Name: Christina Birch and Lars Fynbo and their two sons
Location: Zealand, Denmark
Size: 39 square meter (420 square feet)
Years lived in: 8 years; Owned
When Christina, a photographer, and Lars, a sociology professor, decided to continue living in central Copenhagen with their two boys, they knew they'd also need a place in the country for peace and nature. Although it quaintly boasts just one bedroom for the family, the cottage has become their countryside escape with ample outdoor space and close proximity to the sea—despite only being a little more than an hour from their city home.
Christina and Lars are the third owners of the 1967 Swedish västkuststugan. When they started looking for a summerhouse, they only saw a few before finding this one. They visited once, and when they went up on the hill behind the cottage and saw the views of the sea and forest, they knew they wanted to buy the place right away.
The cottage was in good shape but needed a lot of work. They worked on it over the next six years, taking time to just enjoy the new space with the kids. They added the wood stove for heating, painted inside and outside (originally the house was dark green with curry-colored windows), changed the walls, replaced the floors, renovated the kitchen, built a totally new annex for the bathroom and toilet, and extended the veranda to the terrace between the two buildings. They cleaned up the 12,917-square-foot garden and planted trees, berry bushes, and apple trees. Most recently, Lars built the outdoor stove which they use year-round for cooking and baking bread. Lars also built the orangerie (greenhouse) attached to the side of the house where they grow tomatoes and herbs.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Simple living, bohemian, recycling
Inspiration: We are inspired by many of our travels—especially from the lives lived in remote islands in the Pacific and village life in South Africa. We love this simple and warm natural style mixed with a bit of art.
Favorite Element: The outdoor stove and the orangerie.
What Friends Say: We love to share the place with our friends and luckily our friends like to stay with us. Even though it's a very small cottage, we can always find places to sleep and it's part of the charm of the place that we are close together. In the summertime we also sleep on the veranda and in a tent in the garden.
Everybody loves the simplicity and the basic feeling about the place. It's all about being together: lots of bike riding and walking in the woods during the day and drinking good wine and cooking food together in the evening.
Biggest Embarrassment: It took us three years to finish painting the ceiling in the living room. I lacked painting one meter when I finished one night and then I just never got around to finish it. I thought about it every time I looked up….
Proudest DIY: The kitchen—we are very proud of the kitchen countertop made of 100-year-old floor decks
Biggest Indulgence: The garden—and especially the huge bushes with blackberries
Best Advice: Keep it simple, personal, and close to nature.
Dream Sources: Local markets
- Bed/couch: homemade out of 100-year-old floor decks
- Bookshelves from the 1970s: a gift from Lars' parents who had them for decades in their own summerhouse, repainted with linseed oil paint
- Wooden cabinet: made by Christina's great-grandfather
- Art: Ferdinand Leger print from Galerie Maeght in Paris
- Table: came with the house
- Chairs: some came with the house, some were inherited from our parents
- Photography: Christina Birch
- Metal shelves: Det Mondæne Skur
- Stove table: an old classic from our Copenhagen apartment—these tables used to be in many of the old apartments in Copenhagen.
- Wooden shelves: DIY from leftover floordecks
- Beds: DIY from the old beds originally from the house, renewed with ladder and new mattresses
- Metal hangers: bought secondhand
- Dresser: flea market
- Wardrobe: originally from the house—we just painted it, made new handles, and renewed it inside.
- Art: Kandinsky print from Galerie Maeght in Paris
- Cabinet with mirror: our favorite local antique/flea market
- Hangers: DIY, flea markets
- Daybed: from previous owners, new linen-covered mattress added
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