A Sweet Stockholm Apartment Filled With Modern Art

There’s something about a home full of color that makes us so happy, which is why we love textile designer, Katherine Plumb’s Stockholm apartment. The colorful accents paired with the mid-century modern style create a very cozy and inviting space. Find out more about Katherine and her life, as well as details about where she finds inspiration and tips on running a business. Dive right in and enjoy!

What made you move from London to Stockholm?

My boyfriend is Swedish! We met in London six years ago and always talked about moving to Stockholm one day. I think everything fell into place when he was offered a job over here and we were unsure if the move was something we could hold off (with all the uncertainty of Brexit), so we just went for it! Living in London is amazing, especially as a creative, but it’s also extremely exhausting and I think we just wanted the opportunity to make more time for ourselves. The work/life balance in Sweden is so much better, and moving here has allowed me to work for myself full-time, instead of on the side of a full-time job. I think a move back to London is always going to be on the cards, but Stockholm is definitely the right place for us right now. 

How did you get involved in the textile industry?

I studied textile design at Central Saint Martins in London, specializing in print and pattern. I’d always loved sewing and knitting, but I honestly never imagined I’d end up with a creative career. I was super academic and thought I’d be a lawyer right up until the age of 15, when my parents divorced and we lost my eldest brother. I’m not really sure how it happened, but for the next couple of years, I went to sixth form and got full marks on my art/textiles exams, applied to study at Saint Martins (I’d never even heard of the school before) and got in! One year into the degree, I’d fallen in love with screen printing and as cliché as it sounds, the rest is history. 

When I graduated I knew I didn’t want to work for a big company and not get any credit for my designs, so I joined a print studio in London and spent all of my free time working on prints for my own brand. Now, I’ve opened a screen printing studio in Stockholm where I create all of my work and take members on who do the same.

What does a textile designer do exactly?

Good question! I guess it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of answer and it really depends on what your area is/who you work for. Since I work for myself, I think my job role is a little different. I started with print for interiors, so I’d make some artworks, translate them into designs and then screen print them onto fabric. The process of screen printing means that I can change a design even as I’m printing it, which is great when you feel like nothing is ever 100 percent finished! Then, after an installation at the V&A museum in London, a rug manufacturer contacted me and wanted to turn my artwork into rugs, so we’ve been working together for the last couple of years and just released some new pieces. I also do a lot of commissioned pattern design, so someone will come to me with a brief and I’ll create a pattern for them—putting it into repeat, separating the color layers. It’s really a mixed bag, but I love how each workday is different!

Where do you draw creativity from?

I spent a lot of childhood summers in Palm Springs, so I became o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d with the desert landscapes and architecture there. It’s not as obvious in my most recent work, but a lot of my earlier designs were kinds of abstract landscapes mixed with mid-century modern colors and I’m slowly evolving that style. Right now, I’m developing some old ideas that I was never fully satisfied with, and letting those influence my current work. I never went anywhere near a floral print when I was studying, and all of a sudden spring came this year (winter is very long, dark and cold here), and I just had this weird cut-out flora explosion!

 

What do you do when you feel like burnout is coming on?

I’ll take a break and do a non-creative job. I always have a hundred things on my to-do list, so if I’m not feeling a design job then I can do one of the menial admin tasks that I’ve probably been putting off for too long anyway. If I’m having a mental burnout, I’ll take my dog for a walk, cook something, socialize and just take some time for myself. Being self-employed is hard because you just don’t know when to stop working sometimes, so I think it’s super important to recognize when you’ve exhausted yourself both physically and mentally, and not feel guilty about taking a break. I haven’t really had time for any city breaks yet this year, but Copenhagen is going to be first on my list when I need a spontaneous-train-ride-away escape.

What do you love most about owning your own business?

I love having 100 percent creative freedom! Of course, I miss working in a team and the social aspect of a 9-to-5 job, but 90 percent of the designers I know who work at a company are unhappy because they’re not creating things that they’re proud of or love—it’s all very controlled and skill-based. I’m grateful to be able to decide which projects I work on and to be able to take a day off if I need to, bust most of all I love that having my own business has meant that we could FINALLY get a dog! He comes to the studio with me most days and it’s really done wonders for my mental health—especially in the never-ending darkness of the Swedish winter!

