COTE DE TEXAS: Swedish Country Interiors

Swedish Country Interiors



In the past decade, Swedish style has exploded on the interior design scene.  It seems people in American can’t get enough of the gray and creamy toned antique furniture, often mixed with cheery blue and white gingham fabrics and surrounded by exquisite gilt mirrors and crystal chandeliers.  The look is so soothing and calm – perhaps its popularity is sought as an antidote to the frenetic lives we lead today surrounded by technology 24/7.   There is something so relaxing about a Swedish interior – the cool colors, the quiet atmosphere, the subtle sparkle reflected from mirror to light fixture and back.   Riding the wave of this much in-demand look is the team of Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems,  two childhood friends, both of Swedish descent, who back in 1998 opened Eleish van Breems Antiques.  Their shop, unlike any other, was first set in a charming 18th century house that the two had turned into a living Swedish home where everything just happened to be for sale.   Located in Woodbury, Connecticut, their first location served them well for over eleven years, until success forced a move to a larger showroom, located in Washington Depot, Connecticut.  



Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems – childhood friends, now shop owners, authors, and interior designers.


The two friends, whose Swedish antiques business was one of the first of this current trend, adored their 18th century house, but a need for more office space, showroom space, a reference library, and room for photo shoots forced their hand to sell.    No matter - they are now happily ensconced in their new shop and things couldn’t be better for Eleish van Breems.    Besides their extensive collection of antiques, the pair sell a reproduction line of Swedish furniture made to their specifications back in the mother land.    In addition, they can now show more modern Swedish furniture in their showroom.    They also carry other furniture lines such as Chelsea Textiles.     According to Edie, today over 50% of their business is conducted virtually, through their website and 1st Dibs, so a pure store front was no longer needed.  The best part of their location is the view – overlooking pine trees and a rushing stream, the scene is reminiscent of the Swedish countryside.  Moving to their new location last year has been liberating since they no longer have to run a storefront seven days a week, and this has produced a creative renaissance for the women who are energized by the new directions Eleish van Breems is taking.      And then, there are, of course, the books.    Just two years ago, the pair wrote a beautiful book on Swedish design, called, appropriately, Swedish Interiors.   A smash hit, a second book was in the planning stages before the first one was barely distributed.  The newest book, Swedish Country Interiors, is now available to preorder at Amazon and will be on sale in the next month.    I can barely wait – a little birdie told me that one of the featured houses will be Wisteria’s owners, The Newsoms,  whose beautiful house was also featured  in Veranda.   Not surprisingly, a third Eleish van Breems book is now in the planning stages!   



image  The cover of the new book due out next month, Swedish Country Interiors, available now for pre-ordering here.





  This picture, on the new book’s preview page at Amazon, is driving me crazy!  How gorgeous is this?  I can’t wait to read the book!




Another picture on Amazon’s preview is this beautiful shot of two Swedish chairs and a server.   I love the traditional Swedish paintings on the walls.





This Amazon preview picture shows a wonderful  Swedish antique corner cabinet – a traditional piece - along with a chair dressed in the blue and white gingham that is so closely associated with Swedish design.



image The original Eleish van Breems shop in Waterford, Connecticut.   At one time, owner Rhonda Eleish lived on the second floor.   The duo has recently relocated to a larger, more efficient space in Washington Depot, Connecticut.



image  The original shop in Woodbury was set up just as a Swedish house would be. 



image Here, in the same spot as above, the foyer, this vignette changed as old pieces were sold and new pieces were acquired.




image The Woodbury shop:   one thing I really adore about Swedish antiques is the oval portraits. 




imageThe Woodbury shop:   I love these chairs!   The best thing about Eleish van Breems is if you can’t find the antique you want, they probably have a reproduction of it in their line!




And now for something completely different!  No longer tied down to their store in the 18th century house, the partners have moved to a showroom where they have more office space, room for a library and room to showcase all the other furniture lines they carry besides their Swedish antiques.  One such line is Swedish modern from Fritz Hansen.  



For a time, Edie van Breems lived in a wonderful old house that she had totally renovated and which was much photographed.   Here is her former living room with traditional Swedish antiques clad in  blue and white cotton.   Notice the mirror with the attached candle sconces.   Because Sweden is so dark much of the year, every bit of light is sought out – the candles’ reflection in the mirror doubles the amount of light given off!



 Edie van Breems dining room with its antique Swedish crystal chandelier and assorted chair styles.  Notice that gorgeous sofa - divine!




The breakfast room in Edie van Breems’ former house.   Here is the popular Swedish Mora clock, one of the most recognized Swedish antiques there is. 





