A magical Norwegian mountain cabin

Just how much do you love the sound of staying at a cosy mountain cabin at this time of year?! Last summer, James Gardiner and I went to photograph the most magical Norwegian hide-away for my book: The Scandinavian Home. Located near Lillehammer (scene of the 1994 winter Olympics), the delightful timber cabin belongs to Marianne and Jon and their two children who love to ski in the winter and hike or simply hang out and enjoy the nature in the summer.  It's hard to imagine that when the pair first acquired the property it was completely run down and off the grid. "For the first five years, we had to bring our own water and ski down from the nearest road," Marianne confided. The pair kept the original building and created a magnificent extension, inspired by a traditional Norwegian seter. Today it's a beautifully cosy, magical mountain hide-away and the perfect spot to sit and recover from a day on the cross-country ski tracks or simply get away from it all.

Many of the items in the home - including the side table by the window, knitted chair cover, artwork, lamps, coat and towel hooks and cushion covers  - have been handmade by Marianne who runs Slow Design Studio. The mid-century armchairs were a flea market find (source similar here).

Wall-to-wall seating is made cosy with the use of ex Norwegian army blankets, an abundance of locally sourced sheepskins (pick up similar here), and a ton of cushions.  Clever in-built storage storage beneath the seating is used for candles, spare blankets and everything in between.

An Ay Illuminate pendant light hangs over the table which is surrounded by Tolix Marais chairs softened with sheepskins. One of Marianne's beautiful knitted lamps which she sells through her online shop can be glimpsed on the wall behind. The floor is made from concrete with underfloor heating. They can turn on the heat and lights remotely so that it's already toasty when they arrive. So nice and welcoming!

The kitchen was designed by Marianne and made by a local carpenter using old barn wood. If you look closely you'll see the leather pulls - which have been made from old reindeer reigns.  The backsplash is made from copper which has been treated with acid to give it an aged look. 

A huge sliding barn door can be opened up to allow the warmth of the sun to penetrate the dining area - or closed to buffet the wind and snow storms and generally keep the cold at bay. Simple pine table and benches provide an ideal spot when the sun comes out.

You can see more of this cabin in my book - The Scandinavian Home by Niki Brantmark, published by CICO Books. Photography by James Gardiner. ©CICO Books.

I was so mesmerised by the area that six months after the photo shoot, I returned with my family. Marianne and her family were kind enough to invite us to stay in the cabin.  The vista was equally stunning in winter time, when temperatures can plummet to minus 25 degrees celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit) brrrrrrr! The light was crystal clear and we spent our days on the nearby ski slopes, intermittently diving into mountain cabins to warm-up over a hot chocolate (the girls), and glögg (the man and I!). A sauna back at the cabin worked wonders to warm the cockles and we'd spend the evenings on the long seat looking out over the panoramic views of the undulating snow-covered landscape. As the sun went down the valley was dotted with the glimmer of head torches as cross country skiers made their way home. It's a site I'll never forget! Here are a couple of snowy snaps I took during our stay....

The family enlisted the help of Marianne's sister, architect Benedicte Sund-Mathisen of Suma Arkitektur to extend the cabin and create frameless windows.
The original timber cottage dates back more than fifty years. Poles at the side of the road help snowploughs locate the road after a particularly heavy dump of snow! I have to admit we got stuck more than once (even though our car has specially adapted winter tires!) - and I learned a few new Swedish swear words in the process!!

Although the days were short, when the sun shone the light was crystal clear and the girls loved sledging on the slope in front of the cabin.

Aaaaaah, how I'd love to visit this region again one day. 

In case you'd like to find your own magical Norwegian mountain hide-away this winter, try Airbnb! Perhaps we'll see you there?!

Have a wonderful weekend, and stay warm!

PS You must check out this rustic log cabin too! Guh!

PPS If you're Christmas shopping this weekend our scandi-inspired adult and children gift guides might come in handy!

