Red cottages, red paint, rag rugs and the Småland round pole fence. When you drive through Småland, especially on small roads, red cottages with white corners and other white trimmings are iconic — a Småland signature.
The history of the red paint goes back to approximately 850 AD. That’s when they started mining in the Great Copper Mountain)in today’s city of Falun. A few hundred years ago, someone noticed that a wooden pole that had been sitting for years in the mound of rödmull (waste from the copper mine) showed no sign of rot or decay. This was the start for the production of Falu Röd (Falun’s Red), the paint that soon was on almost every house in the country, since it was cheap and could be mixed on site, boiling ”rödmull” and linseed oil with rye flour and water. Since the binder is starch, the paint is permeable to water. Falu red is still widely used in the countryside.
The Småland fence
Along the roads you will see the typical round pole fence — both old and newly done. Beside the stonewalls it is typical to the countryside in Småland. It is normally made from unbarked and unsplit youngish trees, mostly spruce or juniper. Round pole fences have traditionally been used as a means of fencing off animals rather than marking property boundaries.The fence construction generally consists of 3 or 4 parts: uprights put together in pairs, round poles diagonally between the two uprights, and binding cord usually made from young saplings. The fence requires an abundance of wood, which was never a problem in Småland, as the trees generally came from the owners' own forests in the process of thinning them out. Today you can attend courses to learn the art of making Småland fences and it is not unusual with newly made as a signature of Småland.
Wooden ”scrubbing floors”
When you step into an older, preserved Småland cottage you can find soft scrubbing floors patinated of many years scrubbing with natural soap. Scrubbing floors is probably the oldest method of treatment for the protection of wooden floors and it means simplified impregnating the floor surface with soap. An old scrubbing floor creates atmosphere with its raw, nature worn surface. You can see floors like this in many heritage museums.
The Swedish Rag Rug
With the wooden floors comes the rag rug. They have been laid on floors of cottages and manor houses, in kitchens and living rooms all over Sweden for more than 150 years. Rag rugs were woven from the cloth that was available/left over, and weaving skills were passed down from mother to daughter. Earlier, ordinary people in Swedish villages would never throw anything away that could be recycled.This also meant worn clothing and other textiles from households.
By the 1880s rag rugs had become commonplace in every home in Sweden. In winter, rag rugs on the floor would protect from cold drafts. The best thing was if the rugs could be laid side by side with just a little space between. Then cleaning could also be minimised, since you would only scrub the floor parts between the rugs. Rag rugs are very popular even today and often used in modern homes. You can buy old ones at flee markets ”loppis”. Rugs of Sweden is a company that restores old rugs and as well produces new ones. They even have an online shop and ship worldwide.