The first thing you notice when you travel in Sweden is that the
countryside is dotted with little red houses. The Swedish idyll is
a little red cabin in the woods by a lake. And why red, you might
In the 17th century, red paint was a symbol of wealth. In cities, wooden houses were
painted red when the king came to visit. In the countryside as well, wealthy people
painted their houses red. The color quite simply stands out in the landscape, shouts
“Notice me! I’m rich!” Red paint became a true status symbol.
Then one day around 1700, people working at the Falun copper mine discovered that
they could make a very inexpensive red paint from the waste products of copper
production. Suddenly the status symbol was affordable to everyone. And the genuine
irony of the whole story is that Falun red paint was not only cheaper, but also made
the wood more weather-resistant, so it was also better than the red paint the original
aristocracy had used!