However, Rhodin says the property’s best attribute is the function it serves. Like so many families, hers spends most of their time hanging out together in the kitchen—either making art projects, watching Rhodin’s eldest son (a burgeoning chef at age 19) test out new recipes, or simply catching up. And the dining room, with its 10-foot-long wood table, hosts impromptu family tarot card readings and Mini Rodini brainstorming sessions as often as it does big dinners. “It’s a house that’s not made for showing off,” Rhodin muses. “It’s a house we live in.”
I’d say it’s rustic glamour, a little rock-and-roll. I
There are some bits of shininess, but it’s not a
When Cassandra Rhodin saw the inside of her “totally destroyed” two-story home outside of Stockholm, her first thought was: We can make this work.
Glamour turns out to be the definitive word when it comes to how Rhodin describes the house, but “I’d say it’s rustic glamour, a little rock-and-roll,” she clarifies, pointing out her penchant for animal motifs at home, too. Leopard print makes up not just the bed coverings and floor-length curtains in the primary bedroom but the custom-made, padded headboard, as well. “I go bananas when it comes to leopard; it goes with everything,” she adds.
That playful nonconformity is also evident in the way she has outfitted her family home. “There are some bits of shininess, but it’s not a stiff environment and it’s not a typical Scandinavian aesthetic,” says Rhodin. Many heirlooms, antique finds, and treasures culled on trips abroad hold a story—often told with a twinkle in her eye. In the dining room, a large-scale, tonal wall covering is actually the original paint test for an 18th-century tapestry that now hangs in a Swedish palace; it was passed down from her grandfather. There are dog figurines everywhere, including in the bathroom, where a life-size greyhound statue pulls double duty as a holder for towels and soap. And a series of Murano light fixtures hanging downstairs is part of a growing collection—all sourced secondhand from Italy.
Though the circus no longer employs the use of animals, their presence is still very much felt in Rhodin’s daily life: Her designs for Mini Rodini feature a never-ending rotation of colorful, anthropomorphized creatures. There are stoic tigers with piercing blue eyes staring out from striped onesies and smiling bunny faces dotting cozy sweatshirts and frocks. Yet none of it is too precious or cutesy, and—most important—none of the prints are gender-specific. “I started the brand when I was a first-time mom and couldn’t find anything to dress my son in—everything was super-stereotypical, either flames and trucks or butterflies and bows,” she explains.
Stuff lasting is important to Rhodin—but she would never call herself a traditionalist. No one would. Mini Rodini was one of Sweden’s first brands to make sustainability chic. “At the time, it wasn’t thought of as ‘cool,’ but I wanted to do something fresh that didn’t compromise people or the planet,” says the former fashion illustrator. She comes from a long line of creative renegades: actors, painters, writers, dancers, and illusionists. Most famously, her great-grandfather was the founder of Sweden’s most well-known national circus, Brazil Jack, which is still operated by her cousins to this day. Rhodin grew up visiting the tents as often as most kids go to the playground. “Of course, as a child I didn’t understand all the things that were not so wonderful about circuses, but back then it was amazing—especially the stories about people having chimpanzees and elephants in their homes,” she says.
That includes painting the exterior scarlet and covering the trim in a deep green—both of which play homage to the building’s National Romantic origins. “I really loved the pink, but it was a plastic paint that had caused the wood to rot in a few places,” explains Rhodin. The mineral-rich, all-natural Falun red, on the other hand, is great for preserving timber in colder climates for hundreds of years and can be seen on barns and cottages all over Sweden.
Six years on, the remodel isn’t even close to being finished (an upstairs bathroom is mid-expansion and the library is in a constant state of flux), but the place is nearly unrecognizable. “All we do is renovate,” says Rhodin, laughing. The couple’s focus has been on bringing the house back to its original state, painstakingly replacing the carpets with salvaged wood planks; revealing previously hidden 12-foot ceilings; and re-creating a railed front porch they’d spotted in the original drawings of the home. “We have been doing everything with old techniques,” notes Rhodin. “Well, not 100 percent, but mostly.”
Although the interior was a jumble of half-baked modernizations from previous owners—dropped ceilings, wall-to-wall vinyl flooring—the exterior was cute. Built in 1890, the house had paned windows, a gabled roof, and a facade the color of cotton candy—like something out of a fairy tale. Plus it was a 15-minute train ride to the city center, in the quaint lakeside community of Saltsjö-Duvnäs, one of just two areas left in Stockholm with a trove of National Romantic–era architecture. They decided to take the plunge.
She and her husband, Jon, had been looking for a place close to the city for a while; they were hoping to move in right away. Not just because Rhodin had recently given birth to their third child, but because one of her other babies—Mini Rodini, the sustainable kids’ clothing brand she founded in 2006—was expanding fast. The
catch: “We really didn’t want a house we’d have to renovate at all,” she recalls.
For six years and counting, Cassandra Rhodin has been renovating her big red house in
the Swedish countryside while simultaneously growing her
cult-favorite children’s brand,
stiff environment and it’s not a typical
go bananas when it comes to leopard; it goes
Photography by Petra Bindel
Words by Christina Pérez
Styling by Emma Persson Lagerberg
This image: Vintage Table, Chairs, Chandelier, and Rug. Above: Custom Bookshelf; Vintage Mirror and Table Lamps; Green Smoke Paint, Farrow & Ball. On Rhodin: Wildflowers Woven Adult Shirt, Mini Rodini.
Vintage Murano Glass Chandeliers.
This image: Vintage Murano Glass Chandelier; Vintage Sofa and Armchairs. Above: Saucer Bubble Pendant lamp by George Nelson, Herman Miller; Indonesian Dining Table; Vintage Dining Chairs.
This image: Chrome Oxide Green Ottosson Linseed Oil Paint, Ottosson; Vintage Table and Chairs. Above, from left: Range, Lacanche; Vintage Chandelier and Table.
Bedding and Posters, Mini Rodini.
This image: Custom Bed Frame in Leopard Velvet by Edmond Petit, Étoffe; Bedding, Mini Rodini; Vintage Nightstand. Right: Custom Curtains; Vintage Table, Ottoman, and Mirror.
Shop the Story
Tucker Dining Chair, Serena & Lily ($228)
Saucer Bubble Pendant Lamp by George Nelson, Herman Miller ($795)
Green Smoke Paint, Farrow & Ball
Zebra Pillowcase, Mini Rodini ($30)
A museum’s worth of Black art and vintage furniture defines Brandon Blackwood’s decadent world.
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There are some bits of
not a typical Scandinavian
I’d say it’s rustic glamour, a
comes to leopard; it goes