Monday, December 9, 2019

Decorating With Eighteenth Century Swedish Tile Stoves ( Kakelugns)

If you love old world Swedish interiors you have to have fallen under the spell of the gorgeous tile stove called a kakelugn. Considered an icon of Swedish design, you will find them in almost every picture of an old world Swedish/Gustavian interior you see on social media or in decorating magazines. Built from bricks with clay sealed joints these Swedish stoves are then covered with beautiful tiles. Whether plain or exquisite, these tiles give the kakelugn a charming and graceful appearance that, like a work of art, makes it suitable for the most refined and elegant Swedish interiors.

That being said the Swedish tile stove was a virtual workhorse when it came to keeping it's homeowners warm on those cold Scandinavian nights. The real beauty of the Swedish tile stove is the fact that, once it gets up to temperature, it continues to give out heat as the bricks cool slowly over a period of ten or twelve hours, long after the fire itself has died down. That means the stove does not have to burn continuously to heat the room but at best only twice a day - in the morning to heat the room through the day and in the late afternoon or early evening to bring the bricks back up in temperature to heat the room through the night.

I hope you will enjoy the lovely images I have gathered as well as a bit if history about the Swedish tile kakelugn.

At the beginning of the 18th century, North Eastern Europe and Scandinavia experienced a wood shortage due to the simple matter of deforestation. Once depleted, the trees couldn't grow back quick enough to sustain the need of wood for heat, paper production, and construction. The timber industry was pushed to its limits.

From The Swedish Country House by Susanna Scherman, photographs by Åke E:son Lindman

This scarcity forced the government to look into ways of redesigning existing forms of masonry fireplaces. In 1767 the king of Sweden commissioned architect and member of the Royal Academy of Science, Count Carl Johan Cronstedt, and Field Marshal Fabian Wrede to develop a stove that would burn fuel more efficiently. They brilliantly redesigned the traditional stove and made the kakelugn about eight times as efficient as the ordinary wood stove.

via Pinterest

In the lower part of the Swedish tile stove there is a fire box where wood burns at a very high temperature. Gases (and heat) that normally would go straight up the chimney were redirected through a number of flues around the outer edge of the stove before finally being drawn out through the chimney. 

via Pinterest

Stone requires more time to heat up, but once it has, it holds the heat much longer. This is called radiant heat.The bricks themselves warmed up and the heat they retained radiated from the masonry to the floors, walls, ceiling and the furniture. In other words it warmed up the entire room instead of just the air like our forced air systems today do.

I understand radiant heat because our 130 year old house uses the old cast iron radiator system for heat. I love it because it is stays so warm and since it is a boiler system that heats the water in the radiators, I don't have to worry about dry skin which is caused by modern forced air systems. 

A tiled Swedish oven stove is only fired for a short time, from a quarter of an hour to one or two hours, and then it radiates heat for at least 12 hours. These hand painted tile stoves look so beautiful in spaces with painted panels.

 The tile stove radiates heat all day and night from just two fires per day. Firing the heater only twice a day means much less wood is used.

via Pinterest

Oven stoves are large, heavy and slow, but they offer so many advantages. They are low maintenance since they only have to be fired twice a day, no smoke leaves the chimney so there is less air pollution than conventional wood burning appliances, and since masonry is only just warm to the touch, you won't get burned. And let's not forget how beautiful they are!!

 Because of the tiled kakelugn the Swedish people didn't have to stay glued to their fireplaces to stay warm. Now they had some of the warmest homes in Europe!

Classic Swedish Interiors’ published by author/curator/Lars Sjoberg. Photographs by Engallil Snitt

Although initially only wealthy Swedish homeowners could afford these new tiled stoves, eventually the "new technology" was made affordable for poorer Swedish households as well. By the 19th large upper class homes might have a stove like this in the corner of every room. 

Stoves in the most elegant rooms were decorated with multicolored hand painted porcelain tiles and were prominently put on view in a specially designed niche emphasizing its beauty.

Like a treasured piece of furniture the Swedish tiled stove was proudly displayed in a corner or in the middle of a wall.

