Gustavian Swedish Style-How To Get The Look for Less

It’s been a while since I’ve written about one of my favorite styles of furnishings, Gustavian Swedish Style.

In fact, I have some Swedish Gustavian Style pieces in my home and have since the year 2000.

I love mixing this style with other classical pieces.

Of course, none of my pieces are real antiques except for my bookcase. However, it was mahogany when I got it. And, it’s not really Gustavian Swedish style in design. It’s actually Georgian. However, Georgian was the same period as the Gustavian Swedish Style as was the Louis XVI Style.


While the Gustavians loved their pale subtle tones, they also loved saturated colors. And, not everything was always painted.


I had no idea until several years ago when I discovered this surprise in Stockholm.

However, after my wonderful visit to Copenhagen, Denmark in September 2018, I saw a lot more of the saturated colors.


Nyhavn - waterfront - colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen

Please go here for more about my trip to Copenhagen.


But then, as I was researching for this post which by the way, was a lot of fun, I discovered a lot more than I realized about Gustavian Swedish color palettes.


The Traditional Gustavian Swedish colors; the pale muted grays of every hue remind me of winter.


And well, here we are– still. Therefore, as part of the narrative of this post, I’m going to intersperse winter seasonal images, many taken in the Swedish countryside. You will find a correlation between the colors found in these images and the traditional Gustavian Swedish color palette. I find these pale colors so relaxing and comforting. So, prepare for a Gustavian Swedish eye-candy-spa!


But first, a brief history of Gustavian Swedish Style.


This is for those of you who don’t even know what I’m talking about when I say Gustavian Swedish Style furnishings, colors, and such. When we speak of the Gustavian Swedish style, we are referring to King Gustav III who reigned as monarch of Sweden from 1771-1792.

In addition to his royal duties, Gustav was a patron of the arts and had a keen passion for all things design, decoration, and fashion.



painting by Alexander Roslin of King Gustav III of Sweden

Okay. Okay. I know. He was an out-and-out fop. lol. Well, not completely out, if you know what I mean. ;] But after-all, it was the 18th century. I have to say that Gus had a lot of class, style, and an impeccable eye for color and design! And to this day, there are Gustavian Swedish aficionados (myself included) who are incredibly grateful.


Tragically, Gustav was assassinated in 1792 and although survived the assault, died days later from an infected wound.


Before his death, the foundation had been laid to build the grandest neo-classical palace in all of Europe. Gustav was really into this stuff. Sadly, his successors weren’t, so all construction stopped immediately.



Neo-Classical Palace at Haga Park

Here’s what it was supposed to look like.



Before all of this new construction designed by architect Olaf Tempelman, Gustav had spent time in Versailles hanging with his buddy, King Louis XVI.



While there, Gus was absolutely kvelling over the neo-classical style of architecture and design.

Oh, they had just discovered Pompeii and all of that good stuff, and the French were obsessed. Out with all of that curly-cue-fancy-shmancy Roccoco and on with the more sleek, streamlined lines of neo-classical furnishings! Gustav fell in love.



Back home at the royal ranch(es) (more about that in a sec), Gustav further interpreted the style. It became even more clean-lined, and some pieces retained their unique interpretations.



Leksand Gustavian Swedusg Style 19th c. Swedish dining chairs


Much more Gustavian Swedish Style furniture coming later.


And as always, if you want the creme de la creme of Gustavian Swedish Antiques please check out my dear friend and expert in the area, Loi Thai, an expert on Swedish Antiques on Instagram.



Here’s Gustav hanging with his two bros. in a painting by Royal artist, Alexander Roslin, once again. Gustav would be the one in gold, I believe. We just saw this gorgeous painting in this recent post about red paint colors.

Uhhhh, not very muted here, is it? Well, except for their hair! Handsome boys, they were! But please also notice the neo-classical gilded swag on the writing table.


Alexander_Roslin_-_King_Gustav_III_of_Sweden_and_his_Brothers_-_Google_Art_Project - Cópia (2)

Check out that gorgeous beadwork!



painting by Ulrika Pasch

And here’s ten-year-old Crown Prince Gustav, already looking ready to rule and wearing Pantone’s color of the year 2013– EMERALD GREEN!


Gustavian Emerald?



