Dec 30, 2012

Meanwhile in downstairs

To conclude the year, we would like to share just one more photo with you. A classic example of the saying "A picture is a worth a thousand words." Yes, even if we are proud of what has been achieved behind the Olive Green Window during 2012, there is still much to be done in 2013. And yes, we are so looking forward to it!

Downstairs teaser

We would also like to thank you, our dear readers, and wish you all the best for the New Year of 2013!

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions." 
-Joey Adams

Dec 29, 2012

Final frontier - completed

There is a little room upstairs which has been less spoken of until now. Referring to the floor plan, it is the farthest one of the two small rooms planned to be a combined study and a guest room. The cupboards in this room were already painted at the same time with the rest of the cupboards and floor sanded and lacquered in the very beginning of the renovation project. However, because we have had no urgent need for this room, the old and ugly wall paper has remained in place and it has effectively served as a storage for all the tools, paints and other renovation gear.

Starting point
While we were renovating - the gear graveyard

A few weekends ago the time came, when Pekka started the final battle with the study which was the last room needing work upstairs. After dumping all the renovation junk downstairs he removed the old wallpaper and painted the walls white. Now, after moving in we have noticed an interesting phenomenon: the threshold of starting any renovation related task seems to grow greater by the day, even if the to do list is still quite long. After finally finishing whatever a task in question happens to be, we always wonder how on earth it took so little time even if the time spend procrastinating with it was so enormous.

Rip me off

Anyhow, the study is now painted, furnished and ready for use, so few lines of the end result are in place. On the left wall, we have a vintage String unit with teak finish, which was found through eBay while still living in our previous apartment. When we moved here in September, the String shelf was first placed in the living room on the wall where we now have the Vodder credenza. It fits much better, however, to the study both from functionally and visually. It is quite a large system, and thus for the study we used only part of them leaving the rest of the pieces for other rooms.

The String shelf system is very well known also outside the collector community, but it's story might not be quite as familiar for the many String owners. It was created by Nisse and Kajsa Strinning in 1949 for a competition initiated by Bonnier public libraries. The goal of the competition was to create an assembly and expandable book case. The Strinnings' design won the competition and was exhibited in the H55 exhibition in Helsingborg in 1955, then becoming a huge sales success in 1960's. The shelf system consists of veneer shelfs hung on plastic coated wire ends, and it is still in production in many different colors and materials.

String shelf system and Nesso lamp

The study room also offers a home for three different lamps. The orange Nesso lamp in the picture above was designed by an Italian designer Giancarlo Mattioli for Artemide (1967). In the photo below is the PH Kontrast lamp, which is a base model of the current snowball pendant. The PH Kontrast was originally designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen in 1958-1962 but due to the elaborate details, it cost too much to produce so it was discontinued in 1970's.

PH Kontrast and Sunburst by George Nelson

The chair next to the table is a Bellini chair designed by Mario and Claudio Bellini for Heller USA (1998). This chair was still in development at Atelier Bellini in Milan when Pekka started working there as a designer. We actually have two of them and they belong to the so called 0-series, which is the series following the prototypes in the product development process. Therefore one can see the marks of trial and error of injection molding, which are absent in chairs in later production series.

Bellini chair and PH80 by Poul Henningsen

In the far end of the study two items remain which in the long run do not belong there at all. The first one is a very unpractical and large sliding door, which used to separate the kitchen and the living room, but was removed while renovation. It is yet to be decided whether we are going to use it or not, but until then this massive and ancient door is going to roam from room to room, wherever it happens to bother us the least. The Bubble chair by Eero Aarnio (1968) is waiting for summer, as it will be then place on the upstairs atrium terrace.

The sliding door and a Bubble chair

Dec 25, 2012

Three C's and a floor lamp

In the living room, there are still few more details we'd like to share with you more closely. Thus in today's posting, we'd like to address the ceiling, a couch, a coffee table and a floor lamp.

First, the ceiling. It has actually been quite a controversial topic from the very beginning. It basically divides people in two categories: to those who insist it to be painted white, and those who prefer it unpainted. From the start, we have belonged to the latter category, and thus the ceiling remains unpainted, whereas the red brick walls were painted white. Together, the wooden ceiling and white brick walls create a very inviting, natural, and Scandinavian look.

