Design Destination: There’s No Place Like Hem

By: Tamara Kaye-Honey

Stockholm, with its handsome, stately architecture, deep azure waterways and lush greenery has, for many design-inclined visitors, served as a living mood board, offering up inspiration at every turn. Any designer who has worked on a commercial project—hotels, restaurants, large live/work complexes, etc.—knows how challenging it can be to create spaces that function efficiently yet also feel welcoming to as many people as possible. Ett Hem, a Stockholm hotel with a name that translates to “a home,” spectacularly succeeds on both levels. 

Formerly a private townhouse in a quiet residential neighborhood, Ett Hem had been converted into a 12-room hotel by designer Ilse Crawford’s London-based firm Studioilse. Their renovation of the 1910 Arts and Crafts building manages to be both thoughtful and forward thinking, so much so that the experience staying there feels akin to being the treasured guest at your most fabulous friend’s house. Ett Hem feels luxurious without being precious, curated and at the same time soulful. Ultimately the success of Ilsa’s design is how well it enriches the hotel’s level of service (and vice versa), drawing visitors into the experience by treating them not as houseguests, not hotel guests.

Each area of Ett Hem—from communal spaces like the bar/lounge to more private areas like the sleeping quartersh—as its own unique personality, and yet each also work with the others to tell a cohesive story.   

For instance, the kitchen, the heart of Ett Hem (as it is the heart in many homes), welcomes guests in to make cookies or help themselves to a snack while the staff works alongside to produce exquisite menus that change daily to best utilize available fresh local produce. At mealtime, instead of eating in a formal dining room, guests are asked in which of the common spaces they would like to be served. Nearby, someone may be curled up in a cozy living room chair with a modern design book and yummy cocktail, or playing one of the many vintage board games with their kids.  

Even within its walls, Ett Hem feels innately connected to the city outside; in fact, it’s possible to imagine you have experienced Stockholm without really leaving the hotel. Never has a place more successfully embodied being a “home away from home” quite like it.

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Tamara Kaye-Honey is the creative force behind the Southern California-based design firm, House of Honey, that specializes in large-scale commercial projects like a high-profile restaurant and a massive live-work building in Downtown LA. 

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