“In the middle of a city I found a fairy tale setting,” says Pernilla Bergquist of the sort of storybook enclave in Providence’s Armory District she has called home for the past five years. The neighborhood is dense with colorful homes boasting details like scalloped siding, two-tones, brief picket fences, and street-level window boxes spilling over with blooms. The area is replete with tree-lined side streets rich with historic homes; of course The Cranston Street Armory, which stands like a castle; and Dexter Park, a 10-acre community space with chess tables, bocce courts, and more.
Bergquist, an interior decorator and co-founder of Kreatelier, the fabric concept shop on Hope Street, was living in a large home in the Edgewood section of Cranston when she fell hard for the Armory while doing work for two different clients on the street where she now resides. “When the house came up for sale, I had to have it,” she says. “I came from a big house and was really craving to downsize and to simplify life. This house had all the charm and major renovations had been done.”
Bergquist describes the house as a “modest tenement in a neighborhood that has been run down” which coaxes her to go “a bit over the top with gilded pieces that don’t really belong.” In addition to playing with dichotomous design, a trademark of Bergquist’s style is a fearless confidence in combining color and print, a look she calls “eclectic Scandanavian”. “The older I get, the more I go back to my Swedish upbringing. I have lived half my life in the US by now, but the Swedish part is getting stronger. Pieces from my parents and grandparents mean a lot and I have also brought in a lot of Swedish wallpaper and pottery.”
Most rooms feature patterned wallpaper, and we’re not talking faded florals or stripes, but bold vibrant designs. And it doesn’t end there – find same-space furnishings upholstered with geometric shapes and lines. Surrounding furniture offers the eye a place to rest and keep these fantastical rooms balanced and not frenzied. “I love defined colors and am not afraid to go a bit wild. I also like when there is a color flow from each room into the other.”
“I love combining mid-century modern pieces with Victorian. I don’t really have to follow any rules. You pick pieces with meaning and work around them,” says Bergquist. “Most of my [accent] pieces are by local artists. Rhode Island is filled with talent! I mix as much as I can, making sure that every object has a story and relates to me.”