Today, I’m excited to be taking you on a journey to Finland and the beautiful island of Rääntiö (try pronouncing that one?) in the stunning Eastern Gulf of Finland. Rather than tell the story of the island and this charming cabin myself, here’s the owner Riikka to tell the fascinating tale herself! So, friends, pull up a seat and enjoy the tour, I hope you’ll feel as inspired as I am!
Can you describe Rääntiö island?
Rääntio is quite a small island, with nine cottages altogether, the island is less than 1 km long. We own maybe 25% of the island with our properties on the north, east and south side of the island – so, we have nice paths to go for a little walk or picnic on other side.
How do you get to the island?
We have our own boat and it takes only 5-10 minutes from the mainland. The sea is normally frozen from January to March / April so then we arrive via ATV (form of quad bike) or snowmobile.
How did you find the property?
Our cabin life started in August 2011 when we saw the island for the first time. We had heard that this place was for sale and even though we had decided that we would definitely never buy a cabin (as we had just built a house), and especially not on an island – Rääntio captured our hearts instantly! Maybe it was destiny that we came here, the feeling was so strong. We spent our first weekend here with our three sons three weeks later!
Can you tell us more about your cabins?
We bought Pohjoisranta (meaning ‘North shore’) twelve years ago. I just fell in love with the island! It’s the first cabin we renovated and it’s become our second home and our happy place. It was so nice to see how an old cottage received new life and to create some new spaces as our kids grew bigger. We have since bought two more cottages including Eteläranta (meaning ‘south shore’) and and Itäranta (east shore). They were lonely, sad and forgotten when we found them, and we have loved renovating them to give them a new lease of life. Itäranta is available to rent via Airbnb.
It would be wonderful to hear more about your main family cabin ‘Pohjoisranta’ – which all these pictures are from. Did it require a lot of attention?
At first the cabin was very little – around 30 sqm / 322 fsq, but it was big enough for us at the time. The following summer we renovated the existing cabin and then after a few years, as our sons grew older, we built an extension with a second kitchen and a glass terrace to create more space – and for when friends come to visit. The cabin now has 5 sleep alcoves and two separate living spaces. We also have a guest cottage. These days we have really great weekends or holidays with our grown up sons and many friends!
Note the stick which has been used as an impromptu kitchen roll holder, love that!
What facilities do you have at the cabin?
We have an electrical (burning) toilet inside cabin for dark or stormy winter nights but mostly we use the bio toilet outside – here it feels important to live as environmentally friendly as possible.
Do you have running water?
We have a well, so in the warm season (around the end of April to end of November) we have normal running water (including warm water and a dishwasher in the kitchen and a washing machine). We have cold water in the sauna and toilet. During the winter when it’s minus degrees, we carry the water from the well and do the dishes by hand.
Are your decor choices also influenced by sustainability?
We have many recycled or reused items in the cabin – and we’ve also made many items by hand. That’s our way to save nature and I hope also to have somehow a timeless, personal touch which hold special memories from past years with loved family members.
What is one of your favourite things about the cabin interior?
I think one of the best things is the functionality. For example, we have only tiny sleeping places / alcoves, which saves space for living areas which gives the possibility to gather more people. It’s great to have two separate living spaces – one in the old part of the cabin, and one in the new as this allows for privacy and flexibility. My husband and I like to wake up at 6am when our sons surely want to sleep!
Would you say the furniture is functional, too?
I like to ensure the furniture is functional. For example I have 3 similar tables which I move around and change according to the time of year, In summer they are in the glass terrace but in winter I move 1-2 tables inside. Some benches serve as storage etc.
The glassed-in terrace adds a large living space in summertime. Note the tables which can be combined to create a larger one, or divided up according to what is required.
I have heard that there are more saunas than cars in Finland! Do you have one on the island?
We have a traditional Finnish sauna in a separate little cottage by the water, 71 steps down from the main cabin. We use the stove in the sauna to heat the water in order to wash – we have no separate bathroom or shower. The traditional sauna is so relaxing – heating it up is a calming ritual and then just lying on the benches in a the dark, warm sauna, listening to the sound of the burning wood. During the winter it’s very dark, and the only light comes from the sauna stove and maybe some lanterns.
What is daily life like at the cabin when you are there?
Cabin life is very peaceful (when we don’t have a project going on!). We follow nature and birds and listen to the wind and waves. We enjoy a a simple life, often starting the day by making a fire on which to boil our coffee, then heating the sauna, swimming in the sea in all weather and seasons or taking short boat cruises around the archipelago.
Thank you so much for sharing an insight into your life in the beautiful Eastern Gulf of Finland Riikka, it sounds truly idyllic. I think I might just be booking my family into your Airbnb very soon!
See more snapshots of daily life on Rääntiö island and Riikka’s lovely cottages over at @raantio_suomenlahti and book a week or weekend stay in Itäranta here. Perhaps I’ll see you there?
In the meantime, would you like to see a few other rural Finnish homes? Here are a few I often dream about:
An idyllic Finnish summer cabin on the water’s edge
Ilkka’s charming rural retreat
A magical rustic farmhouse in Finland
Have a fabulous start to the week!
Photography courtesy of @raantio_suomenlahti, shared with kind permission.