Finding a home that blends escapism with reality can be a tall order. But for Catarina Skoglund, living on a tiny car-free island surrounded by water in an archipelago just outside Gothenburg ticks all the boxes for slower living.
“I fell in love with the archipelago the first time I went there,” says Catarina. “The feeling of living surrounded by the sea gave me a feeling of freedom that I haven’t felt since I was a child.”
Catarina and her husband, Robert, and their two daughters, Stella and Penny, moved here six years ago after living in Gothenburg for 15 years. Now living on a 30-hectare island with a population of 450 people and 15-minutes from the mainland by ferry, the change in lifestyle couldn’t be vaster. But in Catarina’s case, this transition was warmly welcomed.
“I was born and grew up further north in Sweden, in the landscape of Dalarna,” she says. “I really missed the nature there, the open landscape and the forest, and I guess the sea became a substitute for that. We have a school up to third grade and a small grocery store on our island, but that’s about it. The sea is a 5-minute walk from our house, and a large part of the island is a natural area with beautiful trails and a small sheep farm.”
Their home, built in the 1930s, is typical of the architectural style of Sweden’s west coast, constructed entirely of wood with a glass veranda and balcony. Once they moved in, the couple’s focus was to reinstate the history of the property’s design.
“We wanted to change the house’s exterior back to its original from the 1930s, starting with the windows. They had been changed sometime in the 1960s or 70s in a style that was common then. The glass veranda looked more like a room, and it made such a difference by taking back its original style. It took about one year before we were ready with the house’s exterior, but it was so worth it. I’m glad we made that effort from the beginning since it took back the charm of the house.”
As a photographer and interior stylist, Catarina reaps the benefits of a slower life and takes the option to disconnect and retreat into a space of her own. Often when she reaches her saturation point of beautifully curated rooms, she takes time to recentre away from digital screens so she can set alight her instincts.
“I’m very happy that I can work with something I love to do,” she says. “But at times, I can get a bit tired of interior design, and I sometimes feel that everything looks the same. When I feel like that, I try to take a break from social media, Instagram and Pinterest for a while and try to find my way back to my gut feeling and what really inspires me.”
At home, Catarina gravitates towards a balance of moody minimalism achieved by the dabbled light cast through a thick surrounding forest that warms the softly hued interior tones of beige, green and brown. The charm of island life and the quaint, cosy quality of her typically Scandinavian home make the thoughtful details inside feel like an exercise in alchemy. Wood and rattan textures mingle with second-hand finds and elegantly designed furniture, such as a classic shaker table designed by Borge Mogensen and J80 chairs designed by Jorgen Baekmark.
“When it comes to interiors, I think the small personal items make a home,” says Catarina. “Some of my favourite items are ceramic pieces that I’ve sourced in antique shops, such as a sculpture of a girl found at one of the best antique shops in Gothenburg.”
“I’ve noticed that the older I get, the fewer things I want to surround myself with. I tend to look for a more classic design that I know will last for generations, and I’m much less spontaneous, spending more time hunting down what I really want for a certain part of the house.”
This sense of fate and belonging comes at a measured and mindful pace as if dictated by the location itself. It’s like island life has found its home and Catarina is working to make it just right.
Follow Catarina on Instagram: @annacate