View Full Version : A Cabin in the Woods

12-04-04, 20:25
I have been searching the internet for pictures of Finland, just to get a better idea of the landscape. I keep finding these pictures of cabins in the woods. (maybe saunas!) I read somewhere that many Finlanders have cabins in the woods for their recreation.

I began to think about the little cabin that my grandfather built for himself on his farm property. It was built all of wood and sat beside the creek. The cabin was surrounded by trees and one could not see another house or building from its location. Inside the cabin there were simple furnishings: a bed, a table and two chairs and a small wood stove. I never knew why my grandfather built this for himself. Perhaps it was a kind of retreat. Seeing all those pictures of cabins in the woods, I now think he was following a tradition that he remembered from Finland.

June Pelo
12-04-04, 20:34

Most of my relatives in Finland have a little stuga and sauna in the countryside, usually on a lake. They spend most of the summer living there after being "cooped up" at home during the long dark winter. Here's a typical picture of what one can see around the lakes in Finland - the sauna at the left.


12-04-04, 21:57
Hello June:

I am also curious to know about the colour of these stugas. Is there a reason why they are red? All the other photos I've seen also have red cabins.

June Pelo
12-04-04, 23:25

I don't know why buildings were painted red but would guess that perhaps the mineral used to make red paint was easy to obtain. In very olden times the buildings weren't painted at all, and later they began to paint them red with white corners - and some were painted yellow. I think that at one time a red house indicated a wealthy family (or was it a yellow house?) Here is the house where my father's mother was born in Karleby, Finland. It has belonged to the family since the 1600s and has always been painted yellow as far as anyone remembers. My father's father's house was red and most of my relative's houses were painted red. Perhaps someone in Finland will know why those colors were used.


13-04-04, 02:41
I once asked about the red paint on the homes and other buildings in Finland and my Dad told me that it was because the paint was made from either rust or something (perhaps iron?) in the soil. I'll have to ask him again. I know he said it was excellent and inexpensive paint, it preserved the homes and buildings for years, and didn't require a lot of re-painting.

Anybody else know the answer?


Hasse Andtbacka
13-04-04, 07:53
The red painted houses

The pigment was hematite, an iron oxide from Stora Kopparberg's mine in Falun, Sweden; the world's oldest limited company. An owner's letter for Bishop Peter i Västerås is dated June 16th, 1288!

The iron oxide pigment, Falu rödfärg, was a byproduct from the mine; already 1616 it was on the market, but in bigger amounts since 1764. A red painted house was first a sign for a wealthy owner, but in the 19th century common people started using this paint.

I have to admit that our house is painted red with hematite from Italy

Hasse Andtbacka

Kaj Granlund
22-04-04, 23:30
A very simplified explanation is that the red colour at first was rather expensive. Just the rich people in the cities could afford it. Gradually the prices got down and the farmers could afford that colour too. Then the people in the cities didn’t want their houses to look like those in the countryside, so they bought some expensive white colour to paint the corners, and windows. As the farmers could afford some white colour too. There had to be a new change in the cities. They started to paint the whole house with light, expensive paint.
That red and also yellow colour is very easy to paint, and doesn’t destroy the wood.

There were times during 1960 – 1980:s as that red colour was regarded old fashioned. But there has been a change. It fits to the green of the trees, the blue of the lakes gives colour in the snow

Gita Wiklund
24-04-04, 22:09
"According to Swedish legend, it was a billy goat named KDre, who arrived home with his horns covered in red soil, that led to the discovery of the enormous treasure concealed there, in the form of the Great Copper Mountain" read more at:


Gita :)

26-04-04, 19:46
In the 19th century farm houses were painted red, and perhaps some crofters houses as well, but the really poor folk could not afford to paint their houses.

The vicarages and the mansions (herrgård) were yellow. The yellow colour was a sign of wealth when the red colour got cheap enough for "ordinary" folks.

There must have been a domestic source for the red paint here in Finland, because I don't think that the colour would have been so popular during Russian rule if it wou have to have been imported. Besides the name for it in Finland has never been "Falu röd". In Swedish we talk about "rödmylla" and in Finnish it is called "punamulta". Both words translates into "red soil", which it really is.

The Russians liked to paint their houses blue, which was unthinkable in Finland during my childhood. Nowadays different shades of blue are not uncommon in Finnish houses either.