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A Swedish Couple Turn a Mercedes Sprinter White Van Into a Cosy Home

Let's celebrate the weekend with something a little different - and super inspiring! Meet nomadic Swedish couple Indie and Joel who were travelling the world when the pandemic hit. Forced to return home, they decided to pursue their dream of a more sustainable and minimalistic lifestyle and turned their Mercedes Sprinter van into a home. When they first bought the van, whom they've since christened 'Luna', the main compartment was an empty shell, but they immediately saw its potential as a living space. Read on to find out how they converted their little van into a cosy home!

Before

 The pair designed, built and decorated the van entirely on their own from scratch, without any prior experience! Amazing! 

The back of the 2008 van measures 4.3 metres, making her the second longest model in the range - and with a little work and careful planning, enough space to create a small kitchen, social area and bed!


The fully functional van was fitted solar panels, an 84 litre freshwater tank, a fridge and freezer compartment, a 100-amp lithium battery, mains hook up, arctic insulation, and a fully equipped kitchen among many other things. 

You can read about the entire build - which took eight months (including all the items they used) on their 'On the freeside' blog and vlog (in case you're feeling inspired to do something similar!). 

After

It's hard to imagine that you can create such a lovely, cosy living space in a mere 4.3 metres, but not only have Indie and Joel created a practical, highly functional home, it's also lovely and cosy too! Think traditional kitchen cabinets with cup handles, tiles, wood details and plenty of storage as well as a social area. 

When space is of a premium, it's important to make use of every inch. In the kitchen, the side of the sink has been used to store washing up liquid, soap, chopping boards and utensils. 

The cabinet on the far side was built by hand using plexiglass: ""The idea of a glass cabinet was inspired by the old glass pantries our parents and grandparents once had," Indie explains, "we thought they look so beautiful. So, we created our own using plastic".

"We wanted to create a bright light Scandinavian style interior with a bit of a farmhouse feel", Indie tells me, "the feeling of stepping into a modern cabin in the woods. All the horizontal lines, including the countertops, ceiling and floor, are made out of dark walnut and all the vertical lines (cabinet doors, walls etc) are white". 

The loo and shower are located under the countertop beside the sink. For those of you who love tech / want to read more about the ins and outs - you can find out more information about the van water life and plumbing system here

The spice rack is made from wood shelving and brass pipes - which help to keep the jars in place (follow the steps here). 

A wooden door gives access to the main driving compartment. 

"For us, it was important that it felt like a home; somewhere peaceful", Indie tells me, "we used warm colours to make it feel cosy and it was also important to be able to host friends - hence our big U-shaped sofa".

At night, the table is lowered to make a platform in the middle and two mattresses are added to form a 160 x 200 cm bed with a 24 cm thick memory foam mattress. A comfortable place to wake up each day, looking out over the nature - or end the day, gazing at the stars!


In Scandinavia its customary to take your shoes off when you enter a home - and in Indie and Joel's van it's no different! Simple, low wooden shelves by the entrance provide storage and help to keep the entrance-way clear. 

***

All in all, one INCREDIBLE project! And such a special home. 

If you'd like to follow Indie and Joel's journey, hop on over to their instagram @onthefreeside - which is full of pictures from the van and the various locations they visit, or explore their website and vlog for know-how on how you can build your very own home on wheels from a white van! 

Feel like reading about a few other inspiring stories involving tiny homes this weekend?


Although not quite as tiny as this van, you might also like to see our plans for the little cabin which we are hoping to start building in September. Exciting!

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend, thank you so much for stopping by! 

Niki

Photography: Jennifer Nilsson

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Before & After: A Cookbook Author's Tuscan Kitchen Make-Over

As a Brit living in Sweden - by way of the USA, Scotland and Dubai (scarily, my time abroad outweighs my childhood years in England now!) - I am always fascinated to see the homes of expatriates - and how the cultures intertwine. Emiko Davies is an Australian-Japanese food writer, photographer and cookbook author (her four books include Forentine: The True Cuisine of Florence, Acquacotta, Tortellini at Midnight and Torta della Nonna). Growing up in a diplomatic family, Emiko spent most of her life living abroad. After graduating art school, she ended up in Florence and fell in love with a Tuscan sommelier. Mid pandemic, the pair moved to a new home in a small hilltop town in Tuscany with their DAUGHTERS Mariù (8) and Luna (3). 

Built in 1800, the pair fell in love with the palazzo and its wonderful old tiles, high ceilings with frescoes, wooden beams and 210 cm windows and views over the valley. Plus, it was a few hundred metres from Emiko's favourite butcher as well as an organic produce shop, a good pasticcera and a handful of restaurants. 

Needless to say, the first thing Emiko did when she moved in, was plan and renovate the 220-year-old kitchen! 

Kitchen before

Emiko was thrilled to have a large kitchen (or at least larger than their one in Florence). She was keen to create a practical, reliable and sustainable space - as well as somewhere she and Marco could spread out while cooking. A large dining table would be at the centre - offering a place for friends to sit, and somewhere the girls could play, chat about their day and do their homework while Emiko cooks. 



Kitchen after
Italy was hit hard by the pandemic / lockdown, and Emiko was keen to support local businesses. This led her to Very Simple Kitchen - a young, local kitchen design company in Bologna, who specialise in versatile modules inspired by vintage industrial workbenches. 

