THESE SPLENDID PICTURES surely are worth tens of thousands of words, all of them happy, but you’re going to need just a couple quick additional postscripts to help frame the full picture of Aaron and Stina Brown’s newly remodeled Magnolia home:
1. They both are over 6 feet tall.
2. Stina’s mother is from Copenhagen.
Together, both bonus addenda influenced a picture-perfect whole-home theme (bright, cheerful openness) and a feel (welcoming warmth), all grounded in the concept of ultimate comfort, and all respectfully rooted in the home’s 1954 aesthetic.
“The Scandinavian style flourished in the 1950s, so it was exciting to see how it would pair with the existing midcentury-modern style of the original home,” says architect Kristen Becker of Mutuus Studio, who collaborated on the remodel’s design with Crescent Builds. “Characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality, the new floor plan worked with the midcentury layout, which had good bones and lines to work with, to infuse the home with hygge, [which] translates as ‘an attitude toward life that emphasizes finding joy in everyday moments and emphasizes coziness, warmth and family.’ ”
Here’s how that open coziness looks (thanks, splendid photos!), and feels:
• “The first major move was to open the floor plan to bring in the light,” says Becker. “The original tight entryway and closed-off stair and kitchen were dark and unwelcoming. The simple move of opening these areas completely transformed the experience of the home. By opening up the rooms to bring in light and connect the living, dining and kitchen areas to flow together, it ironically made the space feel more cozy.”
• That original closed-off kitchen, Stina says, had been “gross,” with checkerboard laminate flooring and a claustrophobic sense of confinement. “Everybody is tall,” Becker says, so the ceiling here was vaulted, and the countertops subtly raised a custom 1½ inches, which you’d never notice unless a helpful builder pointed it out — or you were trying to cook while stooped. “I just knew I wanted it taller,” Stina says. “This is the kitchen I’ve been working toward my whole life. I actually like doing dishes now.”
• Color is key to the kitchen and to all of the remodeled rooms, and to Scandinavian design: White walls meet neutral warm wood floors, dotted with bold pops of brightness. “The notion of hygge is feeling a sense of warmth and family,” says Stina. “I think a lot of the modern white is too medicinal. In Denmark, black and white is the go-to.” The Browns go to that combo here, too, with bold color bursts radiating in patterned curtains and pillows, framed artwork, a working red retro phone, glass and ceramic pieces from Stina’s trips to Copenhagen and — naturally — a meaningful collection of plates hanging on the dining-room wall. “I’ve got my proper blue plates. Every proper Danish house has the plates and a piano,” she says. (Check and check!)
• Those pieces don’t overwhelm, though — just enhance, and emit a sense of deep satisfaction. After all, minimalism transcends Scandinavian and midcentury-modern design, and people can’t get comfy when there’s no room among a glut of things. “I’m trying to be really conscious,” Stina says. “If we don’t use it or love it, it’s gone. The kitchen, dining room, living room — all the things have a big connection for me.” Even the family dogs — Molly, Hoover and Hermione — fit right in. “The Dachshunds are so midcentury, and the Danish queen has a Dachshund!”
Actually, in this hygge poster home of bright openness and cozy warmth, everything, and everyone, fits right in. Comfortably. And possibly permanently.
“We’re never moving,” says Stina.