An Idyllic Swedish Summer House Channels Japanese Vibes

An Idyllic Swedish Summer House Channels Japanese Vibes

By Jessica Dailey
This minimalist timber home in the south of Sweden offers a family of four a place to commune with nature.

When clients asked architect Johan Sundberg to design a holiday home in the tiny town of Ljunghusen, located at the southwesternmost tip of Sweden on a small peninsula in the sound, he saw an opportunity to go beyond the Swedish/Danish midcentury style in which his firm usually works.

Sundberg looked to Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma for inspiration for the design. "We call it the Katsura typology, but that's probably sacrilegious," he says.

"We wanted to move out of our comfort zone typology-wise," he says, "and see where the Japanese courtyard houses would take us using Swedish carpenters and a normal budget."

The 200-square-meter home is located in a pine forest on a sandy piece of land adjacent to Falsterbo channel, and a key requirement from the clients—a family of four with two teenage children—was to connect with the home with the landscape.

The project name, Summerhouse T (or Sommarhus T in Swedish),  speaks to both the first letter of the client's last name, as well as the T-shape of the home, which was integral to creating indoor/outdoor rooms.

A sandy Siberian larch facade helps the home blend in with its surroundings, and a large wooden deck that surrounds the house on all sides but one extends the living spaces outside.

The clients wanted the house to be "in contact with the forest, the ground, and the outdoors." As such, the deck has no railing, and it hovers slightly above the ground, allowing the family to step right into the landscape.

The eaves of the gently sloped hipped roof extend generously in all directions, turning the deck into a covered retreat that’s part veranda, part engawa, the Japanese version of a porch.

The oversized eaves provide protection from the elements and allow one to walk around the entire home in all weathers. Rain chains are used as decorative alternatives to downpipes.

Another detail borrowed from Japanese architecture is the rain chains, or kusari-doi, at the corners of the roof. An alternative to drainpipes that double as a water feature, they’re as practical as they are pretty.

The underside of the eaves is painted a deep brown to contrast the light Siberian larch of the facade.

The house is designed in a single-story T-shape, which allows for direct access to the outdoors from every room. Sliding glass doors in the main living space and master bedroom make the transition seamless.

All of the fixed furniture is designed by Sundberg and made of oak. The clients worked with a local designer on the custom furniture, like the green sofa and chair in the living room. While the trees surrounding the property offer a decent amount of privacy, billowy white curtains add an additional layer.

Sundberg oriented the house toward the movement of the sun, so the eastern arm of the T, which holds the children’s rooms and living spaces, gets the bright morning sun, while the west side, with the master suite, gets the softer evening light. There’s an outdoor room of sorts on either side.

"Our approach [to designing a home] is first and foremost trying to see and understand the dynamic in the family, their needs, the atmospheres that we want to create, and how that can work in an integral way with the site and the elements," says Sundberg.

"It's like a chain of indoor and outdoor rooms oriented around the T-shape," says Sundberg. 

The plan itself is rather simple, but the structure is more complicated than it looks. Sundberg notes that the biggest challenge of the project was "getting the timber structure—with all the protruding parts, the pillars, and roofs—to work together structurally and have nice dimensions in the connecting members."

Spruce was used for the interior floors and doors, as well as the whitewashed walls. A hammock hangs in the children's play room.

While the clients commissioned the home, which was completed last year, as a summer house, Sundberg says that they also spent their Christmas here. He notes, "It has summer ideas and summer vibes, but it works in all weathers."

While the trees help to block the wind coming in off the sea, it can be quite strong, so the clients wanted the outdoor rooms to be protected. Louvers help to shelter the outdoor dining room.

Sommarhus T floor plan


Sections of Sommarhus T


Sommarhus T elevations


Related Reading:

10 Zen Homes That Champion Japanese Design

8 Japanese-Inspired Spaces We Love

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Johan Sundberg Arkitektur / @johansundbergarkitektur

Builder: Niklas Samberg, Magnus Olofsson

Structural Engineer: Gustav Svensson

Civil Engineer: Itziar del Rio Gomiz

Landscape Design: Anders Folkesson

Lighting Design: LjusMiljö

Interior Design: Moulienne Giesecke Form

Cabinetry Design: Kasper Thulin

Photography: Markus Linderoth

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