I often wonder how many English people end up with broken noses when they visit Swedish friends at home.
You arrive at their building. You tap in the obligatory door code. Climb the stairs or ride the lift. Ring the doorbell and wait. Swiftly, the door opens. But in the wrong direction! Unlike in the UK, the doors open outwards in Sweden and you didn’t expect it. The door moves towards you like an inevitable wave. And you’re not quick enough to get out of the way. Smack! Broken nose.
But why do Swedish doors open outwards? What could be the explanation? Does it symbolise that the English are inward-looking, and Swedes are more outward-looking? Is it for security? It’s more difficult to kick in a door that opens outwards. Could very well be.
I think, however, it’s something entirely different. The price of accommodation in Sweden is high. Houses and flats are sold according to their precious square meterage. This makes the space behind a door important. Definitely sellable. Furnishable perhaps. One extra usable square meter means space for a hatrack.
So, it’s obvious, doors open outwards to give people a valuable extra square meter. And this is roughly the price of a broken English nose.