A Swedish-Inspired Modern Backyard Cottage

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Name: Su Pang
Location: Highland Terrace; Oakland, California
Size: 500 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Owned

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After spending some time in Sweden, Su fell in love not just with Swedish culture, but with the architecture. “I fell in love with the red wooden Swedish country homes,” she said. “Being a designer, I always wanted to design my own home.” So when she had an opportunity to build in her very own backyard, she jumped on it. She hired an architect and designed a sleek and modern 500-square-foot home that took inspiration from prefab structures and traditional Swedish cottages that she saw everywhere during her time in Scandinavia.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

When she designed her home, she wanted to take advantage of the East Bay’s beautiful weather, ensuring that sunlight illuminated her space at any hour during the day. At certain times, the light bounces off the exterior metal walls and creates a red hue throughout the space, adding a warmth to the minimal decor and the glossy white walls.

Su’s embrace of Scandinavian design is obvious throughout the home’s structure and decor, keeping it plain, simple and useful—a style she truly appreciates. “I had my first Swedish visitor last year, and yes, she agreed that it felt very Swedish to her!”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-century modern meets prefab and rustic

Inspiration: Cottages of Sweden

Favorite Element: Wood

Biggest Challenge: Working with contractors who sometimes showed up and building the home within a deadline

What Friends Say: “Amazing”!

Biggest Embarrassment: I have too many things in my closet!

Proudest DIY: Designing the entire space

Biggest Indulgence: Creating a concrete shower with a skylight

Dream Sources: Lots of online interior design like Inhabitat, prefab homes, Pinterest for inspiration and ideas

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After spending some time in Sweden, Su fell in love not just with Swedish culture, but with the architecture. (Image credit: Esteban Cortez)



  • BEHR: Ultra White Semi-gloss


  • Shoe Rack: Found in streets of NYC
  • LED Lamp: Design Within Reach
  • Piece of wood/art: Reclaimed wood


  • Sofa: Joybird
  • Credenza: Craigslist
  • Coffee table: Found in NYC thrift store
  • Green chair: Vintage; Purchased in NYC
  • Fireplace: Hampton
  • Floor lamp: Street find; custom lampshade
  • Shelves: Custom-made out of pipes and pine wood
  • Throw blanket on sofa: Found in old apartment building
  • Hanging mobile: DIY out of found items
  • Photo collage: DIY made of reclaimed door panels; Photos by me


  • Tree Branch: brought from backyard walnut tree, bolted to floor and bed
  • Upholstered storage box: Container Store
  • Rug: West Elm
  • Table: Blu Dot
  • Chairs: Made in Italy (forgot name!)


  • Cabinets: Home Depot (custom)
  • Sink: Custom frame
  • Faucet: Moen
  • Sliding storage crates: Etsy; made from old beer barrels)


  • Bed sheets: West Elm
  • Pipe light fixture: Etsy
  • Loft ladder: Rockler
  • Lamp: Vintage; purchased from Etsy


  • Sliding door: Rustica Hardware
  • Rug: West Elm
  • Metal siding: metalsales.us.com
  • Showerhead: GROHE


  • Desk: Custom; legs from Hairpinlegs.com
  • Shelf: DIY

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Thanks, Su!