Sunday, November 25, 2007


A kakelugn is a traditional Swedish stove/fireplace, usually tiled, though not always. The one pictured here is much like the one in Margaret and Janne's Stockholm flat.

I found a fantastic website of a company who specializes in reclaimed traditional kakelugn. I've seen a lot of these types of stoves all over Sweden.

The reason I include these is another comment made by my mother. She asked if I had to have a modern fireplace in our little modern house. That got me thinking. Not to sound pretentious, but I like the philosophy of Mies ("less is more") and want to go simple in our home.

But there is another way of thinking; Robert Venturi called it "less is bore". Don't be afraid of a little decoration or prettiness! Maybe a 1850's Swedish fireplace in an otherwise modern home would be interesting?? Something to think about...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I got an email from the webmaster at They found my blog (I assume through an automated process) and asked if they could link to it on their website. There's a bunch of people like me who are building a home and documenting the process online.

Since it's a pretty cool and useful website, and since I'd love a wider audience, I of course said yes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Modern Fireplace

This one is European; French, to be exact. The model pictured here is the 'Gyrofocus'. There are a few other suspended models, too. Pretty funky stuff. 

More details can be seen on the company's website. We have found a distributor in Stockholm, so I would be able to avoid the hassles of importation, at least.

We talked to Stefan about installing something like this and there's no problem with doing so. The long flue would look dramatic, reaching up to the high ceiling!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Sooz has advised me to cut back on my comments about money. She thinks it's a bit crass to keep mentioning how much things cost, and my whining about the exchange rate is annoying. As usual, she's right, and I am trying to be careful how I come across in print.

However, I talk about money for a reason, and not just because I'm cheap. Building a house requires making lots of decisions, and unless you're Aaron Spelling, money is finite, so compromises have to be made. I'd love an hi-tech toilet and Goldfinger's fireplace, but can I afford both? Maybe I should get a bigger hot-water tank instead. That's not sexy, but a hot shower is darned nice to have.

An architect acquaintance once told me a big part of her job was to help her clients decide what it is they really wanted, so the budget could be spent on that. Every client, she said, wanted more than they could afford. There's a constant tension between what is technically possible and what is financially possible.

My goal is to write about money in a useful, but not crass way. Sooz will correct me if I stray from that path, I'm sure!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Traditional fireplaces

My readership (specifically, my mother) wanted to see a few traditional Swedish fireplaces. Pictured is a classic design from Spis Miljo. They have lots of funky designs, too. 

Another company with a wide range of fireplaces is Keddy (I like the Carisma) and a Danish company, Rais, who had an enormous display at the Hus Expo. Their website is in English, too, which is a bonus. 

However, most of our time at the house will be spent over the summers, so a fireplace isn't an immediate priority. But it is fun to look.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Fireorb

We are interested in a suspended fireplace for the house. They simply hang from the ceiling and look really James-Bondish, and fit with the design themes we're aiming for. And besides being cool, they are a teeny bit practical, as the orb can be rotated 360° so as to direct the heat, and they don't take up a chunk of floor space.

These are quite a bit different than traditional Swedish fireplaces (of which I saw a multitude at the Hus Expo). The one pictured here is from a company called Fireorb, who make them near Chicago.

Perhaps I'll import one along with my Texas toilet???

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


There is a stuga in the archipelago which has a specific place in pop history. It's on the island of Viggsjö, and it once was the summer home of Björn Ulvaeus. He spent his holidays there, often visited by his friend Benny Anderson.

If you haven't guessed already, Benny and Björn are the 'BB' in ABBA. They co-wrote many of ABBA's hits out on Viggsjö. I think it's quite a romantic image- the little cabin with a piano, a couple of friends, and long summer days spent making perfect pop music.

I really like ABBA. I'm not embarrassed to admit it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I called Värmdö Kommun today

I was getting a little antsy. So I called and spoke to a nice lady whose English was just a little better than my Swedish. Together, we muddled through my request to find the status of our application.

Bottom line is it seems the 6-month 'clock' has started in October as I had posted earlier. Not great relief for my being antsy as this puts us to a March or April start date.

However, I did get the case number and importantly, the name of the man in charge, for when I call next time. They suggested I wait a month or so before checking up again.

I may ask Janne to make that next call on my behalf as, besides speaking Swedish, he also knows what he's talking about, so he has two significant advantages over me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sooz is getting into the act

Sooz scored a vintage 1950's dinner service off ebay the other day.

It's a funky floral pattern, and she thinks it's just right for life in a summer house. In fact, our home here is filled with fun artifacts from the '50's, not the least of which is Mrs. Langford herself!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The World Toilet Organisation

Toilet activists in South Korea have built a house in the shape of a toilet to call attention to the fact that billions of people do not have proper sanitation.

More details can be seen here. (Note: I am not making this up.)

Too bad Stefan already has completed his drawings; I rather like the look of this place! Of course, I'm not too sure what Värmdö would make of this on the application.

UPDATE: Here is a link on the WTO. Interesting.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Episode 6: Return of the Incinerating Toilet

I was careful to walk down all the rows at the Hus Expo. Sure enough, my patience was rewarded when I came across this simple little toilet display tucked into a corner. It looked very much like the Cinderella, but the instructions were in English. It was called an "Incinolet".

What was really interesting was the serial plate on the back: it was made in Dallas, about a half-hour from where I used to live! The cost was a few thousand kronor less than the Cinderella, and it was overall a little bit different, but 90% the same.

I called the Incinolet people, and sure enough, they were a bunch of friendly Texans. They make 220-volt models for export, and amazingly, I could stop by and pick one up for a third of the cost of buying the unit in Sweden.

Even if I spent a grand to import it to Stockholm, I'd still be money ahead. That takes away a lot of the cost disadvantage of the Cinderella against the Separett, but it doesn't address the electrical issues. It is something to think about, though.

But then there's the question: do I want to get into the issues of becoming a Texan toilet importer???