Love at first sight. The feeling that the house chooses you, instead of the other way around. That it has been there all these years, just waiting for you. Others see flaws and costly interventions. You see the soul and potential of the house.
Suddenly you’re up to your knees in shavings, stumbling over a mummified rat, late deliveries, a house in chaos and far too few hours of sleep. But it’s still the first rose-shaped house love and goal that keeps you going. Soon you will have done more than you have left. And one day, you’ll be able to roll out of bed, walk into your very own kitchen, sip your coffee and look out at your dream come true. Your soul is also in the walls of the house now. This is where your children will grow up and where you will stay…
Many people can probably relate to Lisa and Sebastian’s story. Every house is unique, but maybe their house is a little extra special. Both in terms of its history and the input and output of the new owners. The house, which they fell in love with and have devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to, is an old mission house with a lot of history in the walls. Here people have been married, baptized, had a weaving workshop and a Lucia procession.
– The first time we entered the house was on a sunny afternoon. We both walked around with big smiles and goosebumps on our arms. “All the obvious problems and challenges the house presented were gone,” says Lisa.
– The autumn sun shone through the windows of the church hall. The yellow walls shone and the floor shone in the light,” Sebastian continues.
They had a one-year-old daughter Vally, lived in an apartment and were in a phase of scrolling through house ads. They had bid on another house and didn’t get it, and to be honest they were a bit relieved about it, because that house didn’t feel quite right.
– We had dreamed of an old house with a soul. When we got here, the thoughts of it being too much work changed to it being possible,” says Lisa.
– Although Lisa’s mother cried when she saw all the things that needed to be done,” Sebastian adds with a smile.
They got the house for SEK 500,000.
– Cheaper than buying a plot of land, says Sebastian.
The ideas were many, but in the whirlwind of house love, they still tried to keep calm and strategize wisely. Before buying, they spoke at length with a good friend who was prepared to help with the renovation along with Sebastian, who is a carpenter himself. They decided to plan for a year and wait at least three years before moving in.
The idea was good. But you can change your mind… The first summer was spent in a camper van on the plot, with the neighbor’s water and the own outhouse as a valuable rescue and only four days of vacation. Last summer, just over a year and a half after the purchase, they moved in. At that time, almost everything except the timber frame was renovated and new on the entire ground floor. From basement foundation to floor, insulation, walls and ceilings inside and out, windows, electricity, water and sewage, wallpaper, tiles, kitchen…
Family and friends who wanted to socialize have gone along with the renovation and have been a great help in literally everything. When the largest glulam beam had to go up, nine people were needed.
Despite all the newness, the house still breathes its history. They describe it as “Lisa has a plan for what she wants and Sebastian knows what works”. New ideas and techniques are combined with a sense of the old.
Long before she had any idea that she would end up in a mission house, Lisa had been collecting paintings with religious themes. The altar was removed, but the paintings came in handy and provide a link to the house’s past. The church’s coffee china moved into the new kitchen cabinets. The organ remains and can still be played. A newly purchased but antique wood stove spreads heat from the central place of the old stove. Some of the pews have been saved for villagers to borrow when extra seating is needed somewhere. Two old doors forgotten in the attic shavings became closet doors and their color set the tone for the new hallway walls. The entire downstairs has been given underfloor heating, insulated mainly with wood fibre and the crofting ground has been filled with vulcanized insulating material.
For Sebastian, Lisa and their three-year-old daughter Vally, the pieces have fallen into place with the move to Unbyn. Both Lisa and Sebastian have links to Boden with family members in the area, but previously lived in another municipality and only knew a few people in Unbyn.
– We had no idea what kind of people we would have around us, but we have been incredibly lucky with good neighbors. There is a haulage company with tractors, there is always someone who can provide lifting assistance and we have received great help with snow removal and machinery.
They describe Unbyn as an active village with a positive spirit. The village is close to the municipal border with short commuting distances to both Boden and Luleå. Lisa works as a cook at the school in Avan, five minutes away. Sebastian is interested in mountain biking and celebrates all the great cycling opportunities in the forests around Boden, not least on the centrally located Gruvberget.
– “Since we moved here, the world has become a bit smaller but we still have everything,” they say.
– Dreams are the limits. This is truly a life project. “You have to be a bit of a visionary, and a bit naive,” laughs Lisa, explaining that they will now take it easy.
Now “only” the upstairs remains to be renovated while they live undisturbed downstairs. Lisa can’t wait to start decorating and celebrate her first Christmas in the house. You can have a big party here, with plenty of space to gather. Maybe even your friends’ punk band can play here? And then there was the matter of the garden, eventually …
TEXT: ANNA BERGSTRÖM