Marked by a soft palette, nods to neoclassicism, and respect for light, Swedish Gustavian style is in a class of its own. There’s nothing like this style’s dramatic juxtaposition between the elegant and the rustic, the cozy and the refined. Here are our top three reasons every design aficionado loves Swedish Gustavian style:
1. Its rich history
If you imagine the Louis XVI style as the “it girl” of the French furniture family, then think of Gustavian style as her boho chic cousin—same great bone structure, but a lot less fuss. Named for Swedish king Gustav III, who reigned from 1771 to 1792, the aesthetic mimics the neoclassical Louis XVI lines that Gustav fell in love with while visiting Versailles.
2. The classical proportions
In Sweden’s cooler, more rustic northern latitudes, the look was adapted to local materials and taste. Benches, chairs, and chests of drawers boast the same classical proportions and motifs as their French counterparts—symmetrical fluted legs, garlands, and lyre backs—but here they were executed in more humble native woods like beech, birch, and pine.
3. Its romantic colors
To mask those materials and to lighten interiors in a country that is virtually cloaked in darkness for half the year, artisans tinted furniture in pale shades of ivory, gray, and blue using traditional milk paints. Upholstery followed suit, with sunny cotton ginghams subbing in for glossy formal silks. The results were feminine, pretty, and refreshingly easygoing—lending Gustavian pieces a stylish versatility that persists to this day.