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Tiny Cabin Update: 4 Types of Internal Wood Panelling And The One We Chose

Disclosure: Norrlands Trä have kindly agreed to collaborate with us on this project after I approached them. 

It's been a while since I've shared an update on the tiny cabin we're building (see the plans here). Per paid a site visit on Sunday and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the garden (wait till you see the pictures at this end of this post) - gaaah!  The good news is, the foundation has been laid and is now 'breathing' - small steps friends, small steps! But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels as things will quickly progress, so we've been working on the details. And this week, we looked into the internal wood panelling. Ready to see some pretty pictures and find out more? 

We were keen to find just the right wood panelling since it lays the foundation for the entire aesthetic. I immediately turned to Pinterest, before writing to several architects and settling on Norrlands Trä. The Swedish brand sell beautiful panels and place great importance on sustainability (only using FSC certifiable wood from the forests of North Sweden and matte water-based paints that meet the requirements for children's toys.  

Incidentally - I love the light wood shelf across the panelling in the picture above, do you like it too? Something to consider for the cabin! 

Choosing the panelling: 
I had no idea there were so many different options in terms of finish, width and style - all of which result in a slightly different look and feel. Here are some examples of the subtle differences: 

1. Contemporary: 

This panelling was my key inspiration (I think you may have seen it in a previous post about our cabin plans!). To achieve the smooth, contemporary finish, the Putsad Slätspont panels have been primed and then sandpapered resulting in a soft, smooth finish. Notice the very fine groove between the panels - this is because the wood panel has been made with an 8% moisture ratio. I know this sounds super technical but it's good to know if you're aiming to achieve this more contemporary look. Traditionally panels are manufactured with an 16% moisture ratio which means they'll move more once installed and the gap needs to be wider. I love this sleek, Scandi-modern aesthetic! 

This Putsad Slätspont comes in a few different colour ways - including this grey panelling looks equally pretty painted in earthy tones such as they grey in this cabin kitchen. But due to the small space (our cabin is only 30 m2 in total), we chose the white matt finish in S0500-N to help visually enlarge the living area.  

2. Contemporary with a rustic touch

The other sample I looked at was Borstad Slätspont - panels treated with rotating brushes which remove the soft spring wood from the surface, adding warmth and texture from the visible wood grain, and making it more durable. 

Many of the panels also come in this lacquered wood finish which I like to call 'Scandi blonde' (the one above is the Borstad Slätspont). For the right room, it's really beautiful and helps to draw nature indoors. Since we're already going for light wood on the loft fencing, door and ladder I felt a white finish would make a nice balance. 

3. Classic

Track panelling (in tis case SpårpaneL 4019) is often what first springs to mind when you think of wood panelling (especially in Scandinavia). The wide grooves give it a timeless, classic aesthetic.

4. Traditional 

Bead panelling rose to popularity during 19th century industrialism and is often added to kitchens to create a traditional look. It also looks lovely in other parts of a cottage - as seen in the Swedish stairwell above. I love this look, but since our cabin is a new look, I felt that a modern aesthetic would make more sense. 

What do you think? Do you have a favourite? 

I can't wait to see our new panelling on the walls - but as you can see from the pictures below, we have a long way to go! 

Message to my lovely Swedish Mother-in-law who is so generously letting us build our cabin in her summer cottage garden: I'm sorry, we promise order will be restored come summer! 

I look forward to updating you all again soon. 


All photographs courtesy of Norrlands Trä except the building work!  

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A Charming A-Frame Cabin on the Danish Island of Orø

Saturday marks the start of 'höstlov' (autumn half term) here in Scandinavia, and many will be packing their bags in search of a quieter week in the countryside. I wonder if Marie Monrad Graunbøl will be heading to her cabin on the beautiful Danish island of Orø? I first came across her cosy A-frame in the Skandinavisk Voices magazine, and since we're in the middle of building our own cabin, I couldn't resist taking a closer look and sharing a few pictures here! Ready to be transported to the Danish wilderness?

