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Before & After: A Century-Old Danish Thatched Cottage Is Given a Revamp!

I love a good before & after - how about you? And the beauty of today's transformation is that the century-old cottage was in pretty good nick when Danish psychologist and photographer Christina Greve found it - but needed freshening up (I couldn't believe the bit about the woodlice infestation below - UGH!). The pair were keen to put their own stamp on the house and add a simple, yet exclusive Scandinavian country feel. Christina and her husband set about working on the exterior and interior as well as carrying out a loft conversion. After 5 months of intensive work, the pair were ready to move in. Excited to see what they did? Here are the before and after pictures! 

Exterior
The pair kept the original windows on the main building and then searched for new windows to install on the attached building. They also painted the property a fresh white and brushed down the thatched roof to remove moss and algae as well as added wood decking to enjoy in summertime. 

She opted for a handcrafted kitchen with a marble top and brass sink, as well as brass doorknobs. The French vintage Jield lamps* were restored in Copenhagen. 

Christina picked up the shelves for €20 in a second-hand shop and painted them to match the cabinets. 


Wine cellar
Christina's husband had the *awesome* vision to transform the cellar (used as a fridge in the olden days) into a wine cellar. When they first found the house it was dark, cold, wet and black with woodlice.

"It was so awful, that the first time I saw it, I ran and said to my husband: "I'm never going to buy that house!" says Christina. 

Once the unwelcome guests had been cleared, the pair dug down to improve the ceiling height - even adding space for a 'bar table and chairs' (sounds like a great speakeasy to me!). They also added a bespoke glass hatch - which although sturdy, was nerve-racking to walk on at first - and something Conrad, the family dog - refuses to walk on to this day!

How awesome! Honestly, if we didn't have a communal garage beneath our home, I'd start digging! Not sure ours would be this full though! Could you imagine having a wine cellar like this in your home?  




Sitting room

Instead of changing the wood floor in the sitting room, Christina sanded it down and added a white lime wash for a lighter look (we did this in our home too and it worked a treat!). They also removed a lot of the storage at the base of the stairs.

Home office


If you work from home - which many of us do right now (I can actually hear Per holding a maths lesson online from my stepson's bedroom right now!), you'll know how important it is to find the right spot. Christina earmarked an area in the hall as somewhere she could run her online photography workshops (love the look of those!), edit photos and write - bathed in natural light (made even better by the new window). The table is a vintage find.

Sunroom / Hallway

Christina and her husband are thrilled with the transformation in the hallway - an area which also connects the old cottage with the newer black wood building. They swapped out the doors and tiles and painted the walls with a light beige chalk paint (see Kalklitir for similar). 

Note: If you're on a tight budget and don't like the look of grouting which has darkened over time, you can clean it with bicarbonate soda, water and a toothbrush. It'll come out as good as new! 

Bedroom


A tremendous amount of work went into converting the attic into a bedroom and living area - including raising the ceiling and erecting a dummy wall to hide the chimney. 

Today, the bedroom has a fresh, summery, coastal vibe! 


Check out the radiator cover - perfect for covering old, slightly unsightly or wonky radiators. Always check if it's OK to cover a radiator first though - obvs! 

Bathroom

And last but not least, the bathroom! For this room, they decided to start again from scratch (saving only the loo roll holder!). The washing machine has been concealed behind one of the drawer sections - you'd never guess, would you? So clever! 
 
Today, the family love to relax and enjoy the wonderful views out over the Danish coast. Until they start flipping their barn that is. Watch this space for another before and after in the future!

That setting! 

Such an inspiring renovation - and a truly beautiful cottage, don't you think?

The great thing about 'before & afters' is that even if you're not renovating an entire property, there are always small things you can take-away and implement in your own home - like the grouting and radiator covers. 

Did you get any ideas? 

Follow Christina's latest projects over at @christinagreve - and keep an eye out for her upcoming online photography workshops (I see there's going to be a FREE five day one soon!). 

