There’s No IKEA in This Textile Designer’s Stockholm House, Just Classic Swedish Patterns
A checkered kitchen banquette is the family’s HQ.
Published Feb 10, 2023 1:35 AM
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In college, Cathy Nordström was known as “the pattern girl.” Unlike most of the classmates in her graphic design program who relied on Illustrator and Photoshop for their assignments, Nordström would sketch prints by hand. However, it wasn’t until years later, after a stint working for an advertising agency and freelance designing stationery and logos, that she truly lived up to the nickname. Around 2014, she stumbled across an online pattern class that took her back to her roots. “I instantly knew this is what I needed to do,” says Nordström.
For five or so years, her creations graced stores like Uniqlo and IKEA—two big-box brands that frequently licensed her prints for its fabrics—but when Nordström began craving more control over the color, quality, and circulation of her work, she decided to branch out and establish her own textile house. “The idea started to take shape over countless hours while walking my dog, and so I went for it,” she shares.
Naturally, the home she shares with her husband, Erik; three children, Pelle (13), Malte (11), and Faye (8); and dog, Dixie, just outside of Stockholm is swathed in her patterns. The kitchen sofa, which is deep and long enough to comfortably sleep on, she attests, is upholstered entirely in a rust-and-lilac-hued check named for her youngest. “I’m just waiting until they become teenagers…I’m sure I’ll find someone down there in the morning who didn’t have enough energy to walk up the stairs,” says Nordström with a laugh.
In part, she has interior designer Rebecca Pitt of Inuti Design to thank for the cozy nook. Pitt jumped in to help Nordström renovate the kitchen and was the one to suggest moving the refrigerator that was previously covering up a round window over the sofa and using a sandy stone for the counters, open shelving, and backsplash. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh no, it’s so 1980s,’” recalls Nordström. “But once we got our stuff in there, it just disappeared. It’s warm, which is what I wanted.”
Part of the reason Nordström was drawn to Pitt was the Australian “doesn’t have the typical Scandinavian eye.” Her five-bedroom home is a departure from the typical sleek white interiors most of us associate with Swedish design—and Nordström knows it. “We have such an amazing history of color, pattern, and floral decorative painting, but that kind of went away at some point in the 1980s and ’90s, and we never left,” she shares. Slowly Nordström has been introducing other local craftspeople to the warmer side of things. Philip Duniec, one of the cofounders of design studio Diaform, not only built the cabinets in the kitchen but has been collaborating with her on bespoke furniture pieces, like the main dining table that features chunky legs painted to resemble Nordström’s nearby pottery collection.
Pelle, Malte, and Faye have all grown used to their home being a laboratory of sorts. In the primary bedroom, Nordström’s Florence fabric (or as her daughter calls it, the “leopard-flower print,” because it looks like a mix between a botanical and animal motif) literally lights up the room in the form of bedside lampshades. “I inherited a chair from my grandmother just as I was about to become a mother, and it was upholstered in something very similar,” shares Nordström. “I tried finding it but couldn’t, so I made it myself and named it after her.”
Most recently, Malte’s bedroom served as a photo-shoot space to showcase one of Nordström’s new wallpaper treatments—but he got to have the final say between two options. “I’m waiting for that phase when one of them wants to put posters up on the wall,” says Nordström. Even when the family goes on vacation, everyone gets to bring one of her pillows with them, just in case the ones at the hotel or Airbnb fall flat (literally). “My husband says, ‘You’re going to ruin them, because they travel with cushions under their arm,’” she says with a laugh. “I like to sleep on a nice cushion; otherwise you’re doomed.”