Reportage

The Builders

1 december 2023

They´re all born builders, Ulf and his wife Mia, his sister Birgitta and her three sons Johan, Björn, and Jonas, and Ulf’s lifelong friend Per.

The manor house
Mini house

The small manor house northeast of Linköping dates to around late 1700th century or so. No one really knows. Exteriors of a wing, a storehouse, and a washhouse are fairly well preserved. In those days the wing contained the manor´s kitchen with an open fireplace and ovens. Unfortunately, nothing of the interior is left, says Ulf Lundh, one of the co-owners of Beatelund.

The house itself is of much later origin. A wealthy farmer in the area acquired the estate around 1890. He had the old house in a lovely grove refurbished for is daughter Beata, hence the name. The original cellar still stands with its vaults and walls of one-metre-thick granite blocks. But the house indeed needs renovating. We´ll have to reroof, swap windows, and plaster the façade, says Ulf.

No doubt it will be done. They were all born builders, Ulf and his wife Mia, his sister Birgitta and her three sons Johan, Björn, and Jonas, and Ulf’s lifelong friend Per. Before moving into Beatelund in Rystad, not far from their paternal granddad´s birthplace, Ulf and his sister lived with their families in Gistad where they restored an old courthouse for 15 years. This is what they do. We found it nice and financially favourable, says Ulf, and we decided to go on living with each other.

Today, he and his wife Mia reside on the ground floor of the manor house. His nephew Björn has a flat above, his sister Birgitta is happy in the wing, her youngest son Jonas is thriving in a small house on the premise, and her biggest boy Johan shares a newly built semi-detached house with Ulf´s close friend Per. To make things less complicated, they all have Kvänum kitchens. No wonder, as Ulf and his companion Michael Anderlund own the Kvänum show room in Linköping.

The wing - Dalby Mandel
The wing

The twin house on the grass lawn by the road is the manor’s latest project. I´ve always chosen to live in old houses, says Ulf. I love them. This time, I wished to build a new one the old way, and preferably with recycled materials. He knew of a timber framework from 1850, like a secrete, measuring an area of 9x13,5 square metres and a hight of 3,5 metres. For 30 years it was kept under roof by a timber firm.

It sure was a project with impediments, both legally and financially. In the end, persistence wins. Now and then, at least. It took some time, years in fact, but there it is, an almost austere house, like a Carolean soldier, with a folded tin mansard roof, a raw bricked party wall, and open floor plans. New yet aged with a little wing on each side. The bricks were recycled from an old house in town. The carefully renovated cast iron radiators have castle locks and visible copper pipes.

The exterior is modelled on old rural workers homes from the 18th century, says Ulf. We wanted a varied but somewhat uniform style. With a traditional timber framework, we decided on a classic crawl space with lightweight expanded clay aggregate blocks in double layers for isolation, as easy as a pie, and a dehumidifier to keep it dry. The floor is 40 millimetres spruce boards sawed from top to toe and nailed into a pine beam of 140x180 millimetres. Are you going to park a tank in the house, the supplier asked.

For isolation we´ve relied on nature-based methods like clay daubing, says Ulf. Instead of glass fibre we´ve used wood fibre. Panel of façade is pine, laths and knot boards are spruce. We´ve spent a fortune on hand forged nails, he laughs. Most floors are spruce, except for entrance and laundry where we laid limestone.

Per went all-in on Real Classic; Dalby Almond in the kitchen; Ekeby Rock in the laundry; Dalby Sand in the bathroom; Broby Ax in the hall, and Dalby Soft Grey in the Library. Johan is younger and more into Contemporary. His kitchen is Liljencrantz Amber, bath is Brahe Amber, and both laundry and bedroom are Mellby Ash Grey, elegant and rustic, refined and simple, all accompanied by modern design like the chair Bruno by Mats Theselius, already a minor classic in honour of prominent Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson.

The twin house - Liljencrantz Amber
The twin house
The twin house - Mellby Storm
The twin house - Brahe Amber

To top it all off, they managed to erect a mini house in the meantime as Jonas decided to move back to the manor. The interior offers a charming and practical compact living. His kitchen is Trolle Forest Green. For the record, we should also mention the other participants in this Kvänum rally. Mia and Ulf have a Sundby Pearl Green kitchen in the manor house and Björn above has a Broby Studio Green. Birgitta designed and decorated her own out in the wing. She was once employed by Kvänum. The kitchen is in fact her grad work finalising an internal course 16 years ago, and it still looks brand new.

As developer and builder, Ulf had the overall responsibility for the project. He did most of the drawing, trying to the best of his ability to fulfil desires for fireplaces, stairs, bear caverns, and cinemas. Not always an easy task. But the tenants seem satisfied. They all did their fair share, and apparently had good fun. Per found a supplier of doors and windows and proved to be a master with the saw. Johan is the electrician with an eye for details and design. Jonas is the expert on casting a foundation. Both he and Björn handled the heavy framework, and Björn cleaned the bricks, heaps of bricks brought to the building site by Grålle, their iconic Ferguson TE20, the missing link between horse and tractor. And, finally, Birgitta and Mia; without them nothing would have worked out.

Mini house - Trolle Skog
Mini house - Trolle Skog
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