This 1900s Converted Swedish Barn Makes Eco-Friendly a Way of Life
You've most likely heard of (and enjoyed) a staycation by now, but have you ever taken a "slowcation"? Since the slow movement hit the pause button on our fast-paced lifestyles, people now want to incorporate the chill trend into their travel experiences too. It's the antithesis of a whirlwind trip: Instead, you wind back the clock, clear your schedule, and relax. This is exactly the sentiment Julia and Carl Lindeborg wanted to create when they opened the Lindeborg's Eco Retreat and Eco Barn in Sweden. "Our goal is also to design a space both inside and out that invites people to let go of stress and inspire creativity," Lindeborg tells MyDomaine.
But creating a stress-free environment was just one of their objectives for the modern farmhouse retreat. The husband and wife team also wanted to create the world's first CO2 negative and sustainable hotel, conference, and retreat, located just one and a half hours from Stockholm. The end result is truly an inspiration and a demonstration farm, both for future-proof technologies and sustainable design.
In the middle of the farm stands the Eco Barn, a 100-year-old structure (originally built in 1907 from the farm's own forest), which has been renovated with the latest in eco-materials and which has (together with the rest of the farm) been made CO2 negative. How? "With the use of a pyrolysis system (a new innovative biochar technology from Germany), we burn wood pellets which becomes biochar," Lindeborg explained. "The biochar is put back into the surrounding field as nutrition, and in this way, we can store carbon dioxide instead of letting it out into the atmosphere."
Step inside this beautiful converted Swedish red barn and experience an eco-friendly space that is truly chic and modern.
So how did Julia and Carl conceive this eco-friendly, carbon-neutral concept? "Seven years ago, we lived just outside of Stockholm on the beautiful island of Resarö, where we just built a house for ourselves," says Lindeborg. "But when we looked into the eyes of our newborn, we began to question what's happening to our world. We wondered, How will the world look when Leopold is about 30 years old? which was the age we were then. The answers we received after a doing extensive research on the topic were not directly positive, and that was when we decided to move to the countryside and create our retreat—a place that would inspire others to make thoughtful choices in favour of the climate and for the children of our future."
Since the barn was built in 1907, there was extensive work required. In fact, half of the barn was renovated, about 2150 square feet altogether. "One can say that we have given life to the old barn that used to be a shed," she says. "The farm's gear and tractors used to be in there. The Eco Barn was designed by White Architects of Sweden and renovated with consistently sustainable and natural materials. We hope to continue the renovation of the other half of the barn in the near future. We would like to include a restaurant kitchen with a cooking studio, a chef's table, more rooms, and a larger conference room."
The couple wanted to create a clean, modern, and natural design, with mostly wood inside and out. "We really wanted to keep as much as possible of the old barn," she says. "Most of the wood was in a very poor condition. However, we could keep some supporting pillars. They add to that barn feeling and stand as a reminder of what the barn used to look like. We like the contrast of the old wood versus the new wood too."
As the interior designer behind the eco barn project, Julia wanted nature and sustainability to come first in all the decision making. This also called for a neutral colour scheme that blended naturally with light wood, the main material in the hotel rooms. "We were so happy to find the natural paint products from the German brand Auro," she says. "We used their black paint in the hotel room kitchen, as well as the red paint on the outside of the barn. Besides being so beautiful, the paint is all organic and plastic-free."
While there is so much to love about this space, their favourite part isn't actually a thing—it's the concept. "The actual potential to use and work with sustainable materials in creating a high-end design and qualitative space is our favourite thing about it," they say.
But most of all, the Lindeborg's are in love with the feeling of being in the Eco Barn. "All the natural materials bring a calmness to the mind," they say. "Looking out over the lake through the big windows is very relaxing and invites broad and creative thinking. Knowing that the Eco Barn is made with 100% consideration to sustainability and to nature brings a peace of mind and feeling of being very much in harmony with nature."
One of the first things the couple did to the property was to take down some trees in the nearby forest. This was done by two working horses to reduce any impact. "The wood was taken to a local sawmill to be cut and then dried," she says. "It took more than a year to receive it back as one of our most fundamental construction materials."
In keeping with the sustainable, low-impact theme, the Lindeborgs made sure all the windows and doors were produced at a local carpentry. "At first it was hard to find fittings that would work well in style," they said. "But once I came across Belgian Dauby with raw metal fittings, the choice was easy."
"Our vision is to create a viable and healthy ecosystem in which life in all forms thrives," says Lindeborg. And who could argue with that?
What's your dream "slowcation"?