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My Scandinavian Home was named the Best International Design Blog in the 2017 Domino Design Blog Awards.
Chances are, if you’ve saved a perfectly minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired interiors moment on Pinterest, its origins can be traced to Niki Brantmark.
Brantmark is the blogger behind My Scandinavian Home, the uber popular site that boasts over 18 million hits and enjoys a pretty well-established monopoly over the world of digital Scandi decor inspiration. The London-born, Sweden-based blogger has taken her little corner of the internet and transformed it into a veritable business that employs two people and has spawned three books. Yet despite all her success, Brantmark is not only extremely humble but, six years down the road, still genuinely enjoys her work.
“I’ve always loved interiors, even as a little girl,” she says. “I remember going to people’s houses with my parents and always having a little nosing around the entire house, finding an excuse to go upstairs so I could look at the rooms. In Sweden, it’s amazing because when you visit someone’s house they show you around and give you a guided tour.”
This seems to be a format Brantmark has translated to her blog. Casual, inviting, and unpretentious, her tone makes each beautiful home tour she features seem like you’re getting a personal tour from a friend. And her readers are definitely responding.
“The main thing really is the engagement I get with my readers,” says Brantmark of her favorite part of blogging. “With print, you don’t get that immediate response; I do love writing my books but it’s different. I find the online community is so supportive of each other. It’s like everyone is trying to help each other’s confidence and encourage each other.”
It may be what she’s known for now, but My Scandinavian Home wasn’t actually Brantmark’s first foray into the blogging world. After working for years as a marketing manager in the global communications industry, she started a private blog (which unfortunately is gone with the wind as she can’t even log in anymore) about her maternity leave. Through that, she discovered an acute interest for writing and sharing creative visuals and launched My Scandinavian Home in 2011 as a more public, decor-driven platform. She took the plunge and dedicated herself to it full time a couple of years ago.
“In December of 2015, I suddenly got a call from a publisher about writing a book,” says Brantmark, “and I started to think about advertising, and that more people were interested in my blog. I got a book deal and just thought, right, this is it. This is a sign.”
It’s been full steam ahead ever since. Using the business acumen picked up from her corporate job and exploring her passion for writing, photography, and above all interiors, she juggles brand deals, blogging, social media, and book deals. No two days are the same—she refers to herself as a “working nomad” and finds office spaces a bit claustrophobic—and that’s just the way she likes it.
Which is not to say that blogging is easy. As someone who launched her platform right around the time where bloggers were starting to gain traction, she’s seen the industry change quite a bit—most notably in the relationship between influencers and brands, which she says is now more competitive. And there are downsides to being in the public eye.
“I am on my own quite a lot, and sometimes it can feel like writing into a little black hole. I also feel like you’re quite vulnerable; it’s scary because you’re putting yourself out there for people to critique. At a corporation, you did your work and your boss might give some feedback, but online anyone can comment,” she says.
Yet despite this, blogging (particularly blogging about Scandinavian design) is something Brantmark loves. It helps that the Scandi aesthetic is in line with her own style, because it makes her writing more personable. Having lived in Sweden for 13 years, she has the first-hand experience that fans of the minimalist aesthetic might lack, which not only legitimizes her writing but shows her readers that she truly lives what she espouses.
“I’m from London originally, and I love English houses because they’re really cozy. I feel at home when I go there, but over time, I’ve become more and more attached to the Scandinavian aesthetic,” says Brantmark. “My mum comes over and goes ‘where’s all your stuff gone?.’ But I love the way that in a Scandinavian home, the idea of buying fewer things is that you can see everything you do have more clearly. They’re choosing things for their homes more carefully and letting them stand out.”
She shares the design lessons learnt from living in Sweden more indirectly through her work. You won’t find explicit how-tos on her blog; instead, beautiful imagery and in-depth description of the home tours she shares showcase the “less is more” design lesson through inspiration.
Though for anyone wondering about exactly how they can make their space a little more Scandi, Brantmark is eager to share her insight: “It’s about de-cluttering. Keep things around you that are useful, and that you love. From there, incorporate clean colors like greys, whites, and creams, and instead use textures to warm up the spaces. Rustic wood, chunky knits, crisp linens, stoneware, ceramics, sheepskins… you can get a warm look even if the space is minimalist. Texture is key to making it interesting.”
She’s translated her expertise into three successful books, which are a natural extension of her blog writing and allow her to go more in-depth about the subjects she’s passionate about. Her first two, Modern Pastoral and The Scandinavian Home are more interiors-focused; Lagom, her newest one that was just released in the US, shares more about the general Swedish lifestyle she loves so much.
“It was really nice to be able to write all the great things about this country—very cathartic,” says Brantmark. “It was a massive dream of mine to write a book one day, and I had this romantic vision of me in a writing cabin. Actually, I was just at home in my pajamas, but I really enjoyed it. I got to go to all the homes we shot, which was such a pleasure because [the homeowners] were all very enthusiastic and inspiring.”
But while she loves writing print, Brantmark remains loyal to her blog. And though she doesn’t like setting long term goals (“I just feel like you can’t really afford to; you have to be able to bend and flex with where [the industry] is going… sort of go with the flow”), she’s keen on continuing to grow her platform and showcase more of her creative side.
“I really do believe there’s the place for both digital and print, because especially now I feel like we need to be able to switch off our phones and the only way to do that really is to go analog sometimes,” she says. “But I really enjoy the blogging process, and it will always form the basis of my work, the central pin that everything else will swirl around. Social media is growing and the whole industry is becoming broader—my goal is to just keep growing with it.”
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