The simple hytte
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you Scandinavians love to get “ut i naturen.” In summer, winter, fall, and spring; rain, snow, or shine - doesn’t matter, we are mostly outside. That’s “hygge” to us.
So, in order to accommodate said desire to constantly be out in nature, we build cabins. Cabins by the fjord. Cabins in the mountains. Cabins in farm country. Cabins on the ocean. We build entire villages of cabins! Cabins we take to any chance we get - when school is out for holidays, on weekends, or when “fellesferie” (translate: common vacation) comes around the corner.
The Scandinavian cabin is a second, more modest, home for the family. A remote base from which to ski or hike, sauna, swim, and a space to do family things like play board games and yatzy and argue over who might be cheating. In summers we eat ice cream (like a whole lot of ice cream no joke) and grill our (hot dog) dinners outside. In winter we curl up by the fire at night, armed with a toddy (pronounced tåhhd-iy) after a long day of skiing.
And we are pretty adamant about protecting these traditions. So much so that we built it into law. Beginning in the post-war period, the Norwegian welfare state has worked to ensure that this way of life is preserved, through ample minimum vacation policies, protections for workers, and tax as well as other incentives for building and owning second homes.
Cabin culture goes back to the 1500s and is rooted in two very different traditions historically: seasonality in the way of life for farmers and fishermen, contrasted with the recreational habits of the upper class. For the workers, it was a story of relief from hard labor. For the rich, relief from congested urban life. It would seem that everyone just wanted to “gå på hytta.” (translate: go to the cabin.) *Insert shrug*
Perhaps this is what imbues the Scandinavian cabin with a deep sense of freedom and escape, being able to disconnect entirely from the routine. Get closer to nature and move around a bit. “Riste litt på puddingen,” as my father might say (translate: shake the pudding).
There is something so essentially simple, yet beautiful about the Scandinavian cabin, both in its purpose and as a result in its design and execution. Even the examples of modern Scandinavian design on the pages of Dwell or AD, absolute architectural marvels, are simple at heart.
But gone are the days when such basic amenities as running water and electricity, not to mention heated floors (the genius of which merit an entire independent exploration don’t worry) weren’t standard issue at your average family cabin. (Though no one should be too fancy for the occasional outhouse.)
Modest or not, some of my best childhood memories happened at the hytte. That same part of me that still loves brown cheese on heart-shaped waffles and cares deeply and weirdly and about the winter Olympics and Eurovision song contest needed to build one here. A place to escape and spend time with my family, and get closer to nature. “Riste litt på puddingen,” and such. And needs to help others build them too. That is the heart of Blue House.