How would you describe your décor style?

Oh, I have no idea! We like to say our apartment also doubles up as my showroom because my work is everywhere, so one word would definitely be ‘colorful’! I love mid-century modern and the Scandinavian style of leaving your walls white but expressing yourself through textiles and furnishings, so I think that’s definitely the sort of style we’re going for. We’re super lucky that old teak furniture is readily available and extremely affordable here, so I love keeping an eye out for little side tables or shelves that we can swap in! One of my favorite things in our home is this yellow hand-trolley that we used when we were moving around in London, and now it’s in the corner of the living room with books and a plant on it. It’s quite hard to really put your mark on a place when you’re moving around and nowhere is forever, so I know that our permanent home (wherever that may be) will probably look quite different. I’m obsessed with the idea of building our own house and using LOTS of concrete—rugs look amazing on concrete!

What are some of your self-care must-haves?

I love being able to have a bath. We didn’t have one in our last apartment so it feels like such a luxury to be able to spend an hour in there unwinding. Working with screen printing is pretty physical, so my body definitely appreciates this time to relax. Taking the time to cook something nice with my boyfriend, going to the gym (or not going to the gym if I don’t feel like it), reading a book—anything that really takes my mind away from my work and allows me to shut off without feeling guilty about it. 

As amazing as it is, it’s also really hard when your creative passion becomes your full-time job because you suddenly feel this pressure to only make things that will sell, but the reality is that you need to have these random outbursts where you’re not thinking about the end result. So I love being in the studio without the pressure of doing actual ‘work,’ just trying out new ideas and creating for myself, not for the business—working with your hands can be super therapeutic!

What do you wish you knew before starting your business?

I wish I knew how to speak Swedish. It’s probably hard enough starting a business at 24, but starting a business in a country where you can’t speak the language and you don’t have the network is something else! I wish I knew how to explain to friends and family that it can take a few years before you can start paying yourself a real salary, so as much as I want to fly home for every little occasion, I can’t. I wish I knew how incredibly supportive my boyfriend would be, because I probably wouldn’t have taken all of my post-relocating problems out on him. 

I think this is a more personal take on an answer and of course, it varies depending on your situation, but when you start a small business doing something you love, you’ll always blur the lines between your personal and work life. 

What kind of advice can you share with other creatives looking to start their own business?

Be mentally prepared for ups and downs! Every day throws something a little different at you and you just need to try to be open-minded with your expectations. Make a realistic business plan that will help to keep you on track, do your market research and only invest what you can afford to lose. But most importantly make the time to create away from the business, and when you have bad days, just keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it and think about where you want to be in the future! Every creative business is going to be different, so don’t compare your milestones with those of others. If there’s an opportunity to somehow team up with another creative then I think that’s always an option worth exploring! It can get a little lonely working for yourself all the time, so it’s a good move mentally as well as financially (as long as you have some legalities in place) to share a workspace with someone. 

In all honesty, I’m very much still learning and love talking to other creative business owners about their journey, so never be afraid to reach out and ask someone you admire for advice—chances are they’ve been through the same things you’re experiencing!

Credits:

Photography by Marta Vargas @imartavargas

Katherine Plumb – @kjplumb

Shop Her Home:

Living Room

Sofa

Rug

Homemade coffee table (similar)

Armchairs (similar)

TV bench

Vintage bookshelf (similar)

Prints (designer’s own)

Canvas print (designer’s own, similar)

Side table (similar)

Circle rug

Cushions

Hallway

Bench

Rug

Bedroom

Circle Rug

Teak dresser (similar)

Bed

Throw

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Author: Wendy Vazquez

Wendy is the Editorial Assistant here at the Glitter Guide. She has a background in PR and marketing, but her true passion is editorial. She enjoys all things beauty and lifestyle.