In the late 18th Century the Marieberg faience factory in Stockholm was where the most famous of all the hand-painted stoves in Sweden came from. They were known for their white backgrounds and beautifully colored tiles. photographer Will Pryce

Solid white tiled kakelugns were used in all types of Swedish interiors from the classic and elegant.........

to the more modest rooms. Thought of as plain in the 18th century, we now find these extremely charming and beautiful.

This image and the one above it features Swedish kakelugns in Sabylund Manor, considered the best late 18th century Swedish house to be built outside of the royal circle.

via Pinterest

The tiled stoves that were the typical heating device in 18th century Swedish homes are being produced again due to the recent rise in popularity.

Today 's Swedish tile stove renaissance is causing the industry to manufacture new tiled stoves. Also antique stoves that are in perfect working condition are avidly being sought after for their aesthetic value as well as their functionality. 

via Pinterest

These wonderful tiled stoves are being saved from old 18th and 19th century homes and buildings that are being demolished. Collectors are literally standing in line!

The crown like tops of this style Swedish kakelugn makes them quite attractive and adaptable to any style interior.

Plus they remind me of giant chess pieces.

I love the twin kakelugns at the entrance of this home. They are so pretty when displayed in their special niches.

Sometimes referred to as cocklestoves, the Swedish tiled stove is still used in some of the older houses and apartments throughout the Baltic states.

via Pinterest

Blue and white Swedish tile stoves seem to be the perennial favorite.

Hope you enjoyed!!

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

Monday, November 25, 2019

Create Old World Interiors With Murano Glass Chandeliers

There are some elements of design that are iconic symbols of refined taste and wealth. Murano glass chandeliers are one of those symbols and are recognizable all over the world. Since the 13th century the island of Murano has been the undisputed nerve center for Venetian glass production. With the creation of cristallo, a transparent glass that was considered the finest glass in the world, and a white colored glass (that we know as milk glass) called lattimo, Murano became Europe's first major glassmaking center, reaching the peak of its popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. The first Murano glass chandeliers to be produced by Venetian glassmakers date back around the year 1700. You have to remember that these chandeliers replaced the heavy wooden and wrought iron chandeliers of the past. Can you imagine how these beautiful translucent chandeliers appeared airy and almost magical. Is it any wonder the Murano glass chandelier was desired for grand and opulent interiors? 

Today the descendants of these famous  glassmakers continue to create gorgeous chandeliers and other pieces of glass art that are coveted by modern-day customers. 

Around 1730 the Rezzonico family ordered a chandelier from Murano masters for the grand  residence they were building, Ca'Rezzonico, overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.

Glass masters in the factory of Giuseppe Briati created what it's now called the Rezzonico Chandelier, a fabulous two-tier colorful work of art featuring twenty candle-holders. This chandelier is representative of the classic Murano chandelier. It is considered the most amazing such chandelier in existence today and still hangs in it's original room at Ca'Rezzonico.

Murano Glass chandeliers are still produced in Murano workshops and are in high demand for residences, hotels, theaters, restaurants, and other public spaces. Here they hang in Venice's Palazzo Widmann built in 1630. These chandeliers are decorated with gorgeous colors and are meant to represent a bouquet of flowers.

 The Murano glass industry flourished as the artists pushed themselves to create unique and elaborate chandeliers for the rich Venetian nobility. 

The beautiful Murano glass chandeliers were such a success they instantly brought chandeliers to a new dimension.

Elaborate yet delicate arabesques of beautifully colored leaves, flowers, and fruits are typical features of Murano glass chandeliers.

This was made possible by the unique type of glass used in Murano. It was called soda glass and was famous for it's extraordinary lightness which was different from all other glass at the time.

With their colors and fantastical artistry, Murano glass chandeliers add a bit of whimsy to the seriousness of otherwise grand interiors.

Designer, Jacques Garcia

Although Venetian glassmaking in factories existed as far back as the 8th Century, it did not originate on the island of Murano. Beginning in 1291 the Venetian Republic ordered the glassmakers to move their furnaces to the island because the glass factories caught fire frequently and posed a threat to the city.