Eleish and van Breems first book, Swedish Interiors, was filled with pictures from a wonderful mix of houses.  Some were furnished strictly with antiques, while others were furnished with modern Swedish furniture.   Next - I’ll show you a few of my favorite chapters from the first book.



One of my favorite chapters in the first book was the story about this house located in Louisiana.  The interior designer is one of the best there is, Gerrie Bremermann from New Orleans.  The owner collects Swedish antiques and the entire house is filled with his bounty.   Here is a small sitting room located off the larger living room.   I just love the coolness and calmness of this space – so typical of a house with Swedish interiors.


 image The upstate New York home of the owner of Face Stockholm - a popular Swedish make up line.  White slipcovers and Swedish antiques make this a charming, inviting home.




This is the New York space of Lena Kaplan who owned White on White, a shop specializing in Swedish design.  The shop is now closed and she operates Studio White on White in a more personalized environment.     I love how the painted floors match the table and chairs!




Another wonderful chapter shows the former Palm Beach house of Lars Bolander, a Swedish interior designer and shop owner.   Cote de Texas featured  Bolander here.   His sense of style is wonderful and totally uniquely his own. 




image Another pioneer of the Swedish antique importing business in the states is Linda Kennedy and her husband Lindsay.  Together they formed Chloe Decor which became one of the more well known Swedish antique dealers.   Today, Linda sells the antiques on a wholesale basis but she concentrates mainly on her new floral design business.    At the time when they lived in this house, it was a stage for all their antiques, which were actually for sale!



In Linda’s house:  I love these desks with the diminutive Mora clock affixed to the top of them.   I would love to own one of these for my office!




The 1760 Rhode Island house of Libby Holsten.   Once a lover of both Italian and French antiques, upon reading a book about Swedish design, she threw herself into collecting as many pieces of the furniture as she could.





Holsten’s beautiful Mora clock sits aside a French grisaille.




Holsten’s music salon in her Rhode Island house filled with antiques.   Here she mixes French antiques with Swedish which is perfectly natural to do.  After all, Gustavian furniture was based on French designs at the time.


I hope you have enjoyed reading about Eleish van Breems.  To preorder their new book, Swedish Country Interiors, go here.  To order their first book, Swedish Interiors, which I previewed today, go here.    And to reread a story I wrote about Gustav and Sweden, please go here.


  1. How exciting! I LOVE their first book and look at it for inspiration all the time. I can't wait for another one to enjoy!! Thanks for a lovely post!

  2. Jeepers. How many ways can I say charming????

  3. I would give ANYTHING to have that bookshelf/armoire/cabinet in Holsten's "music salon"!!!! I can't stop staring! I love it!

  4. Beautiful post - I look forward to reading the book! Lots of great books coming out this fall!

    My favorite look is the Swedish mixed with the French.

    Aren't you supposed to be on vacation? You are creating post after wonderful post!

  5. I love the Swedish style but it is so en vogue at the moment, I can't help but ask myself how can we use this style trend in a subtle, timeless way so that our homes to scream the 2000's in another decade?

  6. I'd guess you take a vacation to do more of what you love. So please stay on vacation.

    I love the Lena Kaplan dining room. The painting and the ficus make the room a bit more alive than most.

    I like the style a lot but I get the impression that the lighter rooms are fading out towards transparency, almost spooky. I'd like to see people enjoying themselves in these interiors. Swedish folks do party in these place don't they?

  7. Hi Joni,

    how glad am I to find this sublime post on one of my country's most beloved interior styles...
    Once again I'm stunned over your work!

    The Gustavian style is actually divided in 2 periods, the later one becomes more significant after influences from the king's trip to Greece and Italy for a couple of year.
    King Gustav III was born into the rococo era wich was already out of fashion in France, the styles moved slowly on the continent at this time.

    Looking at the first part of the Gustavian style, 1775-1790, you can see a slight influence from the rococo period with some curves and by the later era 1790-1810 the strict parts become more significant. Take the chairs for example, some of the chairs I see on the pictures are Swedish rococo.
    Also the ornaments are a bit different between the periods.

    As for colouring of furniture not only grey of different shades were used. When they were painted also pink and oatmeal-yellow or green mixed with grey was common. Even oxid red was used in the later period.

    I speak of experience if anyone wonders, I'm trained in these particular styles of interior decoration....

    The Neo-classisim is timeless and easy to combine in modern living, just by a few pieces or a more complex thing is for sure - this is a most popular style, even after more than 200 years.

    Thanks a lot Joni for this post!

