Take inspiration from Karin Larsson with these 5 interior design tips

By Billie Miro Breskin

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

We’ve compiled all the best lessons from the Swedish artist and designer’s work

While she is often overshadowed by her husband, the Swedish painter Carl Larsson, Karin Larsson was a notable artist in her own right. As a furniture designer, textile artist, and interior designer, Karin paved the way for creativity and invention in the sphere of the home. And what a home it was! The Larssons' house in Sundborn, Sweden, which they acquired in 1888, bursts with vibrancy. Surrounded by a lush garden that the Larssons cultivated themselves, the building rises out of the greenery, promising even more beauty inside.


Dubbed ‘Lilla Hyttnäs’ and today preserved as a museum, the house provides endless inspiration. The mastermind behind Lilla Hyttnäs (which was a frequent subject of Carl’s paintings) was Karin herself, who was responsible for designing most of the decor, textiles, and furniture that bring character to the delightful home. Surprisingly modern and always charming, we can all take a page out of Karin’s book when considering interior design today.


Indulge in a pop of colour

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

Larsson wasn’t at all shy when it came to including colour in her home. A far cry from the white walls and beige furniture that have become standard today, each room of Lilla Hyttnäs is a celebration of colour. Take, for example, this combination of a geometric tapestry, orange bench, patterned cushion, and blue sunflower-embroidered pillow. It’s a bold combination, and one that instantly brings joy and energy to the space.


Do it yourself

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

The DIY motto could be applied to nearly every aspect of Larsson’s interior design. Her love of colour and playfulness with shape meant that many of the items she envisioned for her home did not yet exist. The answer to the problem was simple: she would make them herself. One such item is the ‘Cactus’ lamp, which she designed in collaboration with her husband. With its petal-like structure and warm hue, it brings light to the room even when switched off.


Use textiles to add dimension

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

We can’t all be masters of the loom like Larsson was, but we can certainly employ textiles in our homes in her style. Whether draped over a doorway to create a breezy room divider or hung on a wall for decorative effect (and insulation), tapestries are a sure way to add textural interest to your space. This tapestry by Larsson, entitled 'The Rose of Love', hung between bedrooms at Lilla Hyttnäs, providing privacy while still keeping the spaces easily accessible.


Think outside the box

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

To our 21st-century eyes, nothing may seem amiss in this picture. But back when Larsson designed this rocking chair, it had to be smuggled into the house because it was considered incredibly “ugly.” Needless to say, we find it quite appealing, with its quaint proportions and sunny hue. The moral of the story is to experiment; if Larsson had only included items in her home that were on trend, this article would never exist.


Let your home be a record of your memories

Photo: Kristian Bengtsson

In an era of uniform minimalism in interior design, our homes can often not truly seem like ours. Not so for Larsson, who personalised every inch of Lilla Hyttnäs. Some of the most beautiful touches in the historic home are the most sentimental. Take, for example, the signatures from visiting guests on the panelled doors of this box-bed. Though writing on the walls isn’t exactly renter-friendly, take this as your sign to keep mementos, photos, and trinkets proudly displayed.