We bought our very own Nordic summer cottage a few years ago. A little red summer cottage in South West Finland. The previous owner was a little old lady who had lived there her whole life but wanted to move to a flat instead.
The cottage is located down a quiet road in a little village with a library, a couple of grocery shops, restaurants and a bank. As we don’t have a car in Finland this was exactly what we wanted. The cottage is small and basic and had had few improvements made since the 1930’s. So we knew it needed work before we could actually stay there for any period of time.
My parents have been incredibly helpful, and I don’t think we would have gone down this route without them. The cottage is not by any means ready yet, and we aren’t rushing the project either – it is after all our holiday project. Out of the two biggest projects it required, repairing the suspended floors is now done. The next building project is to make the upstairs habitable. Before we get there, I want to finish up the downstairs.
Nordic summer cottage life
Before we talk about the actual design and inspiration for my summer house decor, I need to explain a couple of things.
My idea of Nordic summer cabin life is a state of mind that can’t be achieved if you surround yourself with dishwashers and general perfection. We aren’t talking about a stylish, minimalistic grey and white summer house with all modern comforts.
I need flaky pastel painted walls, dusty crochet curtains on the porch windows. Mismatch of faded patterns and recycled furniture to truly immerse myself in slow living. Summer cottage life isn’t about not having anything to do. It’s all about having to do things that we don’t have to do anymore in our modern city lives. I need to have structure and routines to be able to thoroughly relax.
My parents have a cabin on a semi-deserted island. There are no roads, electricity, running water or central heating. It can only be accessed by boat, and the cabin is on a hill. Anything you want to have there, you get to carry for the last 150 meters.
Days are spent by making fires in the log burning stoves, chopping wood, walking around on smooth rocks, leisurely fishing in hope of freshly caught perch for dinner, going for a boat ride, making simple meals and heating up the sauna. Sitting on the deck after a Sauna, smelling the sea air, listening to the seagulls crying or old songs from a vintage radio. Always something to do, but you never have to do anything immediately.
So how does the cottage look like?
Starting point is a 1930’s wooden red cottage. It has a hallway, kitchen and a room downstairs. Upstairs is an open-plan space. The kitchen has a big old-fashioned, wooden cooking stove, free-standing painted cabinetry from similar era (or maybe from 1950’s) and painted floorboards. The hallway has a brand new wooden floor as the old one wasn’t saveable, with a ladder to the upstairs. ‘Kamari’ as we call it, or the living room, has same floor boards as the kitchen and a tall, round metal wood burner.
What we want to have is a compact, low-maintenance holiday home for the four of us. We don’t need to do much structural work. We removed the wall between two inner hallways, will get a new staircase built and have a little cloakroom (no shower) under the stairs. Add a couple of new windows to maximise light. Upstairs needs everything doing as it’s not habitable at the moment. We want to keep the space open and flowing, so we’ll have just one bedroom and two built-in beds in the eaves.
The plan is to use old and existing things as much as possible. I found another 50’s free-standing kitchen unit in my parents barn, have sanded that and the existing one down. Mr Nordic is building legs for it as it needs to be raised to make it more suitable for the taller modern day people.
Inspiration for the decor
Find loads more inspiration of shabby country cottage style from my summer house- pinterest board. Maximalist decor for minimalistic life.
It’s going to look like the polar opposite of my actual home.