Dec 23, 2013

And so it is Christmas!

Amazing how time flies, just can't believe it is Christmas again! This year, we are staying home and during the last few days have really enjoyed preparing our home for the festivities. With these few pictures, we would like to wish you all very Merry and Relaxing Christmas!!

Under the tree

Playing nice, of course

Like last year, Sofi and Urho wanted to also send a wish of their own:


Soon it is Christmas, we’d like to say hello
Sofi and Urho, the two tiny fellows
If you have a moment, we’ll happily share
Some past year’s moments, special and dear

Running, not walking, there’s no time to waste
Not without accidents are all races raced
Occasional scratch or a bump in the head
Are quickly forgotten, with ”Sorry!” been said

”Thank you” and ”rooster” are words that I master
Learning new cool things, faster and faster
Drawers and cupboards are filled with some treasures
So emptying them takes only quick measures

Mother and father, they seem a bit strange
Fixing and building, only constant is change
Upstairs is now ready, prized with some oohs
But downstairs you still need a helmet and shoes

Soon it is Christmas, time for Santa and elves
Nutmeg and ginger, all them wonderful smells
For Urho they’re fine, but instead of sweets
It is ham in his mind, it’s for what his heart beats

The Merriest Christmas we are wishing you all
Friends near and afar, both bigger and small
May the New Year be bright and fill dream or two
And bring us a chance to hear from you soon!

…and for our Finnish readers:


Taas vuosi on mennyt, mitä kuuluukaan meille?
Siitä halutaan pikkuisen kertoa teille!
On kumpikin meistä jo isompi vähän,
Hetkeks kiltisti istutaan kuvaan nyt tähän.

Leikeissä alkaa jo vauhtia olla
Joskus vingahtaa Mäykki tai kopsahtaa polla.
Lauletaan lauluja, polskitaan vedessä
tai köllitään yhdessä telkkarin edessä.

Juttu vähän jo luistaa, omaa tahtoa riittää
Mutta pöydästä noustessa osaan jo kiittää
Kengät ja vaatteet mä kaapista kiskon,
Pitkin eteistä kaikki ne ympäri viskon!

Nuo äiti ja isi on hassuja vähän
Remppa yhä vaan jatkuu, ei näy loppua tähän.
Yläkerta on valmis, siellä hyvältä näyttää
Mut alhaalla pitää vielä kypärää käyttää!

Kohta joulu taas koittaa, joka kulmalla tonttu
Ne kovasti kiehtoo, usein auki jää monttu
Joulun herkkuja miettii jo Mäykin mieli,
Siintää silmissä kinkku, lipoo nälkäinen kieli.

Iloista joulua toivotaan täältä
Niittykallion korkean mäen päältä
Rentoa oloa, yhteistä aikaa
Kynttilän loistetta, joulun taikaa!

Pian porojen saattue pukin jo tuo
Ihan jokaisen lapsen ja aikuisen luo
Rauhaa ja riemua kontissaan kantaa
Arjen pieniä ihmeitä lahjaksi antaa!

Wooden ornaments (by Alina Piu)

Dec 9, 2013

The Vision

Project Downstairs has finally reached a critical point. A point where all the demolition is (hopefully) completed and a brand new supporting steel structure is successfully installed and painted with primer. The main beam weighting more than 300 kg, the process was rather slow, but we are convinced it was worth the wait. In this update we would like to share a few thoughts regarding the downstairs aesthetics. Before going into details, let us tell you a bit about a house that has been a great inspiration for us during the process.

It is called La Cañada, designed by architect Jamie Bush and located in Sierra Madre in Los Angeles. If scanning through the images behind the link above please pay attention to the unhidden post & beam structure, open plan layout, color palette, materials and the general atmosphere. We find this simply stunning and we can identify several visual cues we would like to apply also for our apartment.

