I think we've all been there. We have a room or a great space in our home that just begs for some extra TLC. But sometimes getting the ball rolling with an idea or inspiration that works for the space can seem like the hardest part of a renovation project. For this very reason I'm always on the lookout for something fun, funky, different, or just plain inspirational that will give me the necessary kickstart when one of our many yet to begin projects actually gets moving. 

When I'm on the hunt for inspiration, I usually look for a color, fabric, accessory, or interesting item that inspires the look of my space. I do this during every day shopping, magazine reading, internet browsing (thank you Pinterest), and even going through open houses, but this goes doubly if I'm on vacation. Whether we're just in a different city for the day, or thousands of miles from home, I can't help but continue my quest for the new, different, unusual or just plain eye catching. After all, my number one design philosophy is to incorporate one unique item in every room.

When Alex and I visited Sweden last month as part of our Volvo Overseas Delivery adventure, I made sure to soak in the local styles and keep my eyes peeled for some Scandinavian inspiration to get my creative juices flowing. 

After we arrived in Gothenburg and took a short nap (we would have been toast without it), we set out on foot to explore the streets of the second largest city in Sweden. My first impression? Gothenburg is so charming! Even on a slightly cold and drizzly day, we couldn't wait to explore the cobblestone-lined streets and quaint cafes and shops.

One of our first stops was in a store just a few blocks from our hotel that reminded me of a small Bed, Bath & Beyond here in the states. But this was a Bed Bath & Beyond plus chic design. We found an amazing array of chandeliers, modern furniture, and fun and funky accessories. If I had to categorize it, It was sort of a Bed, Bath & Beyond meets West Elm with some pretty decent prices.

We continued our adventure and found ourselves in the primary shopping district and Old Town area of the city. There seemed to be cool and fun stores everywhere, from food to furniture to fashion. While exploring the Old Town section, we stumbled on a few very interesting shops, including one called Stajl.

This place was so cool! Think World Market but way more unique. I was in heaven, to say the least. And I'm very fortunate to have a patient and even interested spouse when it comes to this type of shopping, I'd say he might even enjoy it as much as I do...well maybe not as much, but close. One of the things that caught my eye was an amazing light fixture. It reminded me of the fixture Sarah Richardson installed in the powder room of Sarah's House season three. I can only imagine how great it would look in a dining room, and what interesting light it would cast.

Another cluster that caught my eye was this colorful display of silk lanterns. The soft light that comes from silk lighting is a great accent to most rooms.

I think they'd be beautiful in a covered outdoor entertaining space or in a bedroom.

I also spotted a collection of large metal trays that reminded me of the two Asian platters we recently picked up at a local estate sale

We currently have one of the platters hanging on the wall in our family room, and the other we're using as a table top, perched on two wicker storage blocks in our sun porch. I'd like to eventually find our build a better base, and this store had a great example of using it just for this purpose (we actually may have found one last night, I'll keep you posted). 

It was hard to leave Stajl empty handed, so I picked up a small gift for my mother in law, but sadly left without anything for our home other than lots of inspiration for future projects.

Soldiering on with the little sleep we had we came across this natural and organic stool in a kitchen supply store that also had a small furniture and accessory section. I love how eclectic all of the stores seemed to be.

I think it would make the perfect informal seating in a basement wine cellar tasting room, or could be charming as additional seating in a rustic or simple family room with natural or organic decor. Picture it: "Hey honey, pull up the bundle of kindling stool and sit with me next to the fire." Just don't get confused and use it as firewood. 

The price on this piece knocked our socks off (It was about $300!!), but it could be a really fun and relatively easy DIY project. All you'd need to do is cut the wood to size, glue it together, and bind it with a secure strapping, in this case they used metal.

All in all, we had a wonderful day exploring a part of the world we never dreamed we'd have a chance to visit. My only regret? Not bringing a bigger suitcase to transport some of these finds. And to answer what may be an obvious question, no we couldn't just pack it in the back of our new car and have it ship over on the cargo carrier, something about customs, homeland security, and not allowed...blah blah blah. 

What about you? Where do you like to look for your design inspiration? Is it an on/off switch for you, or are you like me and find yourself constantly on the lookout for something really cool?

Comments 2


11/7/2011 at 5:56 PM
I love seeing your photos! I also spent quite a bit of time wandering the charming streets & boutiques of Gothenburg ~7 years ago on the way up the coast to Tjorn... I ended up buying more warm clothes than home goods that trip but I certainly eyed them up! Those Swedes have great taste.
Thanks Kelly! It's nice to hear that things haven't changed in seven years, especially given how wonderful Gothenburg and its shopping is.
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