• November 18, 2014

    No Comments

    It took 14 months.  But the wait was worth it.

    After an exhausting LA house hunt, having bid on 5 houses we finally get the keys to our new house tomorrow.  Just last month we felt hopeless as the previous house we had in escrow turned out to have geological issues that could not be fixed.  Feeling exhausted and questioning this LA thing very briefly, this sweet ranch house came on the market on my birthday. What a perfect birthday present!

    It’s funny how life works out sometimes…when you are let down or loose out on something, it’s often just because something bigger and better is around the corner. You just don’t know it.

    We had to bid on the house without seeing it since we were away and competing with other buyers. When I finally saw it – it “had me at hello”.  And meeting the lovely Swedish neighbor that same evening I knew the house was meant for us.  It’s a charming ranch style house with amazing views in a magical mountain setting with a distinct European feel.

    While perfectly cared for, it has not been rebuilt since -67 so it’s just asking to be renovated!

    2014-10-29 13.01.27-2 copy

    This week I’ve spent  lot of time thinking about what homes really mean.

    We read a lot of stuff about style, design and interiors in design magazines and blogs. It’s all about looks and things and can sometimes feel shallow.  But in reality between those walls life will take place.   Those rooms is where a lot of your precious time on earth is spent. So the impact of a home is huge.

    While we say we “own” a home, we’re just really the caretakers for a while.  We fix them up, make them ours for a part of our lives.  Then “our” home sells and someone  else will create memories in it.

    Yesterday, I met the super sweet owners of this house to do the final walk through.

    Screen shot 2014-11-18 at 4.08.05 PM

    They moved here from Germany many, many years ago.  Wolfgang had been a busy cabinet maker in town.  They decided to get a smaller place closer to their kids.   It was so special meeting them knowing that they had lived here filling the house with good energy.

    And what good care they must have taken of it. Wolfgang cleaned the pool and fixed things even at the walk through!

    2014-11-17 14.20.01-1 copy

    The house is in a neighborhood, yet totally private on a hill.

    Starting tomorrow, design plans and major renovations await. I hope you’ll come along for the ride as I’ll be sharing the process every Wednesday here on the blog.

    I’m looking forward to what this new chapter may bring!


    Bookmark and Share
  • July 28, 2014

    No Comments

    Everything I wanted to get done to turn our barn in to a “party room” has not been completed, such as finding a pair of great chandeliers. But we came far enough to be able to invite some of our neighbors over for “fika” in the barn. “Fika” as you might have seen in the Gevalia commercial means a snack with coffee generally.

    It’s so pointless to have spaces in your home, indoors or outdoors, that are not being used. They become storage spaces and burdens instead of rooms to enjoy and have fun in.

    Every space in a home should serve a purpose.


    Most images by Mehreen Qudosi.

    The barn was used since the 1800′s for farming. For years and years afterwards new owners used it as storage for firewood and other things. Ever since we bought it, it has been storage space for my bother’s salvaged windows and doors as well as leftovers from the renovation of the house.

    2014-06-28 12.35.47

    It felt amazing to get it cleared out.


    A barn is a perfect space for a meal or a party.

    There’s plenty of room for lots of guests.

    Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 9.22.19 PM

    We built an 18′ long dining table out of old planks found in the barn.

    I was really excited seeing this start to take shape.


    For the party we picked flowers in the garden for center pieces.

    I wanted to keep it to one color – sunny yellow.


    My friend Monica had a number of benches from her greenhouse she no longer used, and gave them to me.

    Thank You Monica!

    I covered them with Swedish “trasmattor”.


    As we were clearing out the barn I just randomly hung old tools and items found on the barn on the wall.


    I used antique pitchers for flowers, and bought some new ones from Ikea.


    We used simple vintage plates and napkins.

    This vase is from Ikea.


    We ate some delicious cinnamon rolls. Recipe HERE.

