Knotty by Nature

written by:
photos by:
April 3, 2010
Originally published in Big Ideas for Small Spaces

In snowy Sweden, where pine planks and the democratic design incubator Ikea reign supreme, a local architect pays homage to his patrimony, making a small, slatty home feel like a rather big deal. 

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  • 
  Per Bornstein’s house sits on a hill between a large forested park and Gothenburg’s former industrial area. Much of the surrounding area awaits design as thoughtful and lovely as this home built on a previously abandoned lot.
    Per Bornstein’s house sits on a hill between a large forested park and Gothenburg’s former industrial area. Much of the surrounding area awaits design as thoughtful and lovely as this home built on a previously abandoned lot.
  • 
  The facade is punctured by a variety of differently sized windows: Those flush to the wall indicate the house’s public rooms, while the those for the private spaces are set back.
    The facade is punctured by a variety of differently sized windows: Those flush to the wall indicate the house’s public rooms, while the those for the private spaces are set back.
  • 
  Architect Per Bornstein and his daughter Velma relax in the living room. The woodburning stove was a second-hand store find.
    Architect Per Bornstein and his daughter Velma relax in the living room. The woodburning stove was a second-hand store find.
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  Exposed pine dominates the downstairs reception area.
    Exposed pine dominates the downstairs reception area.
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  Bornstein and his daughter Velma sit at a table the architect designed himself; the dining chairs were designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen.
    Bornstein and his daughter Velma sit at a table the architect designed himself; the dining chairs were designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen.
  • 
  Though the house is a mostly wooden affair, a sense of transparency pervades, thanks to many windows and the glass front door.
    Though the house is a mostly wooden affair, a sense of transparency pervades, thanks to many windows and the glass front door.
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  Competing grains of laminated pine panels enliven the stairs.
    Competing grains of laminated pine panels enliven the stairs.
  • 
  The bathroom includes a sink Bornstein discovered in a secondhand store.
    The bathroom includes a sink Bornstein discovered in a secondhand store.
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  The ground floor has a visitor’s bedroom for when Velma has friends over to stay.
    The ground floor has a visitor’s bedroom for when Velma has friends over to stay.
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  The first thing visitors see as they enter the house is Bornstein’s impressive collection of architecture and design books. The sofa and chair were designed by Bornstein for Swedese.
    The first thing visitors see as they enter the house is Bornstein’s impressive collection of architecture and design books. The sofa and chair were designed by Bornstein for Swedese.
  • 
  Bornstein’s living room features an intriguing collection of furniture. The sofa is made by Swedish manufacturer Ire. The 1970s wood burner was a secondhand store find, and the wood table, by Bruno Mattson, was found in a bin at a recycling station. He inherited the lounge chair from his parents.
    Bornstein’s living room features an intriguing collection of furniture. The sofa is made by Swedish manufacturer Ire. The 1970s wood burner was a secondhand store find, and the wood table, by Bruno Mattson, was found in a bin at a recycling station. He inherited the lounge chair from his parents.
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  Exposed pine boards dominate the interior, giving a subtle, warm backdrop to the splashes of color that his stove and collection of books provide.
    Exposed pine boards dominate the interior, giving a subtle, warm backdrop to the splashes of color that his stove and collection of books provide.
  • 
  Though she's yet to properly design a building, Velma's small office has her set up to do big things.
    Though she's yet to properly design a building, Velma's small office has her set up to do big things.
  • 
  The knot-flecked staircase leading down to Bornstein's office gives serves as a solid core to the home's circulation.
    The knot-flecked staircase leading down to Bornstein's office gives serves as a solid core to the home's circulation.
  • 
  Though the view is snowy for much of the year, Bornstein has quite a vista from his living room. The black leather chair is a hand-me-down from his parents.
    Though the view is snowy for much of the year, Bornstein has quite a vista from his living room. The black leather chair is a hand-me-down from his parents.
  • 
  The essence of Bornstein's design is to show materials in their natural state. And considering the natural state of Sweden is decidedly on the wooded side, pine was an easy, and inexpensive, choice.
    The essence of Bornstein's design is to show materials in their natural state. And considering the natural state of Sweden is decidedly on the wooded side, pine was an easy, and inexpensive, choice.
  • 
  The kitchen is from Ikea and the dining chairs by Arne Jacobsen, but the table is pure Bornstein.
    The kitchen is from Ikea and the dining chairs by Arne Jacobsen, but the table is pure Bornstein.
  • 
  Simple black tiles and a basic, exposed showerhead kept costs down, allowing other parts of the house to function as the showpieces.
    Simple black tiles and a basic, exposed showerhead kept costs down, allowing other parts of the house to function as the showpieces.
  • 
  Bornstein derives endless inspiration from his massive collection of design books. The clip lamps attached at the top shelf provide an easy, and targeted, lighting scheme.
    Bornstein derives endless inspiration from his massive collection of design books. The clip lamps attached at the top shelf provide an easy, and targeted, lighting scheme.
  • 
  This bedroom makes use of the same monochrome simplicity of the rest of the house, another nod to the integrity of the exposed pine boards.
    This bedroom makes use of the same monochrome simplicity of the rest of the house, another nod to the integrity of the exposed pine boards.
  • 
  Velma works a puzzle in front of a sofa from Ire.
    Velma works a puzzle in front of a sofa from Ire.
  • 
  The white linens appear almost ghostly against the natural grain of the wood and muted glow of the window's winter light.
    The white linens appear almost ghostly against the natural grain of the wood and muted glow of the window's winter light.
  • 
  With the majority of the house's windows facing down the slope, not only does Bornstein maximize the views out, but he assured that his home would have loads of natural light pouring in, even if it only lasts for a few hours in winter.
    With the majority of the house's windows facing down the slope, not only does Bornstein maximize the views out, but he assured that his home would have loads of natural light pouring in, even if it only lasts for a few hours in winter.
  • 
  The black tile in the entryway mirrors that used in the bathroom, giving the small palette of materials a kind of interior coherence.
    The black tile in the entryway mirrors that used in the bathroom, giving the small palette of materials a kind of interior coherence.
  • 
  Black and blond are a natural match in Bornstein's largely wooden kitchen.
    Black and blond are a natural match in Bornstein's largely wooden kitchen.
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