Home & Design | Sweden Meets Minnesota

“This was to be a Swedish country home that represented the Swedish heritage of the family—but they didn’t want it to look like a tourist stop.” ­

—Linda Engler, Interior Designer

Designing and building during a pandemic was never part of the plan. But neither social distancing nor supply chain disruptions would slow down this Swedish country house in Medina and the design team behind it, which embraced the idea of remote work—like so many of the rest of us—whenever possible. “We did a large share of this by Zoom,” says interior designer Linda Engler of Engler Studio Interior Design. “And although we would’ve probably gone to Sweden on buying trips, it just wasn’t smart to do at that time.”

Despite the logistical challenges, the project’s overarching timeline never changed. “We had a finite completion date because the homeowners had a number of family members coming from Sweden for Christmas, and it meant a lot to them because some would be coming for the first and maybe the last time to the U.S.,” says Bill Costello, CEO and COO at Streeter Custom Builder.

That connection to Sweden, where one of the homeowners is from, infused nearly every aspect of the home’s design. “The clients described what they wanted as a modern interpretation of a Swedish cottage,” says Charlie Simmons, founding principal at Charlie and Co. Design. “They didn’t want to live in a museum. They wanted it to be fresh and clean.”

Engler has a similar recollection. “We had this conversation about having the traditional but also bringing in some modern elements, because they’re a young family,” the designer says. “She wanted to get this right, but I was maybe even more concerned than she was that this not look like a 70-year-old’s house.”

“Reintroducing family memories is always a recipe for success.”

—Charlie Simmons, Architectural Designer

So the design team struck a balance between styles in nearly every space, generally encouraging that the elements lean more modern. In the entry, for example, Engler and the homeowners originally considered a chandelier-style fixture. “But it just felt too safe,” Engler says. The light fixture they ultimately chose, by Apparatus, feels entirely different. “Early on, had we shown [the wife] this light fixture, she would’ve been like, ‘What?’ But later on, she was the one who said, ‘Look at this great fixture. Do you think it would work?’ And I said, ‘Oh, absolutely.’ And it’s phenomenal.”

In the same space, however, what once was a more modern black metal stair balustrade evolved into a more traditional white woodwork design by Simmons—a delicate slat-and-cutout concept that complements the abundance of natural light.

“It has this Swedish geometry to it, and our trim company did a good job getting the pattern to repeat precisely and in perfect alignment,” Costello says.

A mix of architecture, furnishings, and art like that in the entry extends throughout the home, suggesting a look that’s developed over time. It’s perhaps at its best in the hearth room, where large graphic paintings join a Belgian mantel and beadboard-backed built-ins. There, on a shelf, you’ll find what many people consider Sweden’s most symbolic decoration. “And,” Engler laughs, “it’s the only pair of actual Dala horses you’ll find in the house.”

“It’s a big site, and the challenge was for the house to feel nestled in and cozy.” 

—Bill Costello, Builder

interior Design: Linda Engler, Engler Studio Interior Design, 7562 Market Place Dr., Eden Prairie, 952-564-6488, englerstudio.com //  Architecture: Charlie Simmons and Anthon Ellis, Charlie and Co. Design, 1601 Utica Ave. S., St. Louis Park, 612-333-2246, charlieandcodesign.com //  Builder: Streeter Custom Builder, 18312 Minnetonka Blvd., Wayzata, 952-449-9448, streeterhomes.com //  Landscape Design: Scott Ritter, Topo, 530 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-929-2049, topollc.com

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