Swedish Language Blog

The little red houses you see everywhere Posted by on Jul 21, 2010 in Culture

My cousins were visiting me and my family in Sweden for a couple of weeks and just went back to Australia yesterday. My cousins are 12 and 14 years old so we could go on some shorter road trips with them while they were here. In Västerbotten, the county that I live in in the northern province the houses follow a certain model. My cousins quickly asked about all the red houses that they saw all over. Why were they all red?

Most of the houses are completely red except for the white gables. That’s because of the special paint called Falu red or Falun red that was first created and used in Falun in the copper mines in Dalarna. It is well known for its use on wooden cottages and barns. This paint is now used out of tradition but mostly because of its effectiveness in preserving wood.

The earliest signs of the use of Falu red are the 16th century and during the 17th century the paint started to fill an additional purpose. The copper color was suppose to imitate the brick buildings which were more common in the south of Sweden as well as Stockholm and Gothenburg. In the northern parts of Sweden wood was the dominating building material instead of brick, therefor making it hard to have the brick decor and wood at the same time.

In the middle of the 19th century after governmental dislike of the red color people started painting their houses in different colors, mostly light ones like whitish yellow or completely white. Out in the countryside it is still popular today to have the traditional red buildings.


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  1. Minty:

    Where I have been in Sweden (Dalarna breifly, mostly Västerås) there are hundreds of little and huge red buildings. I call them all barns! Coming from Australia that is what they all look like to me. When I see films and TV shows in my life barns have always had the wooden and red look with white trim, and the houses would be the tall triangular rooved things with black tiles.

    When I call them barns my boyfriend and his Dad get all defensive on me 😛 Also, I called the Castle here in Västerås more like a ‘mansion’ than a real castle, and once again they got all defensive and started explaining how good it was at defending the city and when it was made and that it reallly is a castle lol.

    Yesterday I went to Parkenzoo in Eskilstuna, and I saw a dog house…in wood and copper red, with a little white roof! So cute haha!

    Don’t forget to check out my blog (just click above on my name) 😀

  2. Kenia:

    oh i like that combination of brick red and white for countryside houses, it has a nice contrast with both the green of the trees in summer and the white snow in winter. Now I wonder, does everyone eventually move to a countryside house? Is that the swedish lifestyle? I mean, when you’re young you live in an appartment in the city or so, but after you’ve had kids and you’re in your fourties, it seems “it’s time” to move to a countryside house. At least, that’s the conclusion i draw from my little knowledge of the swedish society and the swedish families i’m in touch with. Is it so, Katja?

  3. Camilla:

    @Kenia: it is true that a lot of people move to houses when they have kids, but in my generation (born in the 80s – 80-talister) we still like to live rather close to the centre of cities. However my friends that is born i the 70s (70-talister) often move away hile they have kids, far away to a smaller town.

  4. jefferson faudan:

    i have my house painted with red and white as well… i think it’s warm, cozy and it stands out over houses that are either pale yellow, mint green, white etc…

  5. Lela Nelson:

    I thought they were cleverly painted red or yellow so they could be found easily if caught in a snow storm.

  6. Arthur:

    Thank you for this post. Just solved a bet between my gf and I as we drive through the beautiful Swedish countryside!