Orø is a small island in the Isefjord, an hour or two west of Copenhagen. It's especially popular in summertime, when Danes flock to their summer houses. But actually, one of the best times to visit is off-season, when you can experience the vastness of the wilderness in solitude. 

A picture of Marie's A-frame cabin taken by Mikkel Tjellesen, as seen in Voices magazine

Marie spends the majority of her time in Copenhagen, where she runs her visual communications studio Revolver, which offers journalism, editing, creative direction and interior styling services.  But there's nowhere Marie loves to be more than at her cabin on Orø:

"Each time I reach the ferry terminal, I get an immediate sense of tranquillity, I breathe more freely, and my mind seems clearer.... most often I greet the stunning scenery on a late Friday afternoon, exhausted from a week's work and longing for a welcome respite... life slows down at Orø" - Marie.

When Marie and her husband first bought the cabin, it was rundown with a rotting foundation and in need of a new roof.  The pair painstakingly replaced everything inside, ferrying items over from the mainland. It was a slow process, but now their hard work has paid off and they have a wonderful retreat.

Although fairly compact, the couple have everything they need at the cabin, and it's been decorated with a simple yet charming blend of artisanal pieces and vintage finds, creating a wonderful, relaxed feel. 

These days the couple know the cabin and island inside out, as Marie explains in her interview with Voices:

"We came to know all the little signs of the changing seasons, the loud, terrifying noises of pines swaying dangerously in the storm, and the true bliss of entering the house to the warmth of the woodturning stove."

What a perfect place to recharge the batteries, don't you think?

Thank you to Skandinavisk for the kind permission to share these images (hop on over to explore their fragrances - they're simply divine!)

Looking for more dreamy inspiration this week? I love these archives: 

Speaking of recharging batteries, my family and I are heading to Mallorca tomorrow to visit my sister for the first time in 4 years! We CAN'T WAIT! She lives in the North of the island with her boyfriend Ben and my two nieces. It's so beautiful up there. 

I'll be taking some time out with Per and the girls and will be back here blogging again on Monday 6th November. Feel free to pull up a chair hang around and browse the archives (after ten years of blogging there's a ton of inspiration in there!). I'll most likely capture my trip on Instagram stories if you're curious to see the island. 

Have a wonderful week! 


Photography: Chris Tonnesen
Voices spread photography: Mikkel Tjelleson
Styling: Marie Monrad Graunbøl / Revolver 
Shared with kind permission from Skandinavisk

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An Idyllic Finnish Summer Cabin on the Water's Edge

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Here in Scandinavia, it looks like the summer isn't ready to give up on us just yet - and we're being treated to a last hurrah, with blue skies and sunshine. In honour of this, I'm excited to be taking you on a tour of a wonderful Finnish summer cabin. Perched on a rocky incline, overlooking the water, the timber cabin is situated on a secluded island close to Rymättylä, South Finland. Owner, Nina Ahonen - interior designer and stylist - has created a wonderful, laidback oasis, from which to switch off from the world and enjoy the magic of the surroundings. The cabin is accessed by boat from Helsinki. Here's a peek inside. 

How incredible! 

When we're out sailing (binoculars out!), I often spot idyllic cabins like this one on the various islands we pass. They always look so idyllic. 

Could you imagine wiling away a summer here? 

Other Finnish summer cabins and cottages to love: 

And for something more year-round with ALL the warm feels: 

Gaaah, take me to Finland (I'm currently obsessed with this country as I've just written an article for a magazine about Lapland - I promise to let you know once it's published!). It's such an incredibly varied country - from the summer paradise in the south, to the frozen Arctic Circle in the North where husky sledding and the Aurora Borealis await! 

Here's to an inspiring start to the week! 


Photography: Krista Keltanen, Researcher, journalist and stylist: Jonna Kivilahti - shared with kind permission.

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