If you work from home, your space needs to INSPIRE and MOTIVATE. The creative juices must flow in this explosive home; there is colour and life everywhere you turn. Photographer Jenny Brandt and illustrator/graphic designer Jens Grönberg, and their children Viola (8) and Frank (3), show us through their home.
WORDS KIKI WIESLANDER PHOTOS JENNY BRANDT
On arrival, I marvel at the light and white, a clear reflection of Jens and Jenny’s artfully rebellious attitude, and their creative approach to design. This wildly fun home and work space, with its amplified colours, highly personalised collections, and fluid approach to decorating, is a masterclass in cool, convention-defying style.
Jenny describes the decor as David Hasselhoff, television, plastic and lowbrow culture. I interpret this to mean nothing in here cost a fortune, everything is constantly changing and the only things considered precious are the kids, Viola and Frank.
After several years of house hunting, Jenny and Jens finally fell for a small, ramshackle 1945 building. The façade was crumbling, paint was peeling off every surface and, in the garden, a rusting tractor had turned the lawn into a mud bath. “We were originally on the hunt for something old school with lots of charm, or an industrial-type building with high ceilings and open spaces. But when we saw this place we could see the potential in living cheaply and not being tied up with a big mortgage. It wasn’t a popular house — there were lots of horror stories circulating about the people who’d lived there previously. But we liked the feeling of it.”
And so the Brandt-Grönberg duo, with Viola who was then just a babe-in-arms, moved into the “one that nobody else wanted.”
Everything has been finished simply and on a budget: walls and kitchen cupboards were patched up and painted; plastic carpets were removed to reveal floorboards, which were restored and painted white; the spacious attic has been transformed into three light-flooded bedrooms plus a playroom for the children. “I get a buzz out of finding cheap and clever solutions,” explains Jenny. “What I’ve learned along the way is, it doesn’t always have to be done according to the rules. It usually turns out fine anyway.”
Decoratively, the interior is a mixed bag of heritage hand-me-downs, flea market bargains and other serendipitous finds. The TV is a “sacred piece of furniture” and can be seen from both the sofa and the adjacent dining room with its large purple table and mid-century chairs. Here, the family plays Xbox and watches Days of Our Lives, The Addams Family and Scooby-Doo.
A few bespoke pieces are exceptional in their modernity and functionality, such as the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelf holding interior design magazines, books and music, as well as the collected works of the cartoonist, Jan Stenmark. Jenny’s favourite book, Role Models by John Waters, is often displayed on the dining room table, ready to inspire. Every wall is crammed with pictures, design work and objects, including Jenny’s photographs, inherited artworks, and album covers designed by Jens.
Just as the couple are forever expressing their creativity in their work, this is a house in constant flux. “Nothing is ever really finished,” says Jenny. “That is not the main goal. Rather, this is a house for living and a canvas for the imagination.
“Our home seems to change with the growth of the children. And my moods,” laughs Jenny. “Today it looks like this, tomorrow the rooms might have traded functions. It’s a part of our philosophy on life. Nothing is static, everything is possible.”
In keeping with their quirky outlook, the next dream project is to construct a basketball court or to tar a passage through the lawn. “I’m looking forward to what the neighbours will say,” smiles Jenny. “After almost six years, I believe they have got used to our fanciful ideas. We’ll just have to see what happens.”