The family of designer Sebastian Jansson had not intended to buy a summer cottage at all. Then a plot practically made for them was put on sale in a familiar location.
Satu-Mari and Sebastian Jansson, and their son Edwin. Satu-Mari is an occupational trainer with Theatre Works Training and a researcher at the University of the Arts, Helsinki. Sebastian is a designer and a co-founder of the design brand, Made by Choice. Their summer residence, which was built in the 1960s and extended by the Janssons, is a cabin on the island of Sommarö in the Turku archipelago.
TREES ARE RUSTLING IN THE WIND and waves lap against the hull of a Buster boat moored next to a pier on the island of Sommarö in Pargas. On the porch of a sauna perched on a shoreline rock, designer Sebastian Jansson could sit for hours, gazing at the familiar archipelago seascape. But now is not the time, since his young son, Edwin, is climbing onto the sauna's balustrade and has to be lifted to safety.
Sebastian and Satu-Mari Jansson can't let their guard down for a moment at their summer cabin. While one watches over Edwin, the other is always either building or fixing some corner of the building.
”We bought the plot at an interesting time, just a few weeks before Edwin's birth,” says Sebastian.
In fact, the Janssons had never intended to buy a summer residence. Or so they thought, until the middle of their summer holiday in 2016, when, in a nearby village shop on the island of Kirjais, they heard that this plot in particular was for sale.
Sebastian and Satu-Mari had spent time at the old cottage of Sebastian's great grandparents, which is on the plot next to their current cabin. Sebastian had spent summer holidays on the island as a child. He still remembers the forest paths along which he ran between this relatives' cabins. Satu-Mari feels that the plot was meant for them.
Sebastian had spent summer holidays on the island as a child. He still remembers the forest paths along which he ran between this relatives' cabins.
”It feels meaningful that family and parents live on both sides of the plot. Being part the local community adds an element of its own: for example, I worked in the village shop during the summers,” says Sebastian.
The plot is occupied by a log cabin built in the 1960s. A specially made extension was built from timber by a local carpenter. The Jansson's now try to do what they can by themselves, while bringing up a small child.
”Edwin has grown up in an ongoing renovation, and loves cordless drills,” Sebastian explains.
As if to prove the point, the little boy hammers the wood stacked beside the fireplace with an adjustable spanner. Satu-Mari also enjoys the feeling that a project is always underway.
”Some people hate unfinished business, but I view these projects as wonderful opportunities.”
When the extension was completed in early 2017, the family spent the first night on a mattress on the cabin floor. On the other hand, running water was a luxury, which the couple had not been used to when holidaying in the small, old cottage passed down by Sebastian's great grandparents. Sebastian regards it as a plus that the cabin lacks amenities such as a proper internet connection.
”I find this place completely relaxing, quite unlike city life. Here, I tend to be preoccupied with when I can get out to sea,” says Sebastian, who is a keen yachtsman.
”I find this place completely relaxing, quite unlike city life. Here, I tend to be preoccupied with when I can get out to sea.”
The couple uses the cottage in summer and winter, which enables them to enjoy the natural cycle and seasons in the archipelago wilderness. Satu-Mari, who is an occupational trainer and researcher, can also work remotely on her writing from the cabin. The Janssons have already found that just one night in the cabin helps them to leave the city rush behind.
”You just need to look outside to relax. We feel sad in August, when we have to return to the city,” says Satu-Mari.
The interior design of the house has a different purpose to the family's home furnishings. In addition, the cabin has turned the Janssons into bolder interior designers.
”Our home at the time we bought the cabin had a lot of white surfaces. I feel that it's easier to revel in colours here than at home,” explains Satu-Mari.
The old and new sides of the cabin are also easily distinguishable based on their interior design. Whereas the old side has furniture passed down through the family and the ambience lent by time, the extension has a modern look. The couple takes joint decisions, but Satu-Mari is mainly in charge of the building project and interior design.
The old side of the cottage has furniture passed down through the family and the ambience lent by time, while the extension has a modern look.
”Because Sebastian gets to make the world beautiful with his furniture, this is where I fulfil myself and see my design ideas realised.”
Sebastian is one of the founders of the design agency, Made by Choice, which specialises in wooden furniture. The company's furniture has found a place in the Janssons' cabin. A prototype stool was created here, when Satu-Mari asked Sebastian to design furniture that she could paint.
”Our furniture is based on the same fundamental values as our cabin life. Sustainable choices can be handed down to the next generation,” says Sebastian.
Traditions are also passed down to the next generation. At the shoreline, Edwin is sailing toy boats that Sebastian made from bark. They are similar to those that Edwin's grandfather once made for Sebastian.
Text: Taina Ahtela Photos: Mikko Kaaresmaa
The article was first published in the Avotakka magazine in June 2019.