    The Swedish cinnamon rolls are nowhere near as sweet as the American version. A perfect snack with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.


    All the kids had run out to play soccer by the time we took this picture and my family had headed home except for my cute mom. This space now needs two cool chandeliers, painted ores for the back wall and party lights all over.

    Inviting neighbors over that you know, or getting to know some new ones, I highly recommend!

    You never know who might just live around the corner…





    Bookmark and Share
  • July 7, 2014

    1 Comment

    If you want an inviting, comfortable home, nothing perhaps is more important than picking the right color scheme. Finding the right paint colors for your home is a source of great frustration to many.  It’s the question I get asked the most, so I thought I would take you through the process I use when I pick a color scheme for an entire home or a color for a room.

    I’m revamping our Swedish house this month, and needed a new color for our TV room, so I will use my home as a guide. Here is a process I use to come up with a color scheme.

    Jill sorensen-foyer


    The first thing to ask yourself is how do you want to feel in your space. Do you want a space that makes you happy? A space that calms you down? Colors have a strong effect on the way we feel and the selection of the right colors is more important than you think.  Brighter hues such a red, orange and yellow gives us energy while pale blues and greens have a calming effect. Some lifts us up and some brings us down.

    When we bought our house in Sweden I wanted a place I could come to and relax. It needed to be PEACEFUL and stress free. It could also not feel too “serious” and needed a touch of a playfulness yet still feel really “Swedish”.  Knowing all this I knew the colors had to be pale and soothing, and to use fun stronger colors only as accents.

    Swede view

    This is the view from most of the house.


    Look outdoors, what do you see? Do you have a view? What are the colors you see? Is it an urban landscape, is it a lawn? Sunset or sunrise views?  Whatever you see outside, or don’t want to see outside, decides what color you might pick inside.

    For example, in our house, from almost every single room we have an incredible view. Therefore I didn’t want to use a busy wallpaper or a color that would take away or distract from the beauty right outside. I wanted nature to be a guide.

    JIll Sorensen swedish guest house

    Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 4.05.23 AM

    Selecting hues that already where outside added a cohesive and soothing effect. (All color chips are from Benjamin Moore.)

    3USE3 copy


    What is the natural light like? In Sweden there is almost no daylight for many months of the year, therefore a white background is often painted to allow sunlight to reflect off the walls, and let the home feel brighter. Rarely do you see a Swedish home painted in dark colors for this reason.

    You can brighten a dark room in the house with a light color, or magnify what is already is there by painting it a dark engulfing color.

    Since there is an extreme lack of sunlight here most of the year, I picked white and yellow paint colors for several rooms to reflect light or  mimic sunlight.

    Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 4.49.19 AM

    lilamatta_sovrum copy 2


    Where is your house located? Downtown? Mountains? Horse country? If your home is downtown Manhattan versus out on a farm you might want a different feeling. Let the history of the town and area give you ideas.  Read old books, pick up some local vintage treasures, watch TV shows from the place.  There can be some amazing colors you find that could be used in a new fun way.

    Since we spend a limited amount of time here,  I wanted a very Swedish vibe and welcomed using some traditional Swedish colors.


    Turn of the century department store chandelier.

    I picked up local vintage pieces that had colors of the area and let them inspire me.

    Jill Sorensen-Sweden

    Swedish “trasmatta” woven with tons of leftover colors are very common here.

    Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 5.05.21 AM


    I love Pippi Longstocking (she’s my hero) and the TV show from the 60-70′s is a great source of fun and unusual colors.


    When you stand in one room and look in to another the colors have to flow peacefully.  From every single angle of your home the colors have to harmonize as far as your eye can see. Here it was easy since it’s so white. But this can also be achieved very well with tons of strong colors as long as your overall color scheme “plays” together.

    JIll Sorensen Lifestyle-Lavender Monogram


    Never let a room be boring, choose something in your overall scheme that adds an element of surprise. Too much of the same color in a room, can make it boring.

