In the Grandpa Family editorials, we highlight creative, exciting, and ambitious people close to us. This time we met up with Malin Persson at her home just outside Malmö. So what does Malin Persson do for a living?
“I never know what to say when people ask me what I do for a living, so I’ve settled on calling myself a ‘professional creative’. That includes many things: TV host, editor, public speaker, photographer, author, and designer. I’m passionate about nature and everything that’s beautiful, genuine, and sustainable; this passion permeates every project I’m working on.”
It’s a crisp, sunny September morning as we begin our journey from our Malmö store to Malin’s house on the outskirts of the town. We get a glance of the house through a high shrubbery and recognize it instantly from Malin’s Instagram. What the facade promised, the inside delivered upon.
Read our interview with Malin below.
Hi Malin! Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to live in Malmö after your years in Italy.
It started with me being a too tall, too pale, and too skinny girl from Osby who moved to Rome after school to study Italian. While there I got to know Karl Lagerfeld who took me under his wing, which created a snowball effect. Soon I was on the world’s biggest catwalks and spent many years in the absolute top-tier of the fashion industry.
I started a family and had three wonderful children. By the time the third child was born Berlusconi was re-elected in Italy, so we decided to move back up north and ended up in Malmö. I found my dream house here in Bellevue. My sister was already living in Malmö, so that was another very good reason to move there.
Your house has quite a presence and is very distinctive. What do you know about the history of the house, and what changes have been made during the time you’ve lived there?
When I bought the house it was in desperate need of renovation. It was really something to sink your teeth into. Everyone I met advised me against buying this old “shack”. I remember the home inspector walking around the house with a knife that he stabbed into decayed window sills all the while muttering “tear the whole thing down”. But it was too late, I was already in love with this old white sandstone house with its creaking floors, leaded windows, and over-the-top details.
What followed were three years of a total renovation to restore the house to its former glory. Basically, everything had to be redone: electricity, facade, roofing, drainage, water, toilets. The list seemed endless. The important thing for me was to restore the house while respecting the soul of it. It was a delightful process, seeing as all the original details were still around. The house was built in 1909 by the Fire Chief Nils Djurklou who wanted a big house drawing inspiration from the 17th century.
Renovating a house is like giving birth; you forget how painful it was – which is lucky – because otherwise, you wouldn’t dream about doing it a second time around. Now that we’re done I live here with my three kids in our dream house, and I love the patina we’ve inflicted upon it during the 10 years we’ve lived here. We’re creating our history here.
Some might recognize you from your modeling days while others know you from the Swedish tv-show Trädgårdstider. How did you become one of the hosts on that show?
By the time I moved back to Sweden, I started blogging. I started out in order to keep connected to my friends across the world and to keep them up to date on my new life and the house project. Thanks to the blog I got contacted by Swedish television (SVT) who looked for a fourth member to the trio that had been running the show for a few seasons. The show was about 30-60 minutes long, and SVT wanted to add more design and construction to their new format. I did a casting together with Tareq, trying to make a wine rack out of an old fence. A classic Malin up-cycling. Apparently, it hit home, because I got the job. As of now, we’ve recorded six seasons of Trädgårdstider, and there’s even a new season just waiting to be broadcasted next spring.
When did you become interested in gardening?
It’s an interest that has developed over time. I had a garden in Italy but running it was mostly made up of constant watering. So it turned more into an active interest when I got back to Sweden in 2011. Gardening is my therapy. It’s a meditative experience where I can enjoy the beauty of the garden, working, removing weeds, replanting, raking leaves. The garden is still far from my grand vision, but I’m getting there, little by little.
Last autumn you and your sister Linda published the book Systrarna Perssons Skafferi. Tell us the background on how that book came to be, why you wrote it, and do a quick sell-in to our followers, please!
It all started when we set a challenge for ourselves that for one year we’d only eat Swedish produce, exchange imported food and find out what Swedish alternatives we could replace them with. We went out to the garden, the park, and the forest during different seasons to collect the raw materials that we took back to our kitchens to cook, pickle, or refine. The result of this challenge was this book. We invite our readers into three of our pantries:
The food pantry - How to create a sustainable pantry
The bathroom “pantry” - How you can create skincare products using only ingredients from nature
The cleaning “pantry” - How you can remove chemically based cleaning products and replace them with natural products
Throughout the book, we share a lot of recipes and inspiration on how to live more sustainably and in line with nature. It’s the perfect book for the harvest season – which is to say right now. So go get it!
You seem like a creative person with a lot of things going on in your life at the same time. How do you get your everyday life together, being a mother of three?
Haha, who says I get it all together? I don’t always do. It’s easy looking from the outside to see the perfect home, with a happy and well-kept family – but it’s often far from reality. We, just as everyone else, are struggling to make the day-to-day work. I live alone with my three kids, and for them, that has meant learning early on to assume responsibility for getting to school on time, doing their homework, and getting to off-school activities. Sometimes I’m away for longer periods, but luckily my dear mother is often there to help. I do work a lot from home, though, which helps in getting the weekdays together. I’m pretty good at organizing and planning my time, too. Somehow working out is the first thing to go when I’m pressed for time…
What does a normal day look like for you?
The alarm goes off at 7, I’ll wake the kids, have a glass of lemon water, make breakfast, wish the kids a nice day at school, clean the house, make rounds through the garden, pick a bouquet, make coffee, light candles, get to work on the computer, answer emails, work on some design project, heat up left-overs for lunch, talk a walk down to the ocean, pick apples in the garden, make an apple pie that I’ll both serve the kids and take a photo of, drive the kids to cheerleading class, run by the grocery store, prepare dinner, eat dinner, make tea, look at an episode of Squid Game, fall asleep after 10 minutes, drag myself out of the sofa, put the smallest one to bed and then go to sleep myself.
What are three things you need to feel good about your life?
Being in nature, having adventures, and love.
We think you’ve got an amazing and inspiring home, with a lot of nice details and vintage furniture. From where do you draw inspiration?
My home has been subject to organic growth these past 20 years. I fall in love with certain furniture and objects, almost like a lifelong love, and they’ll stay with me wherever I move. As time goes, new darlings are added to the collections. I’m very inspired by my years in Italy and France. I love the Italians’ elegance, shapes, and sense of symmetry. I’m inspired by beautiful, solid materials that are worn over time, like those in my home have been for the past 10 years of us living there. I’m inspired by time passing by, and the markings of small feet that’s been running up and down the stairs thousands of times. Carved lines on the door jamb marking the length of the kids throughout the years. The small chips, scratches, and marks left by us whilst creating our history in this house.
Do you have any particular plans or goals for this autumn and the future?
I feel like things have been going too fast lately because I’ve had so many opportunities arise that it’s been hard to say no. So my plan for this autumn is to slow down, take up my yoga practice again, turn the tempo down, and decide on actual days with a clear schedule. I want to walk through the forest, light a fire in the fireplace, and read more books. Reading for the enjoyment of it, rather than for learning. And my goal for the future is to stay more present in the now, not focusing so much on the future.