London eyes on Swedish Interiors & other stuff

A Londoners perspective
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Being a father

August 5th, 2010 by mondo

WOW…I am the proud father of a gorgeous baby boy! Can you imagine me a father? It’s hard to believe I know and I’m just coming to terms with it myself. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for my wife and I but what a fantastic experience it has been.

Alfie was born on the 29th June a healthy baby boy. It was a little unusual the way it happened though. We were at home when Anna-Lena my wife started to get the contractions, she called the barnmorska and they said not to come in till the contractions were 3 minutes apart, so for the next 6 hours I was responsible for timing them which is not as easy as you think, especially when they go down to 3mins apart. Anyway, at 3 o clock in the morning we called the barnmorska and she said come in. Well I had my doubts whether we would get to the hospital, as soon as we were outside the apartment Anna-Lena got another one, it felt like they were coming every minute. The cab driver was very quite through the journey, probably not wanting to disturb us for fear of having a baby in the back of his car. As soon as Anna-Lena was outside the hospital she got another big one and then proceeded to get sick just outside the entrance. At that point I thought we were going to have it there and then, it was 3 in the morning and no one in sight and I thought dam why didn’t I go to those pre-natal classes. Eventually Anna-Lena straightened up and walked into the hospital. Just over two hours later Alfie was born and without sounding to sentimental he’s the most gorgeous baby in the world!! My question is why did they want to leave us at home till the very last minute. I’m all for staying at home as long as one can but I must say that was a little to close for comfort.

I thought the service that we received at the kvinnokliniken was exceptional. Remember I’m from London and used to the NHS. Nobody was rushed, the nurses had time to talk to us and it was all very relaxed and professional. I thought the hospital was friendly and welcoming without being to intimidating. In the UK the nurses wouldn’t have the time to stop and talk with you and the delivery rooms would more often than not resemble dark, dingy spaces more conducive to an addict’s drug den than a delivery room. The aftercare was superb to. The room we stayed in was the size of a small ward that would sleep six in London and for a small fee I could stay with Anna-Lena and sleep in a proper bed…like I said…an amazing experience!

I’ll keep you updated on the ups and downs of being a father.

Thanks for reading.

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Why everyone should have an interior designer!

May 12th, 2010 by mondo

The reason I have chosen to talk about interior design amongst other things on my blog is because I love it…I really love it! Good design within your home or work place can bring many fantastic benefits and when I see how excited my clients are at the end of a completed project it gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I made a positive contribution to their lives and I just want to tell everyone how great interior design is and that they should give it a go, of course I’m biased, its my job but believe me if I didn’t believe in it a 100%, I would not be shouting about the benefits.

I recently completed an Interior design project for a client in Helsingborg. My clients are a young couple in there 50s with their own business. My brief was to re-design their upstairs lounge and TV room. They don’t have much time to themselves so it was important that their TV/lounge space was a cosy and relaxing space.

My brief was broad…something like ‘we don’t know what we want so we’ll leave it up to you’ I thought fantastic! My kind of client but Sometimes it’s easier if the client is more specific about what they want, but then on the other hand it gave me a free reign, which is not always a good idea.

Below is a before shot of the room:

And what it looks like after I got my hands on it!

An important part of the design process is to get to know the client – how do they live – what do they like – what inspires them – what do they eat – what are there hobbies, you get the point and the one thing that struck me whilst walking around their room was where is their personality, there was nothing of them there. So that was my starting point to introduce them into their living space.

A good interior designer should be able to read people and situations, more often than not I work with couples and it’s interesting to sit down with them and discuss their likes and dislikes, habits, and design ideas and I gotta say the majority of couples have very different ideas about how interiors should look and it can get a bit heated….which is why I always wear protective clothing at such meetings (joke).

One of the most important points to address when designing is the male / female energy in a space, something most designers miss. I try and harmonize both energies and if done well it can produce a great design…enough about the cosmos, but you get my meaning. Getting back to my client, I decided that they needed glamor and colour

So I proposed a gold, black, fuchsia scheme, now I know it doesn’t sound like the most inspirational design and the look on my clients faces when they saw the initial concept boards was something to behold but after a while they to warmed to it.

