An old summer cottage built in 1926 has been turned into a home for the Lynggaard family. Water and trees surround the house on the East coast of the Danish island of Zealand, creating a small haven bathed in natural light.
Photography BIRGITTA DREJER Text MARLENE TOLDBOD JAKOBSEN / The Horse Rider’s Journal No.6
The first thing that hits you when you walk into the hall of the Lynggaard family home is the stunning light streaming from the windows in the living room. The view is breathtaking: The Øresund Ocean as far as the eye can see and a vague outline of Sweden on the horizon.
“I have become addicted to the light,” says jewellery designer Charlotte Lynggaard. She and her husband Michel Normann first saw the house 17 years ago, when it was still a small summer cottage called the Tea Rose House, owned by an old Swedish actress. “There were many people bidding on the house,”Charlotte remembers, “but I think the old lady saw some of herself in us and found us very romantic, and that’s why we got it.”
Charlotte and Michel first met as teenagers in school, dated, broke up and went their separate ways, until their paths crossed again many years later. By then they were in their twenties, and the couple discovered that they were meant to be together. Buying the Tea Rose House would be the first time they would live together, and they moved in on their wedding night.
Since then, the house has undergone a huge transformation. First of all, four more family members have joined the household: Julius, now 12 years old, Laura, 14, Sofia, 16, and Zeus the dog, aged five. “For the first few winters I was always pregnant,” Charlotte says, “walking around with a big belly in a snowsuit, trying to keep a fire going to keep warm, because there was no central heating in the house.” After several years of babies and cold winters, the Lynggaard family moved to Paris for three years, living in a rented apartment and calling their landlord whenever some-thing had to be fixed. “We could barely change a light bulb when we came back to the house,” Charlotte laughs. Coming back from Paris was when the real renovating began, marking the beginning of the house as we see it today.
The entire kitchen with a basement below is an addition to the original building. The kitchen is bathed in light from windows placed all around the room. Along one side, the kitchen elements are covered by dark-wooded tree and on the wall new built-in cupboards are filled with glass and crockery in all shapes and sizes. A big white fireplace keeps the room warm, and in the middle of the kitchen area are two dining room tables, ensuring that there is always room for company and big parties. A new larder keeps autumn favourites cool: Chestnuts, plums, apples and freshly baked muffins, while on the side of the fridge hangs a small gallery of family pictures, birthday invites and children’s drawings. One of Charlotte’s own paintings adorns the end wall. “I have always painted,” she says, “and I’ve been taking courses in both drawing and painting for many years. Now I do paintings for our stores, and every once in a while for the house. It really relaxes me, and usually when I get going in the kitchen, the kids join me.”
Both Charlotte and her husband Michel work at the same company, Charlotte as a designer and Michel as the CCO. It’s a real family business – her father set it up half a decade ago and her brother is the CEO. The company, Ole Lynggaard Jewellery, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this coming year. For 25 of those years, Charlotte has been a part of it. “Some days, when I need some peace and quiet, I work from home,” she says. “I get absorbed by the light and the silence, and feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere.”
It’s a home decorated with contrasts; it has touches of Japanese minimalism and yet is romantic; classic pieces of design such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair are mixed with vintage furniture and raw materials like marble and dark wood, but also with floral fabrics. The colours are whites, browns, greys, black and a hint of blue.
“Our home has to have a certain kind of calm. Not too much clutter or colour,” Charlotte explains. “If something comes in, something else has to go out. So every once in a while, I tour the house with a garbage bag, which pretty much causes the whole family to have a nervous breakdown,” she laughs. “I also love changing and rearranging things. I find it comes naturally, as we are always changing as human beings and as a family. But also it’s probably an occupational habit. My husband says that whenever he sees a certain distant look in my eye, he knows a decorating project is about to emerge.”
Charlotte and Michel have designed many of the things here themselves, such as one of the couches and the coffee table in the living room, and they have reupholstered several vintage chairs too.
“Sometimes it would be easier if we were just happy to go to Ikea and pick something out, like so many other people,” Charlotte says, looking around the beautiful living room. The floors are the original ones from 1926, and like the rest of the house, it’s a perfect balance between minimalistic simplicity and a cosy atmosphere.
The master bedroom is on the first floor. Walking up the stairs, there are a bunch of straw hats hanging on the walls. These are Charlotte’s collector’s items, some inherited from her grandmothers, others brought home from travels. Once you’ve reached the top of the stairs, yet again it’s the view from another set of panoramic windows that strikes you. The room almost has a nautical feel to it, with blue and white colours, built-in wardrobes and a bed set into an alcove. Charlotte explains that since this part of the house is the original part, she wanted to keep the romantic atmosphere she fell for 17 years ago. The bedroom also has his and hers walk-in closets: hers decorated with delicate silk wallpaper and piled with black stilettos and orange Hermès boxes; his containing dumbbells, a well used armchair and a small TV.
Overall, this house blends in with its surroundings. The outside is dressed with cedar tree, something Charlotte and Michel had sailed in from America, because it wasn’t available locally back when they first needed it. The courtyard is paved with huge rocks and flowerbeds and hydrangea bushes run along a willow fence.
“I plant to make sure something is in flower all year round,” says Charlotte. “I think it’s important to follow the seasons, and we try to live very much like that.”
A wooden deck follows all the way around on the other side of the house. From here, a set of steps runs down the hill, to a small pier, allowing the family to enjoy the ocean in the summertime. All in all, the Lynggaard family lives in sync with the nature surrounding them. “Whenever the weather allows, we are outside. The children love playing in the forest, and as a family we often take long walks together. After a long day of work and school, there’s something very calming about being outside.” •