Design: Interiors / Stockholm
Heart and home
Laidback hotel Ett Hem offers a space where guests can get away from the rigours of city life. And now an expansion is enhancing this tranquil urban oasis.
Until a few weeks ago there was nothing like Ett Hem. Opened in 2012, the laidback, Stockholm stay was created by London design firm StudioIlse and operated by its Swedish owner, Jeanette Mix. The comfy lounge area is serviced by hosts who feel more like friends than staff and its 12 bedrooms are some of the world’s most charming. Now this characterful and tranquil urban oasis, which carved out a homely niche into the world of high-end hospitality, has expanded – converging with a neighbouring building from the same arts and crafts era as the original. The project, also designed by StudioIlse and which had its soft opening in July, adds another 10 rooms and increases amenities for all guests and the public, who can enjoy the kitchen lounge and book rooms for functions.
Pushing open the new patterned wrought-iron gate, which nods to the site’s heritage (and on which the “Ett Hem” logotype is handsomely forged), monocle is led through a shared entrance for both buildings and into the new environment. Our hosts are Ilse Crawford the founder of StudioIlse and Mix. The result is immediately impressive with interiors that make clear the identity of the old Ett Hem has remained intact. “We’re being judged according to something that’s already beloved today, which is a super interesting challenge,” says Crawford, guiding us through social areas replete with a mix of custom furniture and antique pieces and into an open kitchen.
The second building’s cooking and dining area, housed in an early-20th-century structure, features Jämtland limestone surfaces quarried on the Swedish island of Öland. Today the space is flooded with sunlight. Here, the venue’s culture of social breakfasts prepared by chefs using simple, fresh produce, is continued. “It’s fundamental, this transparency we’re creating between back-of-house and front-of-house,” says Crawford of the relaxed setting where visitors chat freely with the cooks who are making their meals. “That is what makes guests trust everybody: they can relax here. This plays a big part in creating the ease of the place.”
“This absolutely distils Ett Hem: the combination of real, raw, cultured Swedish objects against what is actually a very simple looking table”
While the early-1900s building, most recently an office and doctor’s surgery, is similar in architectural style to its neighbour, it has its own personality and, importantly, receives a different quality of light. “By nature the original building is slightly darker and cosier,” says Crawford. “If that was the safe, secure, warm place, then this is lighter, more lively and more public space.” An extensive overhaul to the second building was needed to revitalise it. The works included knocking down walls to create free-flowing spaces and peeling old paint off the bannister of an ornate staircase. “Painting over everything in a strict architectural way is not Ett Hem; Ett Hem is about feeling the original wood under your hand.”
“This is the social floor,” says Mix, leading us through the roomy public spaces of the site’s second storey and out onto a wide balcony, overlooking a verdant garden and the first iteration of Ett Hem. “It gives guests a way to use the house as freely as they want. They can choose where they want to relax and can access the balcony from three different doors.”
The terrace is furnished with cane mid-century lounge chairs designed by Danish architect Tove Kindt-Larsen, which sit alongside weather-proof contemporary coffee tables from Stockholm’s Massproductions and huge, lushly planted terracotta pots that lend a softer feel to the area. Inside, StudioIlse’s refined custom pieces blend effortlessly with a tasteful mix of vintage furniture. For example, the clean lines of a glossy, hot-red lacquered table by StudioIlse counterpoint the curved timber forms of a set of wooden chairs made by Swedish master craftsman Axel Einar Hjorth. “For me, this absolutely distils Ett Hem,” Crawford says of the mix of styles and materials. “That combination of real, raw, cultured Swedish objects against what is actually a very simple looking table.”
Other design details include a wooden cabinet that heritage Swedish furniture-maker Svenskt Tenn has reproduced from its back catalogue of Josef Frank’s designs. Modern creative talents have contributed to the mix too. In the downstairs bathroom there are handmade tiles from London studio Glithero, created in the Netherlands. They feature an elegant botanical drawing that weaves across the room, around the sink and towards the window; it’s a subtle addition that brings real dynamism to a space that is typically undervalued in most developments.
Elements of the building’s rich history also remain. In the attic suite, a mural adorning the ceiling has been carefully extended onto a grand fireplace. Despite looking old, the feature was newly added by a Swedish builder based on photos of a long-removed original.
One element that people really enjoy about the original part of Ett Hem is the casual atmosphere and this has been filtered into the new space too. Guests can head to the open kitchen for breakfast but there is also the roomy greenhouse dining area, which appreciates the surrounding nature. “People love the greenhouse and that’s what’s inspired the energy in the new public areas,” says Crawford. “They feel furnished but not formal. Informality is something we never want to lose at Ett Hem.” In the new greenhouse guests can enjoy a glass of wine as florists prepare bouquets for the property alongside them. It’s part of a new type of laidback luxury that laptop-weary holidaymakers covet these days (though they should be careful not to use the L-word to describe the place’s experience). “We have never liked that word, ‘luxury’; we really try to avoid it,” says Mix, who curated Ett Hem’s tasteful artwork alongside Michael Storåkers and Lisa Ivemark. “This isn’t a ‘concept’, this is our philosophy.” Crawford chimes in. “A philosophy made around values. Ett Hem sits in a world of things that are man-made and human-facing, which is going to become ever rarer. It’s so intentionally human and so intentionally man-made – and not automated, and that’s what’s so special about it. Ett Hem is not about human resources; it’s about humans.”