Christmas house: a restored Swedish holiday home

A restored Swedish summer home turns into a winter wonderland when Kim Månsson fills it with sparkling candles, natural greenery and festive cheer

(Image credit: Helene Toresdotter/House of Pictures)

Christmas in the country is always special, but Kim Månsson’s weekend home in southern Sweden is even more appealing when it’s decorated with bright ribbons, foliage, moss and fresh flowers.

Be inspired by this festive space or look at our other real home transformations and find out how to renovate a house in our guide.

See more Christmas houses on our dedicated page, too.

Project notes

Owner: Kim Månsson, a hairdresser, divides her time between here and her apartment in Malmö Property Built in 1856, in Nilstorp, near Kågeröd in southern Sweden

What she did: The roof, electrics and floors had to be replaced, the windows were repaired, and all the interior walls have been replastered and painted 

‘One Christmas I was completely snowed in and didn’t come out for a whole week,’ says Kim. ‘But with two freezers full of food and plenty of books to read, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, it was wonderful.’

Even without being cut off by snow, Kim’s small, white farmhouse is fairly remote, on a large plot with wide views across the fields. 

Inside, though, the atmosphere is convivial and the antique furniture that Kim has collected at auctions and fleamarkets since she was 20 complements the old house. 

The house was built in 1856 

‘My friends couldn’t understand why I was so interested in antiques,’ adds Kim. ‘They said it was junk and didn’t see the beauty in things that I did. I served up food on my East Indian plates from 1790 and they thought it was unhealthy to eat from such old china. Personally, I thought it was amazing that the plates were still holding together!’ 

An antique pedestal table and Gustavian-style armchairs create a quaint seating space, while the TV is disguised in an old wall cabinet 

Her interest became a passion and Kim signed up for antiques courses and spent whole days at auctions, learning as much as possible about the items up for sale. 

Kim bought the dresser at auction. Next to it, on top of a wooden barrel, is an elegant Gustavsberg porcelain vase filled with fir twigs. For a similar pendant light, try Below Stairs of Hungerford 

She learned how to make her own tapestries and how to paint and renovate the furniture she picked up. ‘I’m fascinated by the fact that people had these things before me and always wonder how they used them, how they lived, and what my things looked like in their homes back then.’ 

Kim found this pretty 19th-century cabinet at a fleamarket 

It was her love of antiques that led Kim to Nilstorp in the late 1990s. An advert for ‘a summer house, complete with antique furniture’ sparked her curiosity and she viewed it as soon as she could.

Many of the tree decorations were Kim’s grandmother’s 

There was no hot water, and the bathroom was an outhouse, but Kim had fallen in love with it and bought it on the spot. She saw past the damp walls and floors, leaky roofs and wiring problems – not to mention the rotten floors and garish paintwork.

An early-20th century birdcage with a stuffed canary 

At times Kim found herself wondering whether the renovation would ever be finished, especially when one of the interior walls collapsed. 

The cut-glass cheese dome belonged to Kim’s grandmother 

Luckily Kim found skilled craftspeople who replaced the roof and gutted the inside of the house, fixed the floors and electrics, built a bathroom, renovated the windows and plastered every wall, then painted with linseed paint.

The original wooden floors were in such poor condition that they couldn’t be saved, so Kim chose to replace them with rustic salvaged bricks. A highly decorative antique Danish stove is the star of the space  

Of all the antiques that came with the house, just one large baroque-style cabinet remains in place – other pieces have been moved to Kim’s apartment or given away.

The kitchen was pieced together from the old units and the worktop was painted black

Kim has found furniture to suit her home’s ‘new and old soul’ and now every urn, candle sconce, chair and table looks familiar and comfortable, as though they’ve been gathered together for centuries. 

An early 19th-century French cast-iron bed, Chinese travel chests, and a collection of portraits of the royal family lend an eclectic look to the main bedroom 

The antiques and the calm colour scheme are a fitting backdrop to the fresh green decorations Kim brings into the home for Christmas – holly, pine branches, Christmas roses and hyacinths: symbols of new life and, for Kim, a reminder of all the work that went into breathing new life into this charming old home.   

Kim gave an old wardrobe a striking red finish. The 1950s lace dress came from a fleamarket, as did the chandelier, while the fine cane-backed chair is a French antique 

This rustic bedroom chair has had a rococo makeover. Kim painted the ornate gilded pattern and reupholstered the seat 

Fresh greenery and flowers decorate the living room, previously two rooms but now opened up to create one large, bright space. The baroque-style cabinet came with the house, while the corner cupboard was an auction buy, and Kim gave both an egg tempera paint finish. The dining table and chairs are also upcycled antiques. An old straw goat keeps an eye on the celebrations, while behind is a Strindberg lamp, named after the Swedish playwright. For a similar rug, try The London Persian Rug Company 

(Image credit: Helen Toresdotter/House of Pictures)

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