One of the fishermen’s houses is lived in by Lis and Jesper. Jesper grew up in Kerteminde, and Lis nearby, in the small town of Ullerslev. For 32 years, the couple lived in a classic single-family house outside Copenhagen, but Lis could not see herself growing old in a suburb, and therefore started looking for a home on Zealand where they could live an active senior life with time to sail and travel.
But time and again, Jesper rejected the houses she found. Until one day, while going to their holiday home on Funen, Lis randomly saw a property ad for one of the small fishermen’s houses with a plot running straight down to the Kerteminde Fjord. There was an open house viewing that same day, and Lis and Jesper made a bid for the house right there and then.
They were handed the keys to the small 119-square-metre fisherman’s house in July 2021, and in May 2022 started an extensive renovation of the property with only the outer wall facing Fiskergade and the gables remaining of the original 1887 house.
Together with a local architect, the couple went through several proposals before agreeing on a final interior design plan. Originally, there was a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor,
but this was dropped because, as Lis says: “We’re going to grow old here, so we’ve arranged the house with the entrance hall, guest bathroom, kitchen, living room, utility room, bedroom and bathroom all on the ground floor. In this way, it’s not a big deal if we can’t make it up to the living room on the first floor.” It required building permission to make the back of the building one metre wider – bringing the floor area up to 125 square metres.
From the outset, Lis and Jesper had decided on a wooden bespoke kitchen – in a type of wood that would match their existing cherry wood furniture and stained oak dining table made by a local carpenter many years ago for Lis’s parents.
At uno form’s Copenhagen flagship showroom, they met with interior designer Mathilde Melander, who matched them perfectly.
She recommended a bespoke walnut kitchen, which patinates to a beautiful golden hue matching Lis and Jesper’s furniture. The walnut wood is beautifully set off by the travertine worktops and fixtures in burnished brass and brushed copper.
The same colours and materials are used in the utility room and wardrobe, where the white doors hide beautiful drawers in solid walnut.
The task was to strike an aesthetic balance between maintaining lightness in the small fisherman’s house while optimising the space for storage. So the kitchen is fitted with beautiful display cabinets for wineglasses and tableware, with spacious drawers and high cabinets. The extra high drawers in the Copenhagen collection have an internal height of 34 cm, which means that even tall items can be stored standing up.
In the utility room, the washing machine is installed behind a door, creating an elegant solution which resembles a piece of furniture in the open layout – and in the bedroom, the different heights under the sloping ceiling have been used to create extra storage space.
A door leads out of the bathroom into the backyard, and Jesper loves being able to take a dip in the winter from his own beach.
Just outside the bathroom, he has had an outdoor shower installed which has hot running water all year.
All the structures on the site had to be preserved, so the small shed down by the inlet – which in the old days was a pigsty – has now become Jesper’s winery, where he can pursue his passion for making champagne cider and wine.
Just behind the winery, Jesper has created a shelter for the local eider ducks, and on the new jetty, it is possible to enjoy life on the inlet and everything it has to offer.
On the small sandbank – Melen – at the mouth of Kerteminde Fjord, Jesper collected oysters for New Year, and flounder are currently in season. The next project is to consult with the local fishermen on how best to use the new shrimp traps.
The couple has not once regretted returning home to Funen and buying the small fisherman’s house by the fjord. “We’ve felt welcome from the moment we arrived, and everyone talks to each other.” But living here is very time-consuming,” says Lis, laughing.
Lis and Jesper Lau
A tiny fisherman's house in Denmark