An Idyllic Red Cabin in Sweden Echoes a 19th-Century Soldier’s Cottage
Södermanland County in southeastern Sweden is a popular rural getaway that’s rich in heritage, and its bucolic landscape of forests, fields, and glassy lakes is where architect Per Söderberg situated his family’s 807-square-foot weekend retreat. The red cottage overlooks the grounds and large lakes in two directions. "It’s a preservation area for wildlife, and we see big groups of birds year-round," says Söderberg of the site. "All of this called for a house with views. The glass doors and windows that are in three directions work like frames, enhancing the scenery."
The home that previously stood there was a red-painted, wood-clad soldier’s cottage built in 1850. "Unfortunately, the entire frame was rotted," Söderberg says. Since the architect wasn’t able to salvage the existing structure, he was intent on crafting a new dwelling that would pay tribute to the historical one. "We wanted a simple, compact, and functional modern cottage with the same footprint, volume, and materials," he says. "We wanted to preserve the memory of the old cottage."
The new house is clad with red-painted, reversed board-and-batten and features a roof of pantile, or fired clay, tiles. Its asymmetrical gabled form takes cues from the original cottage and an existing barn. "The red house with white trim around the doors and the windows is the most traditional color scheme in Sweden," Söderberg explains.
On the interior’s first level, the open-plan kitchen, dining, and living spaces tie to the outdoors via four floor-to-ceiling sliding glass pocket doors with hidden frames, creating a pavilion-like feeling. The living room’s fire surround conceals a staircase that accesses the upper level, where "the windows are low and set level with the floor, and with the steep angle of the ceiling, provide a feeling of open space and height," Söderberg says.
The Douglas fir flooring and stair treads feature a lye-and-soap finish, and the fireplace is marked by handmade brick that’s laid flush with the floor. "The oversize hearth was inspired by the surrounding old cottages and is set traditionally low," Söderberg says. "The central position is more unusual and divides the ground floor space into three areas: cooking, eating, and relaxing." The interior walls and ceilings are painted white to create a neutral impression that lets the eye focus on views of the landscape.
"I set out to design an abstracted contemporary and modern adaptation of tradition," Söderberg says. "Some of our neighbors do not see the house as modern, which is good, but the house is very open, and on warm summer days, the kids run in and out freely, and we’re able to appreciate our surroundings."
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Architecture and Interior Design: Per Söderberg, Söderberg Söderberg
Structural Engineer: Stefan Nilsson
Civil Engineer: Johan Johansson, Söderberg Söderberg
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