The Shipmaster’s House


On the island of Lille Kirkeholmen (Little Church Islet), just outside Kargerø, Norway, on the western side of the Oslo Fjord, stands a red and white holiday village. For the family who bought the shipmaster’s house on the quayside, it was the realization of a summer dream.

Summer dreams can vary. Some people prefer isolation, others choose a more sociable form of holiday life. Five minutes by boat from Kragerø, you will find a renovated holiday jewel, where the houses cluster close together, giving an intimacy and charm reminiscent of the south Norwegian towns of Lyngør and Brekkestø.

The family who wanted a waterfront holiday house, found just the thing they were after when they came across the shipmaster’s house standing slightly apart on the edge of the area. From there the residents can choose to join in the social life, or turn their backs on the world, enjoy the view and the natural surroundings, and have the feeling of being quite by themselves.

Lille Kirkeholmen, Kragerø
Lille Kirkeholmen, Kragerø

A low picket fence surrounds the house and a small garden where the family have planted shrubs, flowers and trees. The blossoming vegetation also provides privacy. It can be a good thing to shut the world out with flowers.

The shipmaster’s house offers a total floor space of some 120 m2 over two full floors with dormer windows and a balcony. The ground floor is open plan, with a large living room affording plenty of space for socializing. The long dining-table in the corner offers plenty of opportunity for relaxation. And instead of a lonely exile in the kitchen, the cook can chat to the guests while preparing the next delicious meal.

On rainy days and cold summer evenings, a fire burns in the fireplace which the family designed themselves. Under the slanting ceilings on the first floor, there are three bedrooms and a little summer sitting room that can be turned into a guestroom if need arises. A good height under the ceiling gives a feeling of spaciousness.

From the balcony there is a fantastic view over the archipelago, and there could be no greater holiday happiness than sitting in the morning sunshine eating breakfast “out on the deck”.

Map of Kirkeholmene
Map of Kirkeholmene

The interior has a touch of New England style, with white-painted ceilings and walls, and shining white floorboards. The house is furnished with a few, carefully selected places of furniture and ornaments. The furniture is a mixture of new and old.

Inherited and old pieces of furniture have been refurbished and painted in various shades of blue, from navy to pale turquoise. Benches and beds have been custom made. Chairs and tables switch between an outdoor and indoor existence. When the sun shines, there is little reason to stay inside.

Summer in Kragerø
Summer in Kragerø

A genuine shipmaster’s house obviously has its own boathouse. A small outhouse has been built near the jetty as a storage area for the captain and his crew. And the amount of equipment needed to get the most out of a life on board is not inconsiderable.

Happiness is sitting on the jetty with a gentle southerly breeze riffing your hair, listening to cheerful voices and the screech of seagulls, watching the children play on the shore and in the water, hearing the monotonous dunk-dunk of a fishing boat as it ploughs through the waves.

Summer in Kragerø (oil on canvas) by Edvard Munch (private collection)
Summer in Kragerø (oil on canvas) by Edvard Munch (private collection)

The family enjoys their holiday paradise from the water’s edge. All that is left is for the sun to appear, giving warm summer days and happy summer memories – this year too.

The Shipmaster’s House, written by Tor Kjolberg