Home improvement is exciting, creative work, as well as a huge labor-intensive project. While everyone is different, some of the most fascinating processes involve pushing the boundaries of what “home” means. After all, not all renovations are just a house.
In This Is Home series, we share unique homes from around the world, everyone from home improvement to design experts who have transformed an unexpected space into one that is not only livable but also design-driven. These stories explore the behind-the-scenes of an extraordinary place, the processes involved and all the challenges and rewards along the way, while turning it into a home, be it a barn, castle, cottage or schoolhouse. Either way, these are spaces that people call home.
Many people dream of living in an actual farmhouse or cozy log cabin – so these trends have kept us all busy over the past few years. But Katarina from Katarina’s Old House isn’t just decorated like living in an old farmhouse, she lives in reality.
While the location itself is fantastic, it took a lot of work to bring the Finnish farmhouse and surrounding buildings to where they are today. There are many benefits to living in such a gorgeous old space, but according to her, one of the best parts of occupying it is that “there’s a sense of history everywhere, and we’re just the scaffolding for the house’s story — we’ve just been privileged.” lived in it for decades. ”
Katarina’s connection to the village where the farmhouse is located dates back to the year she and her husband were looking for a house. “Actually, my parents rented a small house in this village when they got married, and I lived in this village until I was seven,” she said. “I kept in touch with the people here, but I never thought of going back.” After studying in Helsinki and meeting her then-husband, they explored a nomadic lifestyle for a decade, moving every two years. “During those years, we started to long for a country life,” she explained. “We’ve always liked old houses, so obviously we’re looking for it.”
Then the opportunity arose, and she went back to her hometown. They found the house had been renovated to reflect the style of the 1950s and 1970s, with some damage to the original rooms. Still, she noted, “We knew we would never get some of the glamorous touches out of our new home, and the location was ideal.” She said they “wanted to do it well, using only traditional materials and methods.”
While the couple love the home and are committed to sticking to traditional methods, the most common advice they get from people is to “build a new house in the old style, not fix it”. Fortunately, that didn’t stop her.
A Storied Past
The farmhouse has an eventful past. According to Katarina, it was built in 1858 as a traditional Nordic farmhouse. Various rooms and rooms have been added over the years. “Originally the farm was part of the nearby Birnas Steel Works until 1906,” she said. “In 1906, the farm was privatized and until 2003 it was owned by the same family, from whom we had the opportunity to take over the buildings and less than a hectare of land.” She added that although neither she nor her husband were farmers, But the prospect of living in the countryside attracted her.
After buying the house in 2003, they decided to move in after six and a half years of renovations. While the main house is habitable, there are seven other buildings and rooms on the property that need updating, with Katarina referring to the “gardens”. This is a disaster. “The decision to wait to move in was a wise decision in the long run. “We had a daughter in 2004 and a son in 2005, so for us, it’s about bringing some harmony to our family. The most sensible way life preserves it,” she said. “The last building, the sauna, won’t be completed until 2021 because we really need to take a break between projects. Maintaining all this is a never-ending process.
Doing a renovation requires a certain level of motivation and skill, but that doesn’t mean you’re fully prepared. “I don’t think you’ll ever be capable enough to do a project like this, but I have to mention my dad, whose help with local connections has been invaluable,” Katarina said. “My husband was the one who led the project and had no experience. He read all about the traditional house and methods first and had many discussions with the craftsman who wanted to modernize it. I was in charge of the fun part , which is the interior.”
While it’s important to be prepared and communicate openly between everyone, Katarina says the key is their shared vision. They also made a fantastic deal to end the project if things affected their relationship. While there were many difficult challenges to overcome, they found one of the most annoying. “There’s a lot of invisible work to do before we can do the visible part,” she said. “It felt like years of demolishing and refurbishing the basic structure, ie. H. building, decorating and seeing the changes, before we got to the fun part.”