/ by Brendan Blowers / photography by BLOM Design Studio
Konrad Nyblom, Project Manager for Cobblestone Homes, has always lived straddled between two cultures, the Southern US and Scandinavian. “I grew up in Greer,” he says, “but my Dad is from a Swedish-speaking area of Finland. I have dual citizenship.”
His father, Tomas, started Cobblestone in 2010 as a custom home builder in Greenville with the help of his wife, Mindy, when Konrad was attending College of Charleston. It was there that Konrad met a Finnish student named Heidi and ended up finishing his degree in Helsinki, Finland where the couple married and spent four years together before returning to Greenville.
Heidi Nyblom received her Master’s Degree in Architecture during their time in Finland and is the in-house Residential Designer for Cobblestone’s custom homes. As Konrad explains it, “She designs and I’m on the business end.”
Working harmoniously together at Cobblestone and sharing the same passions for blending modern simplicity of Scandinavian design with the Upstate’s more traditional vernacular led Konrad and Heidi to open BLOM Design Studio last year. BLOM and Cobblestone now work in tandem to serve an ever-growing portfolio of custom home builds.
Driven by the conviction that thoughtful, efficient and beautiful design should be available to all, Konrad and Heidi used the design and construction of their own home as a way to embody their philosophy.
After a 10-month building process, the couple moved into their new four bedroom home in Greenville’s North Main community, a location that was an intentional choice for the international couple. “Moving from a big city, we wanted to be able to walk places and feel connected to the places that we go,” Konrad says.
Because they were building in such an established neighborhood, blending with the traditional surroundings was important. The Nyblom home sits at the end of a concrete retaining wall and walk-up, hugging a dense boundary of mature trees. Heidi spent six months designing a footprint that would best use what the lot offered without requiring the removal of any trees. “We don’t want to design a home until we know where it’s going. We want to be stewards of the land and help it to reach its potential,” Konrad says.
The final design was an H-shaped home with the main living areas facing the old growth poplars and oaks to provide a peaceful private view.
The exterior blends Hardie plank siding with accents of cedar tongue and groove for a clean contemporary look. The double gable roof makes best use of the lot’s narrowness while complementing both the surrounding tree line and neighborhood.
Going with a standing seam metal roof was both a stylistic and practical choice, “We’re trying to stray away from temporary architecture. We want things that last and patina with age,” Konrad says. The elevated deck in the middle of the home is made of Siberian larch wood, a slow growing ecologically sustainable alternative to composite material that doesn’t need to be treated. It will last a lifetime.
Heidi’s design makes an intentional connection with the outdoors. “When you walk in you can see straight through to the backyard,” Konrad says. The focal point on the main level is the large custom built microcement wood-burning fireplace. “In Finland, the homes are designed around the fireplace. It’s a big part of the lifestyle in Scandinavia,” Konrad says, who experienced Finland’s Kaamos, or “polar nights” that occur each fall.
This fireplace also serves as a functional separation between a more secluded back living area and the street-facing front and an abundance of glass ensures that high trafficked areas are washed in natural light.
A “birdcage” partitions the stairs from the lower-level den. The striking metal design element has two practical purposes; it keeps the couple’s two-year old safe around the top of the floating staircase while allowing the spillage of window light.
The den’s landing is an open sitting area which offers access to Heidi’s studio and a guest bedroom. The polished concrete floor adds another minimalist-inspired element while also making an art studio easy to clean. This level also houses a sauna with a connected Japanese-inspired post-sauna relaxation area open to the outdoor breeze. Konrad says, “it goes hand-in-hand with Scandinavian design these days, emphasizing natural materials and letting materials speak for themselves.”
Several Baltic birch furniture pieces throughout the house, including the downstairs coffee table, a record shelf in the living room, a bench in the mudroom and the kitchen table were designed and built by Konrad and are available for others to purchase through BLOM Design Studio.
Everything from material selection to intended use has been thoughtfully considered. “We are passionate about simplicity and a house designed for the way you live,” Konrad says.