View to the windows

Just last week we had a meeting with the construction company and as we are now ready to move forward, it is time to define the downstairs aesthetics. In order to communicate our ideas to the construction team, Pekka 3D-modeled the space and made few quick renderings. Please, do not get distracted by any unfinished details as these visualizations are just rough sketches.

Rendering #1

By knocking down the old storage room walls, we generated an open lounge area of approximately 30 m2 in size. The color palette is synchronised with upstairs: white, wood and black accents. The challenge is the lack of natural light. Where upstairs natural light filters in through the huge windows, the downstairs window is relatively small and shadowed by the large overhang of the atrium terrace. Therefore, to maximise the amount of light the old wooden door will be replaced by a glass version.

View to the staircase

Some of the supporting structure will be left visible and to provide contrast, painted black. The floor will be slate with a natural layout, with floor heating added for comfort (currently, the pieces of slate are piled on the backyard). We are still contemplating what should be the color of the blaster between the slate pieces. Also, one of the biggest questions is the type / color of wood of the paneling underneath the indirect lighting. We like teak a lot, but it might just be a little too dark. We'll see.

Rendering #2

Additionally, we remain a bit unsure whether one of the doors should be red or not. Colored doors were actually widely used in MCM architecture, and if you look at the La Cañada shown earlier, it also has some red doors. It would be tempting to spice up the lounge a bit as the rest of the elements, such as stone and wood have a natural origin.

Ever wonder what happened to the circular staircase we found last summer? Currently, disassembled, sand blasted and painted  black, it is patiently waiting for to be installed in our garage.

Circular stariscase-to-be

Dec 8, 2013

Some more Arenas

Remember the Arena tableware by Stig Lindberg we found in a local auction in September? The initial set was quite comprehensive with 34 different pieces, but at the same time it was short of some  essentials, for example tea / coffee cups. Ever since, Pekka has kept his eye open for those missing parts. Eventually he was, of course, successful.

Three cups of Arena

The recent find consisted of three tea cups with saucers and six smaller plates. Actually, the tea cup is the very piece of the Arena collection we originally fell in love with. And not only they are really beautiful, the size is also quite practical and thus the cups can be used for both coffee and tea.

So, as far as tea cups are concerned, three down, nine more to go. And of course some more plates. And perhaps a creamer...

Dec 5, 2013

Man vs. Rock

Lately Pekka has been spending a significant amount of time underground with a single goal: to create a desperately needed storage space. But as always, there is an issue. A massive rock, located inconveniently in the corner blocking a walkway, and prohibiting preparation of the foundation for a steel reinforced concrete floor-to-be.

The issue

But no worries. When there is will, there is a way. So he rented a set of proper tools including a mid size power tool, two drill bits with a diameter of 28 mm, and a secret ingredient.

The solution

And why do you need two drill bits? Quite simple. When one gets stuck in solid rock, the other is needed to liberate the first one. 

This is NOT a setup

It is essential to create a well planned, uniform pattern of holes as their positioning will define how and where the rock breaks. Pekka drilled 10 holes in total, all approximately 40 cm in depth. To drill a single hole took about half an hour of continuous, mind numbling noise and tremor. This means that for about five hours, our dear neighbours had to endure the sound resonating through the rock from one apartment to another. Which makes you wonder - having a neighbour like us, what are enemies needed for anyway?

Part of the hole pattern

And the secret ingredient? Yes - dynamite! Well, not quite, but almost. When real explosives are not an option for understandable reason, an expansive mortar is the way to go. It is a safe option for excavation and demolition work done inside. No vibration, no noise, no flying debris or smoke, but nevertheless - a lot of fun!

The secret ingredient

You start by mixing it with water, then pour it in the holes and wait, and wait, and wait...

Liquid in...

...and after some 15 hours: snap, crackle and pop! It is simply amazing what this stuff can do to solid rock.

Open Sesame!

Finally, these still relatively large pieces of rock were ready to be carried out to the backyard. A while back Pekka was worried for not exercising enough. For some reason, just taking a look at the pile of stones waiting for his attention, the lack of exercise seems no longer a concern.

