How Swede It Is
Rineke van Duysen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
If Swedish design had a tagline, it might be: Why Mess With a Good Thing? Much as the Swedes are credited with tech-loving forward thinking, they also embrace a timeless vernacular of simple lines and indigenous materials that read just as well in 2007 as they did at the Stockholm Exhibition of 1897.
Jordens Arkitekter partner Johnny Andersson and Jonas Liljenberg, a Stockholm private investor, both take this vernacular to heart—while keeping an eye on the cutting edge. "With today's technology, a Swedish thatch-roofed log villa can allow for tall windows and open spaces, things that, because of the cold here, weren't options in the past," says Liljenberg, who enlisted Andersson to design just such a traditional-contemporary hybrid for a family vacation house in the ski area of Stöten.
Though the overall effect of the four-bedroom, 1,450-square-foot house could be described as Zen chic, the materials palette and practicality level of the kitchen couldn't be more authentically Swedish. Flooring is local slate, used throughout the downstairs, and the Portuguese granite of the counters and backsplash provides a subtle contrast in tone. Hardware-free cabinets are veneered in local oak soaked in seawater before being ebonized. "The seawater brings out the oak's ash tones, which work nicely with the warm reds of the house's pine walls and ceilings," explains partner Robert Landén, who handled the interior.
Strip fixtures, integrated into the upper cabinets above the cooktop, and spotlights, strategically installed along the ceiling's slope, supplement the sunshine that enters through the cheery porthole window. "The kitchen is totally functional—with lots of working space that doubles as social space," Landén says. "Everyone can engage around the island, which is right next to the dining area, which leads to the living area."
A downstairs corner that opens onto a small pine terrace is occupied by a 33-square-foot bathroom-sauna-lounge. "In the past, having a sauna with a view clearly would have been impossible, as there was nothing that could have kept the heat inside," Landén points out. But modern technology allowed him and Andersson to take liberties with that most traditional of Swedish domestic institutions. Thanks to the room's two 4-by-8-foot triple-glazed windows and the sauna's front wall of double-layered tempered glass, those inside can enjoy the countryside without losing a bit of heat. The sauna's three other walls and its multilevel benches are planks of hardy local aspen, which has an absorption factor low enough to stand up to high temperatures and moisture.
The room also offers a small whirlpool and a lounge area in addition to an open shower and a toilet. Elongated subway tiles cover the walls both here and in the smaller bathroom upstairs. Complementing the running-bond pattern's horizontality, Landén says, "Wide mirrors over the sinks create the illusion of more space." Pine planks on the ceiling unify the bathrooms with the rest of the interior—and the log-house tradition as a whole. Why mess with a good thing?
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