There are 5.5 million people and half a million summer cabins in Finland. The cabins are a hugely important part of the Finnish way of life, regardless of your social status. They are always in remote places in the woods with no immediate neighbours. Therefore they provide the ideal place to unwind and leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. The cabins have been designed for complete relaxation: they are made of natural logs and always come with a sauna which is often in a separate building right by the lake.
Just like most other families, we also had a log cabin in the woods on a beautiful lake an hour’s drive away from our town house. Every Friday after work and school we packed the car and drove to our cabin and returned home Sunday night. We spent every single holiday there too and most of the summer. In the summer we spent the whole day messing about in the lake or playing in the surrounding woods. In the winter the lake froze and we were able to ice skate and cross-country ski on it. We foraged wild berries and mushrooms, built dens, went fishing with my dad and had a sauna every night. We were utterly carefree and fully embracing nature and outdoor living. It was the perfect place to be a child!
Katja’s beautiful lakeside cabin celebrates a seamless connection between the inside and outside
Since leaving Finland decades ago, it has been my dream to own a modern log cabin in my home country. I’m continuously swooning over Nordic cabin photos on Instagram. One of my favourites is Katja’s stunning second home with the most beautiful Scandinavian interior boasting a perfect, symbiotic relationship of architecture and nature. Whenever I’m homesick I head over to her grid @pihkassapintaan and day dream of the lakeside log cabin I will have one day.
Katja’s cabin is by Polar Life Haus (aka Honkatalot), a Finnish company that manufactures sustainable, modern wooden homes and log cabins. The houses are designed to each client’s specification, made with sustainably-grown Finnish timber and pre-cut in their factory in Finland. Their Instagram account @polarlifehaus keeps me awake at night because I can’t stop admiring the stunning architecture of their houses and dreaming of my future Honkatalot eco-home.
I interviewed Katja to find out more about her and her stunning modern log cabin.
HOUSE TOUR & INTERVIEW
Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Katja Suominen. We are a family of four; me, my husband, two teen boys and of course our two Danish-Swedish farm dogs. I’m an interior designer mainly focusing on residential homes. In my spare time I love to wonder in the forest, do yoga and enjoy our second home in the countryside.
Where do you live?
We live in Tampere which is the 3rd largest city in Finland. We are currently in the process of moving home from a detached house to a city apartment. Our second home, the log cabin, is located about 35 km from Tampere in Pälkäne. The house stands on two hectares (3 acres) of woodland by the lake. We designed it ourselves and the architect from Polar Life Haus made the final blueprints. It’s a modern, 3-bedroom log house with structural glass walls and 132 square metres in size. The sauna cabin is another 30 square metres and comes with a spare room including a kitchenette and a sofa bed.
How would you describe your interior style?
My Interior style is quite minimalistic yet warm – Scandinavian with a hint of Japanese influence.
Did you have to do a lot of work to your home to achieve the current look?
When we bought the land it was covered with thick forest – so yes. The project started in 2017 and it was completed in 2019 and a whole load of decisions and project management took place in between.
Where do you find inspiration for your interior design?
When designing the log cabin interior I was inspired by the surrounding nature. The colour palette stems from the reddish brown pine tree trunks and grey shades of the rocks by the waterfront. The large glass walls create a direct link with the outside world and it feels like the nature almost comes inside the building through them.
As interior designer I prefer timeless design; products and surfaces which stand the test of time and are beautiful even after many years. We should pay attention to sustainability in our homes too. That’s why I usually choose natural materials. They never go out of fashion and they age beautifully.
I love to create interiors that increase mental and physical well-being. Modern lifestyle can make us feel pretty frazzled so it’s important that our homes offer us a place to relax, relief the stress and load up the batteries.
Where do you source most of your pieces from?
From shops that sell Finnish and Scandinavian furniture and design such as Finnish Design Shop.
In which room do you spend most of your time?
I spend most of my time in the open plan living-dining room area. As it’s in the middle of the house, it’s the meeting point where everyone gathers together.
What is your favourite piece of furniture or item in your home?
It’s probably the swivel K Chair by Woodnotes. When you sit on it, you get to enjoy a panoramic view of the kitchen, the open plan living space and the lake.
Is there still something you want to change in your home?
Hopefully not! Probably some small projects in the garden next summer.
Describe your dream home?
This is our dream come true for a second home. When it comes to our main residence, our dream home is a character apartment near the city centre close to lovely green areas for dog walks. We’d need 3 bedrooms, definately a balcony and beautiful views would be nice too.
Kiitos Katja! Thank you for your time and for the tour of your dreamy modern log cabin in Finland.
For more Scandinavian style home tours on my blog, please click here.
Photography: Katja Suominen