In Sweden, everyone is looking forward to the long days of summer.
When those short six hour winter days are traded in for sweet nineteen hours of sunlight in July, that's the moment when many Swedes will escape from the city, attractive as it is, to summer houses out in the Stockholm Archipelago and the wider countryside.
“Lots of people own them here,” says Lindgren as we warm up over a cup of coffee and a saffron-colored, raisin-studded Santa Lucia bun. “Our family has had a summer cottage since the 1960s, though the building actually dates back to around 1900. It’s built entirely of wood and is a classic example of a traditional country house."
“What’s important in terms of its design is simplicity, functionality and light. In summer we want to make the most of the sunshine because in the winter we don’t see much of it. So we have stripped wooden floors, simple furniture and south-facing windows."
"Outside it’s painted in a famous red color known as falu rödfärg,” she says. “Traditionally, that was made from by-products of copper mining and it is used on wooden houses to make the timbers resistant to wind and rain. It also looks pretty good against the dark green background of a forest.”
As many as 20 percent of Swedes own a second home to which they can retreat during the long days of summer. And the attraction of a bolthole out in the woods or on the banks of a lake is not restricted to the locals. The nation’s country cottages are being increasingly snapped up by outsiders, with Norwegians, buoyed by their enduringly strong economy, proving particularly enthusiastic investors.
“Norwegians and Swedes have a lot in common," says Lindgren. "We both have a long history of loving the outdoor lifestyle – and lots of us aren’t really satisfied with living in cities all the time.”