An 18th-Century Townhouse Is Now a Chic Norwegian Rental

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Built in 1710, this historic Norwegian townhouse has been transformed into an airy holiday home.

When Bergen-based Todd Saunders of Saunders Architecture found this old townhouse in the Norwegian city of Bergen, its façade was in great condition, but inside was another story. As a result of distasteful design decisions by previous owners, the space was layered with cheap finishings.

"It was a bit of a sin as the bones of these old houses are very beautiful," says Saunders, who then purchased the property and carefully renovated it into what is now a modern rental, oozing with sleek Scandinavian vibes.

Saunders custom-designed the bookshelf in the living lounge, which features shelves that get shorter as they rise up the wall to seamlessly match the windows.   

Saunders custom-designed the bookshelf in the living lounge, which features shelves that get shorter as they rise up the wall to seamlessly match the windows.   

The second floor—where the common areas are located—has been designed as an open space with a kitchen island, a dining table, a wood burner, and a compact sofa near the window that’s perfect for two.  

The second floor—where the common areas are located—has been designed as an open space with a kitchen island, a dining table, a wood burner, and a compact sofa near the window that’s perfect for two.  

Saunders preserved the original interior details from the old house, used black tiles for the roof, and designed a sleek, modern kitchen with marble countertops and Miele appliances. 

The custom-designed kitchen worktops and cabinetry have been handcrafted by Copenhagen furniture makers København Møbelsnekkeriet.

The custom-designed kitchen worktops and cabinetry have been handcrafted by Copenhagen furniture makers København Møbelsnekkeriet.

The architect installed a fireplace in the living room, infused tiles by Bergen brand Souk in the entry foyer, and cladded the second and third floors of the house in warm Douglas fir wood. 

Plenty of light pours in through the large windows in the main living area.

Plenty of light pours in through the large windows in the main living area.

On the first floor is a tiled entrance foyer with nifty storage space for jackets and shoes. Saunders retained the home's original staircase, which connects the first two floors.

On the first floor is a tiled entrance foyer with nifty storage space for jackets and shoes. Saunders retained the home's original staircase, which connects the first two floors.

A peek at one of the bright and airy bedrooms.

A peek at one of the bright and airy bedrooms.

"Small stairs were essential space-saving measures in such old Bergen houses, and we were lucky that though slim, the existing stairs worked well in helping us to create this cozy, modern Scandinavian abode."

Shop the Look
Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chair
Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chair
Designed specifically for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949, Hans J. Wegner's Wishbone Chair (CH24) was the last part of his series that combined a chair's arms and top rails into one piece. The series was inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Chinese Ming Dynasty chairs.
Parachute Percale Sheet Set
Parachute Percale Sheet Set
This Percale set is the start to making the perfect bed. Designed for longevity, our Sheets continue to soften with use and time.
Done by Deer Grey Wall Shelf
Done by Deer Grey Wall Shelf
Clear away book, toys and trinkets with this wall shelf from Done by Deer. This minimalistic design is crafted from high quality MDF and features two simplistic metal wires either side that can also be used to hang clothes from.
A bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower.

A bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower.

 Tom Dixon glass plate towel hangers. 

 Tom Dixon glass plate towel hangers. 

"I designed the bed, which was handcrafted by furniture maker Walloe & Nilsen, to be as simple as possible. I sometimes come here on weekends, and think of the house as my "cabin" in the city," notes the architect.

The loft-like top level is uninterrupted by partition walls, making it ideal for a variety of purposes—including meditation. 

The loft-like top level is uninterrupted by partition walls, making it ideal for a variety of purposes—including meditation. 

The remodeled townhouse, which was completed in 2016, has 750 square feet of living space, including two bedrooms and a bathroom spread across three floors.   

The remodeled townhouse, which was completed in 2016, has 750 square feet of living space, including two bedrooms and a bathroom spread across three floors.   

Saunders envisions the property as a home for his young daughters, if they decide to attend university in Bergen. Since completing the project, he’s invited co-workers and friends to use the space on their visits to the city.  

After about a year of owning the townhouse, he has also decided to open the home to holiday renters. And so far, he states he's been having fun sharing his love for good design with travelers. 

To maximize the limited floor area, Saunders ripped down all the non-structural walls to open up the interiors, so the spaces feel roomier.

To maximize the limited floor area, Saunders ripped down all the non-structural walls to open up the interiors, so the spaces feel roomier.

Interested in booking your own stay in this lovely townhouse? Check out the official listing here.

Project Credits: 

Architecture, interior, cabinetry, and lighting design: Saunders Architecture 

Builder and cabinetry installation: HSR BYGG 

Closets: GG Möbel 

Kitchen: KBH Københavns Møbelsnedkeri 

Tiles: Souk 

Bed carpentry: Walloe & Nilsen