Norwegian Accent

A Colorado vacation home recalls Old World Norway.

Modeled after a traditional Norwegian storehouse called a “stabbur,” David and Kristin Robbins’s Colorado cabin is where the couple spends virtually every weekend and holiday. In winter, they and their friends snowshoe and ski. Summer finds them riding and hiking through the surrounding meadows and wooded areas.

Kristin, the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, worked with Aspen architect Harry Teague and Alpine Log Homes to create this 2,360-square-foot home 90 minutes from their primary residence. Although it resembles a stabbur on the outside, it was built for people, not grain and hay. In keeping with its traditional architecture, the home has a center roof peak; it has two stories, with the second overhanging the first, and the first floor is built of handcrafted logs. The one deviation from the Norwegian version is the stairway placed inside rather than outdoors.

David and Kristin had a clear vision of what their mountain home needed: It had to be warm and simple, comfortable and easy-care. “We wanted a log cabin that would blend in with the wilderness and looked like it could have been built by immigrants,” said David, a former park ranger. Alpine’s craftsmen built the home in the Old World tradition, hand peeling and hand notching each log.

The Robbinses wanted their vacation home to accommodate as many as 10 people, plus their skis, poles, backpacks and boots. The traditional “allroom” concept keeps everything tidy and out of the main living areas. This large entry space has lots of storage space, a washer and dryer, a large sink and a bathroom.

Like the stabbur, the cabin uses firewood storage as additional insulation against winter’s cold. The wood is brought in through large double doors at the front of the house and then through an interior door into the allroom. Kristin uses the wood room for cold storage, too, keeping food on hand for her famous smorgasbords.

The Norwegian theme is carried throughout the interior rooms. Everyone gathers in a large common space. “It’s like the old houses where the fireplace, dining table and kitchen were all in one room,” Kristin says. The central gathering space is surrounded by windows, letting in the renowned high-country sunshine and views.

The wood used to make the furniture and flooring is relatively raw, giving it an authentic look. “There is no varnish or urethane,” Kristin says, “only wax.” Wooden immigrant trunks that Kristin collected over the years serve as storage for linens, games, even dry food items. The house has no closets, so the couple uses trunks and chests to store clothing.

In the open kitchen, wooden plate racks and an antique spice box serve as upper cabinets. A plain pine table functions as a center work island. A family friend crafted the wooden chandelier that lights the space. Dishes feature rosemaling, a form of decorative painting, making them as attractive as they are functional.

More about this home was printed in the March 2008 issue of Log Homes Illustrated.

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