When Swedish husband-and-wife-duo Mick and Monica Born moved into their first flat together in Stockholm, they had no idea that it would spark a shift in their professional lives, too. Dissatisfied with the Ikea kitchen that they had inherited from the previous owners, they set about upcycling old cabinets, handles and worktops to place over the Ikea kitchen frame, personalising the space with their own designs. When they noticed that several of their friends had done the same thing, they realised they'd stumbled across a great business idea.
Enter, Superfront: the furniture brand democratising good design. The first company to offer a customisation service for the skeletons of Ikea furniture, Superfront produces fronts, tops and side panels for all of Ikea's most popular cabinet bases. In short, the Borns have created a hack around extortionate interior design by producing well-designed add-ons at a fraction of the price of new pieces. The result? Less material wasted, more money in your pocket, and a stylish suite of furniture that hasn't cost the earth. We think it's genius.
So, we sat down with the creative-powerhouse couple to ask them a thing or two about Stockholm, from where to hang out on a Saturday night to the Scandi interiors shops we shouldn't miss.
Bedknobs and broomsticks: riding the upcycling wave with Mick and Monica Born
Describe Stockholm's vibe in three words…
Monica: Beautiful, trend-sensitive, cash-free.
When's the best time to visit?
Mick: May to September
Describe a perfect day in Stockholm.
Mick: After a good night's sleep at gorgeous hotel Ett Hem, with interiors by Ilse Crawford, we suggest a morning walk through Humlegården to the city's most beautiful food market - Östermalms Saluhall. From there, it's only a five-minute walk to the Hallwyl Museum, which is housed in Stockholm's oldest private palace and showcases the collections of Wilhelmina von Hallwyll. It is an amazing place to experience what life was like for one of Sweden's wealthiest families at the beginning of the century.
Monica: After lunch at the busy, Jonas Bohlin-designed Taverna Brillo, we suggest exploring Kungliga Djurgården. The park belongs to the royal family and is open to everyone - it's a beautiful place to visit. It's home to several museums, including the art-filled Waldemarsudde, all set in beautiful parkland, featuring centuries-old oak trees and with stunning views of the water. Finally, we would end the day with dinner at Garba - one of our favourite restaurants in town, which has a big focus on locally produced food - especially vegetarian - as well as natural wines.
It's Saturday night in Stockholm. Where should we head?
Monica: Start the evening with some drinks at Lucy's Flower Shop. Then, head over to the vibrant Brasserie Astoria, situated in a former cinema and run by Michelin-awarded chef and restaurateur Björn Frantzén. The food is incredible.
Where shall we go for a long, lazy brunch?
Monica: Pom & Flora has a really cosy atmosphere. Restaurant Bleck, in the south of Stockholm, is also a nice spot and close to some great shops.
What about coffee on Monday morning?
Mick: I love to visit my friend Emil's place, Gast Café, for coffee and a chat. It has the most amazing cinnamon buns.
Mick: Lilla Ego has become an institution in Stockholm, and we love it. It offers delicious, high-quality food in a welcoming and relaxed space. It's hard to get a table, so make sure you plan your date in advance. For a last-minute celebration, you can almost always get a couple of seats at the bar, from where you can admire the chefs' work.
What are some of your favourite independent shops?
Monica: Sjöström Antik is top of the list. One of our favourite antique shops in Stockholm, it stocks an eclectic selection of interior objects, many of which are Italian. Mick doubles as a professional windsurfer and he can spend hours at the Stockholm Surfboard Club, a lovely new shop with a good selection of surfing accessories. While he's there, I pay a visit to Rodebjer store in Norrmalm, from Sweden's uncrowned queen of pattern, and then head to the nearby Östermalms Saluhall to buy a selection of deli treats for an intimate dinner at home.
Tell us about a secret spot only locals know about…
Mick: Studio Carl Eldhs is a hidden gem that took my breath away the first time I visited. He was one of Sweden's most prominent sculptors during the first half of the 20th century and this place is really worth a visit. However, it's only open at certain times of the year, so make sure you check before going.
One thing we shouldn't miss while we're in town?
Monica: Kungliga Djurgården - the Royal Park - is a must-see. It's so beautiful to walk through, along the water, and there are several places to eat, as well as museums to visit.
Suggestions for day trips?
Mick: I would definitely suggest a boat ride out in the archipelago to one of the restaurants there, such as Fjäderholmarnas Krog, where they have great food and an open fire. It's a beautiful trip and you can see some classic Swedish summer houses on the way.
Must-try local dishes include…
Monica: For the brave, I would say sour herring - a dish that Swedes have eaten since the 16th century. But if fermented fish isn't your thing, I would suggest trying kroppkakor - boiled potato dumplings with a filling of onions and pork or bacon. You eat them with lingonberry jam and melted butter.
Finally, what's in your SUITCASE?
Monica: I love discovering new places and like to walk a lot, so comfortable shoes - a pair of sneakers or Teva sandals - is a must for me. Earplugs and a sleeping mask are also essential. I prefer to pack a black clothing base and just add a couple of pieces with patterns and colours. This way, I don't need to pack too much, and instead have room for flea-market finds. I always make time to visit the best markets, wherever I go. Finding those one-of-a-kind treasures is what makes our home personal.
Mick: An NCS scanner. You never know when you will find that perfect colour shade! If I'm not more than an hour from water, I would also bring a wind meter - it's always great to experience new windsurfing spots.