My name is Unni Strand, I live in Norway, I'm 36 years old and work as a teacher, teaching interiors, design and art subjects. I have a particular passion for textile and have a background in weaving.
I live in a grey house, have two children, and grow my own vegetables.
My number one rule when I do my designs, is to use recycled materials as much as I can. I find used fabrics at fleamarkets, wash them, handprint them and turn them into new, usable objects.
I have opened a new shop with really sustainable t-shirts! ... and this is my blog!
In what kind of house do you live and with whom?
I live with my partner, my
son (18) and my daughter (4) in a detached house in Norway. We also have the
most loving and sweet rescue cat, Tulla.
We built the house ourselves seven years ago. In Norway, it is most common with houses of wood, but our house is built of breeze blocks. This makes the walls 40 cm thick and gives fantastic, deep window sills. Our house has lots of small and big windows, but very few rooms have curtains.
Why did you choose for the color grey as an important color in your home?
Our house has a warm and soft grey color outside. I chose this color so it should be a good backdrop for plants. I love plants and gardening. Inside, most walls are white, but a couple of walls and all the doors and window frames are grey. I find grey to be a calming color and a good companion to white. Together with wooden boards in the ceiling, and floors of wood, slate and tiles, I hoped to create a natural, clean and warm feel in the house. Our lot is very steep, so the house has six different levels and five stairways.
Can you mention some of the small treasures in your home that you really cherish?
My grandmother was a painter and a vicar’s wife. I have two paintings she has made. One of them, in the room with the blue wall, is with magpies in a winter landscape. I have always loved that painting. And in the same room, there’s an old Chinese screen wall I like very much.
Two of the photos show a 100 years old embroidery piece. It is a Norwegian, traditional pattern commonly used in folk costumes and as a decoration on walls and furniture. The motif is abstracted acanthus. The tiny tin drinking bowl beside it in the image also has acanthus decoration. I like the fact that acanthus, a plant growing in the Mediterranean countries, has had such a big impact on our Norwegian folk art.
Is this wallpaper in your closet? if so where did you find it, it's gorgeous?Where do you get your ideas for decorating your home?
The linen closet is from Ikea. I put up a wallpaper from Borås Tapeter in Sweden in it. (Linné 3308)
During the two years we spent building our house, I read loads of books and magazines on interiors. We have not done many changes in the house after that. Now I get my inspiration mainly from blogs and magazines. It’s a part of my job as a teacher in interiors and visual merchandising to keep an eye on the trends.
How does your teaching knowledge and experience reflect in your own decoration? What do you think is essential for any home when decorating?
I use to say that I’m a bit environmentally damaged from my job. I have been teaching art and design subjects for 12 years, so I can’t stand colors that don’t go well together. After my daughter was born, I have had to learn to tolerate it. The house is filled with toys and she likes to decorate with bright colors and quite awful Disney princess objects. I just tell myself; -It will pass.
I have not taught interiors more than three years, so it has not influenced my decoration much. But the building of the house was an important experience and together with my continued education on the subject, it has influenced my teaching.
I believe very strongly in the importance of the aesthetics natural materials give. Nothing can replace the textures and warmth they give a home. I’m very concerned about the environment. I think reuse and sustainable materials are the only logic choices for the future.
We chose a simple and clean style so the house should be easy to clean and maintain. When it is as simple as this, it is easier for children to play too. I still want it to feel warm and personal. So I’ve tried to soften the look with textiles and green plants.
How important are plants in your home and is 'green-living' something you try to do?
The plants in my house are important since we have so few curtains. They are the curtains of the windows. I truly love and need plants around me always.
In my garden I grow fruit and vegetables. It’s good to know where they come from and that they have been grown in a natural way. Even though we are far from self sufficient, there are a couple of months in summer when we don’t need to buy any veggies. I am particularly interested in heirloom vegetables and have some potato and tomato varieties that I tend with care from year to year.
My daughter has her own vegetable garden. A box with trellis painted in ice blue. Children love to harvest, share and eat their own vegetables. Carrots are a hit.
What do you look for when searching for new inspiration and what tools do you use for this?
I use the internet too much, I guess. There is so much to see. And I can choose what to see when choosing what blogs I will follow. I like best to see what other people make. -Objects that are fun, beautiful, well made and preferably eco friendly. Etsy is fantastic for this. My life actually changed when I found Etsy.
And of course, I get a lot of inspiration from nature and my students too.
I really like the color on this wall together with the purple table, was this a coincidence or purposely styled?
I looked for a color that would go well with the grey wall, the dark purple stairs and our kitchen which is in birch. I wanted a color that had an impact to the room but not so much that it would be difficult to lay the table. -If you see what I mean.
How do you balance being a mom, taking care of your family and having your own business?
It is difficult. Sometimes I get so drawn into my work that I wish I could be somewhere else and just work for days. Not being interrupted.
But of course, I don’t, and that’s good, because I need to do other things and it’s so good to have a family. -Your own pack to hang around with.
One of the reasons why I get so much done in my study is because I don’t do so much housework. Our house often looks like a mess and that’s how I manage to do my designs. (And my partner and my son do their share too.)
I also work part time in my teaching job this year. I have two days off work every week. Then my daughter and I have a lovely lazy morning together before she goes to the nursery and I go to my study.
What are your dreams for the future?
I would love to be able to work part time with my business permanently and to have a steady income from it. As my daughter grows older, I hope we will spend more time together doing crafts.
And I would really appreciate some hens in my garden!