Come on inside...
Whenever and wherever I can get it, I do love creating order around my house, and sometimes, while buried in disorder, I just need to find a little serenity in other people's well-organized homes. That's definitely the case with Benita Larsson's home. Her home is clean and bright and light with precise, well-placed splashes of color all around. The peaceful and beautiful order she creates room to room is wonderfully infectious. Trust me. Once you take a look around, you're going to want to reorder a drawer or closet or something. Of course, I'm finding hope in the fact that my small toy-tossing children will get older and the order may return in bigger doses. Come on and see the pretty family home that Benita has created. Let's go...
1. Tell us a little about your family and your home.
There are three of us and two cats. Martin and I have been married since 1990, and Wille just turned 15. We live in a small 1930s house in the outskirts of Stockholm. Our house is 880 square feet with a basement of the same size, but the basement mostly consists of utility areas.
Lanterns at the table in the garden
2. How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?
For me, it’s really important that our home is comfortable, bright, and uncluttered. I don’t like dark interiors with lots of stuff.
Pretty dining table setting
Well-placed splashes of color, room to room
Sunlight streams into the dining room
3. You have a teenage son. How do his opinions, tastes, and STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?
I don’t do pink for one. I do kind of like pink, but with the majority of the household being male, it doesn’t seem right.
Wille is fairly organized, at least compared to his dad who has to be one of the messiest people around (honest!). Wille doesn’t have strong opinions on home decor, but he knows what he likes and doesn’t like. I’d say he’s an easy teenager to have around.
Wille's room and his organized collections
When he was younger, Wille was a major collector. He had collections of just about anything you can imagine: bottle caps, natural objects like feathers, shells, rocks, bones, dead insects, marbles, stickers, trading cards, Legos, etc. My approach to these collections was to give him good storage solutions and shelving so they could be tucked away nicely but also so some could be displayed. Some stuff we framed, like parts of the bottle cap collection and some bones that he and Martin made into a dinosaur silhouette. I love to display things around the house that Wille has made. At the moment there’s a drawing by him in our art wall and also some little things he has built around the house. The framed bottle caps are still up years after we made them together.
4. Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?
We tend to build things ourselves because: 1) our house is small, and it’s difficult to find the perfect pieces for it, and 2) we get exactly what we want at a fraction of store costs. Martin is not keen on IKEA, but we did buy some of their basic stuff like a white sofa, beds, simple shelving units, and storage boxes.
Dreamy blue-green wall is set off with white furniture and bright color accents
White sofa from IKEA
5. Most the backdrops in your home are white. What do you love about white?
It’s bright! Also, I love that I can change the mood in the rooms by changing the accent colors on pillows, throws, vases, etc. I can switch from a yellow/orange theme to an aqua theme in a matter of minutes. It’s quite easy to maintain too by having some white paint on hand to freshen up or paint over a stain.
Bits of bright yellow for spring
Cheery and bright white bedroom
6. Tell us about one DIY project you have taken on recently and love.
I love the way Wille’s desk turned out. We built it ourselves after Wille explained his wants for the perfect desk. There’s now plenty of space to do his homework (not that that’s something he required; he saw it more like a space to put his snacks) and work at his computer. There's even a drawer underneath the desktop for hiding away most of the technical stuff.
Wille's spacious desk, constructed by his parents
7. Do you have a favorite piece of furniture or decorative item in your home? Tell us about this item.
About 15 years ago I found small, tall nesting tables in a charity shop. Martin was dubious toward them at first, but after I painted the bases and sanded and varnished the tops, they came out really nice and we have used them daily since. They are used as occasional tables in the living room but also as an extra bedside table, a TV dinner table, and even a mini desk for when Wille’s friend brings his laptop over.
DIY refinished nesting tables
8. You're a self-proclaimed "organizing maniac." What's your most shared organizing tip?
I love to share my organizing tips. Corralling your clutter (keeping containers around the house where all clutter is collected, to be emptied out and sorted once in a while) is a good one. So is the “one in one out” rule. When buying something new, get rid of the thing it replaces or even consider getting rid of something else entirely. My personal favorite is edit edit, edit! There’s only so much stuff you actually use so edit out and donate what you don’t.
Storage closet doors covered in pretty wallpaper from Ferm
Shelves help organize household items
9. You are a blogger and a crafter. What household chore do you tend to back burner most so you can tend to your creative life?
Definitely ironing. I don’t have anything against ironing, but there’s just no time for it. I only iron when we have absolutely nothing left to wear, and then I iron it all, standing in front of the TV. Then I don’t iron again until the next time we run out. It can be months in between—not that we have a huge amount of clothes but because we mostly wear stuff that doesn’t need ironing.
Everything in its place in the laundry room
10. What is your most important everyday ritual at home?
Before I sit down to relax in the evening, I make sure everything is straightened out so I can enjoy the rooms without seeing clutter around. Also before going to bed, I make sure the kitchen floor is swept and the counters clean and the living room sofa and armchairs look neat. This way it’s nice to get up in the morning, at least in theory. Martin and Wille go to bed later than I do usually, and they tend to leave stuff around anyway.
11. In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?
Storage. Because our house is so small we’ve “invested” in some good storage boxes and materials to build storage units. I don’t like mismatched boxes, which tend to make things still look cluttered, so we’ve spent a few bucks on unified white boxes for the living areas and clear plastic boxes for the utility spaces.
Organized shelves keep everything looking tidy
Wonderful storage space under the basement stairs
12. What are your favorite stores to shop for home?
I love the brand-less simplicity of Japanese MUJI. I also love Pottery Barn, especially their storage, but we can’t get that over here, so I just stare at the pictures and am inspired by them. Other US faves are The Container Store and Restoration Hardware. We have a department store called Åhléns here in Sweden, and they have great basic things for the home. That’s also where we can shop MUJI.
13. What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?
Thank you for the house tour, Benita! Your home inspires me with visual peace and happiness.
Benita Larsson blogs at Chez Larsson and works as the visual merchandiser in charge of marketing campaign themes and window displays for a Swedish chain of stores. She is also currently working on a book.
Don't miss our previous Show & Tell Home Tours:
- Amanda Soule of SouleMama (Portland, ME)
- Andrea Jenkins at hula seventy (Portland, OR)
- Elisabeth Dunker from fine little day (Gothenburg, Sweden)
- Rubyellen Bratcher at Cakies (Southern CA)
- Rachel Denbow of Bling on My Sewing Machine (Springfield, MO)
- Hannah Huffman from huffmania (Kansas City, MO)
- Summer Allen-Gibson from design is mine (Portland, OR)
- Martha McQuade at UNIFORM Studio (Minneapolis, MN)
- Tess B. (Kansas City, MO)
- Mary Tsao (San Mateo, CA) - Nursery Tour
- Hanne Rismyhr (Bergen, Norway)
- Amy Hanson from Sweet Sweet Life (San Diego, CA)
- Stephanie Congdon Barnes of 3191 (Portland, OR)