Our latest rock formation

Nov 28, 2013

Steel work

First, a temporary support structure appeared. Then, a couple of walls were taken down. Finally, a permanent steel structure started to take shape. A giant leap in the downstairs metamorphosis.

Temporary and permanent structures #1

Temporary and permanent structures #2

At this point, everything still looks pretty rough, but we are quite pleased with the progress so far. It is also quite comforting to know that now the supported ceiling is not going to give away unexpectedly, under the weight of the terrace platform. In addition, it is so uplifting to see something being built instead of just destroyed. 

Bolted to the wall

Filled with cement

Urho tends to use every opportunity to visit downstairs and check out his stash in the underground space remains untouched. You never know who might share his interest in rotting bones. Those are, after all, the most precious delicacy he knows (besides DentaStix, of course).

Under careful supervision

Nov 17, 2013

Winter, you may come

It is clear we have been focusing our efforts and energy mostly in projects happening inside the apartment. As the yard does currently not have a very high ranking on our Eisenhower grid measuring urgency and importance, the backyard has been simply a disaster, covered with renovation junk, materials, fallen leaves and mud. So before winter, something needed to be done, desperately. 

Two piles of junk

After Sofi took care of waking all of us up early yesterday, we headed out right away to finish cleaning the yard up - a project which had already been started a week ago. Sofi was excited about raking for long enough time for us to get all the leaves bagged, but soon she headed out to explore a small forest area nearby. Urho, of course, gladly followed. 

Raking leaves

Wheelbarrow ride

As a result, the backyard does by no definition look nice, but it is no longer a war zone. Slate for our floor-to-be is in orderly piles waiting for the time it will be needed. The construction junk and the fallen leaves are gone, the tools next to the door are better organised.  

Slate for backyard terrace floor

Stones saved for landscaping next Spring

You really do not want to see the "before" picture!

View from the window no longer hurts the eye

So, winter may come, we are prepared! But how about Sofi and Urho's exploration? Once again we were reminded how a bit of creativity goes a long way, and the fleeting moments of ultimate joy might reside in the most ordinary places. Who cares about not having the mud pants on and your face getting dirty when you happen to run across a wonderful, muddy puddle? Well, although sharing many other interests, this is where Sofi and Urho are quite the polar opposites. 

The one who kept his distance... 

…and the other who rushed right in!

Oh, and almost forgot! Johanna, remembering your request, these survived - still interested? And when the time comes, it would be great to see the end result of a DIY project you end up using them for!

Made in Argentina

Nov 10, 2013

Another hole in the ground

In almost every conversation with friends, relatives and neighbours, the question is inevitably asked: "So, when is the project downstairs going to be ready?" This, if any, is perhaps one of those "a picture is worth more than a thousand words" -moments. If you take a look below, you understand why it still might be a while.

Steel reinforced concrete to be

Delays are a given. This time, it was an intriguing revelation that one of the spaces made for the supporting steel pillars was missing a foundation, even if it was supposed to be there. So what do you do when something like this happens? Well, you take a little breather, go back to the drawing board, adjust the plan, dig a hole and make a supporting base out of steel reinforced concrete. On this newly made base, you then feel much more comfortable assembling the supporting steel pillars vs. sand, as it used to be before.

If all goes well, perhaps sometimes during next week we will see the pillars raising. If not, we will keep you posted what is the surprise-turned-into-delay this time! And no, we are not discouraged. Quite the contrary. As a dear friend of ours said once: "If it would be easy, it would really not be that much fun!"

Nov 9, 2013

Tribute to Urho

Today is a special day. It is Urho's third birthday. To celebrate (in addition to his extra sausage treat) we thought it would be nice to share some selected tidbits and photos of Urho from the time before Olive Green Window. So here goes.

