Art Haven + Where My Design Style Started

Good new week to you all!

During my stay in Stockholm I stayed at my former boyfriend’s (Mr. E) apartment on Sodermalm in Stockholm. Although we went separate ways many years ago he is still one of my closest friends and also a good friend of my husband.

I met Mr. E (he is anything but formal (!) — but pretty private so I am going to keep it that way) when I was fairly young and there is no doubt in my mind that my design style — that is truly me — formed during our long relationship. Mr. E loves art and has a most exqusite collection. When we met, his style at home was all contemporary with nothing old in sight.

I wanted more warmth and “personality” in his/our home, and perhaps a little of what I was used to from my home, so I made him purchase (poor man!) his first real antique — this beautiful Swedish 18th century console table, as a contrast to Olle Baertling’s oil painting from 1960. This was exactly 20 years ago, folks. He thought I was crazy at first but he went along for the ride. The vignette is still in his home and is, in my opinion, as beautiful and current as only great classic pieces can be. 

(I am sorry for the horrible image.Yikes! But I am still going to show it because it is key for those of you who might be interested in understanding my style).

Olle Baertling (1911 – 1981) was one of the Nordic countries’ leading and most internationally oriented artists of the postwar era. His paintings have become modernist icons.

(Olle Baertling via internationally recognized Swedish art gallery Nordenhake).

Yes, of course I follow trends but the core of my personal style, the mix of old and new, I will always remain faithful to. And the starker the contrasts the better. I am not saying that my style is good or right (if there even is such a thing).  But it feels good in my heart. At the time I did not see this elsewhere, I did not copy somebody else, it just came naturally a long time ago. And it still feels right to me. Having said that, I have tons of respect for other styles and appreciate and like many, many other ways of decorating. There are so many things out there that I love!

The TV area consist of Swedish sofas and classic Bruno Mattson chairs and table. And everywhere you look — lovely art.

I can spend all day sharing Mr. E’s art collection, today I am just showing a few of the pieces that I find very special. He loves sculptures and this bronze torso by Swedish sculptir Claes Hake is a a favorite of his. The art work on the wall is by famous American artist Quitman.

This art piece is an absolute favorite of mine. It is called the “cross” and is by Curt Asker. It is made of metal and forms the best shadows on the wall. I think it is absolutely stunning and wish I could afford one myself! (Mr. E once gave me a small wall art piece by Asker that I treasure so).

A corner view of the office. The bronze statue (3 ladies) in the back is by the well established French artist Louis Canes. I had the opportunity to meet him several times in Paris together with Mr. E.   He is just the nicest man. He is very tall, I can report, and quite funny! On the wall is an installation by American artist Kohlner.

Can’t remember the artist behind the black and white artwork. But I like it!

Pablo Picasso — 1881-1973 (etching).

A hanging sculpture by Swedish artist  Lars Englund, one of the best known Swedish contemporary artists.

An oil painting by legendary cuban artist Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982).

Lucio Fontana’ s (1889-1968) signature slashed papers. (Bad image again, sorry).

An oil painting by American artist Jonathan Lasker (widely regarded as one of the most influential abstract painters in the United States).  He came to Mr. E’s summer home a couple of times. He thought that our midsummer rituals (think lots of schnaps and marinated herring!) were the most exotic things. It was crazy fun to see this creative New Yorker sitting in the blooming back yard equipped with black sunglasses and a small black hat (think the Blues Brothers!) and take in the Swedish summer! He is a hoot!

I absolutely love this bronze horse head by Henrik Allert, one of the most outstanding ceramic sculptors in Sweden today. It is stunning, paired with the soft yellow painting by an American artist (unknown).

I can go on and on about Mr. E’s art collection and his exellent feel for good art. I feel so blessed to call him a very close friend and I have learned so much from him over the years including all the time we spent time running in and out of art galleries and museums and all the homes we renovated and decorated. He has been and will always be my no. 1 art guide.

When I write this I wonder if my style would have been different had we never met.

On Wednesday I am taking another week off — but this time with family. And that will be the last trip this summer. We are heading to Oregon coast (Bandon) to enjoy some quality time with family.

While I am diving in sand dunes, you will hear from a few more wonderful blog friends who will share their Summer Postcards with us. Please, check in and see what they have to share! (I know I will be checking in for new books to read!).

Hugs to you all! I am back mid next week with more reporting from my trip to Stockholm.

Image 1. via Flickr. Photos interiors via Splendid Willow.
Written by Splendid Willow in: Knock, Knock! May we come in? |


  • Greet says:

    Monika!!!! Woouuwwww! All these beautiful pieces of art! I like it all!
    My favorites….mmmmm….maybe the Swedish console with the Picasso etching above it????????
    Oh I really enjoyed this post!

  • Mia says:

    Hi Mon, I’m just as speechless now as I was then … ; ) Love it!
    Have a lovely trip! Hugs Mia

  • Willow Decor says:

    Stunning pieces! You are lucky to be exposed to such great art! Have you been getting my emails?
    Have a great trip.

