Set deep in the countryside in the tiny village of Lillkyrka, about an hour’s drive from Stockholm, Jessica and Henry Jowilin’s pretty red timber-built cottage is reached along rough country tracks that wind their way through snow-covered cow pastures.

Built in 1885 the house was mostly sound. However, when Jessica and Henry first moved into their cottage six years ago, it was in real need of updating, including mending the roof.

A Swedish Christmas

At the front of the house, lights shimmer in the windows, and inside the couple are getting ready for Christmas with their daughter Noelia. On the old stove, in the homely country kitchen, there are trays filled with semla Swedish buns, nut fudge pies in baking tins, chocolate-chip cookies, and other sweets on pretty doilies. From the open windows of waft the irresistible scents of gingerbread, cinnamon and freshly baked biscuits: the flavours of a classic Swedish festive celebration.

Jessica creates these treats on a daily basis for her business, Café tant Gredelin, which she has run for the last six years. The popular café is located in nearby Enköping, in an old listed building that features decorative panelling, vintage wallpaper and charming furniture.

Festivities always start early in the Jowilin household. ‘I usually have all the decorations up by the first Sunday in Advent. After that, our days are filled with celebrations, mulled wine parties and events in the café,’ says Jessica.

Another thing that Jessica looks forward to at this time of year is baking, assembling and decorating a traditional gingerbread house, which she always puts on a shelf in the kitchen alongside softly glowing lanterns.

Essential repairs

  • Mending the roof
  • Refreshed old pine kitchen with new cabinets
  • A reclaimed tiled fireplace has been installed in the living room
  • In 2016, the couple plan to overhaul the large garden, moving an old playhouse and rebuilding it into a hen house for chickens

A warm welcome awaits well-wishers at the Jowilins’ cottage, which was built in the late 19th century


All is calm in this corner of the kitchen, where layers of white, neutrals, and
old lace combine for a simple Scandi-chic look


Jessica likes to add sparkle to the kitchen with candles and tealights, contrasted by
a rustic linen tablecloth. The teardrop chandelier catches the light and fresh greenery adds
a natural festive note. Click to discover Jessica’s Christmas recipes


Henry and Jessica enlisted their family’s help to update the kitchen, giving the pine units a coat of white paint and adding new handles. A vintage lace panel covers the wood-burner when not in use


An old window forms a quirky hatch between the living room and dining room. Jessica turned old teatowels and table linen into cushion covers for a salvaged sofa


Tongue-and-groove panelling, furniture and walls in Jessica’s favourite winter-white shades make a clean contrast to the original wooden floors and beamed ceilings in the couple’s dining room


Most of the furniture in the house was salvaged from junk shops and recycling centres. Jessica often upcycles her buys, such as the old table in the dining room that she rescued from the tip. She painted its legs green and sanded the top to enhance its natural patina


Now laden with sweets and treats, and decorated with baubles and porcelain in lilac colours, the old table in the dining room comes into its own at Christmas time


Noelia likes to help her mum with the baking


The upstairs landing between the two bedrooms has been turned into a cosy second living space


In the master bedroom, Jessica has introduced colour and pattern with blue vintage-style wallpaper by Boråstapeter, striped blinds, a checked armchair draped with an old teatowel along with lace bedlinen

Get the look

Take inspiration from Jessica’s Swedish home with classic and handmade pieces

  • Wallpaper: Selma Blaklint wallpaper by Astrid & Rudolf, £72 per roll, Redloh House Fabrics
  • Chandelier: Skinny Mimi six-arm chandelier, H58xDia.60cm, £195, The French Bedroom Company
  • Ornaments: Heart ornaments handmade from a discarded copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, £15 for a set of eight, Peony & Thistle at Etsy
  • Lantern: Industrial zinc lantern, H40xW30xD30cm, £99, Nordic House
  • Cake stand: Glass cake stand, H8.5xDia.25cm, £34.50, Within
  • Floor: Oak natural pre-oiled engineered flooring, planks each measure W20xL210cm, £55 per m², The Natural Wood Floor Company
  • Settle: Karl settee, H45xW205xD92cm, £2,200, Gustavian
  • Wreath: Faux cone and berry wreath, Dia.60cm, £95, Oka

Discover Jessica’s Christmas recipes

Author & Stylist: Kerstin Hermelin/House of Pictures, Photographer: Sofi Sykfont/House of Pictures