The view from the front door

Most of our furniture and lights are vintage, more specifically from the 1950's. The couch, however, is new, as couches from 1950's are small in size and not very well acclaimed for their coziness. In addition, we wanted the couch to be visually light but still somehow match the 1950's style prominent in the apartment. Therefore, we turned our eye on the Italian maestro Piero Lissoni, known for great couch design over the years. 

The sofa in question, called Toot, is manufactured by Italian company Cassina (2009) and fullfills all our preset criteria. It is also a great platform for a bunch of Kilim pillows (another obsession from the past). Naturally, the pillow colors were chosen to round up the color palette of the home.

Long enough for a lengthy dog?

Next, in front of the Toot sofa is a coffee table from another maestro, Danish modernist Hans J. Wegner. The table in our living room is called AT10 and it is manufactured by Andreas Tuck (1955). It is made of solid teak and has an underlying shelf made with woven cane. Wegner is considered one of the most influential furniture designer of the 20th century, thus being a synonym for the mid century Danish design. Over the years, he has designed over 500 different chairs with many different wood types and styles. The carpet under the table is from Artek.

Solid teak top with a raised edge

Behind the Toot sofa is a curtain made of wooden sticks. This is something which was originally prepared for our previous place to separate the foyer and the living room. When we moved in, it was delighting to notice the wooden curtain fits perfectly on the big windows without any major modifications. The large windows are beautiful and give character to the apartment, but the downside becomes noticeable during the winter: although the apartment is generally quite warm, the windows tend to radiate cold when the temperature drops below the freezing point. 

Wooden curtain

In the far end of the couch is Pekka's favorite piece of lighting, a floor lamp manufactured by company called Hiemstra Evolux from Amsterdam. The floor lamp is a real Dutch vintage design classic (1955), with a typical late fifties color scheme. It is not quite sure who is the original designer, but it is thought to be attributed to Leo Rutjens. The floor lamp provides both direct (downwards) and indirect (upwards) light. It is another one of those items which just all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere...

Hiemstra Evolux

And guess who loves the Toot sofa most of all? In Urho's opinion, the couch and the Kilim pillows are a perfect match to accommodate his needs, which basically revolve around relaxing, sleeping and just general procrastination. 

Don't mind modeling at all...

Dec 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A while back we did a photo shoot for our Christmas card, and the photo below was one of the "not so successful" shots, yet catching brilliantly so many things about children, sausage dogs, family life, Christmas, photo shoots etc. 

Christmas - the happiest time of the year? (photo by Irmeli Kumpula)


In the early June Baby Sofi was born
Thus was the little Urho torn
“Has she really arrived to stay forever?”
“I will not share my treats, not ever!”

In September we moved in to our new home
Took out hammer and nails and paintbrush and more
Received lots of help from relatives and friends
They were priceless tying up many loose ends

Little by little most things got done
Life after repairs has already begun 
Our sauna is lovely, keeps us all warm
No matter if it hails, rains or storms

Here are the two of us, Urho and Sofi
Getting along rather happy and cozy
We are looking forward for Christmas to come
Candle light, elf-magic and chocolate crumbs 

Christmas is time for children and smiles
Reindeer and Santa and white snowy piles 
We are wishing you happiness, love and laughter
And invite you to visit us after!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year of 2013!

...and for our FINNISH readers - suomalaisille lukijoille:


Marskin päivänä syntyi Muuppa taloon
Ja siitäkös nostikin Mäykki haloon
“Aikooko tuo muka tänne jäädä?”
“Eihän se edes kannata päätä!”

Syksy kun saapui, löytyi koti jo uusi
Pian pensselit heilui ja sirkkeli huusi
Remppaan avuksi joutuivat Mummo ja Jaska
Hioivat kaappeja, hoitivat lasta

Hiljalleen valmistui meidän talo
Syttyy jo vessaankin kirkas valo
Kiva on omassa saunassa kylpeä
Lauteilla jötköttää Mäykkikin ylpeä

Tässä me ollaan, Mäykki ja Muuppa
Niittykallioon meitä moikkaamaan tuuppa
Innolla odotamme joulun aikaa
Kynttilän valoa, tonttujen taikaa 

Jouluna meinataan rennosti olla
Leikitään matolla sovinnolla 
Toivotaan jouluun lasten mölyä
Iloa, rauhaa ja tähtipölyä!

