how they spill onto the floors. Such an incredible post Joni!

  24. Such exquisite photographs. I do love the Swedish style and Mr. Bolander is certainly a master of it. I've been impressed with his work for awhile now.

    I find this style wonderfully comfortable and just, quite simply, pretty. It's sort of like a dressy, much more elegant, version of Shabby Chic, with a fairly distinct color palette. I do find his personal version of the style a bit more adventurous that the rooms I"ve seen him create for clients.

    And, isn't even Charles Faudree veering away from France to Sweden now?

  25. I love the look, but can't help wondering how long silk draperies would last in the sun. An associate used come in Phoenix years ago and they lasted for about...5 minutes and then shredded.

    Interesting insight to compare Swedish interiors with Tuscan - seems to be the case.

  26. Another wonderful, educational post! Love that shower that is almost outdoors in the master bed.. I like Bolander's designs..he seems to make the spaces more inviting and cozy than other Swedish designs.. not too sparce..just the right amount of accessories, draperies are rich but not too fussy.. lovely!!

  27. Your blog has really opened my eyes to different design styles and defined them for me. I never knew how to describe the design style I personally love, but after reading here, I am more educated and insightful about it!

    I am in love with this Swedish design. It has so many hints of elegance and richness yet is also subtle and simple and doesn't try so hard. Thank you for so many wonderful pictures!

  28. Bolander is your man! The Swedes are such a Frechy lot, aren't they? I love all the ball gown curtains he uses.
    Another fine monumental post darlin'...
    xo xo

  29. I really like this look - it's very "clean" looking to me, without being too sparse.
    I have considered putting in wall to wall seagrass or sisal carpeting, but I just don't know. At least with a rug, if it gets ruined, you can pick it up and get a new one! There's a little more commitment there for wall-to-wall.

  30. Joni, if you keep doing posts like this I'll have to cancel all my magazine subscriptions. I'm with VV on the curtains. The coral silk with smocked heading just might be the most beautiful window treatments I've ever seen!

  31. Two Gold medals! Love those oil paintings from floor to ceiling framing the billowy curtain in. Your post play havoc with my lust settings!

  32. Okay! I have been going back and forth about if I am going to drywall over my real wood paneling or whitewash it OR just paint it. This AMAZING post just answered my questions! Nothing that a little batten board and hard work can't fix. That room/rooms looks so incredibly sumptuous and almost precisely of what I had in mind :)


    I think my admiration for you has just evolved into full out luuvv for you. Your taste makes my heart go pitter-patter ;) Serious!


    Andrea V.

  33. have gone and addded even more pics..I am SURE of it. Inebriated with the gorgeousness. Totally!

  34. Joni, I like so much about this post, I have to point out a few things: papering botanical prints (or the equivalent wallpaper) in a room, Smocked curtain headings--Carleton Varney Returns!, The fantastic, huge combination coffee & library table!!! (See you had to work a skirted table in there) The entire loggia, the grey wash on knotty pine paneling...don't rip it out...paint it! the library adjoining the master bedroom, the beautiful garden Tuteur outside the garden building. Only one negative from me on the entire body of work. Those lumpy columns are FUGLY!!

  35. Some of these photos made my heart MELT! Thanks for the inspiration.

    The Lettered Cottage

  36. Joni,
    What an informative post. You keep giving me new favorite designers! Off to check out NYSD....

  37. Thank you so much for sharing this. I usually think of Swedish design as being extremely minimal and way too cold for me. This gives it more depth. I am Swedish and when I went to visit family there, I can understand why - most live in homes that are so tiny, they are forced to make the most of every inch!
    I love love love the long flowing curtains!!

  38. I just love these images Joni!
    The bedroom with the gabled ceiling is my favorite.

    Come on by my blog I am hosting a Marie Antoinette themed party.

  39. wow, your blog is absolutely amazing! beautiful big gorgeous photos. your blog is truly one of the best i've seen, it's like a candy store for interior design.i also love the swedish design. i really love that gorgeous dining room table, beautiful. i really can't say which photo is my favorite. you truly should have your own magazine. what a beautiful gift you have,thanks for the inspiration.

  40. Joni,
    I loved this blog, and the designer. I could definitely even live in the garage that he took and made into a beautiful setting!
    I will have to look into more of his work, thanks for sharing his fabulous style with us.
    The Queen's Quarters

  41. I think I could live in his store. I have kept that store top home of his in my inspiration file for ages! I love his simple and livable but very elegant and beautiful style. Thank you for compiling such a grand bunch of examples of his work! Gorgeous!

  42. Hi Joni! Coming out of lurkdom to say I haven't been this inspired in a long time, and to think I thought I didn't much like Swedish design! Gorgeous, thorough post. The blue & white rooms are my favourites ;)

  43. Gorgeous interior design work by Lars. Thanks for the inspiration. You have a fabulous blog!

  44. these designs are all BEAUTIFUL! i love the statement pieces like the large grandfather clock and those pillars! amazing. i'm going to have to save some of these away for future inspiration!

  45. I love the trademark look Lars creates. When my brother was creative director for the Palm Beach Polo store, he used to deal with Lars and select pieces for the store. He said that Lars is not only talented, but an exceptionally nice person as well. Great post, Joni!

  46. WOW! Gorgeous! Swoon worthy!

    Thanks for all the hard work in putting this together, Joni!

    Happy day,

  47. Wow! What beautiful photos! I was wondering about that bathroom where the shower looks like it's outdoors. Is the glass only seen through one-way because if not I think I would be afraid to take showers :) Have a good day! Daisy~

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