A Cosy Candlelit Cabin Deep In The Norwegian Fjords

Do you get the feeling that some days you just want to escape to a far-off place, light a fire and lead a simple life? In my mind, Lisa Reid Mjaavatten has got it just right. Her cosy log cabin lies deep in the Western Norwegian fjords, surrounded by mountains and endless wilderness. Built in the 1970s and consisting of two tiny bedrooms, it provides just enough space for her, her husband and their three children to escape daily life in Bergen. In her interview with North Letters magazine, Lisa describes how her cabin is her sanctuary - even in the midst of the harsh Norwegian winter.  Read on to discover why!

As an interior designer, Lisa was keen to maintain the history of the cabin and keeping the original pine panelled walls and kitchen was a deliberate move to keep "the very spirit and essence alive in the cabin". The decor is also deliberately simple and uncomplicated. "I do not need a lot of things, not having a material ownership is incredibly liberating, but the few things I do own have a special meaning," she says. 

A simple log is used as a side table for candles and warming cups of coffee. 

A pair of vintage snowshoes adorn the wall in the bedroom, while a contemporary Kizu table lamp rests on a chest-of-drawers. 

When the family first bought the cabin, it had no water or electricity and they had to collect water from a few hundred metres away up a narrow forest path. It was only in recent years they decided to install electricity - and the simple act of switching on a light brought with it ''a feeling of total luxury.'' 

While many struggle with the harsh Norwegian winter, Lisa chooses to embrace it. "I love the cold and grey months." she tells Northern Letters, "Feeling the hard rain bite against your cheeks just gives me a little reminder that we are not in charge here, Mother Nature is in control. We are here to enjoy what she brings us and not take it for granted." 

Life at the cabin in winter doesn't come without complaints from the family - especially about "going outside in minus 15 degrees Celsius. Or scraping ice off the inside of the windows in mornings. Or cutting through thick ice in the property's well with an axe to get water for the morning coffee." But even these are seen as a positive: "This is adventure and we are making memories." 

Lisa enjoys a coffee on a handmade bench covered with a warm sheepskin (similar sheepskin items can be found here*).

Lisa loves to sit outside all year-round and take in the staggering surroundings. "The old pine and birch woodland around the cabin offer protection from the harsh weather and winds," she explains to Northern Letters. "The swaying of the branches from the hallowing winds up the fjord sing songs when I am alone."   And the beauty of the huge mountain peaks and deep, inky blue fjords bring with them a sense of calm. "They are like old friends keeping an eye on us."

What a magical place! 

I was particularly interested to hear how Lisa embraces the harsh Scandinavian winter. I have to confess I've always struggled with this - especially come January and February! I like the idea of deciding that the feeling of the freezing cold rain or snow on your face can be seen in a different light - and obstacles caused by the cold weather build memories. Funnily enough, some of my strongest memories (and language!) come from trying to put chains on the tyres in Norway, or stepping out in minus 25 degrees Celsius at Marianne's cabin and watching the head torches of cross-country skiers flash pass as they make their way home. 

I also took heed from a wise friend from Greenland who suggested experiencing sunny days in winter as a bonus. "If you except that it's likely to be cold and grey when you walk out the door, you're more likely to embrace it," she explains. 

I've also found lighting candles at breakfast and after work help to make me feel good - as well as bringing in lovely seasonal touches like pinecones, branches from a fir tree etc. Not so much that it feels Christmassy - but just enough to enjoy that hygge vibe! 

Do you experience harsh winters where you live? If so, do you have any tips on how to embrace the colder months of the year?

Thank you so much to North Letters for the kind permission to share these beautiful images. You can read more about Lisa's home here (in English) and it will also be in print when North Letters magazine hits the newsstands in February 2021. In the meantime, I'd highly recommend checking out their Instagram feed - it's stunning!

Fancy feeling all cosy today by taking a peek inside a few other Scandinavian log cabin? I love: 

Have a hyggeligt day friends! 


Photography: Gunn Kristin Monsen

*affiliated links


  1. i live in rural south eastern germany - and our winters can be really harsh. but the more i be outside - is it with a hot coffee on the garden bench or for a walk or hike in the moutain forest - the less the cold and dark are a problem...... and if then the sun comes out, esp. with frost/snow, then it feels really fantastic.
    stocking up on warm & cosy clothing helps to of cause.
    love that cabin and the mind set of the owner! xxx

    1. This is so true! When I look out of my window some days the last thing I want to do is go outside - but once I'm layered up and find myself outdoors, 90% of the time it feels great!

  2. This is the opposite. I live in Los Angeles and the unrelenting sun can be a strain. I find your posts so soothing as I get glimpses of grey skies and short days (right now daylight is roughly 6:30 to 5) Thank you for that.

    1. It's funny how the opposite can also feel uncomfortable - I sometimes forget that mid-winter when I'm dreaming of feeling the warm sun on my skin! I'm happy the lovely cottager in the snow has offered you some respite from the unrelenting sun :)

  3. We are having a really blustery cold day, the temps are just a tad above freezing. It looks very much like in the first photo except that the snow flies almost horizontally.
    In that kind of weather, I think, I would prefer to be in a somewhat more insulated accommodation and with lots of soft furnishings around.
    I can't help it, I am just not a winter fan.

    1. I know all about horizontal rain and snow having lived in Edinburgh and now in Malmö! It's particularly awful cycling in it, no matter which direction you go in, the wind is nearly always against you!

  4. Getting outside no matter the weather is so important for your mind. Our winter climate shifts around freezing- with some years being very slushy and others white. Fresh snow helps bounce the light and wake us up. It can get soggy and dreary, but our forested mountains and fjords really are stunning and the house feels SO cozy after the outdoors. That balance and lots of shifting indoor lights and activities help. Everyone needs projects!

    1. I love the sound of the forested mountains and fjords - it sounds magical where you live! And so true, it really is just to get out in it. I love your other tips too! :)


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