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Hannah left Sweden close to eight years ago to begin a life in the UK with the man she had fallen in love with. Leaving everything and everyone you know to begin a new life abroad is a daunting task but Hannah said the choice to follow her heart was an easy one. She says “moving abroad alone as an adult is freeing in a way. No one has much, if any, determined perception of you”. She says that her new fiancé’s family and Britain welcomed her with opened arms. There is a feeling that people “genuinely want to include you” and that makes “living [in the UK] as a Swede very uncomplicated”. Born and bred in southern Sweden to parents that she describes as visionary and romantic Hannah became familiar with Sweden’s love of architecture and interior design at a young age. Her family lived in a house that had once belonged to Swedish architect Ulla Molin, they changed little about the home, choosing to appreciate the artist’s vision whilst also adding subtle aspects of their own that remain to this day.
Hannah is quick to point out the differences between the Swedish and the British way of imagining a home. She says that in Sweden, even in a rental property, she would, at the very least paint walls and uncover hardwood floors whereas restrictions in the British rental market make this almost impossible unless you actually own your home. Interior design is deeply ingrained in the Swedish culture, something Hannah believes comes from different ways in which we socialise. The long dark Swedish winters drive people inside and into each other’s houses whereas the UK’s equivalent is a cosy drink in the pub.
Hannah has learned to appreciate the Brits’ “happy-go-lucky and jovial” manner, “I like to think that is slowly rubbing off on me, loosening my Nordic constraint a bit” she says. Something she sees happening within Sweden’s interiors as well.
I think the 'loosening up' is happening with regards to interiors, or my approach to interiors, too. But then I think that's true for Swedes in Sweden too. I see a more varied style, or more styles rather, - that Swedes are relaxing a bit more in the somewhat anxiousness surrounding what our homes should look like."
This loosening up of styles is something Hannah sees as a welcome change, something that encourages the homeowner to surround themselves with things that they love, things that speak to them and things that mean something. Items that are “more fun and quirky, a bit more diverse and personal.” And this is certainly something we are seeing more of here with the most recent interior styles - these personal touches and interiors that are not so "put together" are reflected in the latest Nest Trends, most notably those of Bloom and Heal.
Surrounding herself with these types of meaningful items is one way that Hannah keeps her heritage alive whilst carving out a new life for herself in the UK. She says she finds she clings to more things, especially those of Nordic design “It's as if they breathe of home to me now…”.
It is this longing for Swedish design that led to Hannah discovering Nordic Nest in the first place.
I treasure everything from little gifts from Swedish friends and family to that handmade cup from a ceramicist in Sweden to the pieces I've got from a Nordic designer or brand. It's like having pieces of home around me in our everyday life, here.”
Wing Angels | Ferm Living
"[At Christmas I love] bringing out the paper stars, lighting, even more candles, looking for branches in nature to hang the now almost folklore feeling ornaments, realizing they're all from Scandinavia."
Delicate paper decorations are not just for Christmas. Hang a paper star like the Sun Paper Star from Ferm Living on the wall or a bare twig gathered from the forest for a minimalist and Scandinavian feel all year round.
As well as surrounding herself with Nordic design another way that Hannah keeps a piece of Scandinavia with her is to maintain the traditions that she established with her family growing up.
In the evenings, as the sun starts to sink, we turn off any lamps and sit down together, most often in the big bed. We light candles. Those beautiful long hand-dipped ones or the handmade lanterns that lend such a soft glow. Then we sit together, in the twilight, as the light outside disappears.”
By holding onto our own traditions and passing them down to our children we keep a part of our home alive when we move to a new country.
Her mother called this tradition “kura skymning”, a term that doesn’t really translate from Swedish says Hannah but something like “Curl up Dusk” would be the closest interpretation. “In Sweden in November, when it's at its darkest, lots of libraries do this” she says, “but it takes place in the morning, then called 'Kura Gryning' (like 'Curl up Dawn'). They light candles and offer breakfast, book tips and reading aloud by the librarians.” The word kura also means “to cure” in Swedish so this tradition feels like a medicine for the darkness says Hannah.
We all need a "cure" for the winter darkness. Lighting some candles and curling up together to watch the light disappear is a truly Scandinavian cure!
Keeping your home culture alive is something that is important to all of us who have moved countries, whether this is through your interior décor or an evening ritual passed down through the generations. For us Nordic Nest symbolises home here in Scandinavia and beyond. We hope we have inspired you to put a Scandinavian treasure in your home and surround yourself with things you love.
Text: Rebecca Sparling Photography: Hannah Lemholt @honeypieliving