International Home Tour

Step Inside a Modernist Stockholm Home That’s Filled With Light

The designers Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed reimagined a 1930s Swedish apartment, and punctuated it with pieces by Josef Frank
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Entering the two-story apartment on Gumshornsgatan, a street that passes through Stockholm’s Harpan neighborhood (part of affluent Östermalm), can feel like stepping back in time. The residence dates back to the 1930s, and was in its almost original state when designers Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed were asked to renovate it. 

“Despite the partitions, separations, and some less-than-ideal additions, we found the space beautiful with its high ceiling and glass roof,” the designers explain. “We wanted to give it back its original atmosphere.” In the double-height main room, the couple began by removing some elements like the staircase, which they moved to the entry hall. They also created a small rounded balcony that blends seamlessly in with the rest of the interiors. Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed worked within a modernist aesthetic in order to stay true to the apartment’s 1930s origins, but they reinterpreted the period and mixed their choices with more contemporary inspirations.

The designers added round shapes to the vestibule and, when it came to the balcony, they played up its angles to make it something more harmonious and closer to the original aesthetic. “This works wonderfully with this apartment, where the rear part of it has many unexpected angles and edges due to the structure of the building which is itself constrained by the surrounding buildings.” 

Their approach led to the rounded shape of the vestibule, intended to accommodate the spiral staircase, and also the addition of elements that reflect the 1930s, such as the black baseboards and different shades of beige and off-white for the first floor, and more pinkish tones for the upper landing. 

“We took our inspiration from the Villa Cavrois [the modernist mansion in Croix, France, by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens], where a wide variety of beiges are used. We wanted to create a 1930s atmosphere without being limited to that aesthetic by adding other more modern and contemporary notes.” The light penetrating through the large double-height bay window plays a fundamental role in highlighting the shades of beige while also bringing materials and colors to life. The original wooden floor has been preserved and varnished. In other areas, the floors are travertine, as in the hallway where the walls are covered with birch panels. The railing of the staircase has been topped with a polished stainless-steel banister. Upstairs, the wood meets a carpet in shades of beige, while the bathroom combines travertine and pink marble.

While the designers created many custom pieces for the apartment, like the bookcase in the living room's sleeping area, the benches, and the walnut wood dining room table, they also incorporated furniture from the 1930s, from a variety of countries including Germany and even Spain. A large, custom-designed, red ring-shaped light fixture on the living room ceiling coexists with wall lamps by Charlotte Perriand and Josef Frank. The designer is also represented by a pedestal table and a seat, the chairs surrounding the dining room table, and a coffee table that is next to a more recent stool by Anton Alvarez. The owners already had a number of antique pieces that Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed were able to naturally integrate into their design. 

Under the large red ceiling light, a custom desk follows the curve of the balcony. “The works of art, furniture, and objects are a mix between our choices and those of the owners. Many objects such as the ceramics, the screen, and the stool were our contributions. We work instinctively to find the balance between what is true to the apartment’s original period and more contemporary additions. Achieving the right balance has been exciting for us.”

The high windows let in abundant light that’s diffused by the curtains. The eclecticism of Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed’s aesthetic is reflected in the wall lamp by Charlotte Perriand, the coffee table by Josef Frank, and the stool by Anton Alvarez.

The mix of pieces from various eras creates a timeless atmosphere, including, in the custom kitchen, a table and bench designed by Halleroed for this project. The chairs are by Josef Frank.

The apartment’s shades of beige are enhanced by cleverly deployed notes of color. Behind the couch, there’s a vintage screen.

A coffee table by Josef Frank sits in front of the sofa. The stool is by Anton Alvarez.

In front of the bookcase and the birch sofa (by Halleroed) are a pedestal table and a chair by Josef Hoffmann. The fabrics echo the patterns and colors of the apartment.

The new hallway has a carpeted spiral staircase with a stainless-steel handrail. The walls are covered with birch panels while the floor is travertine. The space incorporates many different tones of beige.

On the floor leading to the terrace, the ceiling has been painted blue. Different colorful touches become apparent as one moves through the apartment. The chair, like the one in the living room, is by Josef Hoffmann.

On the ceiling of the second floor, the large red ceiling light created by Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed responds to the round shapes of the balcony and the office, two of the couple's additions that appear as if they have always been there.

In the guest bathroom, the sink, mirror, and faucet set are by Andrée Putman. “It’s a little time capsule that, while it dates to a different era, fits very well with the 1930s,” say Ruxandra and Christian Halleroed.