Herttoniemenranta’s bright, turn-of-the-millennium apartment blocks sit by the sparkling waters of the Baltic sea. They are home to Ilona and Anssi, who were drawn to this locale by their love of the sea. Ilona, Cover Story’s content manager, shares her own interior design story.
At the apartment viewing, I still remember how the sea shimmered brightly through the windows, blinding us when we entered the hallway of our future home. Rarely does the first view of a rental apartment in Helsinki open directly to the sea. Welcome to our home.
The Baltic Sea plays a major role in the atmosphere of our home. The ever-changing seascape is soothing and endlessly interesting. From our sofa, we watch the dinghies, kayaks and cruise ships sailing in the distance. In the winter months we feel for the ice fishermen.Eternally changing with the seasons, the seascape has brought nature into both our daily life and our home. On a foggy day, the mist floating on the water creates a different atmosphere to the piercing sun on a clear summer day. And you can imagine what the landscape looks like now in a Finnish December – dark. I can't think of a more calming place than a weekend morning in our bed, where we lie and gaze at the historic island fortress of Suomenlinna on the distant horizon.
We painted the living room paper white when we moved in. We thought white would be an easy match for green-gray Agatha in the kitchen and warm beige Maya in the bedroom. It took us a year to realize that the white walls in the living room were, well, too white. The space felt somehow dreary, the objects disconnected. One weekend we decided to paint the room with creamy white Sylvia. Admittedly, my workplace might have an effect on our eagerness to paint! The difference compared to paper white is staggering – the atmosphere is now whole, warm, embracing. The sea reflects the rays of the setting sun on the walls in a way that is insanely beautiful.
My childhood friend's grandmother told me long ago that we should cherish beauty. I was in primary school, but I remember that the idea spoke to me. And it still does. At least I think it can be seen in our home. Now it looks like this, in a few years it might look different. I think I'll carry the same Artek furnishings, grandmum's beads, pots and piles of magazines I love all the way to the nursing home. An emotional bond comes with their familiarity.
I like the fact that we've put a lot of effort into our home. Thinking, experimenting, waiting. We have tolerated the unfinished. So now it feels especially good – familiar and ours. The entirety isn't too done, or too haphazard.
We've been experimenting with colors. That world of delicious and trendy colors, where fun shapes and bright shades form a happy unity. Last fall we painted the hallway ceiling turquoise and the kitchen island pink for Christmas. But these fanciful ideas didn't feel like ours in the cold light of real life. I painted the kitchen island back to white one Sunday evening, and the ceiling was given a soft beige finish. I’ll admit that we’ve had enough of painting for a while.
Finding glimpses of your own style brings peace of mind and makes your home a safe haven for everyday life. You feel comfortable when things around you feel like you. We weren't exactly the most relaxed people when surrounded by that many splashes of color, but at least we know that now. Every now and then I look wistfully at pictures of pink fluffy carpets and wonder if our walls will one day be bright yellow.
Still, when I open the front door, the sea reflects the sun’s rays on the linen beige walls, and I sigh with relief. It feels peaceful right now.