New Yorkers Start From Scratch in a Bright Swedish Apartment — House Call

Name: Louisa Johnsson Zea, husband Mario and cat Aycha
Location: Lugnet — Malmö, Sweden
Size: 667 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

Mario, my husband, and I share this place with our cat Aycha. We moved to Sweden from New York City almost two years ago for work (I’m the director for a European Social Fund project) but left most of our things in storage in NYC. So when we got the apartment here we pretty much had nothing, which gave us the opportunity to start from scratch again. It is really fun to have a second shot at developing your style… though you also realize that you miss some of the belongings you are used to having around you.

(Image credit: Louisa Johnsson Zea)

Now we have our friends bring something from NYC every time they come to visit. Having lived in a little over 400 square feet in NYC this feels like palace size. We both love light and airy so the first thing we did was paint the floors white. Then we tore down the bedroom wall and replaced it with old windows to get more light in. We finished it in the middle of the summer but didn’t account for the Scandinavian sun that rises at 3:30 a.m. so the first few weeks we were wondering what we had really done! But now we love it!

(Image credit: Louisa Johnsson Zea)

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Boho, travel, garden, light, creative.

(Image credit: Louisa Johnsson Zea)

Any advice for creating a home you love? We love white because it is easier to add things against that as a backdrop. So we’ll always begin by covering everything in white paint where it’s possible. Plants almost work as a neutral even though it gives color and texture, so tons of those too. A lot of our things tell stories about us, where we have been, and what we are passionate about, and it is nice to be reminded of that. But ultimately if you surround yourself with things and people you love how could you go wrong?

The “orangerie”

(Image credit: Louisa Johnsson Zea)

What is your favorite room and why? Without a doubt the garden-room, which is a balcony with windows that we lovingly refer to as our orangerie. This is like going to the park without leaving the house. It is perfect for reading a book, drinking wine, people-watching, and solving world problems. There is easily over 50 different plants and it is a treat to sit back surrounded by bougainvillea, lemon plants, honeysuckle, and lots of others. It has put my little NYC fire escape garden to shame and allowed me to really get into gardening without ever having to mow the lawn.

Thanks, Louisa Johnsson Zea!

• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour & House Call Submission Form.

*This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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