  • mon, what a fabulous post and what beautiful art pieces. I think my favorites are the bronze horse head and the piece entitled ‘cross’. wonderful things …I know you treasure the memory of them. I love your pairing of the modern with the old; it is what I strive for but find so difficult to achieve! Love to you! Donna

  • I am just going to have to throw this out there – I LOVE IT AAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!

  • Franki Parde says:

    Eclectic and exciting! franki

  • Julie at BV says:

    What a beautiful apartment with all the impressive art collection. Good you enjoyed his home!



  • Stacey says:

    Mr. E certainly has an impressive art collection! I love the architectural features of the apartment too. xoxo

  • Piper says:

    Old and new – sigh, love that combination!! That console table is seriously gorgeous – good thing you made him buy it! Things like that are always timeless – and paired with the art, it’s perfection :) LOVE IT!

  • Kimberly Wolf says:


    I agree with you and don’t think there is a right or wrong in decorating either–unless it is blatantly hideous :)–but you definitely have it RIGHT. I have seen your home and it is every bit as stunning as Mr. E’s. You have taken what you got from him, expanded on it, and made it your own. Your home has some of the stark contrasts you like but it also has a lot of warmth, so the overall affect is not stark but rather homey and cozy.

    Have fun in OR! When you come back, we will have to get together for coffee and a long chat!

  • Joe Clarke says:

    What a place! Facinating with the many American artists.
    Have fun on your OR trip. Eat lots of crab!

  • Charlotta says:

    Hej hej! What a divine place and how wonderful to know that you were staying here, surrounded by art. I know you love it so!
    The collection is fantastic and the apartment wonderful. Södermalm is fantastic and has such a nice buzz! If you were up there on the cliffs next to Eva & Efva’s I will be even more jealous – that view is stunning!! :)

    How to pick a favourite of these exquisite pieces.. Not possible, but if I must.. The Henrik Allert head, the Picasso, the Louis Canes trio, the Picasso and the Lucio Fontana. Yum!

    Enjoy Oregon and family time. Looking forward to your next report from our beloved motherland!

    Stor Kram
    xx Charlotta

  • Oh, I loved getting this very personal peek into your life’s story, Monika. What a treat. And you narrated it with such tenderness and love…! Lovely.

    Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your trip with your family, dear.


  • Kari says:


    Wonderful apartment, stunning art! Thank you for sharing your story. I found the history behind the pieces so interesting.

    Thank you for the lovely birthday wishes. What a treat.

    Have a great trip with your family,

    Hugs to you,


  • What an amazing home! I could never imagine LIVING with all of that gorgeousness, and certainly we wouldn’t be able to have 3 precocious kitties (I said kitties, not kiddies, though those probably wouldn’t fit in either! ;). You were right to encourage him to incorporate a few antiques, great mix!
    Oh, re: the watch, I am a watch, handbag and shoe snob too, but for something really trendy that probably won’t be popular next year, I’m all for a knockoff, that’s just my little rule! XX!

  • Karena says:

    Monica, I am so impressed with this art collection and what a great friend to have. He must be fascinating!!

    I will have another great giveaway very soon!! Keep coming to see me!

    Art by Karena

  • Janell Beals says:

    Fabulous post, I really enjoyed seeing this! It is really interesting to look back and see the people who have influenced your style…looks like you had a great trip! And Bandon, the last time I was there, camping with family, it was quite windy! Hope you have great weather and enjoy!! Janell

  • Mr. E has quite the collection! This post knocked my socks off and I will be showing it to Rhonda when we get together later today. I particularly love the sculpture in the collection and am so inspired to use more sculpture in our design work. Wonderful post, wonderful visit to Stockholm! xoo Edie

  • koralee says:

    Wow…what an amazing place. Thank you for sharing. Hope your Summer is being filled with JOY my friend. xoxox

  • mon, how awesome to peek into your friend’s home. he has a great collection. cross is my absolute fav. have a fab trip my dear. xo

  • Tina says:

    What an amazing story!
    Love the modern art. You have really opened a new world to me, mixing modern and antique style togheter.
    I love modern classics but in the next minute I can absolutely fall in love with an antique piece. Now, I´m convinced that I don´t have to choose between them.
    As I´ve said before, I adore your home and love the mix between differnt styles!
    For me this has been a real eye-opener and such a relief, struggling to get my various taste come together here at home.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Have a great trip!
    Lots of love from Sweden!

  • Oh my goodness — you see my friend, this is why I love your blog so much — you always share the most amazing things with us, while inspiring and teaching us something along the way… I love all of this art and that stunning console table with that incredibly modern piece. The two are a match made in heaven. You have such beautiful taste.

    Thinking of you,

  • audrey marie says:

    i love that black and white piece of art too!! i can see it being part of so many different design styles!

  • Wow Monika! Love the mix of modern art and antiques! I would love to sit down with you for several cups of coffee because I’m sure you have heaps of fascinating stories to tell!

    Wishing you a great time in Oregon!


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