Iloista Joulua ja Onnea Uudelle Vuodelle 2013!

Dec 19, 2012

Arne Vodder

If you have been following this blog you are likely to be interested in mid century modern design. If so, you might have heard of Arne Vodder. If not, here is an opportunity to learn!

Arne Vodder was one of the most influential Scandicavian mid-century designers. He was first a student and then a business partner of the famous Finn Juhl (surely you have heard of him? If not - shame on you!), and is most appreciated for his beautiful sideboards designed in the 1950 - 1960's and manufactured by Sibast furniture.

In the history of design, a chair has often times been the center of attention, but in 1950's the focus drifted more towards sideboards, also known as credenzas. This is the period when many famous designers created their own version of this piece of furniture, and Vodder's creations are amongst the most well known and wanted ones. His designs are carefully detailed and free of sharp edges, and usually made of teak or rosewood.

And guess what? Our path just happened to collide with one of these! Being an active scout for antique, Pekka spotted one in a Finnish auction house, and naturally couldn't resist the temptation.

Vodder high board

Measuring 182 x 113 x 50 this credenza is considered a high board (vs. low board). The integrated drawer handles create a famous curved pattern known to Vodder's design.  It is made of rosewood, more particularly palisander. It was designed in the late 1950's and this particular piece was manufactured by Sibast furniture in 1966 (as stated in the sticker inside).

String of drawers
The famous curved handle
Manufacturer's label
Amazing quality of craftsmanship - a velvet lining for jewelry
No sharp edges

And what is the Vodder high board used in our home? Well, located next to the dinner table it offers an ideal storage space for glasses, wines and spirits. So if you can only get past the scary watch dog, you are more than welcome to come and enjoy a drink (or two) with us!

Guarding duties

Dec 17, 2012

Kukko, Kana and a Scone

It probably does not come as a surprise that mirrors are not the only obsession in this family. A few more "must-haves" are the Drillsnäppa plates, mid century modern Swedish ceramics designed by Lisa Larson and manufactured by Gustavsberg 1966. The two Drillsnäppas we have are similar, just different in color. In everyday language, we call them "Kukko (the Rooster)" and "Kana (the Chicken)". In addition to these, there are a few more of Larson's ceramic pieces laying around the apartment, still waiting to be placed on the wall.

Kukko and Kana

Larson's ceramics are lighted by a scone called Zodiac designed by French designer Jaques Biny and manufactured by Lita in 1955. What is special for this particular scone is that it has a magnifying glass lens inside the metal barreled body, through which the light is emitted allowing the light to spread on a larger area.

At this point, there are several electric sockets for light still unused in our ceiling. The plan is to efficiently utilize the HDP-model to find some more Biny's scones for these sockets and use them to highlight a selected areas in the living room. Therefore, the search is actively ongoing on several internet auction sites...

Missing a scone

Earlier we mentioned Urho's favorite place, the Basement. Well, here it is. It is amazing how four stinky, worn-out blankets full of dog hair can make someone so happy. The other day, Pekka's mother was here to take care of the baby while we were out. During the day, she had been wondering where Urho keeps disappearing for long periods of time. Of course, she did not know about the Basement. And Urho did not care to share. Being the King of the Basement, Urho defines the rules: sorry, but it is dogs only!

Showing a lot - usually it is just a tip of a tail or a fraction of a paw

Dec 15, 2012

Christmas surprises

In Minna's family, the kids used to have a Christmas calendar Santa's little helpers brought surprises every night. It might have been some candy, socks, candles, or anything. Sometimes it was just a little note telling where you need to look, or a string attached you needed to follow to find the days surprise. As all kids enjoy a treasure hunt and treats, we wanted to start a similar tradition of our own, and make a calendar starting from Baby Sofi's first Christmas.

So, let's make a calendar! The wooden drawers were found from Ikea and the numbers from Tiimari (-50% off). The wooden drawers were treated with wood oil. Minna applied the first layer with a rag, which was very slow, and Pekka suggested that she would use a paint brush instead. So the next day Minna picked up a paint brush she thought was perfect for the job.

In the evening Pekka asked if it had been any easier to apply the oil with the brush. Yes it was, but according to Minna it was a little tricky as there always seemed to be a bit too much oil in the brush. The project, however, was finished and the calendar looked great.

