Since 2017, Pluspuu has delivered svelte-yet-woodsy prefabs that clean up the rough edges of the log cabin typology. Their models recently caught the attention of a Finnish couple who, after relocating to Switzerland six years ago, wanted to build a retreat in their hometown of Heinola where they could return to on holidays.
Knowing they wouldn’t be using it most of the year, homeowners Otto Lepistö and Elina Hunnakko selected a design from Pluspuu that could serve their own family as well as renters looking for private access to Finland’s unspoiled archipelago. "We didn’t want the interiors to be too refined, but still wanted them to feel stylish," says Elina. "Pluspuu’s models are very modern and fresh when compared to the appearance of traditional timber houses, which tend to be very heavy and old fashioned."
Pluspuu offers 12 home designs, plus a couple different saunas to pair them with. Elina and Otto selected the Iniö model, which appears feather-light on the land, and carries the fine detail of a plume.
Set beneath a black gable with extended eaves, the two-level, three-bedroom home features an airy, loft-like interior, soft wood finishes in birch and pine, 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and dining area, and wraparound decking. "Windows on three sides of the living room make it feel as though you are outside—you can experience all four seasons very intimately," says Elina.
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The home itself is comprised of column-and-beam, non-settling log structures and cross-laminated timber panels. Pluspuu developed the building system in collaboration with Ollikaisen Hirsirakenne Oy—a builder based in Pirkanmaa, Central Finland, with more than 40 years’ experience in log house construction.
Eight-inch-thick spruce logs and wood fiber insulation help maintain ideal indoor temperatures and humidity, which is critical when homes are built in subzero climates (Pluspuu’s designs can go to -30 Celsius, or -22 Fahrenheit). The houses can be warmed with geothermal heating, and triple-glazed windows ensure proper insulation.
With each of Pluspuu’s models, clients can request subtle tweaks for something more bespoke. "Our home is unique because it features a ‘rimakatto’ ceiling," says Elina. "It’s a Finnish word that means covered with battens in a Scandinavian style. It softens the appearance and improves acoustics."
Just down from the home toward the water, a sauna building by Pluspuu was built on the foundation of an old cottage. It accommodates a party of eight, and provides views out over the lake. Nearby, a hot tub accommodates 10. "If it’s winter," says Elina, "guests can go skinny dipping, and then jump in the hot tub."
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