Gustavian Interiors- Swedish Tiled Stove From Michael Perlmutter Photography

These beautiful stoves were first designed in Sweden in the 18th century, as a result of an economic crisis that pushed Swedes to come up with a better way of extending the life of their firewood.  It was then that the famous Swedish stove “kakelugn” was born.

Early versions of the tile stove date back to the Middle Ages, however, two clever Swedes created smoke channels beneath the tile, that held the heat for an extended amount of time.  They  introduced vents that controlled the burn speed, giving an additional 24 hours of comfortable radiant warmth. With the heat-retaining cast iron core and long multi channel flues, the kakelugns were able to retain heat, keeping rooms warm up to a whole day after the fire is out.

These antique stoves vary in shape.  They are often seen round, rectangular, or columnar, and positioned in a a corner or against a wall.  Heights range from about 5 feet 10 inches up to 9 and 10 feet tall.

In an article written by Stone Mason, they describe these amazing stoves:

“The period between 1500 and 1800 was known as ‘Europe’s little ice age’. In Sweden, where it was even colder than it is nowadays, it was clear that the constant use of fireplaces from morning till night would eventually lead to the total depletion of the nation’s forests. It was most fortunate, then, that in 1776 Adolf Frederik, the King of Sweden, commissioned Carl Johan Cronstedt to develop a stove that would make better usage of the country’s timber resources.”

“Cronstedt, an Earl, architect, inventor and scientist, was given the tall order of producing a design that would use much less wood while still heating Swedish homes efficiently. An interesting side effect of this commission was that not only was a model developed that accomplished the King’s request, but it turned out to have other unforeseen environmental benefits.”

“Very little smoke is seen coming out of a chimney where these stoves are being used. In the course of the year, a kakelugn regularly used will burn the wood of one medium sized tree”

“One main advantage of the kakelugn is that it burns very hot, typically 1110-1200 C, whereas a standard iron stove burns at around 650-700 C. However, you can safely touch it and feel only warmth”

Stockholms Lans Museum provides us additional information on these stoves:

“The decoration was initially cobalt blue but later extended with yellow, green and brown violet. First with the new colors were Rörstrand factory and from 1758 dominated the all colors. But it was rare for more than three patterns of colors in the same oven.”

“In the mid-1700s it was not unusual for dinnerware pattern was used for The Fireplace tiles. The tiles were decorated with repeating patterns where palm branches, Chinese patterns and blomrankor were common motifs. The designs were painted by hand on each tile, always against a white background. ”

“Gradually began to Swedish architects interested in the design of the stove. The workshops were to start from pattern drawings made by Swedish architects rather than making use of foreign models. Fireplace Manufacturing became a domestic crafts.”

“These fine stoves occurred only in castles, mansions and wealthy burgher.  But even in these environments were those in the representative areas, the easier rooms put you in the cheaper and plain tile usually green or yellow.”