The century old table previously belonged to Marco's great-grandfather and had been hidden away in his Mother's attic. It was made by a local carpenter using wood and marble recycled from Angiolino's bar. They cleaned it up, sanded it down and it was good to go! Emiko loves seeing her girls around a table that's steeped in family history. 

The sturdy stainless-steel benches are powder-coated in teal giving the room warmth and the doors hide a dishwasher (Emiko's first!) as well as bins, heavy pots, cutlery and a hidden safety drawer for their vast array of kitchen knives. 

A small room off the side of the kitchen has been converted into a pantry and laundry room. Freestanding shelves provide a spot for their extensive collection of cookbooks. 


Emiko decided to go for a cleaner, modern look without top cabinets - instead, using a rod to hang utensils (and keep them to hand). 

The work surface is made from terrazzo (with peach and green splatters) chosen because it's practical, easy to clean and fairly resistant to stains. Plus, it looks pretty too! 

Emiko and Marco love to cook side by side, so it was important to design a longer worktop they could share. They also chose a larger induction stove from Smeg (a first for Emiko who was looking for a more sustainable and long-lasting option). I have also installed induction stoves (from Bosch) in our kitchen at home and also at the cottage and I'm so pleased with them! 

The cabinetry is built in free-standing units, allowing for a variety of different types of storage. A glimpse into the hallway shows another type of tiling (every room features a different tile!). 

I love this renovation  - and how they kept some of the wonderful details like the tiles (it would have been a travesty to remove those!), plus it looks so warm and relaxed. I can so imagine the family all gathered - Emiko cooking, Marco kneading bread and the girls at the table, how about you?

I'm looking forward to following Emiko's journey to see what they do next in their home! You can find her here over on her blog and also instagram.

Curious to see more kitchen renovation ideas over the weekend? 


Right folks, that's it from me this week! I hope you've enjoyed all the tours! 

We're actually off camping this weekend - my third time ever. The level of kit involved is nuts - but the children are so excited so hopefully it will feel worthwhile once we arrive!  I hope the Swedish weather gods treat us to fair winds and sunshine. And wishing the same for you! 

Vi ses på Måndag!

Niki

Photography courtesy of Emiko Davies

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Before & After: A Swedish Fire Station becomes a Family Summer Home

I've shown many awe-inspiring homes on My Scandinavian Home over the past decade (yes - it'll be ten years since I started this blog in November!), but I've never featured a converted fire station! When Swedish pair Petra and Anders Jönsson turned 50 they felt like doing something a little crazy. The answer came in the form of a dilapidated fire station in Stora Köpinge, Skåne - which they spotted for sale online for a cool 750,000 SEK (€75,000 / 89,000 USD). The pair had the vision of transforming the four-storey property into a summer holiday home for themselves and their five children - a perfect weekend and holiday retreat from everyday life in Stockholm. The project quickly drew the attention of popular Swedish TV program Husdrömmar, who followed the entire renovation. Ready to find take a look?

Exterior Before



The fire station was built in the 1930s for the purpose of serving Stora Köping, a village in the beautiful region of Österlen in South Sweden. The couple had grand plans for the property, including changing the colour of the exterior, but planning permission restrictions meant the existing facade should remain relatively untouched. Instead, they freshened up the exterior and replaced the double doors (previously used for the fire engine) into glass doors. 

Exterior after

The pair also added an extension onto the rear to make space for a dining room and also replaced the back of the tower with glass windows - weighing 800 kg each! 

Interior before

When the couple acquired the property, the interior was basic to say the least! The ground floor hadn't been touched since its days as a fire station, while the tower was a corrugated iron shell with a ladder.  


The floorplan

The property is four storeys high, which the couple planned on converting into a living area, sleeping quarters, a bathroom and lounge area. 

Interior after

Underfloor heating was installed and the ceiling was knocked through to create a beautiful, light-filled living space.  The pair decided to keep the decor simple and pared-down and used neutral tones throughout. 

Stairs were added to the left of the property (rather than centrally placed) in order to make space for a kitchen. A trap door which gives access to extra storage. 


The family enjoy uninterrupted views of the Österlen countryside to the rear of the property. 

Wooden stairs add warmth and a contemporary touch to the tower - and are a major improvement on the rickety ladders! 

Although small, the bedrooms feel spacious thanks to large windows. 

The top floor has been converted into a 3 metre x 3 metre lounge area in which to chill! 

How fantastic!! 

There's no denying that this was an incredibly brave move and required a copious amount of work (and money) - but the results are worth it. After all, not many people can say they live in a converted fire station! 

Could you imagine taking on a project like this? 

Live in Sweden? You can view the entire project on SVT here. Otherwise, see more pics over at @brandstaionenstorakopinge

Did I mention that Petra and Ander's home in Stockholm is in a converted water? Perhaps that's a tour for another day! 

Up for a little more inspiration today? Take a look back at these fabulous property conversions: 


There are plenty more incredible before and after projects in this archive too! 

Wishing you a wonderful day - I hope the sun is shining for you. 

Niki

Photography: all photos courtesy of Petra and Anders (@brandstaionenstorakopinge) with the addition of two photographs taken by Lina Östling and Mari Strenghielm. The floorplan is courtesy of SVT / Husdrömmar

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