    Any questions, this is my business e-mail,


  8. Hi Joni- I love swedish design and all these pics are yummy. I hope you are having a fabulous time :)

  9. So pretty! I like so many elements of the Swedish look but I have to say anything with faded paint or worn wood and checked fabric is going to be my favorite no matter what country it's from! Love those armchairs in the Woodbury shop.

  10. Love
    Lars Roman Cameos !!!

    He's also the BEST at puddling
    those silk curtains ... . .

  11. I forget how much I love Swedish decor until I see it done so beautifully! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I love Swedish interiors. I have a real thing for neoclassical style furniture and love the Gustavian painted versions, find them much more soft and approachable with the gentle colours. Beautiful looking interiors. Funny, I was just about to do a post on Gustavian furniture, as it is close to being my favorite style but I don't own any of it! Never had a house that it would work in and have so much other furniture now that it is hard to switch styles. I am thinking of doing my guest room in this style.

    xo Terri

  13. You know - I really need to get a harp. Such a nice accessory...haha.

    xo Terri

  14. Joni I really loved the 5th photo down in the hallway with the wood beams and the soft mustard coloured walls. It seemed so peaceful and calm. Also I wanted to say I enjoyed your conversation last week with Anna.Your and her blog were the first blogs I stared to read ( and lurk) over a little over a year ago or so. Thanks for the time you take and share you passion for design. Julie in Holland....

  15. Thanks Joni! Just these pictures from the book on your blog alone has lowered my blood pressure and stopped me from grinding my teeth! I should buy the book and open it up to gaze upon photographs everytime a bad deadline is approaching or I'm stuck in traffic.

  16. Joni,
    So excited to get their new book. I am sure you know but they just started their own blog. Here is the link: - Very exciting!

  17. I can't wait to get my hands on their new book!
    I've already ordered 10 copies for the store.
    Beautiful post, Joni.


  18. Hi Joni,
    Like everyone else above another fantastic post! I think my favourite picture is upstate New York lounge room (owner of swedish cosmetics) just love it, gorgeous mirrors, colours in room and to die for slip-covers. (sigh) day!!! Have a wonderful day, won't you. The sun is shining here today (hip, hip hurrah). I have lost count of the weekends that it has been pouring with rain here. So much water laying in the paddocks!!! Shouldn't complain, hold us in good steed for summer.

    Take Care

    Love Janine

    Tasmania, Australia

  19. Look forward to their new book! Beautiful post. You really captured the best of the style.

  20. I know I'll love this book as much as their first from this preview!

    I grew up in Ct and will be back there next week... I wonder if I'll get a chance to sneak a trip to their shop in?!?

  21. She just visited my blog yeserday! I love them, my copy is ordered...thanks for getting me even more excited.

  22. This is another wonderful and thorough post. Thanks Joni for putting and exclamation point onto a subject that is dear to my heart. This style of furniture and decorating style are reminders that antiques never truly go out of style and are so adaptable to changing times.

    Avolli - Scandinavian Antique Furniture

  23. So pretty Joni,
    I am working on a bedroom with handpainted swags & garlands for the ceilings to be sketched and handpainted....similar to the first pics of the paneled borders... I love the clock / secretary as well too pretty!

  24. Oh,Joni coming back and starting to read your blog is such a delight and my way of saying 'welcome home' to myself....
    I have been 4 weeks to New England and explored everything there is on design and architecture, I am going to write a series of posts on it, but Swedish design is one of my beloved styles, it mixes modern, country and traditional in such a beautiful way! And the colors - to die for!
    I am so glad to be back with you!

  25. Joni, very calming and gorgeous images. I am looking forward to doing a series of paintings in a cool,soothing palette. I have always wanted a Swedish clock!

  26. LOVE everything!I am both Swedish and Finnish and I just love, LOVE, LOve their style!:o)

  27. Fantastic review.. I'm going to order the book right now. Joni--you left none of my questions unanswered. Thank you.

  28. Great comprehensive post Joni! A+
    xo xo

  29. Joni,

    You have captured it all... the best of my house, our original antiques store in Woodbury,Ct our new showroom in Washington Depot, CT and most of all our favorite images of the work of our most talented friends and colleagues!!!
    Gerrie, Martina, Lena, Lars , Linda and Libby - they are all working in such differing ways with Swedish antiques and we love all of their work! Also featured in the post were pictures from homes done by Richard Hershner, CT and Suzanna Havden Bell,San Francisco that are appearing in the new book "Swedish Country Interiors" Thank you so much Joni for featuring all of us and Swedish inspired style!


    xoo Edie & Rhonda

  30. I have just pre-ordered by copy (Amazon). I can't wait for September 1st. Thanks for the sneak peek!


  31. That looks like one wonderful book!!! Great post!

  32. oh..oh..oh... my daughters and I have a trip planned to Washington Depot... not because I am educated and knew of course it was the home of the authors of Swedish Interiors and their fabulous showroom... oh no it is because the darling daughters read that Washington Depot is the town that Gilmore Girls was based upon. Well now there is something for mom and something for the girls in Washington Depot.
    Connecticut here we come!! Thanks for another great post!