This is the main palace at Drottningholm, Gustav’s home


temple of echo haga parkTemple of Echo in Haga Park


The Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm

Chinese too? Yes. Chinese too! Isn’t it wonderful? Chinoiserie was all the RAGE in Europe in the mid to late 18th century. This was built when Gustav was a little boy.



Värdshuset Koppartälten

Translation. Copper tent, also in Haga Park. Very interesting. This is obviously, the artist’s rendition of it. It was built, and it does still exist, but frankly, I think it’s pretty ugly as it’s now painted in a neon-bright blue, not the charming, far more subtle striping you see here.

Ah, there’s our Swedish Gustavian that’s familiar! This is a room from the Pavilion that Gustav built.


The style that Gustav reinvented was so popular that it trickled down through the gentry and then to the countryside.


For the middle classes, the woods available were not so grand, so they took to painting the furniture.

The most popular colors were often pale shades of cream, gray, blue, green, and ocher, which we have come to know and love, but not always as we shall see later on. The use of pale shades is known to result from the long, dark winters to let in as much light as possible.



Photo via Not Over The Hill


Masreliez House, Stockholm 2

Masreliez House

This beautifully preserved home is designed by Gustav’s interior decorator Louis Masreliez. It is chock-full of neo-classical elements.


Masreliez House, Stockholm 5




This is another beautifully preserved home from the mid-18th century and then renovated in the Gustavian Swedish neo-classical style in the late 18th century.


When we think of Gustavian Swedish, we think of the more common styles with layers of paint and interiors with softly dappled walls.


While sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a piece is Swedish or French, some pieces like the traditional Gustavian Moro clock are 100% Swedish!



Swedish Interiors



source unknown


Gustavian Trågsoffa, via Skona Hem


The legs are French, but the chair back gives it away.


These last three images are more what we expect to see when we think of Gustavian Swedish Style, but hang on— much more to come and more surprises! I hope that you enjoyed this post!

Okay, how can we get the look in our own homes, and what pieces should we incorporate?

Well, if money is no problem, then there are numerous sources, both online and elsewhere, that sell Gustavian Swedish Style antiques. When I say “style,” if you don’t know, it’s a piece created after the actual period. So, even if it’s from, say, 1820, it would only be “in the style.”


In addition, people then didn’t necessarily furnish their homes strictly in any one style. They might’ve had some Louis XV, for example.


Louis XVI were the more straight-lined pieces, while Louis XV had more curves. We discussed King Louis in this slightly satirical post.

And, we also discussed King Louis XIV in this recent post about kitchen backsplashes.

Most of us don’t have endless amounts of money. However, I found some old pieces and well-done reproductions that are reasonably priced. The only thing is some of them come from Europe, and the shipping is pretty intense. I don’t know if you get a few pieces if the rate comes down.

Now, if funds are super tight, you might also be able to find some relatively inexpensive pieces in the Louis XIV style or even Georgian that you can paint. However, I find many tutorials on painting antique pieces to not be excellent in that finishes are overdone.


The one below, however, I think it is quite good as she’s not going overboard with “antiquing.”



One thing you can do is look at closeups of authentic antiques, or else very well-done reproductions.

Frankly, I think that less is more.

For example, here are two pieces that, in my opinion, are pretty icky poo in terms of how they are painted.

Right? The pieces themselves aren’t bad. Although, I would prefer the sideboard without the appliques on the doors. I think that’s probably not accurate. Most Swedish Gustavian Style pieces did not have carved flowers on them.

However, in some cases, Gustavian Swedish style pieces and French Louis XVI pieces are indistinguishable from the other.


Now, I’d like to go over some pieces I found that are pretty hideous in their design.


ersatz made up styles based loosely on Louis XV


And to finish off, I’ve created several mini widgets with some cool reproduction Gustavian Swedish Style pieces.


Or, coordinating styles, you can mix and match. Please click on any image for more info.


Above are dining and some occasional or dining chairs. The caned chairs are only $200/each!


Above are some cool round dining tables and console tables that can be pushed together or used separately.


Above are some Gustavian Swedish Style buffets.


Above are French and English Buffets. These could be painted if they aren’t already.


The above case pieces could be left or painted to look like Gustavian Swedish Style.


These are all Gustavian Swedish Style. The one in the center is more expensive, but a stunning piece, I think.


