Annika Meder-Liikanen, a Finnish interior design influencer and an interior architecture student, worked with Honkarakenne architects to design the Honka Rantama log cabin. The cabin is inspired by the Finnish summer cottages built in the 1970s. It was through her own cabin construction project that Annika learned about the cabin layouts popular in the 1970s and the standardised cabin models characteristic of that time. In this article, we present the era’s three most inspiring cabin design features and principles.
1. The elements of luxury in cabins: closeness to nature, clever use of space and brightness
Annika has dreamed of a cabin of her own ever since she was young, when her family had to give up their summer cottage built in the 1970s. As was typical of the era, the cabin had only the bare necessities. But that was the point: relaxing completely in nature was considered the real luxury. Hallmarks of 1970s cabin architecture include large horizontal windows and the bright spaces they provide, gently sloping gable roofs and carefully designed layouts. These principles also informed the design of the Rantama cottage currently under construction.
My husband and I share the same idea of what cottage life means. It differs from life in the city in terms of amenities, and is a place where nature, lake scenery and enjoying a fire in the fireplace are the most important things. All these elements contribute to relaxation.
It was important to Annika to have an eco-friendly and cost-effective summer cottage. The thickness of the logs was chosen to suit summer use in particular. Annika found the plot of her dreams through a stroke of luck in a sales ad. The large windows of the future summer cottage will overlook the lake Annika loves so well, where she spent her holidays at a friend’s cabin when she was young.
Thanks to the low gable roof and large horizontal windows, it feels like nature is also present inside the Rantama cabin. Rantama is an extremely compact summer cottage where the spirit of the 1970s is combined with a modern finish. This model is a wonderful marriage of industrial production and design.
Head Architect at Honkarakenne
When exploring 1970s cabin architecture, Annika was inspired by the minimalist lamellar-log cabin designed by Heikki and Kaija Siren. It has virtually no walls, only windows. The streamlined and unassuming summer cottage designed by Kristian Gullichsen with its cosy interior also made a strong impression on her. Another favourite was the innovative and playful architecture of the sauna made of fairly thin lamellar logs for the export market, designed by Reima Pietilä for the Brussels World’s Fair.
2. A compact floor plan and large lounge area: a combined living room and kitchen model
Annika read up on standardised cabin models from the period between the 1920s and 1970s and their floor plans with one question in mind: what is the most enduring way of spending time at the summer cottage? Of the several elements Annika was looking for, the 1970s layouts seemed to have the most. It was popular in the 1970s to combine the kitchen with the dining room and living room, and the lounge areas were also made larger. The design of the sleeping areas and other rooms, by contrast, was very compact. Annika’s 57 m2 Rantama cabin features a living room with a fireplace, an open kitchen, two small sleeping areas, a functional covered patio and a pleasant combined sauna and washroom. The cabin is designed for a family of three.
How would I describe Rantama? This summer cottage is luxurious, as it’s soothing and surrounded by nature. It’s also functional, ecological, cost-effective, simple – even plain – and modest too, in a good way.
Honkarakenne’s architects also designed a 77 m2 version of the Rantama cabin, which in addition to the features of the smaller cabin has a toilet, shower and slightly larger rooms.
3. An ode to natural materials and simple furniture
In her interior architecture studies at Aalto University in Helsinki, Annika is particularly keen to learn about design that stands the test of time. She intends to apply this learning to the future cabin also. The summer cottage is mostly made of natural materials: wood, wool, cotton and linen. Annika was especially drawn to logs as a building material due to their long life and sustainability, which is the result of the timber storing carbon. Annika also thought about leaving the beautiful logs without any surface treatment to allow them to patinate over time to suit the atmosphere of the cottage. Time will tell what decision she will make.
I was especially drawn to logs as a building material due to their long life and sustainability, which is the result of the timber storing carbon.
The thinking of the 1970s also influences furniture design. The books that Annika has gone through on the history of Finnish summer cottage life convey an appreciation for furniture that is simple, recycled, and preferably self-made. Cottages are often the places where second-hand furniture accumulated over the years ends up. If there is any leftover timber after the cabin has been completed, it will be used for building a sofa with a pull-out bed, or for kitchen furniture. The storage solutions also reflect the spirit of the cabin and are just like the cabin where Annika spent her childhood summers: drawers under the bed for bags of clothes, shelves only for the necessary kitchen accessories and a chest for entertainment.
Annika is a visually gifted and multi-talented creative spirit with a keen appreciation for everyday moments. She is known for her Vihreä talo (‘Green house’) blog. Read more about the Rantama cottage project on Annika’s blog here in Finnish.
Enjoy the peace of nature in a Honka holiday home
The path to tranquillity is via nature. Our new holiday-home designs bring surrounding scenery indoors. Explore our collection: Honka Tyrsky, Lux, Halla, Rantama and redesigned cabin favourites: Saimi, Aarni, Naava, Loimu and villa-sized Lintukoto.
Made of the best natural materials, Honka log cabins are perfect for the different landscapes and withstand the changing climate from one decade to the next.