As a kid growing up in Sweden, getting stuff fixed around the house seemed as easy as throwing a load of laundry in the machine. When my mom Solgerd pulled on her paint-splattered corduroys, something good was usually about to happen. I still vividly remember the green pedal car she built for me when I was seven years old, complete with a vintage Volvo steering wheel. Or the wave-shaped headboard I got as a surprise when I turned 12. So when my mom and my stepdad Lars Hoglund told me they were buying a 19th-century tear down in southern Sweden, I didn’t even flinch. I knew they’d turn dust into magic.
But as the photographs of their renovation project began to appear, I started having doubts. My mom, in head-to-toe snow gear, could be seen peeking through a boulder-sized hole in the centuries-old foundation. Lars would be holding a piece of 1920s wallpaper and pointing to rotten wall boards. My grandmother would visit the site and stand next to the gaping hole that used to be the staircase. And in one photograph, snow was falling in through the roof. Worst of all was the lawn which, like a cemetery for machinery, was scattered with 7000 pounds of rusty tractor pieces, a sunken bulldozer and a few retired haybalers. In all of these photos, my mom and Lars were smiling as if unaware of the obstacles surrounding them.
I guess I should have known better. Five years after they pulled down the first wall, my parents had turned the impossible into a paradise. Not only did they restore the property, built in 1887, but they preserved as much of the original material as possible. From the previous owner’s favorite kitchen chair (now a coat rack) to the hen house turned into a guest house, they had transformed the property into a 21st century home while honoring its past.
Photographs by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2016.