Cuter than a caravan, less cumbersome than a holiday home, the ‘summer house’ has become a Scandinavian institution. In Sweden they are called sommarstuga and are traditionally painted with a special red colour called falu rödfärg and has white trimmed corners, windows and doors.
Of course I am familiar with traditional Scandinavian architecture and am fond of the colourful barn like houses dotted through the countryside, I had not however heard of summer houses until we were invited to visit our friends’ summer house around 30 minutes out of the heart of Copenhagen.
Now city living is convenient. You can easily get around by bike and public transport and there are a multitude of places to visit and things to do. Copenhagen is a green city dotted with canals and parks, so open spaces and nature are plentiful. Home living however is often cramped. Apartments are expensive and are often small. You have to visit public spaces for your kids to run around, or like our friends, have one of you house bound whilst your child has their afternoon nap. It is much nicer to be outside the city of Copenhagen. Buying a house is not always possible and brings an additional commute, which in the dark winter months is not always convenient or welcome. Here in lies the beauty of the summer house…
Why a summer house?
Located in small communities in either outer suburban or coastal areas, summer houses are a great alternative for many. Unlike caravan parks, the summer houses are permanent cottages with sizeable gardens, community centres and even libraries open on an honesty basis. People tend their gardens with love, know their neighbours and chat with other parents whilst their children play in communal parks. There are no caravans, no tents or toilet blocks!
Technically summer houses are designed for that, the summer. The idea is that you either spend the weekend at your house, or move out to the community for the summer and commute during the longer summer days when life is just that little bit more carefree. In the afternoons you can tend to your strawberry patch or apple trees and cook a barbecue with a salad made from lettuce you picked from your garden. Compared to cramped city life, lazing in the garden and growing your own produce is heaven.
A garden to enjoy
An average summer house block is 400 square metres, so there is plenty of space for a swing to be built on the branch of a tree, a bird house to be erected or a large lawn on which to lounge or watch your children play. The best thing about the summer house is that when you buy it, you get it fully furnished, so other than adding a few personal touches, you can just move in.
In addition to this, to ensure that summer houses are affordable for all, they are capped at a maximum price. This means that for many they can have the convenience of having a permanent residence in the city and then come out and enjoy some space at their summer house without overburdening themselves financially.
Our summer house experience
Like I said before, I hadn’t really heard of summer houses before, so when I swung open the gate and was greeted with a lush green lawn, a garden that had been lovingly tended to a cute red and white cottage I was impressed.
With a kitchen, living / dining room, sizeable bedroom and a bathroom the cottage was a great size to be manageable as a second house whilst being big enough for the family and guests on occasion. Our friends had only just taken the keys to their summer house, so we christened it by enjoying a mix up of Aussie and Danish traditions and having a BBQ in the garden. We sat outside enjoying the warm weather, chatting and laughing well into the evening when it was time for us to head to the airport to fly back to the UK.
If you have a friend who has a summer house, go visit! Whilst we loved the city and had a great day of exploring, living like the locals is often the best way to see a country and for us a day at the summer house was the way to go!