How many nights to Christmas?
A bit later Pekka spotted the paint brush in question and started to laugh. It was a fine brush, yes - just maybe six sizes too big for the task! Minna's thinking had been that with a large brush, it will be faster to finish the project as more surface can be covered with one sweep. This logic, however, only goes to show she still has a thing or two to learn about painting!

Dec 6, 2012

The HDP Model

Have you ever heard of the HDP Model? If not, the abbreviation stands for HUNT - DETECT - PURCHASE, which is a very useful model if you are obsessing about antiques. It does not matter what is the object for obsession (as it changes constantly) the HDP works for all of it.

The model works in three stages:
  1. HUNT
In the HUNT stage, one screens various global sources, made possible by the internet. Some of the items can be found quite easily, but in the more difficult cases it makes sense to browse sources on a country where a particular item was originally designed and manufactured. The goal of the HUNT stage is to find a few options of a desired item.

In the DETECT stage, some options have been identified and communication with a seller begins. Endless number of emails are required to dig out more details of a given product, as well as bargaining the price. The goal of the DETECT stage is to select the item which has the price - value ratio.

Finally, one moves to the PURCHASE stage. The price has been already agreed (or won, if it is an auction). One of the essential parts of this stage is organizing the transport. This can be quite tricky sometimes, and if you are not careful also quite expensive.

One example of this model is Pekka's recent obsession to wooden mirrors made by Swedish company Luxus. Luxus was founded in 1950's by Uno Kristiansson. Their products, consisting of home and interior lamps, furniture and mirrors, were designed by two brothers Uno and Östen Kristiansson.

Luxus produced several different kind of mirrors, but the obsessed one was the so called knife edge rounded mirror. These stunning mid century mirrors exists in several different dimensions, and naturally we happen to have two of them, 45 cm made out of teak and 70 cm made out of oak. One can not help but admire their amazing quality and the level of detailed finish typical to mid century Scandinavian style.

Larger 70 dm mirror in oak
The famous knife edge of the mirror rim
Smaller 45 dm mirror in teak with a surrounding leather belt

The back stage of these photography sessions have of course a supervisor - Urho. The only thing he can't figure out is the positioning of the mirrors - why on earth have they been placed up so high, such a waste if you are an especially short legged little dog!

"In my opinion, it is just way too high!"

Dec 3, 2012

Corner from the 1950's

Let's take a peak in the south end corner of the living room. There are three items to introduce, all made in 1950's. The first is a pair of Triennale teak easy chairs designed by Carl-Gustav Hiort af Ornäs. These chairs, made under licence by Gösta Westerberg Möbel AB Sweden, were launched at the Finnish pavillion at the 1957 Milano Triennale. Ours were found in a Finnish auction house, and at the time of purchase, we had no idea what they were, just liked how they looked. 

Two Triennales
Leather string armrests
Back view
The second item is an LTR (Low Table Rod) designed by Charles and Ray Eames and made by Herman Miller, originally introduced in 1950's. This small table is extremely versatile, as it can be moved around wherever needed, and even stacked (if you would happen own many of them) when its services are not needed. Currently in our home, it serves as a base table for a medium size ficus.

The third item is an AJ Floor Lamp designed by Arne Jacobsen and manufactured by Louis Poulsen. It was one of the many items designed for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen 1957. Like so many other things in our home, the AJ Floor Lamp was also purchased from a Danish auction house and it arrived while we were renovating our previous apartment a few years back.

AJ Floor Lamp
When it starts to get cold in the winter, during the day (and night) you tend to see less and less of Urho. He loves spending time in his own "basement", which is basically just a suspicious looking pile of four blankets. When he does come out, he expects to be feed, scratched and given treats. Oh, what a life!

Could I please now have my Dentastix?
Oh and we almost forgot! Thank you Pia for the very clear and useful instructions concerning the Latest Comments -gadget!

Dec 2, 2012

Welcome kitchen!

This past week was a big week for us, as the kitchen took a major leap forward and is now 97% ready! The water comes and goes and the fridge, freezer and dishwasher have been installed. Most of the pots and pans have found their place in the cupboards. After living without a proper kitchen for a while, one can really, really appreciate having one! 