    Swedish manor house guestroom copy 2


    When you have gathered a bunch of colors. Go back to the questions. What do you want your home to feel like?

    For me it was PEACEFUL and RELAXING with a touch of fun. So peaceful hues had to be the wall colors and the fun tones would become accents.

    Natural light needs?  Yellow and White.

    What did I see outside? Blue and Green.

    Sense of playfulness and local inspiration?  Accent colors: Turquoise, Orange, Blue, Lavender.

    Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 5.31.21 AM

    This became our full color scheme, for the main house and the guest house. The guest house since small is only in blue hues mixed with the whites.

    Vintage Josef Frank chair-Jill Sorensen

    I’m repainting our TV room this week. Although it’s already painted in a grayish yellow, somehow the space too cold. To find a new color I went back to my original scheme and decided what I wanted more of.  I needed a warm hue.

    And I decided I wanted more of Pippi Longstocking 70′s TV show vibe.


    I selected these colors above to go with the already orange accents in the room.

    Pink color scheme-Jill SorensenLifestyle

    The wall color would be a pink/coral tone for warmth.

    2014-07-06 17.53.48

    The carpet has orange accents and the cabinet if I ever finish it will have orange accents. ( This room is half way through makeover…) Will share more on that in a later post.

    2014-07-01 12.18.53

    Picking colors is a really fun process.

    I hope I have not been rambling and that this gives you some kind of guide to pick a color scheme for your home.


    P.S. If you feel you still need help. Stay tuned for my affordable color scheme service coming soon.



    Bookmark and Share
  • July 1, 2014

    1 Comment

    Our house in Sweden is surrounded by several red barns.  Back in the day they were used for animals and hay farming, but for years they have been used as storage facilities for all kinds of stuff. Despite the rainy, chilly (55 degrees and I love it) weather this week, the barn make over project is taking place!

    Turning the biggest of our red barns in to a cool barn dining/party room is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. My mother and I decided to invite everyone in this village for cake and coffee (or as they say in Sweden “fika”) before I leave, so the pressure is on to complete it.

    It’s the barn behind me on the left.

    2014-06-26 Sweden

    The barn is close by the lake and behind it we have some new neighbors…

    2014-06-28 12.46.35 copy

    …mosquito stomping cows. Yes there is a well known mosquito problem in this area and cows are now “employed” to trample down mosquito breeding areas close to the lake.

    The always environmental Swedes…

    2014-06-28 12.35.34

    The barn has a giant black door and has for years it has been a storage area for my brother’s salvage windows and old doors. He rescues old houses and has hundreds of old windows and doors. (You can read about him in this post.)

    2014-06-28 12.35.41

    But this is the year it’s finally getting emptied. Luke and Peter have been at it, and most are already gone.

    2014-06-28 12.35.47

    But there’s more to go and the barn is still a mess.


    2014-06-28 12.35.28

    But it’s moving ahead despite four days of straight rain!

    Here are some of my inspiration pictures.


    Who can resist this picture of designer Kathryn Ireland’s barn in France?

    We won’t have the pretty stone walls but I want a long simple plank table.


    This is a giant festive barn.

    misty table view from raftters

    This is a cozy restaurant barn.

    Yesterday I had a Swedish husband and wife team come over and help me build a simple 18′ plank table.

    2014-06-30 10.26.58

    We are using just simple bases found in the barn.

    After cleaning up a part of it I saved some old pieces that will be allowed to stay.


    This is where we are at so far. The entire side of the barn still has to be emptied.

    I’ll share more as it comes along.

    I need seating, chandeliers and maybe some horns covering the wall. I’ll have to wait and see what I can find at the giant recycling store we are going to.


    At last the sun started shining through the rain clouds and created a beautiful rainbow.

    You can join me on JILLSORENSEN@INSTAGRAM as well.

    Hope you are having a good week!





    Bookmark and Share