Architect Morten Sonnenborg and Helle Harder live in Porcelænshaven in Frederiksberg, but were looking for a small holiday home in Faaborg, where Helle comes from. On Hospitalstræde – a charming narrow cobbled street – stood a tiny, ugly house. Strikingly blue and only 2.5 meters wide, but with an excellent view of the old monastery church and an ancient, protected oak tree. And it provoked something in the architect.

The small townhouse was originally built in 1777, but had been renovated so many times that it had no soul left. First in 1925, when the beautiful original half-timbered walls were replaced with brick. Then again in 1958, when South Funen painter Axel Kyed added a first floor in typical 50s style, and finally in 1986, where an 80s hallway was built with a large overhang to the back building, which was fitted out as a bathroom. 

Aesthetic sustainability

The townhouse has been renovated based on a principle of aesthetic sustainability, and a vision of recycling quality materials as much as possible.

“The house had become an ugly duckling over the years, and our task has been to bring simplicity, calm and a decent spatial order into the narrow house, to create a home with a focus on the tactile and a homely minimalism,” says Morten Sonnenborg.

The clay brick wall behind the stairs had been hidden behind old plasterboard, but has come to glory and dignity again. It helps tell the story of the house, because the old fired bricks are mixed with yellow bricks stolen from the monastery, which was 50 metres away from the house when it was built in 1777. The roof structure, from 1777 and 1958, has been exposed, with each part telling the story of its time. In the kitchen – behind the old bench – there is a view of the half-timber next-door wall, and the wall of the loft is the outer wall of Faaborg’s old synagogue.

The renovation took three years, which meant there was ample time to find the right recycled materials – used coal-fired clay tiles have replaced the fibre cement sheets on the roof, the stairway to the loft is from 1921 and was found on a farm in Djursland, the brass door handle was originally in Nørre Broby Church, and the dining table is made from the floor of an old gymnasium.

The hallway to the back building had severe rot and had to be rebuilt, with skylights and folding doors out to the tiny 5-square-metre courtyard. The courtyard was previously in a sad state, with old decking boards and garbage bins. Now it is a small green oasis paved with reused, yellow floor tiles, left over after Helligåndskirken in Faaborg was renovated.

The architect’s love of form

The kitchen is also second-hand. Morten and Helle spent a long time looking for a black uno form kitchen, to match the black staircase and the original black door to the entrance hall. The depth was also important, as it had to fit into the niche, where the wall is 14 cm out of alignment from one side of the room to the other!

They found the kitchen in Køge, where a family was using it as a sideboard, with wall and base units with drawers. Helle’s family previously had a sawmill at Nørre Broby,

and the plinth is made of wood from there. Part of the worktop is the original Corian worktop, and the rest is made of recycled tiles, creating a rustic contrast to the black oak.

The old ceramic sink was found in the classifieds, and Morten has had the ‘Mini cannon’ lamps, designed by Asger Bay Christiansen, on hand for several years. They were left over following a bank renovation, where they no longer matched the style. 

Morten has had a disposition for uno form’s bespoke kitchens ever since he bought his first uno form kitchen – the iconic Classic design. The original 60x60x60 cm cubic shape and the classic slats have always fascinated the architect.

If you ask him why he chose a second-hand kitchen, the answer is clear: It’s already been made, and has a quality that can last forever. I know this from experience from my three other uno form kitchens. 

About this kitchen


Architect Morten Sonnenborg, owner of the aNNeKS design studio, which works with ‘slow architecture’, and Helle Harder.


57 m2 townhouse with 4 m2 loft


Faaborg, Denmark