A Baltic Sea Beach House Mimics the Extreme Light and Dark of High-Latitude Living

A Baltic Sea Beach House Mimics the Extreme Light and Dark of High-Latitude Living

By Marissa Hermanson
With a bright but soothing interior, the Estonian seaside getaway draws decorative inspiration from its natural surroundings.

Architect Hanna Karits designed a coastal getaway at Matsi Beach in Pärnumaa, Estonia for a family to use as an escape from the big city.

The beach house was constructed in the foot print of an old fisherman's village.

The expansive windows in the living room were strategically positioned for sunset views.

"It is a beautiful piece of land by the Baltic sea," says Karits of the 2.5-acre property. "Thanks to an old house and its foundation, which used to serve the old fisherman village, it became possible to build in very close proximity to the white sandy beach."

A substantial sandstone fireplace grounds the voluminous living room.

Just over 2,500 square feet, the coastal home has two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor and an additional bedroom on the second floor. A smaller neighboring structure that is connected by decking houses a sauna, boat shed, guest room, small kitchenette, and a lounge area for relaxing after a sweat in the sauna.

Kitchen cabinetry is finished with teak veneer and topped with black concrete.

In the living room, ethereal light fixtures by Ay illuminate are made from bamboo and handwoven cotton.

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In the dining room, black light fixtures by Brokis visually connect to other black architectural details, like the window frames and light switches.

Embracing the duality of the Baltic region’s long, dark winters and sun-soaked summers, the house is dark on the outside and light on the inside.

Exterior walls are clad in black spruce boards and the roof is covered in black concrete tiles. Dark smoked ash decks connect the main house with the neighboring structure.

Reeds were used to line the pitched ceilings, adding texture and warmth to the white spaces.

Inside the house, walls and flooring are clad in birch boards that are painted in cheerful white. Ethereal draperies covering expansive windows filter in plenty of warm natural light, and organic, beachy materials are found throughout.

Earthy materials like natural wood tones, limestone and Italian lava stone were used in the bathroom.

"Here in Estonia we have a long, dark autumn and winter period where there is just a short amount of daylight, so it is good to compensate for that with a bright and light interior," says Karits.

The natural palette draws inspiration from the coast’s landscape, adding texture throughout the home. For instance, ceilings are covered with reeds. "It’s a very common material on the seashores of Estonia," says Karits.

Other materials like sandstone used on the fireplace living room, and limestone and Italian lava stone in the bathrooms adds a soothing, earthy vibe.

The two structures are connect with a smoked ash terrace with an integrated hot tub.

"The main idea with the whole complex was to blend in," says Karits. "The house is designed from inside out so every window frames a certain view of local nature. Because of the colorful views — which vary through seasons — it was clear that the interior should be very light and modest. An organic palette endorses beauty from the outside and harmonizes with the beach theme."

The expansive windows in the living room were strategically positioned for sunset views. And the large fireplace grounds the lofty space, making it feel more cozy and intimate.

Another important design concept was for the home to blend in and not interfere with the surroundings. Karits used the old fisherman’s house foundation as a foot print and then added new buildings along the center line. The various buildings were then connected with terraces.

The neighboring structure houses a sauna and shower.

The sauna is perfect for warming up from dips in the chilly Baltic Sea.

Originally the black metal window frames were chosen to blend with the black exterior, but they also play an important role in the interior as well. The black window frames are an aesthetic, cohesive link with other dark architectural details, like the light switches and fixtures, curtain rods, custom furnishings and fireplace box. "Contrast with white wood made all these details an important part of the concept," she adds. 

"This home makes you feel comfortable, even in wintertime when the sea is covered with ice and the wind is hard," says Karits. 

The all-black exterior fades into its natural setting.

In the wintertime, the living room is cozy and welcoming with its large fireplace and warm lighting.

View more projects in Estonia:

This Forest Retreat Is a Modern Take on the Traditional Estonian Hut

Kodasema Launches Four Tiny Prefab Homes—Including One That Floats

Project Credits:

Architect: Hanna Karits

Builder: Logmans Grupp

Structural engineer: Mart Tamm

Lighting, interior, and cabinetry design: Hanna Karits 


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