On the sun-drenched island of Mallorca, Anna from Sweden has created an eclectic home where she lets her love of beautiful things set the rules.
Behind a pair of heavy wooden gates, a somewhat theatrical world unfolds, with many beautiful things – and a magical garden flaunting in a tiny, simple backyard. When Anna Stenberg and her son moved from Sweden to Mallorca, not only did they pack their entire home, but also thirty boxwood shrubs!
- I love gardens and I just couldn’t let go of my shrubs. Totally crazy.
Anna and her son Tedde wanted new energies in life and chose Mallorca because it felt pleasant, everyday nice, friendly and just the right distance from Sweden.
“Anna left a farm and a man in Skåne in favor of the Spanish, sun-drenched island 13 years ago”
They initially moved to a 300-year-old and 300-square-meter-large stone house in the village of Binissalem, which was renovated from scratch. There were vineyards and beautiful nature, but also desolation.
– I was basically living in my car for one and a half years. Everything except for our home was in Palma: my son’s school, his after-school activities, my job and our friends.
Living in the old part of downtown Palma was their first choice, but instead, they ended up in a semi-detached house in the fashionable suburb of Bendinat. Anna says that the 175 sqm house was in a terrible condition, kind of unsexy and very poorly maintained since its construction in the early 80s. They had no choice but to start renovating every millimeter of the five rooms, a challenge they completed in nine months. Anna had no architect but a head full of ideas. She changed the layout of the house a little bit but left most of the walls untouched, as most of the structural integrity was in the many arches. She did however turn the garage into a kitchen. Anna's home is very cinematic with a lot of still-life elements. Not intentionally, she says; it just kind of happens.
- I seldom make a sketch on paper, because the finished product won’t look anything like it. I’m just making it up as I go.
Anna is happy to let art play the lead role in a home. It can be anything from established artists to friends. Or children. Her absolute favorite paintings hang above the bed.
- If there’s a fire, I’m taking the three pictures that my son made when he was really young. He was sitting in my office making tiny characters out of price tags and stuff. They’re super cool.
Her favorite artist is Cy Twombly, sought after by numerous professionals.
- I think art needs much more space in the homes of ordinary people. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; art can accomplish a lot in a home.
“Once I had bought the house and got there for the first time, I actually started crying and thought: My God, what have I done?”
Anna has been a professional decorator for thirteen years and works with assignments mostly in Mallorca and in Sweden. She has also owned a restaurant, café and bakery, and worked in fashion. The love of beautiful things has always existed, and she likes to mix everything, old and new. No rules or frameworks, anything goes.
– I like classic, eclectic, modern, rural. It’s almost like I just close my eyes and mix everything. I would never be able to work with anything that is exclusively modern or create something with nothing but antiques, I want to capture the essence of the world we live in. I used to buy loads and loads of magazines but now I just use Pinterest and Instagram. I follow decorators and art collectors, anyone who inspires me. It can be anything from food to clothing to art to gardens, you name it.
Anna's best decorating tip is that nothing is off-limits.
- Sometimes I have a complete drought and I start thinking about how I can get my inspiration back. Usually, all it takes is some beautiful fabric and I’ll just go “wow”. But it’s easy to get a little too comfortable. Never say no – if you like it, you like it, and nothing else matters. Don’t get too timid, just put everything together, dare to mix. Express yourself through the room. Beautiful things are always beautiful together.
When Anna is decorating, both privately and professionally, she starts off with a base color scheme. From there, she just goes all-out.
– I try to maintain a fairly neutral palette when it comes to the walls, floors and curtains. Maybe a couch in beige linen or worn black. Then I go completely nuts with pillows, decorations, things and art.
Most of what Anna has in her home is from Sweden, especially the antiques. But some are from different trips, such as a couple of chairs that she has bought in Argentina.
– I'm no stranger to hauling things. If I find something I like, I don't think about how I will get it home. I don’t care, I’m just going to bring it with me. Things with history and origins bring character.
She is a collector of blue and white porcelain, or at least she used to be. Now she feels like she has a little too much of those two colors. Anna also likes African art such as masks.
– I'm a bit of a hoarder unfortunately. I would like to minimalize my world a bit, but it is hard. I spend time online more or less daily because I'm always on the hunt for something new, either for personal or professional use.
Living in the old town of Palma is a dream of Anna’s, but it would come at the price of a a less spacious apartment, meaning less space for all her things.
– If I were to move to Palma, I would have to downsize a bit. The same applies if I were to make my secret dream of a pied-à-terre in Paris come true. I love London and Paris... The extravagance and stucco of the apartments are amazing. They’re almost excessive and I just love it!