A few years ago, entrepreneur Kirsikka Simberg would have imagined herself living in a dark and moody “fixer-upper” apartment with a 70s vibe. Or perhaps a stone house that evoked her carefree days in inner-city Töölö. Instead, we find her at ease in the morning light of her white and airy 1960s house in by the canal.
Like the nature surrounding it, love for this home has grown over time. From the entrance hall, large horizontal windows open up to the forest behind the house. Soon the buds will unfurl into greenery, while the light filters across the white walls and soft brown timber flooring of the spacious downstairs. For stylist Kirsikka Simberg, the light and airy atmosphere is a form of bliss she hadn’t seen coming. Her husband had fallen in love with the building on his first visit, but Kirsikka, well into pregnancy, had never envisaged a family home like this.
"We were a bit forced to move. We had a baby on the way and then another baby pretty quickly and our inner-city apartment became too small. Back then we still had a boat and often drove through the canal, thinking we could look for a home here," says Kirsikka.
"I said I hated it. I couldn't see the potential that my husband saw. I had imagined us renovating a shabby house, not a big white house," she says.
However, after a moment of contemplation and a second visit, Kirsikka also saw potential in the home.
"People often repeat that 'you'll know when the right one comes along'. I think it can be misleading if you expect big emotions right away. If you're not a professional, or really skilled, you may not see the potential right away,” says Kirsikka. “Like in music, often, the best songs are the ones that I don't like at first, but that I grow to love."
Big and expensive choices make me nervous. In a stylist’s job, the decisions are small, I can choose things that make up nice ensembles. A 130 square meter home is a different story.
The color palette throughout the home is a beautiful and balanced collection of neutral tones, wood and vibrant natural materials. The overlapping tones make the whole interior and the intersections between different textures soft and timeless.
"I'm a very slow decorator. Home is somehow too close. Also, big and expensive choices make me nervous. In a stylist’s job, the decisions are small, I can choose things that make up nice ensembles. A 130 square meter home is a different story," says Kirsikka.
Yet while the task may have seemed daunting, you’d never guess it from the result. Colors come alive in the textiles, flowers and art hanging on the walls, while glassware and ceramic vases add cheerful splashes of vibrancy that seem artfully random. The soft, plush carpet feels comfortable underfoot, and the large sofa nestles in just right. A solid pine Vaarnii chair lives in harmony with an old, leather-upholstered Artek armchair and Martino Gamper Circus bench.
There is also an explanation for the white of the walls: the white interior seems almost to continue past the window and out of the house, as the shade is the same on the brick of the balcony.
"I'm a minimalist and maximalist at the same time and I love things, small objects and art. I hate junk. But it's a love-hate relationship – I pack things in and out of the basement every now and then," Kirsikka admits.
Even though the energy of the home wasn't what Kirsikka had in mind, she’s fallen in love with the airiness and lightness. The home’s interior has matured over time and evolves as family life unfolds around it. The horizontal windows make the living room feel larger than its square footage and, life on two floors suits the mum of two toddlers.
“With two small children, it works really well to have the kids and their toys upstairs, and downstairs you can continue adult life. I love that sometimes it's possible to live in a home where not all areas are dominated by children," she says.
In this home, the morning sun shines on the outside staircase while large balconies allow its occupants to enjoy the sun on summer evenings like this. Light comes from all directions, including a skylight above the stairwell.
On the wall opposite the living room window is a large two-meter-long mirror. The idea was that it would reflect nature into the space like a second window. Interior architect Hanni Koroma helped Kirsikka with her big interior design choices, for example, advising her to choose a long, but narrow dining table for the kitchen to keep the proportions right. There is also an explanation for the white of the walls: the white interior seems almost to continue past the window and out of the house, as the shade is the same on the brick of the balcony. The sense of space is enhanced, light flows in seamlessly. The outcome is so cohesive that you don't notice it until it's pointed out.
Even if the house wasn't quite the fixer-upper Kirsikka imagined, built in 1965, it has the spirit of the times and the charm of an old house that she loves.
"Hanni was able to think about and emphasize the building’s era and highlight it. I find that really charming."
Paired with the white downstairs, the upstairs needed warmth. A warm light linen paint color was chosen for the toddlers’ room. It's a perfect match. The light beige softens the mood of the space, making it calm and anchoring the toys and furniture that occupy it.
In this home, the morning sun shines on the outside staircase while large balconies allow its occupants to enjoy the sun on their skin on on summer evenings like this. Light comes from all directions, including a skylight above the stairwell. The light and the angle at which it enters the home has made an indelible impression on Kirsikka.
“I'm not professional enough as a home buyer to have thought about the angle of the light before. With this home, I just got lucky. But if we were looking for a new home after this one, I would know to check where the light was coming from," says Kirsikka.
Light is like an old garden, she points out. Money just can’t buy you an instant garden with ancient trees and established shrubs. Light is the same thing. You could say that it took her a while, but finally Kirsikka saw the light. And after that, there was no looking back.