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9 Ideas to Steal from the Scandi Summerhouse

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9 Ideas to Steal from the Scandi Summerhouse

May 24, 2017

Some of my fondest memories of growing up in southern Sweden include visits to my best friend’s summer cottage in Skummeslövsstrand, on the coastline of southern Sweden. The red cottage has an open living area with a stand-alone fireplace, two sheepskin-covered lounge chairs, a small but high functioning galley kitchen, and a bedroom with two sets of bunk beds.

Now that I live in the United States, I understand why the Nordic summer escape is the envy of the rest of the world. But, in truth, you don’t have to head to the archipelago to capture the experience: Plenty of the best areas are simple and easy to translate.

1. Dare to go dark.

A black exterior, Scandi-style. See more at Architect Visit: A Natural Swimming Pool and Passive House in the Hudson Valley.
Above: A black exterior, Scandi-style. See more at Architect Visit: A Natural Swimming Pool and Passive House in the Hudson Valley.

Until recently, red was the de facto cottage house color, but lately we’ve been noticing a trend of summerhouses painted or stained in shades of black. Why? Because greenery looks especially great against a dark curtain. So does outdoor furniture. Black is becoming. For more, go to Gardenista for Black Houses: The Pros and Cons of a Dark Painted Facade and Trend Alert: Black Fences.

2. Let life revolve around the hearth.

A gathering area by a black woodstove at Sågverket Möten Rum & Kök. For more, see The Sawmill: A Hostel with Uncommon Style, Northern Sweden Edition.
Above: A gathering area by a black woodstove at Sågverket Möten Rum & Kök. For more, see The Sawmill: A Hostel with Uncommon Style, Northern Sweden Edition.

A very popular feature in Scandi summer homes is a freestanding fireplace that heats the entire living area. Not your grandmother’s stove, the latest generation of wood heaters offer fuel efficiency and lower emissions, making them both powerful and environmentally responsible. For ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: Freestanding Woodstoves.

3. Create a shipshape look with paneling.

Shiplap cladding in a Hamptons bedroom. For more, see Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons. Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above: Shiplap cladding in a Hamptons bedroom. For more, see Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

White-painted shiplap paneling is common in Scandi woodland cabins and coastal cottages as a clean-lined and cozy finishing touch. To learn more, see Expert Advice: The Enduring Appeal of Shiplap and Remodeling 101: The Ultimate Wood Paneling Guide with Jersey Ice Cream Co.

4. Join the sheepskin brigade.

A Swedish sheepskin looks casually luxe when draped on a bed. See Out Like a Lamb: Scandi Sheepskins from Shepherd of Sweden.
Above: A Swedish sheepskin looks casually luxe when draped on a bed. See Out Like a Lamb: Scandi Sheepskins from Shepherd of Sweden.

Scandi summer nights get chilly. Layering beds and chairs with sheepskins, that longstanding Scandi touch, adds warmth and lends the austere rooms a vitality.

5. Build beds wherever you can.

Built-in beds (shiplap included) at A Scandinavian Cottage—in Portlandia.
Above: Built-in beds (shiplap included) at A Scandinavian Cottage—in Portlandia.

A setup that saves a lot of space and works well for visiting crowds, bunks (with under the bed storage) are another Nordic cottage staple.

6. Use shelves in place of furniture

A plywood shelf above the bed at A Summery Flat in Stockholm, with Affordable Small-Space Ideas to Steal.
Above: A plywood shelf above the bed at A Summery Flat in Stockholm, with Affordable Small-Space Ideas to Steal.

Summer cottages are typically tiny with little wiggle room in the bedrooms. Skip the bedside tables and instead use a favorite Scandi device: wall shelving as storage.

7. Bathe with a view.

A bathroom with a view, via A Puget Sound Cabin that Rests Lightly on the Landscape.
Above: A bathroom with a view, via A Puget Sound Cabin that Rests Lightly on the Landscape.

Once summer finally reaches the Nordic countries, Scandinavians do as much living out in the open as possible. For more plein-air bathing, see Outdoor Showers: 20 Ideas for Bathing en Plein Air and Hardscaping 101: Outdoor Showers on Gardenista.

8. Let it all hang out.

Linens on the line. For more, see DIY: Shelter Island Clothesline. Photograph courtesy of Suzanne Shaker.
Above: Linens on the line. For more, see DIY: Shelter Island Clothesline. Photograph courtesy of Suzanne Shaker.

Dryers are unusual and unthinkable in Scandi summer places. Make like a Scandinavian and hang your linens outside to dry instead.

9. Add a Dash of Sunny Yellow

Add a dash of summery yellow: In this airy bedroom at the Sågverket Möten Rum & Kök in northern Sweden, the ceiling is painted marigold yellow.
Above: Add a dash of summery yellow: In this airy bedroom at the Sågverket Möten Rum & Kök in northern Sweden, the ceiling is painted marigold yellow.

N.B. This post is an update; the original story ran on June 12, 2015.

For more Scandi style, see:

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