Discover the best of Scandinavian style at this bright, beautiful and oh-so stylish Danish home…
From its yellow front door to the brightly painted stools in the kitchen, from the stacks of cheerful beakers on the shelves to the pink wallpaper in one of the sitting rooms, there’s one word that sums up Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau’s home – ‘colourful.’
‘Colours are vital for me,’ laughs the founder of homeware company RICE, famous for its zingy melamine tableware, handmade baskets and hand-glazed Italian bowls. ‘We need colours even more so in winter, especially on a grey day. I’m very unfaithful when it comes to having favourite colours – I change my taste, going through phases, though there’s always a shade of pink and a shade of mint in my favourites.’
Charlotte’s love for colour is evident everywhere in the house in Odense, Denmark, she shares with her French husband Philippe, 16-year-old son Max, 14-year-old daughter Selma and her two Labradors Luna and Rosa. It’s such a warm, lived-in space, that it’s hard to believe the family have only been here for four years and that they had what Charlotte calls ‘a bit of a rough start.’
‘We moved here for practical reasons, leaving behind a beautiful house in the country,’ she says. ‘We made the sensible choice and moved closer to schools, work and so on, but I didn’t find it easy because it was more of an intellectual choice and I am the sort of person who usually lives by my heart and my gut feeling. My dream was to make the house look happy, relaxed and lived-in. I spent lots of hours searching for wallpaper and deciding on wall colours. When the first strokes of blue paint were put on, I gave a sigh of relief – suddenly I knew we would be happy here.’
Charlotte co-founded RICE with Philippe back in 1998, a few months after their son was born. The couple had lived in Paris for 15 years but wanted to move away from the hustle and bustle of the city. ‘We wanted to change our lives,’ she says. ‘We both worked a lot and travelled a lot, but never together, and we wanted to move to Denmark and do a project together.’ And so RICE, named after the food that feeds most of the world’s population, was born.
Over the years the couple have travelled the world, sourcing products from Madagascar, China, Portugal and Italy. ‘We visit every supplier to make sure they’re up to international labour standards and we were the first Danish company to sign up to SA8000 certification,’ Charlotte says, referring to the international standardised Code of Conduct aimed at improving working conditions around the world.
All their hard work and travelling has paid off and, these days, you can find RICE’s distinctive products in department stores, boutiques and online shops all around the world – and it’s a fair bet that Charlotte has brought a splash of colour into some corner of your home, too.
However, for those of us not as brave as her when it comes to splashing bright colours directly onto white walls, Charlotte has this advice: ‘Just play with colour, try to paint just one wall in a room and see how it feels. It doesn’t take long or cost much and, you never know, you might become addicted to colour. I always tell people that you might as well have a go because it only takes a few hours to repaint if you have regrets.’
The other key aspect of Charlotte’s style is practicality, clearly demonstrated by the open spaces, open shelves and two dishwashers in her home. ‘My kitchen has to be efficient and good-looking at the same time,’ she says. ‘I keep all my beautiful kitchenware out in the open. This makes it easy to access and practical at the same time – a win-win situation in my book.’ Charlotte is not afraid to be bold when it comes to open shelves, giving over a huge space to her collection of cookery books, bowls, glasses and baskets. ‘The hole in the wall used to host two fridges and two ovens when we moved in,’ she says. ‘I chose to change the space into this open cupboard made by a carpenter. Inside I applied a striped wallpaper with a nice ribbon look and now I am in love. The wall sticker translates as “I Love This Room” – and wall stickers never lie!’
Charlotte says it’s important that her home fits the life she has right now, and she is already planning a ‘teenage bathroom’ for her daughter. ‘As your life moves on, your needs change,’ she says. ‘When my children were little we had a big couch standing in front of a window. The children and their friends loved jumping from the windowsill onto the couch – again and again and again, for hours on end. Needless to say we do not have this couch anymore, but it was great fun while it lasted.
‘I declutter often,’ she continues. ‘This is really important. I regularly go through each room, stand back and look at it like I am seeing it for the first time. That is really helpful because suddenly you notice which thing you need and what you need to clear out. It’s important to take stock every now and then. Sometimes moving house forces you to refocus but if you stay in the same home it’s just as important to make sure it still works well for you.
‘All this decluttering means that Charlotte can really relax and enjoy the space and the individual objects in her home. ‘The favourite part of my home really depends on the time of year, or time of day,’ she says. ‘At the moment I’m loving my huge colourful couches, my bright red KitchenAid mixer and the woodburning stove. In the summer, it’ll be all about our lovely swimming pool and terrace.’
With such a beautiful home and great attitude to family living, it’s no surprise that there are always extra people gathered around Charlotte’s kitchen table.
‘There’s always room enough and food enough for a few extra people,’ she laughs. ‘My favourite times are when we go from just being the four of us to being 20, and perhaps a few dogs roaming around, too. Sharing your home with people is what life is all about.’
And with that, Charlotte heads off to work on the newest projects for the RICE empire. As well as travelling the world looking for new products, she has just opened a new restaurant and shop called Riceteria in her home town and is working on a new book called Happy Gardens to complement her book Happy Home. What this means for us is more splashes of colour to brighten up our world.
All images from Happy Home – Everyday Magic for a Colourful Life, published by Jacqui Small, £25. Photography by Joachim Wichmann and John Bendtsen. Learn more about Charlotte and her company at rice.dk