On the market for $416K, this gorgeously restored historic cottage comes complete with a roof traditionally crafted of local seaweed.
The story of this house – and many of the others calling the Danish island of Læsø home – started in the Middle Ages with the island's booming salt industry. To fuel the kilns that refined the island's prodigious supply of salt, the islanders cut down all the trees, which eventually meant that the windswept island could no longer even bear grass. A story we've seen before, to be sure. But not to be thwarted, they began building from driftwood and wood from shipwrecks ... and topping their creations with a thatched roof crafted from the one thing that the island an abundance of: Seaweed. Or more specifically, a marine grass called eelgrass.
I thought it would be hard to beat Iceland's Tellytubby-ready turf houses, but seaweed houses? Sorry, they take the cake. Seaweed is just tremendously sustainable. It is self-renewing, hand harvested, and cured by the sun and wind. It insulates as well as other insulation, is non-toxic, and fireproof. Not to mention lovely to look at.
By the late 18th century there were some 250 of these creatively crafted domiciles – organic in shape and practical in creation. Not only did they display a wonderfully resourceful use of local materials, but the salt-imbued roofs - up to a meter thick with drooping eaves worthy of a mermaid princess – are extraordinarily durable. Many remain that are 300 years old, and could well last another century.
Today, 19 of these original seaweed houses remain – and one of them, the six-room cottage shown here, is for sale! Beautifully restored, the late 18th-century binder's house comes complete with 1076 SF of space, ancient apple trees and proximity to the scenic Wadden Sea and the beach at Bløden Hale. Even the seaweed roof was replaced, using 35 tons of seaweed harvested at a local "seaweed bank," which is growing eelgrass specifically for the purpose of restoring these domestic treasures. Take a look:
The meticulous renovation paid close attention to the house's historic details while adding modern conveniences, like utilities and and two kitchens, as explained (via Google translate) from the real estate site showing the house. "Two kitchens - 'The New' and 'The Old', which is a suite, together form some charming and well-functioning frameworks with fine historical details."
The rest of the rooms are exactly what one would want from a seaweed house on a Danish island near the sea. Bright, clean and open, but with all the wonky charm and historic details allowed to take center stage.
And it can all be yours for US$414,000, which seems like a fair price to pay for a rare historic house ... especially one whose roof won't require replacement for another few centuries.
Note: If you are interested, and you do not presently reside in Denmark or the EU, know that foreigners are allowed to buy property in Denmark ... as long as you make Denmark the "center of your life." I'd say that might be a pretty easy commitment to make, especially if you have a seaweed house to call your own.
For more information, visit Adam Schnack.