Kitchen overview

In this blog post, we would like to share with you some of our favorite details from our kitchen. The first one with a story is the 265 wall lamp designed by Paolo Rizzato for Italian company Flos in 1973. It is a light with ridiculous proportions (e.g. two meter stem), especially considering Pekka originally purchased it while we were still living in our previous apartment. Given the proportion mismatch between our old apartment and the wall lamp, it ended up unused and in a box in the downstairs basement. Now, it works very well in the kitchen moving easily with the cook. 

Tynell & Nelson

Above the Artek table which we use as a breakfast table is a vintage Paavo Tynell brass pendant light produced by Taito Oy in 1948. On the wall behind it, we have placed a Spindle clock desgined by George Nelson for Howard Miller company in 1947. The clocks were discontinued in 1980's at the rise of the postmodern era, but were picked up by Swiss company Vitra again in 1990's. This particular clock in our kitchen is a newer, Vitra production. 

Faucet's shadow

Like the kitchen counter top, also the sink is made of white Corian. The faucet is from Axor-series designed by Antonio Citterio for Hansgrohe. We chose the stainless steel instead of a chromed version to match the faucet with the household appliances. In the top right corner, an observant reader can see one of the missing percentages (vs. 100% completed kitchen).  

Inlet #1

As the philosophy of the kitchen design was modernism / minimalism, there was a great need to get rid of all the electric cords and sockets. Therefore, stainless steel inlet used for office desktop was installed next to the induction cooktop. Another one, which flips up and down covering some more sockets is located in the window end of the counter top.  

Inlet #2

So, if you happen to be in the neighborhood we would like to welcome you for a cup of coffee! As we were introducing some of our favorite kitchen details, the 9090 espresso coffee maker by Richard Sapper for Alessi is definitely one of those. Being such a central part of our daily lives, this post could not be finished without introducing this little item getting us going in the morning.

Fancy a cup of espresso?

Nov 30, 2012

How about some snow?

Yes, we have some progress to report from the kitchen, but before that one much more acute topic must be addressed. That is, depending on the perspective, the white blessing or enemy - snow. Both of us have lived most of our adult lives in an apartment building, so this morning we were hit by the fact that it is up to us (and not a janitor) to get rid of the white barrier preventing access to our front door! Our daughter tends to take a long nap in the morning, so the very first thing to do was to shovel a small path on the balcony for the baby carriage. Clearly, the balcony needs a bit more effort before one can call it clean!

Perfect weather for a nap
It took Minna and Urho 2.5 sweaty hours to get the front porch and the driveway relatively clean. A few important lessons were learned in the process. First, gear up properly, a small snow shovel just won't work, and thin gloves get wet and cold in a split second. Second, use the garage if you have one!

Let it snow!
Urho likes snow, but in much small quantities and not in combination with wind. He came to check out the process a few times, but preferred to stay inside rather than explore the snowy surroundings. He is eagerly looking forward to receiving his new orange winter jacket, and promised to post a more proper winter pose in his new look upon its arrival!

Not enough clearance (maavara) for a short legged dog

Nov 25, 2012

Sauna tiles gone white

As we have told before, having a sauna is just fantastic! Like every other Finn tends to do, we have also adopted the Saturday Night Sauna tradition. But even if the haptic sauna experience feels great, one can not say the same about the visual one. With this, of course, we refer to the colorful tiles behind the sauna stove.

Tiles unpainted 
So, as we do have some experience on tile painting already, it was a relatively easy improvement to make. Tikkurila Kivitex silicate paint was the appropriate choice when painting a surface which gets exposed to heat. It seems that have learned our lesson when it comes to applying the RIGHT paint to a RIGHT surface!

Painting in process
By painting the tiles white, the color palette of the sauna now follows the white - black - wood code we have chosen for the other parts of the apartment. The wood surfaces in sauna are in pretty good condition despite of their old age, so all they needed was a proper wash.

Wood and white
The wall is now ready, and the sauna stove has again been moved back in place. However, one can make a curious observation from the picture below: wonder if there is anything missing? To make painting easier, we also removed a protective plate attached to the ceiling. When trying to lift it back, it accidentally broke into pieces. Since the plate, very likely, is as old as the apartment, it is very likely it has been made of asbestos. In which case we are really not that sad needing to invest in a new, safer protective plate.  

Something missing?