These are all smaller buffets and chests in the Gustavian Swedish Style.


The Above are French and English Chests


The above are French, English, and Gustavian Swedish Style console tables.


Miscellaneous items


I’m having too much fun finding these lovely pieces.


By the way, 1st Dibs prices are sometimes the best of all. Sometimes Chairish or another source is best. What I do is google the title of the piece and then hit “images,” and you might find the piece for less or more elsewhere.


Also, if you are interested in any of these pieces and are not in the trade, you can usually get 15%-20% lower than the listed price.


However, I didn’t tell you that. ;] Trade people are automatically getting the discount once in their program.


China cabinets, secretaries, and armoires



This final grouping has a lovely mix of Gustavian Swedish style, French, and an Asian cabinet.


Remember this post where we talked about mixing Gustavian pieces with Chinoiserie? It’s one of my favorite posts. And, now this one is too. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Happy March! Warmer weather is coming soon!


PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!


14 Responses

  1. Thank you for the history lesson! That’s an area I’m lacking.

    I really loved the soft landscape photos…Now I want one for my bedroom! They almost look like paintings.

  2. Thank you, once again, Laurel, for an interesting and informative article. You are a truly unique blogger! I just have one little thought about the picture of the three men designing, the king is probably the one in the red, rather the gold. It’s typical that when a subject is pointing at royalty, they are making it known that to whom they are pointing is of higher rank than they. The man in gold is pointing at the man in red in the picture, indicating that he is the king.

  3. Thank you for this post, Laurel. Gustavian is beautiful, but more colourful than some of the very neutral rooms shown here. A really good reference is the book Neoclassicism in the North, by Hakan Groth, which features many of Masreliez’s beautiful interiors. Also, in my humble opinion, the lady featured in the video here lost control of her antiquing wax and went overboard, ending with a brown piece of furniture that doesn’t really look Gustavian. Someone who understands Gustavian finishes a bit better is Brittany Knudson on YouTube. Her video is called “Gustavian Finish Tutorial,” and is a master class in what it takes to achieve the look without getting so muddy coloured.

  4. Thanks for another great post; I love the Gustuvian look too. This is a bit off-topic, but I’m currently engrossed in a Swedish TV series, “The Restaurant” (streaming on AMC+ and Sundance). It’s a period piece, post WWII, set in Stockholm – sort of an edgier “Downton Abbey.” One of those addictive dramas, but those Swedish interiors alone make it worth a watch!

  5. Hi Laurel…loved this post? I’ve love Gustavian style for quite a while but I only have 1 piece in my home – a repro Mora Clock that I painted an antiqued.

    I’ve painted some pieces fir clients in that style – it’s still my favorite to do (even though I haven’t been actively doing that anymore…staging is more lucrative).

    Several years ago I was in touch with Jo Lee of Swedish Interior Design. He was in London – I believe he moved to Sweden (His wife is Swedish), but they would import pieces to sell in their shop. He’d also paint some repro pieces too.

    Now you’ve got me dreaming of buying at least one more piece for my house!


    PS…loved the history lesson too!

  6. This was such a lovely and informative post. I continue to love the Gustavian-style dining chairs ordered from one of your previous posts. If only my teachers had been this entertaining!

  7. Gustavian style is my absolute favorite. I love the soft, gentle colors of their painted furniture. I just think it’s so pretty, and I find their spaces to be so calming and tranquil. Thank you for this wonderful Gustavian post, Laurel!

  8. Thank you for this delightful post with great historical background ! I have loved Gustavian style for a long time.. Years ago, Ethan Allen had a very affordable line called Swedish Home. There were a number of attractive pieces I thought. Unfortunately they discontinued it.

  9. Thanks, Laurel, for another fabulous post!

    I’m half Swedish, but until now, I thought my that my people were only know for lefse (yum) and lutefisk ( not so yum, imo).

    How lovely to see something like this!

    PS: Love the snow landscapes!

  10. Thank you for the time it must’ve taken to assemble this piece. I learned much. The landscape photos we’re gorgeous. I wanted to don my parka, grab a steaming coffee and walk right into them.

  11. I have loved Gustavian style for years, but feel an even stronger draw to it with my new- found historic perspective. Thanks for all the research!

    P.S. When I die I’ll know I am in heaven if I spot the Värdshuset Koppartälten

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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