There has been some curiosity about my accommodations at Svanholm, so I’ll give a tour and provide a little more detail in this post. Svanholm has a variety of living options and where one lives is governed by both one’s preferences and the needs of the community. Families with children get the most space, understandably, although in most cases they still share a house or apartment with others. In my case, I’m housed with the “Børneridderne”, or empty nesters. There are seven of us in our living group, sharing a kitchen, living room, etc. We live in a section of the big manor house (see my previous post for a photo of the exterior of the manor house).
Other community members live above the day care center, in the north and south gate houses, in the forest house, in apartments that have been built in the former stable, or in houses that are located a couple of kilometers away from the main community. The houses, even the remote ones, were all part of the estate that was purchased back in 1978. Since there is more demand for housing close to the heart of the community, those that live in the “colonies” get a bit more private space than the rest of us. The additional space presumably offsets the inconvenience of having to bike over for meals or other gatherings, and to get supplies.
Okay, now for the tour. We’ll start outside at the door I go through. I love the ivy and the roses.
Inside we go up a half flight of stairs. My room is straight ahead.
At this point I want to say something about locks, or rather the lack of them, at Svanholm. As you can see below, there is a key hole in my door — I’ve lifted up the decorative cover so that it’s visible. But while there is a key hole, there is no key. We don’t lock our doors here because there is no need to. It has taken friends that visit a while to get comfortable with the idea, but I have no fear of leaving my computer, my camera, my wallet, etc. unattended. No community member would take anything and outsiders are immediately noted and “screened”.
And, it’s not just our living areas that are unlocked, the same is true of the office, the shared computer room, the big kitchen, the store room, etc. I find the level of trust and respect that this policy embodies refreshing.
Okay, let’s open the door to my room. It’s not a huge room by any means, but I still need to provide two photos so you can see both corners opposite the door. My friend Klara, who was a guest here from Poland in the summer, painted the table and chairs for me. I followed suit and painted the dresser drawers to match.
The furniture, by the way, came from the local recycling station, selected by Karen Marie with whom I work in the kitchen. Karen Marie voluntarily oversees the guests’ accommodations and was able to get table, chairs, dresser, night stand and bed, all for the equivalent of about $40 USD! My neighbor Elisabeth gave me the big plant and I made the curtains from a huge tablecloth I bought at the recycling center for a couple of dollars.
The yellow paint was already on the wall — I think it makes things cheery. And you can see I’m still using an exercise ball; this is one my son Dane gave me for Christmas last year in preparation for my trip. If you look carefully in the photos, you will note that in the old days, one could go from this room into the adjoining ones directly. That is no longer the case.
Curious about the ladder? I have a loft!
I sleep down below, but my daughter Bryn stays up in the loft when she comes to visit.
My neighbor Elisabeth also gave me a television, which I haven’t used yet (not even for the Olympics!), but I get three stations on it. It might have more appeal during the winter…
So, now the views from above looking down, so you get a sense of my high ceiling:
Okay, now a photo of my sleeper sofa before we go back out into the hallway. It took me a couple of months to locate the sofa — I kept going back unsuccessfully to the recycling station and then miraculously someone here at Svanholm put this one in the sharing area! Could the color have been more perfect?
Well, one more photo before we leave, just in case you missed the lamp on my dresser. I am very fond of my harlequin, outrageous as he is. Like his hat? It came with the tequila I used early in the summer for rhubarbaritas.
To get to the rest of my living area, we need to go out to the landing and through another door.
Here’s the entrance hall for our coats and shoes. There is a bathroom straight ahead and the kitchen is through the door down the hall on the right.
This is where we do our laundry, but we shower in a different bathroom. Notice there is no dryer — we hang our clothes here. My experience has been that most are dry within 12 hours and all are dry within 24, even jeans. The only clothes dryer at Svanholm is the one I use for the big kitchen — we go through so many towels, wash rags, and cloths (to cover food) that using a clothesline is impractical.
Here’s the kitchen where I have my breakfast each morning.
As in my room, there are high ceilings, as well as lots of artwork from a previous resident.
Including on the ceiling!
Next to the kitchen is a pantry. Notice the rack for hanging clothes to dry on the right.
I have one shelf in a mini-frig, one shelf for dry goods, and a little space in a freezer compartment. It’s not much, but I don’t need much since most my meals are in the dining hall.
From the pantry, we’ll head down a hallway to the living room.
The living room is terrific, with its wood beams in the ceiling, large windows and parquet floor. The doors you see on the left are to Tom’s room and the guest room (yes, I have room for visitors).
There is storage space above Signe’s and Anne’s rooms, where I have stashed my two big suitcases.
The living room also has a door to the courtyard, which is handy when we have a party.
So, that’s the end of the virtual tour. I hope to have satisfied everyone’s curiosity and that some readers are inspired to come over and experience the real thing. Svanholm is a magical place. It is a community that has come together intentionally in order to be with others and have a smaller impact on the planet. They welcome guests like me from around the world, and provide gracious hospitality and amazing food in exchange for 30 hours of work per week. Four months into my year’s stay, I am grateful every day for the life I am living.