Plus the Venetian glassmaker's secret formulas and methods of producing these fabulous chandeliers would be better protected and controlled on the island of Murano.

via Pinterest

An incredible amount of skill and time was required to precisely twist and shape a chandelier. Every shape of glass had to be masterly executed because any outsize piece wouldn't fit to be mounted between the others.

Design Firm Studio Peregalli

This old world formal dining room by Renzo Mongiardino features a stunning 17th-century Murano glass chandelier.

Another extremely beautiful and delicate Murano glass chandelier in Christian Dior’s Château de la Colle Noire.

A Murano glass chandelier graces the dining room at Dumfries House, considered the most beautifully intact house in Scotland.

A close view of the Dumfries House glass chandelier.

Equally beautiful are the clear Murano glass chandeliers. A series of these beautiful chandeliers beckon you down this fabulous corridor. In the 15th century master glassmaker Angelo Barovier discovered the processes of making “Cristallo Veneziano”, the world's first truly clear glass

Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen

One of the first Murano chandeliers was made for Frederick IV of Denmark and still hangs in his former palace, Rosenborg.

via Pinterest

Decoration was always put before functionality when it came to Murano glass chandeliers. These status symbols were means of showing one's wealth firstly, illumination came in second.

via Pinterest

In other countries crystal was being used on chandeliers. Since Murano glass was extremely fragile it could not be faceted so the Venetian glassmakers relied on the delicate and unique quality of their glass.

I love the way the clear glass Murano chandeliers seem to float in the room.

Exquisite Murano glass chandelier at Ca' Sagredo Hotel in Venice.

Venice's importance as a center of commerce and it's grip on trade routes began to vanish in the 17th century. As a result Murano glass entered a period of decline as England, France, and Czechoslovakia emerged as new craft centers thus ending Murano's monopoly on glassmaking.

More hardship was felt by the Murano glass manufacturers with the occupation of Napoleon Boneparte in 1797. Many glass furnaces were closed and the production of Murano glass pretty much came to a halt.

By 1820, only sixteen glass furnaces remained in the area. Only two prominent glass making families were left: the Salviati family and the Fratelli Toso, a group of six brothers known for their creative and imaginative artistry.Today their descendants continue the family trade.

via Pinterest

The Murano glass industry saw revival when Salviati exhibited over 500 works made by his firm at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867. By 1869 the industry was booming once again.

via Pinterest
Magnificent Murano glass chandelier in the Nymphenburg Palace, Munich.

The dining room is a perfect spot for a Murano glass chandelier as evidenced here in this one by designer Axel Vervoordt.

Magnificent Murano glass chandelier in the Bauer Il Palazzo - Venice, Italy. Is this not a gorgeous interior!!

Interior by Mario Buatta featuring a large Murano glass chandelier.

Murano glassmakers continue to carry on the traditions of craftsmanship and quality that made their chandeliers world famous since the ancient times. This one is from the 20th century.

Design Firm Studio Peregalli via

Tips for determining if a Murano glass chandelier is the "real thing": Murano glass is hand-blown, meaning there should be bubbles and asymmetrical qualities. Look for misshapen flowers, glass that's a little cloudy or colors that have bled a bit. Also you should see the pontil mark where the glass blower broke the pontil rod from the finished piece. If it is perfect, it is NOT authentic.

Even in a modern day space a Murano glass chandelier will evoke magnificent Venetian interiors of the 17th century.

A Murano glass chandelier will add glamour to any style interior. You can count on them to provide a beautiful focal point for you room.

Designer Carlton Varney via

Murano glass chandeliers are quite expensive. Think of them as an investment that will definitely bring oohs and aahs from your guests.

Designer Diane Burn

Today Murano glass chandeliers are widely appreciated as one of the world's most beautiful and decorative types of chandelier.

As I worked on this blog post the city of Venice was struck by devastating flooding and is still reeling from a week of three exceptional tides whose floodwaters have caused massive damage to the city's cultural legacy and to residences and businesses. 

The Querini Stampalia Foundation is located in an 18th century Venetian palazzo. An elegant room with Murano glass chandeliers is now a rescue center for precious books from the foundation's seriously damaged library.

Our prayers are with the people of Venice.

Click here to see the previous post

This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

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