Category Archives: Finland

Helsinki apartment | Egg rolling in Devon

We celebrated Easter today by participating in a typically Devonshire sensible passtime: egg rolling.  You chuck boiled eggs down the hill and chase them with a stick, trying to control your competitive urges so that one of the small children can win. This was followed eating two legs of lamb with token vegetables (not just me, we were a crowd, just so you know). I love meat. Can’t get enough of the stuff. Apologies to vegetarians.

Here’s a beautiful apartment from my native Finland. It’s in Helsinki, and besides from being in Helsinki it scores on all levels of perfection: it’s white, it has wood and it has taxidermy.

via Bolig


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Four Cornered Villa, Virrat, Finland

I want to post my favourite ever house in Finland, it’s the Four Cornered Villa in Virrat, not far from where I grew up. The firm behind this beauty is Avanto architects in Helsinki. A firm that has chosen to call themselves after an ice hole should be just the one to design a lakeside retreat. This is, would you believe it, an off-grid country cabin, what the Finns would classify as a ‘mökki’ or ‘stuga’, because it is used like one and it has all the elements of such weekend/holiday cabin: lakeside sauna, no electricity, and no running water. But it bears no resemblance to the traditional primitive log cabin. I love it. It is shaped like a cross, offering four different views from the four wings, and covered in magnificent glass windows, inviting, luring the outside in even when the temperatures are at a fresh -30C . The house is heated with a couple of wood stoves and relies on good insulation to make it habitable during the winter months. Seen from the lake, the house is completely blended into its surroundings because of the dark paint. Inside, it’s all white wood. It’s heavenly.

And have a look at the sauna. Have you ever seen anything more perfect?

Four Cornered Villa, Virrat, Finland

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In Between

Today was World Book Day and Child 2 and Child 3 went to school dressed as characters from a book. Child 2’s class had an ocean theme, which he loved, as it meant that he could go in wearing the adult sized shark costume he made husband buy from the local party tat shop. We made it to school on time even though I was still customising the shark costume at 7.30am while silently cursing school dressing up/down days, non-uniform days, theme days, sport days, cake sales, summer fairs, class trips and all the other days that require work and/or attendance. Child 3 was a mermaid, she refused the lion, cat and cow costumes which were also on offer, probably because the cut was so unflattering.

Child 1 was at home with me today so we did some work, and had lunch at our favourite pub down at the quayside. We took him out of school in January and he is now home schooled. He has autism, quite severe autism, and learning difficulties, and there are no schools for a boy like him where we live. It was a big decision and it was made with a heavy heart, but we had no choice – his school was failing him and he was anxious, unhappy and frustrated. I have no idea what will happen with his education, if he will ever go to a school that can actually teach him, whether he will learn to talk, or whether he will leave home. We take every day as it comes, right now he is happy and making progress with his learning, and there will always be sunshine after rain.

His namesake Sami Kallio is a Finnish designer and he has designed a chair titled In Between for a Danish furniture brand &tradition. There are obvious references to mid-century classics (Wegner) and I love how it looks hand crafted, thanks to Kallio’s background as a joiner.  There is some clever wizardry going on with veneer: In Between is produced using two classical techniques; compression moulding (making it light and thin, yet strong) and woodturning (a technique that uses a lathe to achieve greater detail). Tradition and innovation come together in this beautiful chair. Remembering where you come from, and knowing where you want to go. Always looking forward while being respectful to the past. Doesn’t this resonate beautifully?

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Who else can I bore about my Artek stool?

I met a friend this evening for a bottle of wine. I met her through mutual friends shortly after settling here in South Devon, and we bonded over our appreciation of sequin disco pants and cashmere (not a luxury, a UTILITY item here in South Devon. If you don’t believe me, come and stand on the beach and tell me if it’s cold or not). I couldn’t resist casually dropping in my recent eBay find, which soooooort of developed into a looong google aided presentation on various Artek chairs through the decades. Luckily my friend gets it. This SHIT MATTERS.

I scored a vintage Artek 60 stool on eBay and when it arrived, I couldn’t believe I had never owned one before. It’s one of the defining designs of my childhood, the ubiquitous stool – literally it was everywhere when I was growing up: schools, libraries, offices, homes. EVERYWHERE. I love this, it’s so not an elite piece of designer furniture, it’s as attached to Finnish butts as the heritage Black Horse polyester long johns.

It is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture I have ever known, and I will be featuring photos of my artek 60 in its various disguises over the next months. Hello old friend, nice to have you back.