Working From Home? Get Inspo From ‘Disposable Chic’

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.

The liv­ing room and tele­vi­sion room are next to each oth­er. The enor­mous map of the world feels like a good place to sit with vis­it­ing friends. The can­de­labra were bought at var­i­ous flea mar­kets. Once plain wood, they’ve been paint­ed dif­fer­ent colours, inspired by the world map. The hang­ing lamps are new, but based on an orig­i­nal vin­tage design, and bought for a bar­gain in a clos­ing­down sale.

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.

The book­shelf is made from MDF, and cov­ers the height and width of the room. The arm­chair was bought at a flea mar­ket, and the art­work above it is an album cov­er made 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.”

Frank takes a snooze in the lit­tle house at the top of the stairs. A beau­ti­ful rail was orig­i­nal­ly planned, but it was too expen­sive, so MDF plates were used to make sure the chil­dren were pro­tect­ed from falling down the steep stairs in the con­vert­ed attic.

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.”