ZEN MASTERY: Home of tranquility in Sweden
This Secluded spot on a farm in southern Sweden was once occupied by an old mill. For the homeowner, Johan Dieden, it was the ideal setting to construct a small house to accommodate visiting friends and family. He commissioned the Scandinavian architects Gert and Karin Wingårdh to create an uncomplicated space, using natural materials, that would bring the outdoors in. Other than those vague instructions, the architects, who are known for their organic designs, were handed a blank canvas on which to unleash their imaginations. “He gave us a free hand in this project,” Gert says of the homeowner. “He has a lot of trust in people and a very open mind.” Woven-willow arches lead to the glass-wall structure, set above a reflecting pool.
The result is a modern wood cabin built in the style of a Japanese teahouse and hidden away in a grove of trees, where the silence is broken only by birds chirping and the gurgling of water. In the living area of a Swedish guesthouse designed by Gert and Karin Wingårdh, the sofa is custom made, the light fixture is by Philippe Starck, and the flooring is limestone.
The kitchen counters, like the staircase, are constructed from dovetailed oak; the cabinetry is by Bulthaup, and the oven is by Miele.
As visitors approach through a series of giant woven-willow arches, the house gradually comes into view, glowing like a lantern above a dark pool of water. There was once just a small stream here, but the architects redirected its flow into a huge outdoor bathtub, which spills over onto a limestone platform and then into a reflecting pool, generating constant soothing sounds of running water. Tranquillity seeps into the house, where lofty ceilings and sliding-glass walls encourage a fluid transition between inside and out. A corridor sheathed in limestone leads to an oak-clad sauna.
Compact and well organized, the 550-square-foot interior has an earthy feel with an industrial edge. The layout, although devised as an open plan, features a series of subtly defined spaces—including a living area, kitchen, shower, and sauna—connected by a limestone floor but also delineated by wood and stone. The kitchen, though narrow, feels open, airy, and unfettered by clutter, thanks to Bulthaup cabinets that hide the appliances and cooking supplies. Oak stairs lead to the bedroom.
Much of the furniture was designed by the architects, including the inviting L-shape sofa made of American maple. Upstairs, the sole bedroom runs the length of the A-frame roof space. Horizontal wood cladding on the walls accentuates the length of the room, while vertical panels behind the bed make the ceiling seem higher. One large window fills the end wall, letting natural light flood inside. Panels behind the bed hide storage space.
For an unlikely fusion of Japanese and Swedish design, the house feels surprisingly harmonious. Its clean lines are softened by the rich natural materials. And minimalist spaces are offset by the verdant surroundings. “It is elegant,” Wingårdh explains. “It’s not a large space, but it’s no less spectacular. I allowed the environment to guide my planning.” ORIGINAL TEXT BY DORI KELLY. Originally published in ELLE DECORATION U.K. In the bedroom, the bed is by Duxiana, the lamp is by Isamu Noguchi, and the bench is custom made.
A structure of willow branches serves as a focal point in the garden.
A screen of vines shades the terrace, which contains an oak bench and limestone-top table.