When winter sets in, the lake outside this rural cabin freezes, the wind whips off the plateau of nearby Hardangervidda mountain and the snow cushions the landscape. But inside, it’s cosy – even with a blizzard blowing.
The site in Ustaoset, a small Norwegian village halfway between Oslo and Bergen, was owned by architect Jon Danielsen Aarhus’s grandparents in the 1960s and inherited by his parents, who commissioned Jon to replace its original rundown family cabin with a contemporary new hytte, or holiday home.
The new building follows the same footprint, and was constructed using many of the salvaged original materials, including the wooden steps that lead to the front door. ‘It’s recycling for environmental and logistical reasons, but it also has a lot to do with feelings,’ says Jon. ‘I wanted to preserve some of the history of the old structure.’
Clad in pine that greys over time, chosen to mimic the surrounding birch trees, the hytte has a gabled roof with long eaves that keep falling frost off the windows. The front door faces the wind to prevent snow drifts, and a built-in bench is perfect for coffee in the sun.
A huge glazed window along one side frames the breathtaking views. Life here is simple: walking, skiing, running, birdwatching, reading and listening to music. ‘I often just sit in the living room watching the weather change. It can be so dramatic,’ says Jon.
Inside, pine floors and walls are treated with white pigment, and underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove keeps things warm. The open-plan layout houses a living space, dining area and kitchen, while two bedrooms, a bathroom and a snug peel off a central hallway, and two sleeping nooks are tucked in the eaves. Décor is minimal: a few pieces salvaged from the original cabin and a white Ikea kitchen, customised with leather handles repurposed from an old jacket.
When Jon was a boy, his family had to park a few kilometres away at the Olso-Bergen road and then carry their luggage over to the house. Today, an access road comes closer, but they still have to walk the final 500 metres. ‘Sometimes it snows so much we can’t drive home, and when that happens the snow plough has to dig us out,’ he says. ‘But staying here is always worth it.’ jdaa.no
This feature appeared in ELLE Decoration Country Volume 13.
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