Once we agreed on the design, I began decorating. I used shiny gold wallpaper on the walls halogen spots on a wire track system on the ceiling. I built low bookshelves around the room from MDF, painted in a black satin finish and I used a big fuchsia armchair as a focal point with, curtains and cushions to match.

I used reflective / shiny surfaces and paint as much as possible to reflect the light around the space, creating an exciting room with depth, warmth and loads of cosiness.

My clients love the finished design and as result they spend more time there. It’s a room all the family can use now and a space with fantastic energy!

Just to finish up…Interior design does seem to have a reputation that only the rich and famous can afford, but I want to change that, I want to make interior design affordable to everyone…why? Because everyone has the right to share the benefits of good design and I want everyone to see that it can bring huge positives into their lives.

Thanks for reading.

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Vocabulary dreams.

March 29th, 2010 by mondo

Its 6 o clock in the morning and I’ve been awake for about an hour. I’m not sure if any else has this problem….but I’m dreaming of Swedish words…sad I know but I can’t stop it. It’s happened a few times now. Last night I saw a word on TV…spänd (tense)…it sounds similar to spannande…and I love excitement…which is why I remember it I suppose. This word was there, in my head just bouncing around and suddenly a sentence appeared and hey presto I made a Swedish sentence. If this persists, I will seek professional advice.

Some good news, I passed my SFI exam…yah! I started on the SFI programme about a year ago. Four days a week, for 4 hours a day and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it!! During my time there I had several different teachers and all very good. My first teacher was the hardest to understand he had a deep Skåna accent and I could not understand him for the life of me. I can liken it to a Swedish person going to Scotland to learn English and believe even the English cant understand the Scottish so pretty hard job.

After a couple more changes in teachers I went to ‘Språk Verket’ still at Komvux, a school within a school. I can’t praise the teachers highly enough, they were fantastic! It worked as so…There were approximately 60 students to 3 teachers. We were in charge of our own studies, every Monday morning we were given a list of subjects and a weekly planner, we were encouraged to choose subjects that we were weak in. I like talking but weak in speaking Swedish so I choose ‘tala’. I improved so much and really looked forward to our group ‘tala’ sessions. My improvement had a lot to do with the teacher’s enthusiasm and teaching methods, they were truly inspiring so thank you to everyone involved at språk verket.

Before I finish up, I want to tell you that I have made the BIG jump to the Holy Grail that is ‘Swedish’.

Every one’s been telling me that if you want to learn Swedish you must stop speaking English. Now this didn’t make any sense to me (well it did…but choose to ignore it)…why would I want to do that huh? What would I have to say?…nothing to be exact but Last weekend my wife and I went to visit her parents, her mother insists on speaking Swedish to me even though she is fluent in English and the rest of the family use a mix of both when they talk to me. Her mother speaking Swedish all the time forces me to speak what little Swedish I know but what was interesting toward the end of the day when I had been listening to mostly Swedish I caught myself sitting there around the dinner table listening to her family speaking Swedish and thought wow I can understand quite a lot and I thought I’m actually not as bad as I thought I was, so you know what, I started speaking Swedish to my wife when we left and she has continued to speak Swedish to me. It’s now been over a week and we’re still speaking Swedish (with some small exceptions).

I’m still not 100% confident at speaking it and have a long way to go but at least I’ve started and I can feel myself growing in confidence.

So may the Swedish word dreams continue…I say!!

Thanks for reading.

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White – The fast food of interiors…Quick, Convenient, and Tasteless

February 16th, 2010 by mondo

You Know…I’m normally quite a calm, positive person, not much rattles my cage, but as I sit here thinking about Swedes and their obsession with bloody white my blood pressure has doubled, and I’m stressed, why o why do they use white so much?…in fact…its driving me crazy…breath….by the way I’m an interior designer and decorator and like talking about meaningless subjects such as white.

My god…where is the imagination in painting ones home white or off white for that matter. I want to explore the obsession with white for just a moment…

…I know white isn’t exclusively the domain of Sweden enough Brits use it and it’s used to death in countries with a lot warmer climates which I can understand. But Sweden for 4/5 months of the year is bloody cold and they more than most need to use warmer colours.

Do Swedes use white because they can’t think of another colour to use? Are they afraid of making mistakes with colour? Maybe they think that white actually looks good, now that’s scary. Is it a light issue? Maybe they think by using a colour their space will become dark and gloomy, is it because they can’t be bothered to choose a colour?, maybe its all of the above.

