written by:
photos by:
May 29, 2016
Originally published in Modern Today
The Swede Life
Architect Gert Wingårdh creates a passionately outfitted vacation home for two midcentury furniture dealers on the western coast of Sweden.
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
The facade of the three-bedroom house sports a series of extruded pine boxes, which create sheltered spaces that stand up to the area’s fluctuating weather. The owners, Isaac Pineus and Andrew Duncanson, spend summers here with their twin sons.
Photo by 
1 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation living room
In the living room, a sofa by Vico Magistretti is next to a plywood armchair by Gerald Summers. The coffee table is by Enzo Mari; the Cesta lantern is by Miguel Milá for Santa & Cole. “It’s too expected for us to put Hans Wegner here,” Duncanson explains.
Photo by 
2 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation open kitchen dining
Pineus and Duncanson converse in their open-plan kitchen-dining space, where Duplex bar stools by Javier Mariscal add a touch of whimsy. A Mamma Cloud chandelier by Frank Gehry hangs above a La Basilica table by Mario Bellini.
Photo by 
3 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation floor plans
“The color Falu-red, or Falu Rödfärg, is used for houses all over Sweden,” says Pineus. “It’s such a strong color, but I think it works.” Each of the house’s protruding boxes feature pine slats painted in a silver tar, which contrasts the larch of the interior and offers a sturdy defense to the ocean air.
Photo by 
4 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation master bedroom green-gray
The master bedroom, which is painted a soothing green-gray, features a chair and nesting tables in Oregon pine designed by Grete Jalk in the 1960s, and a standing lamp by Isamu Noguchi. The armchair is by Gerald Summers. The couple found the overhead fixture at an auction.
Photo by 
5 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation rooftop terrace
A Fermob table and chairs are on the rooftop terrace. “The weather is unpredictable, to say the least. You want to be outside but you don’t want to sit in the middle of a gale,” says Duncanson. “But [at this house] you can always find a place that’s quiet.”
Photo by 
6 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
“A summer house is every Swede’s dream,” says Duncanson, who was born in Scotland. “At first I couldn’t understand how they could take four or five weeks off in summer but after my first year, I couldn’t believe how relaxed and hungry I was when I came back.”
Photo by 
7 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation floor plans
Fjällbacka House Floor Plan A Kitchen B Living-Dining Room C Bedroom D Bathroom E Roof Deck F Master Bedroom G Master Bathroom
Photo by 
8 / 8
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
The facade of the three-bedroom house sports a series of extruded pine boxes, which create sheltered spaces that stand up to the area’s fluctuating weather. The owners, Isaac Pineus and Andrew Duncanson, spend summers here with their twin sons.
Fjallbacka House

The sleepy fishing village of Fjällbacka, on Sweden’s rugged west coast, is peppered with houses built in the local vernacular—with painted clapboard and steeply pitched roofs. One glaring exception is the bold, contemporary summer house belonging to Swede Isaac Pineus and his Scottish partner, Andrew Duncanson, designed by renowned Gothenburg architect Gert Wingårdh.

The couple spend most of the year in Stockholm, where they own a midcentury furniture gallery called Modernity, which Duncanson founded in 1998. They live in the city center in a Victorian terrace-house apartment along with their three-year-old twin sons, Tom and Marc. But they always wanted a place in the country, where they could escape their busy cosmopolitan lives. “It’s every Swede’s dream to own a summer house,” explains Duncanson. “It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, just somewhere close to nature.”

In 2005, they decided to turn their fantasy into reality. They already had the perfect location in mind—a plot on an acre of land in Fjällbacka, that Pineus’s grandparents bought in 1945 and where the family spent many happy holidays. On the property was a rocky patch of hillside that had grown wild over several decades. Though boulders obstructed the view of the sea, Pineus and Duncanson decided it was the ideal spot for their dream house.

With the location sorted, two key decisions remained: the style of the house and the architect who should design it. In the end, neither decision was particularly difficult. “We quickly realized we wanted to build something that is an expression of its time, rather than a pastiche of a previous era,” recalls Pineus. As for the design, the couple had long admired the work of Gert Wingårdh, the architect responsible for Sweden’s embassy building in Washington, DC, and several characterful residences around Sweden. “Gert is great at making simple houses work well,” says Duncanson. “But there is also usually a twist, which in this case is the hanging boxes and terraces that give the house a sculptural quality.”

Pineus and Duncanson sent the architect a brief to create a building that blurred the boundaries between inside and out, where they could entertain large groups of friends, no matter the temperamental mood of the Swedish weather. Wingårdh’s innovative solution was to attach a series of chunky pine boxes to the building’s facade that provide sheltered terraces off the main living space and the two guest bedrooms. A roof deck on top of the living area provides additional outdoor space, with views over the rocky outcrop to the village and the sea beyond.

Construction began in September 2008 and was completed, on schedule, the following June by a team of trusted local builders, who had previously worked on a house for Pineus’s parents. Duncanson spent over two years sourcing furniture and was delighted to find, on move-in day, that his choices fit perfectly. In keeping with the house’s restrained yet quirky exterior, the interior has a predominantly relaxed Scandinavian feel, with a few surprising details. “I think it would be too expected for us to just fill our house with Scandinavian design,” says Duncanson, who added pieces like the 1980s bar stools by Javier Mariscal and Gerald Summers’s curvy armchair to create a more worldly mix of styles.

For Pineus and Duncanson, the dining area is the biggest success of the interior scheme and their favorite place to spend time. The monumental La Basilica table, by Mario Bellini, is balanced by the lightness of Gio Ponti’s delicate Superleggera chairs. And a traditional Swedish rag rug and an abstract textile wall hanging by Danish artist Bodil Bødtker-Næss provide texture that softens the acoustics in the large space.

Throughout the house, the couple used materials that will stand up to constant use, such as the pine floorboards, which were installed by a local joiner to taper slightly toward one end as they follow the shape of the tree from which they were cut. “We wanted a country house feel, so we like that the floor is developing a lovely warm patina,” says Pineus. “Nothing here is a museum piece; everything is there to be used.”

Having enjoyed the house for a few years now, Pineus and Duncanson are delighted with the way it responds to their needs. “The kids love being able to play outside, and we love the different pace of life here,” says Pineus. “The design also allows us to use the space in so many ways—we’ve had 40 people for lunch before, and there’s space for everyone to sit, both indoors and outdoors.”

The family spends four or five weeks of the summer in Fjällbacka and as many vacations and long weekends as they can manage, despite the five-hour drive. It’s never enough, adds Pineus. “We try to spend as much time here as possible, but of course we wish we could come more often.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016