A centrepiece warming the soul of Hilltop Forest

Guest article // Tiia and Craig, founders and designers of Hilltop Forest

If a kitchen is the heart of the home, then a fireplace must be the soul.

Hilltop Forest’s private event space: Hilltop House

To build in the middle of the forest is a daunting task, but the dream far outweighed the challenges. Three and a half years ago, the idea of building a retreat deep in the forest was born, it would come alive as Hilltop Forest. Hilltop Forest, located in Inkoo, southern Finland, is a laid-back luxury resort created for the perfect getaway in nature and feeling of genuine seclusion, but with the little luxuries the city offers. Behind Hilltop Forest is Tiia & Craig, a Finnish-Brit couple that think for themselves and the customers, in the colder months, few things are more dreamy than a roaring fire warming the toes while looking out at the untouched Nordic nature.

NunnaUuni Gratia Ceramic at Hilltop House

It turns out, building so remotely leaves many practical challenges that we needed to consider to make the dream a reality. Everything from roads, electricity and water supplies were a part of the build process. With timeless, simple design and sustainability important cornerstones to the build, finding practical solutions that fit these criteria would be important to the final style and functionality of the building. As a Brit, Craig had seen many fireplaces, but had no idea of the number of options available. Before this build, Craig had never heard of a heat-storing fireplace, let alone the technical aspects of the available ones.

Tiia and Craig, founders and designers of Hilltop Forest

Design meets functionality

Stylistically, we knew what we wanted to achieve. Having viewed many of the available options at various showrooms and fairs, it wasn’t a hard choice to opt for our NunnaUuni Gratia Ceramic. Its clean and minimalist lines, large matte tiles in an earthy tone of off-white fit the overall design of Hilltop House, but most strikingly for us the large glass door to watch the fire through.

Importantly for us, overall size became an important consideration. Hilltop House has been designed with a large amount of glass to bring the forest from outside to in. Where the fireplace would feature, there was only a small amount of wall between the windows and at a little over 60cm wide, the Gratia was a perfect fit for the space. With the landscape dramatically falling away, we wanted the views to remain uninterrupted and the roaring fire to complement, not distract.

Most impressively though, for its size and stylish design, it packs a punch. We came to learn that weight was an important factor for a heat storing fireplace. The weight essentially tells you the amount of stone packed inside it to store the heat from the fire to release it slowly over time once the fire has gone out. Weighing over 1000kg, for its size we didn’t find anything else that compared and allows the fireplace to release heat for upto 30 hours after use.

A reliable off-grid heat source was also a practical consideration building so remotely. It can be dark (and a little scary, if we’re honest!) in the middle of the forest during a cold nordic winter. Even the smallest possibility of a power outage, seemed like something worth considering. So when we started to learn about heat-storing fireplaces as an alternative to a wood burning stove, we were quickly sold on the idea.

A good conscience

Sustainability is at the heart of Hilltop Forest and while all our electricity comes from renewable sources, we believe overall there is less impact from our fireplace. With the wood used either coming from our own forest or supporting local entrepreneurs in buying theirs.

In a time of rising energy costs, a powerful heat storing fireplace is easily the most practical investment we made to manage heating costs during the colder months.

Luckily for all the considerations there were, help was on hand. From walking into the showroom of a NunnaUuni partner (Suomen Sisustustakka) we were guided through. We provided drawings of the building and we were able to receive a quote with all the required chimney pieces included, an important detail not to be overlooked. Installation was organised through the same partner which was completed in one day. Overall the customer experience has been fantastic in an otherwise chaotic build process.

Hilltop Forest’s private event space: Hilltop House

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