We like the tradition of summer houses, a simple dwelling for the warm season, usually built along cool water or under shady trees. They are particularly popular in Sweden, where the term is called ‘sommarstuga’. We did a little hunting and found an interesting detail common to these dwellings: the color known as ‘Falu rödfärg’, a deep red not unlike the color we see on our American barns. Originating from pigments out of the copper mine at Falun in Dalarna, Swedan, the classic paint uses starch for binding and is considered excellent for preserving wood.
Originally, the color became popular in the 16th century and was painted on modest, wood mansions to imitate the color of brick. The use was in common practice in many parts of Sweden up through the early 19th century. Then the trend faded in favor of lighter colors, like white and soft yellow, as stucco became a more popular finish material. A later serge in popularity among country farm dwellers has kept the color alive and beloved in that part of the world. A popular Finnish expression is ‘punainen tupa ja perunamaa’, which means ‘a red house and a potato field’, which is meant to indicate an idyllic life in a single family home.