An Idyllic Red Cabin in Sweden Echoes a 19th-Century Soldier’s Cottage

An Idyllic Red Cabin in Sweden Echoes a 19th-Century Soldier’s Cottage

By Laura Mauk
Unable to salvage an 1850 hut, architect Per Söderberg builds a crimson retreat that pays homage to the original.

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 compact home in Södermanland County, Sweden, that architect Per Söderberg designed for his family is clad with bright red board-and-batten siding.

Bollbacken, as the retreat is named, features an asymmetrical, peaked roof.

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."

Bollbacken was inspired by an 1850 soldier’s cottage that had previously stood on the site; an existing barn structure remains on the property.

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.

Like the board-and-batten siding, the clay pantile roof lends rich texture. 

The clay pantile roof mimics the roof of the existing 19th-century barn structure that still stands on the site.

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 open-plan kitchen is arranged with stainless-steel counters, cabinetry, and appliances that contrast with the Douglas fir flooring.

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. 

The fireplace on the first level showcases red brick and a bright white surround.

"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."

Open fields, wildflowers, and trees enclose the weekend home.

Strategically placed glass pocket doors slide open, connecting the house to its lush natural surroundings.

Related Reading: 

A Tiny Cabin in Rural Sweden Pops With Red Pinewood

14 Red-Hot Homes With Striking Scarlet Exteriors

Project Credits:

Architecture and Interior Design: Per Söderberg, Söderberg Söderberg

Structural Engineer: Stefan Nilsson

Civil Engineer: Johan Johansson, Söderberg Söderberg

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