Life lessons: a Swedish schoolhouse becomes a glorious new home

An old schoolhouse in Sweden has been cleverly reworked as a stylish house and design studio

In 1998 the designer and artist Gunnel Sahlin was looking for a summer house. But when she stepped into an old school building on top of a hill overlooking the pastoral landscape of Sörmland, a beautiful spot 75 miles southwest of Stockholm, it became clear that this was to be more than that. The light and the surroundings tempted her so much that after she bought the building she decided to make it her permanent home.

Walking into what was the main school hall but is now her studio, she spreads her arms and says, “And this is the reason I bought it.” What immediately strikes you is the light flooding in from the big windows. It is always bright, regardless of the weather, she says. Two big tables on either side of the room provide ample room for Sahlin’s various design projects, for Ikea, among others. The worn floor, painted grey, shows the bumps and traces left by many years of schoolchildren filing in and out for lessons.

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