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Shop Talk: Teresa Olson of Olson House

BY JOAN ELOVITZ KAZAN
PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI

Sept. 2018

A chalkboard sign outside the cute Shorewood store Olson House reads “Where Nordic Design Meets Local Makers.”

Inside, owner Teresa Olson combined her Nordic roots (her grandparents are from Norway and Finland), her experience as an interior designer and her retail background to create an inviting space filled with the coolest, coziest stuff for your abode — whether you prefer to call the sensibility “hygge,” the Danish word for cozy, “lagom,” the Swedish concept of “enough” or “just right,” or maybe just “home sweet home.” Here, Olson shares the international inspiration behind Olson House.
 

What made you decide to leave your design job and enter the retail world?

I worked for 15 years as an interior designer, but I worked my entire adult life at The Exclusive Company record store, so I’ve always had a retail background. I missed that level of close connection you get. ... It’s very different than working on large architecture projects.
 

Life is all about timing. How did you know the time was right for you to open this shop?

As I was inching ever closer to 40, I realized that life is too short. I’ve always had this dream of creating my own corner of the world, to help improve lives on a small scale. I knew if I didn’t do it then, it wasn’t going to happen.


Your name is on the door so you must have been pretty specific about what you wanted. How would you describe your design aesthetic?

My business card says, “Thoughtful interiors/consciously crafted products.” A lot of the things we sell come from the Nordic and Scandinavian region. We’re trying to let people see that Scandinavian design is more than a trend, it’s a way of life. It’s more than just modern furniture; it’s the way the Scandinavians think about their homes.


Everyone wants to live that hygge life. What advice would you give someone who wants to incorporate Nordic design into their home?

This look can go almost anywhere, depending on how you style it.  We’ve paired a collection of beautiful wood tables from Finland with the homeowner’s gorgeous rugs from the Middle East and their large-scale leather furniture. An easy way to add a splash of Nordic decor to your home is with our kitchen textiles, blankets, pillows and other small accessories.
 

Tell us about the moment when you knew you achieved your goal?

An architecture student from Stockholm stopped in and said, “I feel like I’m at home. I’ve not seen any of this stuff anywhere since I’ve been here.” We have a lot of things that no one else in the United States has. If you were shopping at a home store in Finland or Sweden, it would be like this. And I really want this to be more than a place that has pretty things. We’ve done fundraisers — we try to give back to our community. We’re trying to give people a reason to be excited in this crazy world. If someone comes in and says, “Thank God you’re here,” then I feel like it’s worth it.”

4326 N. Oakland Ave.Shorewood,
(414) 210-2892, www.olson-house.com

 

This story ran in the Sept. 2018 issue of: