A Split-Level Cabin in Norway Is a Cozy Family Hub

Stairway to Heaven by Wood Arkitektur + Design uses heat-treated pine and bricks to fashion a casual family retreat.

Dubbed Stairway to Heaven, the home is located on a family compound in Hellerud, a borough of Oslo, Norway. When the clients approached the local firm Wood Arkitektur + Design in 2010, their goal was to create a place that could easily accommodate family, neighbors, and children wandering in and out.

Stairway to Heaven is located on the clients' parents' land, just steps away from the homeowner's childhood home. Two siblings were also building homes on the property, making it a true family compound. The architects were mindful to create a home that utilized the views, but also allowed for privacy between residents.

The natural slope of the site was perfect for dividing the house into split levels. The exterior is clad in heat-treated pine that has aged to a soft gray, which contrasts nicely with the charcoal bricks.

According to architect Johanne Taugbøl, the firm nicknamed the project Stairway to Heaven because of this long staircase topped with a south-facing window. "At certain times of the day and year, you might be blinded by the light flooding in from the south," said Taugbøl.

The staircase connects the kids’ zones in the basement—including a playroom with outdoor access—to a middle level that’s meant for socializing and family dinners. The spaces get more private as the homeowners ascend the stairs, with the upper floor hosting the principal suite and a smaller sitting room.

The ceilings in the great room are almost 23 feet high, and "the lot provides magnificent views over the entire city of Oslo in different directions," said Taugbøl, which the firm made sure to capture with the window placement.

The clients wanted to be able to easily seat 20 people for dinner. To do so, the design team paired Hans J. Wegner Wishbone Chairs in a rainbow of colors with a Skovby #23 dining table, which expands the seating from six to 20 with simple extension leaves.

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"They wanted a very practical house, with separate zones for kids and adults," said Taugbøl. "Because of the split levels, the experience of the space varies when you walk through it," and ascend the staircase. "The acoustics are also great due to the wood paneling in the ceiling." The Raimond pendent lights are from moooi, and the fireplace seating is IKEA.

The kitchen cabinets are from Multiform's Form-1 line, which was designed by Carsten Michelsen in 1982. Per the company's website, Form-1 was Michelsen's effort to "elevate the Scandinavian kitchen to the level of the Danish furniture classics of the 1950s."

"From the sofa in the lounge you can actually look above and beyond the kitchen area at the view through the high windows," said Taugbøl. The built-in oak cabinetry is custom and the suspended, rotating, open-faced fireplace is the Ergofocus model from French company Focus.

Project Credits:

Architect: Johanne Taugbøl and Morgen Stierne of wood arkitektur + design  / @woodarkitekter

Builder: Oslo Byggentreprenør

Structural Engineer: Consisu AS

Landscape Design: Johanne Taugbøl / wood arkitektur + design

Lighting Design: SML Lighting

Interior Design: Mathew Humphrey / wood arkitektur + design

Photography: Einar Aslaksen / @einaraslaksen


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