The idea of Urho had been living in Pekka's head for several years. One time, when he was forced to take a few days off because of fever, he just happened to run across a kennel with a litter to be born in November 2010. He did not reserve one, but "expressed our great interest". And the rest, of course, is history.

Dachshund and a badger - the first day in a new home

Urho was a very lively and extremely friendly puppy, who loved making new friends, both animals and humans. We were always greatly amused by his speed - a lot of things were happening, ears flapping and paws rushing - but the speed was never that great compared to his dog friends. After all, his legs were always three times shorter than the legs of his buddies.

Junior energy

He loved going out for exploratory walks, especially if we were somewhere he could roam free. He would stay behind, then catch up and run past us. But always staying at a relatively close distance (excluding of course a few occasions where temptation was just too great).

Air Force

From the day one, Urho has been a master of taking it easy. One of the funniest photos is undoubtably the one below. Urho was staying over at Minna's brother's place when we were out of town, and quite quickly he had made himself comfortable on the couch. Loving the simple life!

Slumber party with dog buddies (photo by Katri Allinen)

This is also a very common sight. At home, Urho sleeps in the "basement", in other words under a pile of old blankets next to our bed. They grey one he has had from the day we picked him up and brought him home. No wonder it is such an essential part of his daily life.

Napping in the basement

We are so happy to have a family member like Urho. Having him not only commits us in going out for some fresh air every day, but we truly enjoy his quirky and maverick character. We also appreciate the fact that Sofi has a dog friend to grow up with. So happy birthday, Urho! May your years to come be full of unforgettable adventures!

Three years old today

Nov 3, 2013

Sliding door

Little by little, we try to finish up with some upstairs odds and ends.

One of the most prominent missing pieces is a bedroom door. Based on the blueprints of the apartment, the wide doorway is not an original solution, instead there used to be a normal, much narrower doorway, which was then expanded by the previous owner. We very much like the modification, but every now and then there are moments when it would be nice to have some privacy in the bedroom - that is, for example when one of us has to volunteer to host Sofi's 5.30 am breakfast, and the other one would still like to enjoy a few more hours of sleep!

Some of you might remember while renovating the upper floor, Pekka constructed a frame around the opening and painted it black. In terms of the actual door, we have set our mids at a sliding solution, which will add again an interesting detail and be well aligned with the prevailing style of the apartment.

Bedroom doorway frame

Being an industrial designer, in his daily work Pekka conducts product development projects and thus has often access to a wide variety of exotic materials. This time it was no less exceptional than pieces of old composite floor panels of a passenger jet made of aramid fibre.

The door assembly

Aramid fibre, better known as Kevlar (one of the registered trade names) has a staggering weight to strength ratio. Because of this feature, it is used in for example body armours, satellites, jet fighters and yes, now also as a backbone of sliding doors! These one inch thick, composite floor panels have a internal honey comb structure and given its material properties, is very light and maintains its form extremely well. If we had actually had to purchase the panels, the door would have been one of the most expensive residential sliding doors ever!

Honeycomb structure

At the moment, we are still debating the other materials and/or colors of the door. Initial ideas include a variety of choices, including wood, metal and laminate. In our previous apartment, Pekka made a similar door with a wood panel finish, but this time we would prefer something else, as the floors and ceiling are already made of wood here. Therefore, we feel that using colors might add some character to the entity in question.

If you are at least a bit familiar with our style, the source of inspiration for the currently preferred door solution is actually quite obvious: the Case Study House 8, or better know as the Eames house, residing on the beautiful hills of Pacific Palisades. Our leading idea is to finish the door with red laminate combined with a black frame similar to what can be found on the outside walls of the Eames house. What do you think?

Sliding door to be

And...this is where we are at. It is somewhat anticlimactic to end the story here, with a picture of a bare door frame. But given the limited number of "available for renovation" hours in a day, the delivery time of the required materials, and the fact that we refuse to stress about schedules, it will take a few more months before the door will be finalised and is happily in place and sliding. Until then we have an inspiring, industrial-like piece of aramid fibre art decorating our bedroom. Ever wonder how trends are born?

