How to: Scandi children's room
Tellkiddo founder Maria Sabbah shows Ali Horsfall how to make classic Scandinavian design work for tots
Our family home is in Enskede, south of Stockholm. We moved here when our first baby, Sam, was just three months old. It’s a townhouse built in the Sixties and the interiors hadn’t reallly been touched for 40 years. We’ve kept some of it, and spent the last two years repainting everything and filling it with our favourite things.
Having children hasn’t really changed my style. Before we became parents my husband and I had lived in an apartment in the city, so the biggest adjustment was needing a bigger place and then coming up with great storage solutions for the children’s toys and things. Now our second baby will be joining us very soon so we have just completed the nursery.
I grew up on a sheep farm so I’m drawn to nature. Using materials such as wood, stone and natural fabrics has let me create a cosy family home in the suburbs, while connecting to the outdoors. That’s important to me. Our initial idea for the baby nursery was to decorate it with a ‘woods’ theme. My friend who’s a stylist found amazing wallpaper covered in a cactus print so the room was soon transformed into more of an oasis than a forest. We haven’t found out the gender of our new baby so the mission has been to create a lovely unisex room that would work for both.
We’ve bought a simple cradle for our newborn but decided to put a bigger cot bed in the nursery too. Because as well as it being the baby’s room, the plan has always been to have a nice space for big brother Sam – so he can read, take naps and feel that he is also welcome in the new nursery.
I love using graphic prints in baby rooms. Black and white designs are easy for them to focus on when they are tiny. The bear face bedding on the cot bed is my design, and it evolved from my storage bags.
At a glance, both rooms are examples of classic Scandinavian thinking. They’re mainly a white base with grey tones and lots of texture that comes from using blankets or sheepskin. Natural woods such as oak will always appeal to me, but now I equally love the green and simple white furniture combination in the new nursery.
Sam’s room is graphic and minimalist – which is very Scandinavian, but it’s also playful. He has an old oak bed from France that’s more or less like a throne. He was so excited to get it and make the transition from a cot to a ‘big boy’s’ bed, and it’s the centrepiece in the room. His wooden horse glider matches it beautifully.
A family of toy animals looks fun and quirky displayed on a shelf. Sam thinks they are just amazing and plays with them every day. He’ll line them up or put them on his toy truck and drive around with them.
Keeping on top of all the clutter is key in a toddler’s room. I try to organise things so similar toys are kept together in one place, then they are easy to find and easy to put away. So we have all Sam’s soft teddy bears in large fabric bags and all the cars and dinosaurs in a tough paper storage bag – this means we can hide the ugly toys too! His building blocks live in baskets dotted around the room.
We sit on the floor in Sam’s room and do puzzles a lot. He likes painting and drawing too, but that is for the kitchen only. Every day we have a new work of art to show dad when he comes home, and then we’ll frame them for the wall. A painting or simple drawing that you’ve made yourself is the cheapest and easiest way to add interest to a plain white wall.