Sigrid Undsets arbeidsværelse på Bjerkebæk.
Photo: Ian Brody

Bjerkebæk is Sigrid Undset’s home and poet’s studio. She lived here with her three children in old timber-clad houses moved from two farms in Gudbrandsdalen.

“I have provisionally got my own house - it is very old fashioned and impractical but I have made the best out of it, invested money into it, without end and to the never ending outrage of practical people, and I cannot describe how much I love it”

Sigrid Undset

Sigrid Undset created a unique home furnished in a traditional and well thought out way. When the oldest house was completed in 1924 she wrote: 

“The new house has turned out so beautifully that you’d have to see it to believe it ...(...) So perfectly in accordance with my own taste that it couldn't be any better".

Around the buildings she laid out a beautiful garden of both utility and beauty.

Sigrid Undset lived at Bjerkebæk from 1919 until her death in 1949, with the exception of the war years when she lived in the USA.

Guided tour of the house

Read more about the history of Bjerkebæk

Welcome inside!

At Bjerkebæk there are some special door handles. They are made of brass and shaped like animals and birds. The door handles are made by the painter Alf Lundeby, who lived in Lillehammer from the end of the 1800s. Sigrid Undset knew Alf Lundeby and other painters from Lillehammer from the time she lived in Rome. These acquaintances were a decisive factor when she chose to move to Lillehammer in 1919.

Dørhåndtak på Bjerkebæk

Dørene i Dalseg er prydet med vakre messinghåndtak. Foto Jan Haug

Inngangsdør til Dalsegg, Bjerkebæk Sigrid Undsets hjem

Foto Jan Haug

The sitting room

The sitting room is situated in the timber-clad house that was moved from Røssum farm in Kvam to Lillehammer by Gunnar Hjorth in 1918. Sigrid Undset moved to the house in 1919, to begin with as a tenant.

In a letter to Nini Roll Anker she wrote: 

“I have filled all the windows sith roses and pelargonias and oleanders and English geraniums and abutilons and stars of Bethlehem and fuchsias – my potted plants have never thrived the way they do here. If only I could stay in Lillehammer!”

Gunnar Hjorth decided to sell the house in the spring of 1921, and Sigrid Undset signed the purchase contract. For the first time in her life she lived in a place she could furnish to her own designs and wishes.

Dagligstua, Bjerkebæk

Sigrid Undset kom til Lillehammer i 1919. Endelig kunne hun innrede sitt eget hjem. Foto Jan Haug

Fra dagligstua på Bjerkebæk Sigrid Undsets hjem

På Bjerkebæk finnes kunst av blant andre Anders C. Svarstad, Alf Lundeby og Kristen Holbø. Foto Jan Haug

The Bedroom

While working on Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset had done a great deal of research atbout the customs and teachings of the Catholic church as it was in Norway before the Reformation in 1536, and gradually she developed a desire to become a member herself. Sigrid Undset converted to Catholicism in 1924. Her bedroom contains the kneeling stool where she used to pray several times a day.

Sigrid Undset had long been interested in Catholicism and had personally witnessed the daily customs of the church among the faithful that she had encountered on her travels in Italy. This had undoubtedly made an impression on her, but her fascination with the Catholic religion can be traced even further back, all the way to her childhood.

From her bedroom we can also look into the children - Anders and Hans’s  - bedroom, and we can see the splendid American bathroom she had fitted when running water was provided in approximately 1930.

Bedeskammel i Sigrid Undsets soverom på Bjerkebæk

Sigrid Undset ble tatt opp som medlem i Den Katolske Kirke i 1924.  Dette er bedestolen i soverommet. Foto Jan Haug

Soverommet. Bjerkebæk Sigrid Undsets hjem

Foto Jan Haug

The Hearth Room

In the hearth room Undset received author colleagues, fellow Catholic believers, and journalists. Here the priests from Hamar celebrated mass, here she invited her artist friends to a party once every Christmas and once every summer, and here the family would show up, dressed in their finest, for holidays and special occasions. But no children dared run into Undset's room uninvited if they had scraped their knees, and the adults wisely kept their distance from the hearth room and the alcove during "work hours". (Source Nan B. Skille) 

Peisestua på Bjerkebæk

Peisestua er innredet helt etter Sigrid Undsets egen personlighet og smak. Foto Jan Haug

Peisestua på Bjerkebæk Sigrid Undsets hjem

Foto Jan Haug

The Alcove

When the house from Dalseg was finished, Sigrid Undset had for the first time a "home office", and her tasks as both mother and artist could be literally integrated under the same roof. "The Master of Hestviken" was the first work that she wrote largely in the peace and quiet of her new workroom, far away form the noise and commotion of the househould help and her children. Here Undset could shift her gaze from the woods and birds outside and look inward, into the human heart, wich "no matter what the era ... never changes." (Source: Nan B. Skille - Inside the Gate)

Sigrid Undsets arbeidsværelse

"Kleven" - Sigrid Undsets arbeidsrom. Foto Jan Haug