  33. This looks like another must-have book for the book shelf.

    "The look is so soothing and calm – perhaps its popularity is sought as an antidote to the frenetic lives we lead today surrounded by technology 24/7." -- I could not agree more!

  34. I certainly adore wooden floors and white walls. I live in an Australian farm house and this is the type of interior that seems to work really well out here. It's timeless and practical.

  35. ***** Dearest Joni *****:

    "ALL of the ABOVE"... (and "times ten", my friend!!!

    THANK YOU~ (it was sooo wonderful that yet once again, I FORGOT TO BREEEAATTTHHEEE!!!)~~~

    Linda *

  36. I love that muted serene's so calming. Can't wait to see the book.

  37. Love the son used to go to boarding school at Rumsey hall in Washington Depot. It is the most beautiful little town with marvelous antique houses and spectacular landscapes. i will make sure to stop by the shop during my next trip to Litchfield County .Thanks

  38. That was such an interesting post! I happened to pick up their first book one day and open to a page with my painting in it! The house that Gerrie Bremermann did in Covington, LA--(you put one pic up from the home) It was the funniest thing just to be browsing and see your work in a beautiful book. Thank you for introducing these two talented ladies to us!

  39. Oh my gosh, I love that house in Louisiana!

    Swedish design is so chic!! You can't go wrong with white slipcovers and weathered furniture :) I love that it's not all matchy-matchy.

    Thanks Joni!


  40. I'll take the Fritz Hansen line any day!!! Can't wait to hear the next Skirted Round Table...and what is gonna be said about the "Egg"!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog Joni and Megan and giving me the heads up!! :)

  41. Wow such a beautiful post - I love Swedish design (modern and antique) but this puts Swedish antiques to a whole new level - so deliciously elegant! thanks for another in depth post - I don't know how you have the energy to do them everyday!

  42. I knew this was going to be a scrumptious post when I read your title...and I was right.
    I love the Lousiana/Bremermann designed room. That diagonal herringbone brick floor is lovely.

  43. Joni knows...and we all learn!
    Grazie bella!

  44. A new book...I'm excited!!
    Another stellar post Joni. I have no idea where you find the time to begift us with such wonderful info, images & design bliss.
    You make my evenings feel fulfilled & informed.
    Gracious gratitudes for all you do & give.

  45. Joni, You did it again! You are so good at capturing Swedish old style interiors & country that I am seriously thinking there is some Viking blood in your DNA! Impressive!

    And Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems are 2 very talented ladies. I will order their 2nd book - tonight!

  46. Modern or antinque; love its simplicity. Fantastic review Joni!

  47. Love, love Lars Bolander! I have several shots of those cameos behind the sofa.....and Libby Holsten does the best mix of textures and color. Thanks for a well put together post!

  48. Joni!!! The lovely authors commented!!! How exciting is THAT???

    I'm one confused lady now. I took that fun quiz on Sproost - have you seen it? - it listed me as "French Eclectic". Pretty right on, I'd say. I found your blog because of that designation ;) Anyway, I knew that my taste was not purely French. I figured out that I had a healthy love of English traditional styles, too. That cozy but not cluttered STUFF all over :) And now, I'm realizing that my favorite color schemes - rather monochromatic and cool - and my love of painted furniture might be Swedish? YEEKS. Is that too eclectic? ;)

    By the way, I remember seeing a really killer dining room filled with Swedish antiques way back in the day - in one of Martha Stewart's books. Someone commented that Swedish rooms might feel "dated" a few years from now. The great thing about antiques a reproductions of antiques is that the style is inherently CLASSIC. Wouldn't you say? How can a chair from the 1700s become dated?


    P.S. Your email about the design elements cracked me up :) Glad to know I've been paying attention!

  49. What beautiful pictures, but has really inspired me is that dining table, which appears to be two demilunes with a rectangle in the middle. I think this is exactly what I need, and I'm going to check their site to see if they sell something like that. Thanks for all of the inspiration you post. laurie

  50. Beautiful post. The Fritz Hansen furniture is actually Danish, not Swedish.

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  55. Libby Holsten has always been one of the designers that I respect the most. There are only a small handful in the world that if i were to choose to hire to decorate my house and Libby would be one. Great job! As always.

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