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A Darkly Romantic House in Sweden by Skälsö Architects

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A Darkly Romantic House in Sweden by Skälsö Architects

December 7, 2020

After living in a modernist villa, Ulrika and Daniel Prytz were ready for a change. They wanted a home to better suit their family of six—one that would not only bring them footsteps away from the outdoors but also evoke the very qualities of nature in the design itself. They sought out architect Sofia Nyman of firm Skälsö to reimagine and expand a 19th-century house perched on the water’s edge in the small coastal city of Härnösand, Sweden.

“They were looking for another feeling in their new house and requested peacefulness and harmony—to live closer to the nature,” says Nyman. The couple, with their four children, had been living in what she describes as a home with a nearly all-white interior and modernist furniture, punctuated with colorful art.

Now they sought something different, something pared down that communed with the landscape in a quiet, intimate way. Nyman achieved this through a carefully selected monochrome color palette: the original structure’s exterior facade, roof, and windows are painted in tonal shades of green, while the interior rooms are a medley of gray tones. The result is at once striking and subtle. “By using this color scheme you don’t read the rooms as several surfaces, you read it as one, calm space.”

Photography by Stefan Isidor Bergkvist, courtesy of Skälsö Arkitekter.

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Above: The original structure’s exterior facade is painted in two shades of green, so it is truly “merged with the surrounding nature,” Nyman says.
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Above: The entrance has a glossy dark gray floor; the millwork and built-in coat room walls are painted a paler, complementary shade.
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Above: In keeping with a minimalist, modest approach, the family furnished the house with simple, unobtrusive pieces—and in true Swedish fashion, much of it from Ikea.
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Above: An upright piano with sheepskin-draped bench anchors a corner of the living space.
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Above: The kitchen is lined in minimally detailed cabinetry.
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Above: A tiled vent hood floats above the 36-inch Bertazzoni Induction Range.

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Above: A view into the dining room, with chairs by Ingegerd Råman and a bamboo Sinnerlig Hanging Pendant by designer Ilse Crawford—both for Ikea—contrast with the dark gray walls. The Pilaster black shelves by John Kandell for Källemo serve as a bookshelf, nestled next to the doorway.
A new one-story addition—composed of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, pine, and concrete floors—provides an open, light-filled living room area with views looking out to the sea. In designing this space, Nyman created a contemporary counterpoint to the original, historic structure—all 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, therefore I wanted the new addition to have more materiality as a contrast to the original parts.” Over time, however, she says the larch facade will turn to gray and “blend in more.”

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Above: The new addition is outfitted with a sofa, table, stools, and benches from the Ilse Crawford collection for Ikea (since discontinued, sadly). The PH Lamp designed by Poul Henningsen, suspended from the ceiling, adds a touch of classic Danish design to the room.
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Above: The master bedroom has a recessed bed niche with built-in shelving.
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Above: The tiled bath is devoid of ornamentation.
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Above: To create ample storage space that seamlessly melds in with the interiors, Nyman designed custom-made wardrobes, shelves, and compartments painted in the same uniform colors as the rooms.
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Above: In a tiny bedroom, the architects maximized the space by installing a built-in bed with drawers and inserting a simple desk under a sliver of a window.
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Above: A view of the extension and the sea beyond.

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