And check out the full 'make-over' archive for some incredible transformations! 

Happy Lillördag (little Saturday!) friends!  

Niki

Photography by Christina Greve, shared with kind permission.

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This Swedish Cottage On Its Own Island Could Be Yours!


Things are pretty tough right now, aren't they? I hope you are doing well, despite the circumstances. We can only hope this will all blow over soon. In the meantime, how about a little dreaming? Today's escape comes in the form of a quintessential falu red and white Swedish cottage on its very own islet off the northern shores of Öland on Sweden's Baltic coast. And guess what? It's for sale. As you can imagine it's causing quite a stir! 

Accessed by boat, the cottage has its own dock, from where you can offload baggage and groceries from Öland or the Swedish mainland across Kalmar sound - or take to the waters to explore the lagoon. 


So pretty and wild.  

Imagine sitting out there on the deck, soaking up the Swedish summer sun while watching the wading birds and gulls as well as the occasional boat sail by? Heaven!  


In my mind, the interior is everything an authentic coastal cottage should be - rustic and cosy with an understated nautical, boathouse vibe. 

Beams serve as an ideal spot for a rowing boat, while candlelit dinners can be enjoyed from a simple table which looks out over the water. 

Look closely and you'll also spot a pair of Sou'westers hanging by the door - as well as various other seafaring items such as a ships bell, captain hats, oil lamps and fishing nets. 


Can we also take a moment to imagine this cabin at night? 

Swedish 'rag rugs' have been dotted around the floor and even used as a simple table runner for a touch of cosiness while a row of lanterns line the windowsill and a candle candelabra hangs over the table - ready to be lit once the sun dips below the horizon. 

It would be you and your book - and the sound of the waves. 

You can see more pictures of the interior (including the bedrooms) here

Out of pure coincidence, my family and I sailed to this very lagoon in 2019 and paddled around the tranquil waters on our dinghy and SUP - and took a stroll through the magnificent Trollskog (Troll's forest) just across the lagoon (see below). We even sailed past this cottage - binoculars in hand! Dreaming all the while. 

The cottage hasn't even been valued yet - even so, the estate agent has been unindated with requests.  

I only hope that whoever buys it maintains the authenticity AND rents it out. I'd be there in a heartbeat, how about you? 

Have a dreamy day friends!

Niki

Photographs courtesy of Svensk Fastighetsförmedling

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Ilkka's Charming Rural Retreat In Finland

Hei! How are you today? Feel like getting away from it all? Today, I'm whisking you off to rural Finland and the charming bolthole of interior architect Ilkka Mälkiäinen. Acquired 12 years ago as a weekend escape from Helsinki, Ilkka and Janne have carefully renovated the country home to bring it back to its former glory. Think high ceilings, beautiful wood floors and rooms painted in deep charcoal and steel grey. Today, the home is a goldmine of Finnish antiques and vintage finds and packed with charm. Welcome to Ilkka and Janne's age-old country retreat! 









How beautiful! I love the relaxed, eclectic feel of the home. 

Did you have a favourite room? I've always had a real weakness for romantic style bathrooms. Imagine locking up your city apartment, coming out here to the quiet of the countryside and running a candlelit bath. Heaven! 

This takes me back to the day I captured a home for The Scandinavian Home deep in the heart of the Finnish countryside. And there was a moose grazing in the meadows beside the house. 

I've been wanting to return ever since - something for next summer perhaps? Have you ever been to Finland?

If you're after a little more Finnish dreaming today, here are a few other homes to love: 

Have a cosy day! 

Credits: Krista Keltanen / Jonna Kivilahti - shared with kind permission

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Before And After: A Tiny Off-the-grid Swedish Cabin In The Woods

Have you ever considered a more simple life? Perhaps one that involves swapping urban adventures for a serene rural life? Or maybe you've been considering down-sizing in order to save money and realise a dream! Either way - I think you're going to find todays tour amazingly inspiring! 

