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


  1. Hello,
    I was wondering why you don't make the outside wall all glass.
    Wouldn't this let in more light and let you see your future garden?
    Is there a reason to keep the bottom half wall?
    Even a pillar between the door and glass wouldn't be too bad.....

    1. Hi Bryan! Thanks for your input. That is a very good point and it actually was our original plan. Yet, it would require a permit from the municipal as it would affect the exterior of our apartment and in our case more importantly: more budget. Both of which we unfortunately don't have. There is also a reason to keep the bottom half: the only radiator in this space. And not only, but as we have now knocked down the walls and created even bigger space the old radiator will not be enough, but we will need to buy a bigger one that will be adequate enough for the extra space.

      Budget wise, looking at the big picture we also want to finish up the underground space and garden, both of which will eat up some important chunks of our budget. I guess the reality of renovation in this scale is that unfortunately you just can't have everything. So to answer to your question: maybe in the future. We'll see.

  2. Wow! It's going to look amazing.
    I actually really liked the big rock. It had something of the Frank Lloyd Wright about it.

    Merry Christmas from London!

    1. Thanks, though its going to be a while until we are there… Regarding the rock. We are going to keep the remaining rock the way it is. Obviously it will need to be vacuumed and washed, but other than that it will stay as it is. The only piece (and a little more) we had to blow away was the piece in the corner prohibiting us from preparing the foundations for the concrete slab. Fingers crossed!

      Merry Christmas to you too from rainy Espoo!