My standpoint has always been that your home should be a reflection of your personality. Colour used in the right way can bring many positive aspects into your life…but yet the Swedes insist on using white….is it a reflection of their personality? Is this country personality less? I’ve heard many times from other people that the Swedes are cold and unfeeling, is this true? If so it would go along way to explaining why white is so prominent in their homes.

Let me say that this is not my opinion of Swedish people, I have found them to be warm and generous and it’s this point that’s confusing me even more…warm and generous, could not be further from…WHITE. Maybe I’ve been lucky with the types of people that I have met.

There are places that white can be used such as museums, art galleries etc one should not to be distracted from the art or historic find, but why would you want to use white in your home unless, it is an art gallery…it doesn’t make sense. White is the most boring colour known to man and every home I go into is white…even the snows white…I’m just so bored of white!…

…so please fell free to write and explain why you think Swedes use so much white.

…And don’t get me started on IKEA. Nearly every apartment that I’ve been into looks like IKEA…why is that? White walls and IKEA furniture…yum yum! I realize that people are on budgets and IKEA is convenient, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

When I first arrived here I went to the auctions…it’s a fantastic way to shop and you can develop a really unique look for your home on a minimal budget, more importantly you’re recycling, and not participating in the ‘throw away society’ that most people seem to have embraced.

Now having said that…I do have a confession to make at this point, I have been to IKEA and bought ‘Billy the bookshelf’ or whatever its called but might I say that I got persuaded by my lovely wife…so it wasn’t my fault…I just had a moment of weakness.

So I insist go out there, find pieces of furniture that you love, that you are passionate about and above all be inspired and have fun with your home…

….and remember there is no right or wrong

….just don’t use WHITE!

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Welcome

October 20th, 2009 by mondo

Welcome to my first blog.

I’m not one for writing to much although I have kept a diary for the last couple of years and I must admit it feels good to clear the head.

On this blog I’ll write about the differences between Swedish / English Interior Design (my second passion), my wife being my first. My life here compared to my life in London and my experiences of learning the Swedish language.

So how did I come to be here?…Pure Swedish love. My wife is Swedish and I met her in Camden Town (London) 8 years ago. We married a few years ago and moved here last Christmas.

So far all is good. I’ve been studying SFI (Swedish for invandare) in Malmo for the past 8 months. Now I’m not a language person and the thought of learning a language, scares me. I’m not naturally gifted in this department and anything that does stick between my ears (which isn’t much) I’ve gotta work hard at, some people (like my wife) only have to look at a language and are able to speak it fluently.

Today for example, I was doing some Swedish homework, I had a paragraph to write about a film I saw earlier in the week, it took me ages to write and I felt so dumb and thought what the hell am I doing….whilst pulling my hair out! In the next room my wife was on the phone to work, speaking 3 languages fluently…some people have all the gift!

The other day in class, I caught myself drifting and thinking about my old life in London.
There I was quite successful. I had my own Interiors / furniture business. I had lots of friends. Most of them wanting to move out of London for a quite life. That’s the problem with London now, the Londoners are all moving out…a dying breed…and then I took myself back into class and the comparison couldn’t have been much different…two totally different lives.

Do I like my new life?

Yes I do, I love the challenge and of course it’s different to what I’m used to and when I’m down I pull myself back and remind myself that I’m lucky to have the opportunity to learn a new culture and language. At the moment I’m relying on English to much which is holding back my progress in Swedish. Everyone speaks English, which is great, but its not gonna help improve my Swedish.

I’ve had loads of advice from well meaning friends they say ‘speak only Swedish with your wife’…well if that happened we would be divorced by now….so I don’t think that’s good advice and anyway it would be so boring for her if I kept asking her name or where she lives, oh yeh she lives with me.

Before I finish, I wanna give you an example of how challenging my life can be some times. After taking a shower the other day I lathered my body in ‘body moisturizer’ it went on better than expected and thought this is good stuff. The following day, again in the shower, I saw the same bottle but in the shower cubicle and then it twigged I’d used shower crème instead of body moisturizer. I had lathered my body in shower crème!!  Bloody Swedish instructions.

Life can be hard!! But I suppose that’s the challenge. Until next time.

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