Magical medley of patterns

Roses, climbing plants, small flowers and square shapes create a magical medley of patterns in a century-old house in Älvsjö, near Stockholm. Welcome to the home of Emma Johansson and her family!

Genuine and passionate

It’s a fantastic home that makes you want to run around like an inquisitive little child, exploring, playing and laughing. This is the home of Emma Johansson, who is an influencer, creator, author and also the founder of the beautiful Instagram account “What Decorates My Day”. 

Rarely have I been as inspired as I am now, by both Emma as a person and her home. The words that possibly best describe the feeling inside Emma Johansson’s home are genuine and passionate. Emma is a genuine person, and her love for her home and the people who live there are genuine. This is one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen yet there are no stiff and sterile areas or things that mustn’t be touched. Her children are allowed to jump on the sofa and Emma is passionate about every room having a story of its own to tell. Playful and creative, each room is almost like a small treasure chest. 

You can’t help but want to know more about Emma. And her thoughts. How does she manage to combine all of these patterns, colours and styles? The recipe seems to be a dash of daring, a bit of circus, an abundance of passion, mixed with lots of joy, good taste and creativity. Above all else, a home should be a living, breathing space, according to Emma. 

“It gives me immense satisfaction to find solutions that blend the practical with the beautiful. You must be able to live in a beautiful home. It should never become a museum,” she explains. 

“Wallpaper in itself is like an amazing work of art. You hardly need paintings”

Emma grew up in the region of Småland in southern Sweden. Both of her parents were healthcare workers and there was rarely any money to spend on expensive furnishings. 

“My mum had a part-time extra job as a childminder so that she could save enough to buy an item of furniture that she really wanted. She always kept our home looking lovely, and I was so proud of that.”  

Emma says she has always been a dreamer and discovered that she shared her mother’s interest in interior design at an early age. 
“I love to dream. I’m not sure how to explain it, but when I was little I could dream myself away into another world. My sister and I used to build Barbie doll houses for weeks at a time. We used books as walls, furnished the houses and were very creative. It’s what we spent all our time doing.”

Emma was given a room of her own at home at the age of six. She was allowed to arrange it however she wanted. 
“I shifted the furniture around each week and when I ran out of ways of doing that, I did my friends’ rooms instead.” She laughs and says “I think they thought Oh no, here comes Emma wanting to rearrange my room again. I’ve always been like that”.

Wallpapers and fabrics draw the eye with their whirlwind of patterns, textures and styles inside this century-old house. Yet it conveys a feeling of total harmony. 
“I follow my instincts a lot. I usually start by asking myself what the room’s purpose is. What is the best way to transform the space to create an optimal feeling of wellbeing?  Try different arrangements, move the furniture around and give it a few weeks to see if it feels right. Let this stage take some time before you start on other details like hanging paintings on the walls.”

“If you love a wallpaper enough, you’ll always find a room for it”

Emma explains that she wants every room to offer a new experience when you enter it. Rooms should convey their own personality.

“It’s that sense of “aah” that I want to feel as I walk through the door,” she says.

“There is a harmonious flow of style throughout our home. This allows greater freedom to mix patterns and colours. Obviously I order wallpaper samples first to make sure it won’t look totally wrong, but usually I find other attributes that complete the room with a visually cohesive look. For example, there’s some red and light purple in the tiles of the stove, and we’ve picked up the red in both the kitchen island and the wallpaper. Floral patterned wallpapers create a cohesive scheme in our home, yet also give each room its charm and individuality.”

According to Emma, you shouldn’t worry about whether a wallpaper matches the other wallpapers in your home. 

“Think instead about which corners and angles you can actually see at the same time. And just because a wallpaper “clashes” a bit does not mean you shouldn’t choose it. You can always use furniture or textiles to break it up a little. Try to see opportunities rather than obstacles!”

Emma’s interior design tips 

  • Start by thinking about the practical aspects. What is the room going to be used for?
  • Try arranging the furniture in different ways.
  • Wallpaper gives the room a cosy and homely feel. Order samples of the ones you like and put them up. You’ll see that floral patterns go well together and with other colours and furniture.
  • When I’m looking for furniture, I always start at the second-hand and antique shops. I love furniture and accessories with a soul.
  • Try it! You can always change your mind.
  • Look for inspiration in other countries too. I get tremendously inspired by how homes are furnished and decorated in the UK, Italy and France.  Unlike Sweden, they tend to have a more relaxed style, less polished and perfect. They are incredible when it comes to colours and patterns in the UK.

In biref

The house: A detached house, built in the 1920s with 350 square metres of living space. The house is divided into three flats. Emma and her family live in one of the flats with an area of about 150 square metres.

Who lives here: The Johansson/Hedenborn family. Emma Johansson age 37, Mikael Hedenborn age 35, Carl-Philip age 6, Alexander age 3 and the family’s five Holland lop rabbits.

Work: Emma is an influencer, creator, photographer and author of the life planner diary Livsjournalen. Mikael has his own business in promotional marketing.

Next project: We are going to renovate the kitchen, although one of my big dreams is to have a greenhouse in the garden. Plus we have bought an old house in Överkalix right up in northern Sweden.

Text and styling: Jill Windahl

Photos: Lina Östling

The family´s wallpapers


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