There’s a lightness afoot between the walls of Katarina Matsson’s family home, where she lives with her husband, Jakub, and their kids, Milo and Hilma. As print director of Elle Sweden and Elle Decoration Sweden , Katarina’s appreciation for design is instinctual – but more so is her sense of style, which seamlessly blurs trends, history and sentiment.
Katarina and her family live in Stockholm’s Skönstaholm, in an area of housing that dates back to post-war public housing built in the 1950s and is now a co-operative. “It warms my heart to think about the care that the architects, builders and planners put into these buildings,” says Katarina. “They are very much characterised by angles and proportions, all in line with the surrounding nature.”
Originally from Uppsala, a university town just north of Stockholm, Katarina and Jakub lived in New York for four years before relocating back to Sweden’s capital. After having Milo, they realised their need for more space, which meant moving from the inner city to the wider suburbs.
“We were really into the idea of a co-op, because we didn’t have to worry about fixing roofs, drainage etc,” explains Katarina. But unsure of the area’s ‘bad reputation’, it took a while before the couple were taken with the idea of their potential new home. “When I walked into this specific house and saw the view over the field and forest, I just knew it was the one.”
Here for the past four years, the style of the family’s townhouse is known as “funkis” in Swedish, meaning functional in style. The houses are rowed in a zigzag formation, with steep Scandinavian roofs that blur into the backdrop of the surrounding forest. “It’s sort of like a little hobbit village,” says Katarina. “There are trendy cafes and little shops popping up, and I love that the outskirts of the city are livening up, especially in the wake of the pandemic.”
As a self-described ‘emotional decorator’, personality and character abound within this family home in a way unlimited by time or space. Instead, the interior focus is on the interplay between pieces, which overlap and meld without an overly conscious outcome. The only unifying theme is a lack of coordination and the result is a space that’s undefinably of its own making. In Katarina’s words, it’s “our own little world”.
“Our home is put together by stories,” she says. “In a sense, it’s all there – the bits and pieces that have brought us to this point in our lives.” From her grandmother’s portrait to Jakub’s grandmother’s chaise lounge, her parent’s 1970s moka pot to the second-hand furniture they’ve lugged from place to place, their home is brought together by personal histories.
“I’m also a big fan of chairs,” she adds.” I love the Ekstrem chair, the Wassily chair I got on Blocket (an online market place in Sweden) and the Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs in our dining room, that I made my dad store for 18 years after he and my mum divorced.”
Their dining room wall is filled with framed artwork collected over the years – many gifted from friends and family – and each piece is jigsawed beside the next in an interlocking floor-to-ceiling patchwork. It’s a style that’s idiosyncratic of their wider interior philosophy.
“Most of my favourite stuff is second hand, heirlooms or crafts,” says Katarina. “And I’m attracted to confidence, character and lightness. For quite a small space, I think lightness is important, especially if you’re like me and love a lot of stuff without your space feeling stuffed.”
The middle ground between minimalism and eccentricity is a tricky intersection to curate a home on, but Katarina does it with finesse; in part because of her work at Elle magazine. “I guess I’ve realised my own aesthetic is somewhere in between,” reflects Katarina. “I think my job has really given me a deeper appreciation of quality, handicraft and the work of designers.”
“I work with inspiration and trends, so it’s sort of impossible to not find new creators, designers, architects, objects and furniture I love. I’m lucky to be able to put them on the pages of the magazine, which at least gives some kind of satisfaction without crowding my house.”
Beyond their brick-and-mortar confines, the next project is their garden. “The front yard is dominated by a slope with a huge birch tree, so it’s quite a challenge for a first-time garden owner. But that’s what I love with plants and garden work – it takes time! And as someone who’s always been an instant gratification kind of girl – where if I’m not immediately good at something ‘it’s not for me’ – this is great therapy.”
Follow Katarina at @ettrumtill