As an 'Organic Farming and Sustainable Living' student, Paula Edén had lived in a little caravan in the countryside. Since graduating, she'd always dreamed of returning to 'tiny house' living and a more simple life. Paula set about sketching her dream home and built herself a tiny cabin on wheels. Today, she lives completely off-grid in a 13 metre2 living space, where everything she needs is right there on her doorstep. 

The sketch

Paula had always loved the ideas of a traditional Swedish Falu-red cottage with yellow doors. Her sketch (above) would form the blue-print for the construction phase. 

The Construction

Paula was keen to ensure her cottage was constructed in as sustainable was possible. She worked with natural materials (avoiding plastic and aluminium) and also sought upcycled pieces from reclaim yards - for example, the chassis was made using an old boat trailer. 

Paula sought the help of her Father - a woodwork teacher - and also looked for advice from other people who had carried out similar projects, joining many Facebook groups. As a first-timer, Paula decided to break down the house building process into smaller parts, allowing her creativity to guide her as much as possible. 

As someone who has always been interested in interiors, Paula was keen to put form ahead of function - which is fairly unusual in the 'tiny house' world where space is of a premium! The interior was constructed with left over storm wood, which she combined with new bead boards. 

Once the construction work was complete, the fun began: decorating! Paula painted the interior an earthy sage green using linseed oil paint code S 3010-G70Y and complimented it with Waldemar wallpaper from Boråstapeter. The muted colour scheme and natural wood were deliberately chosen to reflect the surrounding nature. 


Delivery!

The house was delivered to a borrowed plot of land on a farm in Småland, on a hill surrounded by pastures, forest and lakes.  

The interior

The cottage has been kitted out with everything Paula needs - including seating lined with cushions and a set of table and chairs from where she sits to eats, reads and catches up with friends - after coming home from her job as a nursery teacher. 

Living completely off-grid, Paula uses the Wood-burning stove to cook her meals as well as for heating. She collects drinking-water from the nearby farm and a hole in the ground serves as a fridge. Paula also collects rainwater from the roof and swims in the nearby lake to wash. A small solar panel has been attached to the side of the cottage to generate electricity. 

The ceiling serves as extra storage for important utensils such as an oil lamp and a basket used for foraging and gathering homegrown fruit and vegetables. 

Look closely and you'll also spot her sleep loft - a cosy nook above the kitchen!


Vintage tins and jars in the kitchen add to the warm, cosy vibe of Paula's home while providing somewhere to store food. 


How lovely! 

Such a beautiful, cosy little space to potter around in!  

Per and I are planning to build a small cottage in the garden of the summer cottage - but we never actually considered building it ourselves! Feeling inspired, I asked Paula a little more about what it was like to build a cottage, and if she has any tips for anyone looking to do the same:

"It's so much fun to learn how to build a house! It's also great to be able to build your home just the way you want it. On the whole, I felt the process went really well.  I may not have done everything by the book, but I'm happy with it! 

Taking it one step at a time and leave room for creativity. Look for support from other people who have carried out similar projects (there are plenty of groups on Facebook).  And don't think too much, just go for it! 

Remember: not everything needs to be perfect - it won't turn out as you had planned anyway!"

Wise words indeed! 

I couldn't resist asking Paula one more question - how is she finding life in her tiny cabin in the woods and how does she have any plans for the future?

"I really enjoy living in the woods and I feel at home surrounded by trees and meadows. My dream is to be surrounded by a couple of other tiny houses occupied by friends so we can share water and electricity. There's something beautiful about silence, but life is more fun with others!" 

Thank you so much to Paula for graciously sharing her thoughts and images. You can see many more snapshots of her life on a farm over at @paulas.hus


Are you feeling as inspired as I am? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Paula's lovely home below! 

Niki

Photography: Paula Edén, first seen in Land magazine 

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