Have a look at this absolutely enchanting historic cottage in Finland!
The off-grid home and accompanying sauna and outhouse are located in Finland in the Savonia region. This area is also known as the Finnish Lakeland or the Finnish lake district.
Owners Katja and Petri have graciously allowed photos of their home to be shared on this blog.
The cottage is actually located on a small island, where Katja & Petri live most of the time.
The pretty white main cottage dates back to the 1930’s
Katja & Petri have owned this spread for 7 years and have gradually made this into their full-time home.
Below Katja has shared some history of the cottage.
“The place was originally built for by a man who worked as a foreman in a local saw mill. Their family used it as their summer villa, and they had also a small garden (and also some kind of gardener) there as well. The sauna building (the red one right on the water side) has been built probably in 1925-1929. This information is based on the old newspapers that we found when renovating the sauna. Under the floor there was a newspaper from 1925, and under the sawdust insulation of the attic we found several newspapers from 1928 and 1929. The cottage has been built after the sauna, at the beginning of 1930’s. The sauna building is a traditional Finnish log building made from hand-carved logs. Insulation material between the logs is flax fiber. The cottage has wooden structure with sawdust as insulation material.”
“There was a story, which I can’t confirm, but I heard it from a person who is expert of local history. The saw mill foreman had also another job on his responsibility, he was also the foreman of the mill’s dock. In 1919-1932 there was the prohibition era in Finland, but it didn’t keep Finns from getting drunk; spirit smuggling was illegal business all over the country. To our home town Varkaus, spirit was brought hidden in steamships coming to the mill dock, and the story tells, that the dock foreman was one of the key persons of the said business here. Well they got caught, and after this, the spirit smuggling business was relocated to open water (spirit packages were called torpedos) or on islands. The location of our island is very conveniently near the old waterway used by the steamboats at that time. And there was a rumor, that the dock foreman built a summer cottage with the spirit smuggling money. So who knows, maybe our cottage is a small piece of the weird history of Finnish prohibition.”
How did Katja & Petri come to acquire this historic cottage?
“We being here today is a total coincidence. We didn’t have any plans to buy a summer cottage, we had never even spoken about it. We had a nice townhouse right on the lakeside, so we didn’t have a need to have another lakeside place. (That is very often the idea in Finland with summer cottages or cabins). Seven years ago, in August 2015, I was randomly browsing house and cottage online sales adverts of our area just for fun, and I noticed a for sale advertisement for an almost abandoned-looking island cottage, that was very close to our home. After that I just couldn’t get it out of my head anymore. One evening after work we jumped into our boat and went to find the place to see that maybe it is just crap we can forget. The place was hiding inside so thick forest that we had difficulties spotting it from the lake, but once we found and saw it, we both had a very strong feeling that we want this.”
The cottage in summer:
“For some reason the place became very important to us right from the beginning. I always say that we didn’t find this place, but it found us. And we found ourselves. We discovered that two engineers living in an urban environment are happiest when they can be here surrounded by the lake, and do all the things they do here. We started to do so many things we had never done before, and never thought of doing. We have found also ourselves as a couple in a new way with this place.”
How did this island cottage become their full-time home?
“Today we live here full time. It was getting more and more difficult to leave here, because this had started to feel like home. At some point, we just stopped leaving, and ended up spending longer and longer times here and learning how to run our life living here. Eventually, in 2020, we spent in the townhouse three weeks in spring and waited for the ice to melt from the lake, and again three weeks in fall waiting for the lake to freeze. Last spring my husband stayed here the whole spring, and I went one more time to the town, and in July we got the townhouse sold, and now this is the only Home we have.”
The Main House
Have a look inside the traditional Finnish cottage.
Katja and Petri have done renovations – and continue to do them – to make this rustic place a comfortable home.
Remember, being on a small island, the home is completely off-grid, so Katja & Petri are living the ways of their ancestors.
That doesn’t mean they have sacrificed comfort and style though!
“We have many old or vintage things here in everyday use, and we are interested in old skills that are not so commonly used anymore.”
There is something so appealing about these winter photos of the cottage with the low winter sun and abundant candles burning.
It is a dog’s paradise as well!
The enclosed front porch with the multi-paned windows is a special spot to soak in the quiet winter landscape.
It’s just divine!
Another bonus to living here: front-row seats to the Northern Lights!
The Finnish word for aurora borealis is “revontulet”, which literally means “fox fires”.
Katja and Petri wanted to be sure that photos of their adorable outhouse were included here as well.
As Katja pointed out, outhouses often get a bad reputation or are an afterthought. But this one that the couple built is the most charming little place!
The original building on the island, the traditional red sauna, is very important for Finns living off-grid in the wilderness. The main level of the building has a dressing room for the sauna, and the actual sauna room, and the attic features a “summer room”.
The frozen winter landscape
Once the lake is frozen, travel can be by snowmachine, or even cars that come across the lake on makeshift ice roads.
Kajta and Petri put fishing lines through the ice in winter for fresh-caught fish.
This year Finland was once again declared The Happiest Nation In The World – for the fifth year running – by the World Happiness report.
Gazing upon these pristine images, it is not hard to imagine why.
“When it is only two of us here day after day, we really need to enjoy one another’s company, and work as a team. I’m his anchor place and he is my bedrock. I hope that my photos show some of that joy, excitement, beauty, tranquility and love that this place surrounds us.”
A heartfelt thank you to Katja & Petri for sharing their historic island cottage with us and a little slice of life in beautiful Finland!