Learning by doing

Elsewhere, other things are sliding. Earlier today, for the first time Sofi discovered she now possesses sufficient physical strength to open the kitchen drawers. And what could be more fun than to start organising immediately. Unfortunately, it will take a few more years before Minna and Sofi have a mutual understanding on the most functional order of Tupperware containers inside (as well as outside) the drawer!

Oct 31, 2013

First time in print!

Quite recently, a Finnish home decor magazine "Avotakka" published a story about an industrial designer and his family collecting MCM pieces and integrating them into their every day life. Sound familiar?

Yes, the Olive Green Window has gone "off line" for the first time ever! We were really pleased and proud to see the finished piece, including the photos, text and overall layout. Thus we would like to take the opportunity to thank Soili Ukkola (the journalist) and Juha Juntto (the photographer), who we had the pleasure to meet and share thoughts about our home. It is always a pleasure to observe professionals doing what they do best!

"Surrounded by icons"

So if you are a Finn, or have access to Avotakka even outside Finland, check it out! It is written in Finnish, but the photos are very nice, even if you can't read the story. And you can always be entertained by trying to find the pictures Urho has managed to sneak into!

Oct 27, 2013

The Royal System

Recently we have talked extensively about the evolution of our dining set. Therefore, we thought it would be appropriate to spend a few more moments in the dining room and close with the last intrinsic item of this area - a wall hang storage unit, the Royal System designed by Poul Cadovius (1911-2011) next to the dining table. We have briefly mentioned this lovely teak-made storage unit before, but given its importance not only for us but also regarding the furniture produced in the MCM era it has simply not received quite enough attention yet.

Royal System by Poul Cadovius

Launched in 1948, the Royal System was one of the world's first ever wall-hung shelving sets. The clever idea that furniture should not take up any floor space was certainly innovative and as stated by Poul Cadovius himself the benefits of this system for the end user were evident: "Most of us live on the bottom of a cube. If we put the walls even with the floor, we get a lot of space to live on."

We have mounted the system up to the living rooms brick wall. This positioning is not a coincidence.  The fact that the system hangs up on the wall creates one of the greatest assembly restrictions. The unit is very heavy and it must be mounted on a wall that can withstand its weight.

Wall attachment 

At the time of its launch, the Royal System was considered ground breaking not only because of the wall-mounted concept, but also due to its other key design driver - modularity. The system consists of stringers, hangers, shelves and cabinets and it can be mounted on the wall in several different combinations and layouts based on owner's preference.

The above mentioned features combined with its teak styling typical for MCM era set ideal grounds for international success. From 1950's to the 1970's this system was perhaps the largest success the Danish furniture industry has ever presented.

Beauty dressed in teak

Originally the Royal System was produced at Poul Cadovius factory in Randers, Denmark and during the peak period of production the process employed up to 300 men. In addition to the Danish factory the wall system was also produced under a license in more than 30 countries.

Attention to detail

Even though the Royal system remains probably the most well known item designed by Cadovius, it is important to remember that during his career Cadovius's work resulted in over 400 patents - the last one at the age of 90, making him certainly one of the most influential players in the golden era of Danish design. We are glad we are able to witness the beauty and functionality of his work every day in a very prominent place of our home.

To close the story, let's move away from furniture and take a peak of a curiosity in the bedroom.  Recently we found a new cover for our bed. According to its function, during the daytime it covers the bed and in the evening it is removed and usually simply dropped on the floor next to the bed.

New bedcover

But consider yourselves warned: when visiting us in the autumn or winter time one needs to be extra careful moving around the house. Thou shall not step on any clothes left on the floor or sit on a pile of pillows on the sofa. Thou shall certainly not be too hasty in picking up the bed cover in the morning as it is very likely a sleepy, warmth-adoring surprise lies underneath...

A snoring surprise