At the heart of the trendy Helsinki suburb of Sörnäinen, Oskari and his partner Jere occupy a cosy apartment behind the yellow and white facade of a classic 1900s building. Near to both the sea and the city centre, for these two professionals, their own neat, bright space encapsulates the essence of good living.
The heavy rain in early autumn casts a gray curtain over Helsinki. In a one-bedroom apartment near Sörnäinen, soft jazz plays and a Moka pot spits on the stove. The flame of a candle makes a bright, glowing streak on the dark green wall. Oskari and Jere light small lamps in the corners of the room. There hasn’t been time to buy a ceiling light. Perhaps it’s better like this – the bold colors of the walls envelop their guests in a warm embrace.
"Music, smells, color and light. The atmosphere of a home is a combination of all these elements,” Oskari says. “We often have jazz playing.”
His interior design philosophy is based on layering and timelessness in the home. For Oskari, atmosphere is born from authenticity.
“A home should not look straight out of a catalogue. I want to focus on how the home feels – what material the sofa is made of, what kind of lighting is in the apartment, what I see around me,” he says. “And even though we live on the second floor, you can see the sky from the window. It brings a sense of peace", Jere adds.
I want to focus on how the home feels – what material the sofa is made of, what kind of lighting is in the apartment, what I see around me.
The color palette of this home is evocative – the dark burgundy hallway opens up to an olive green living room/kitchen and a grey-blue bedroom.
"The basic idea was that we wouldn't have any white walls because we have a white ceiling and white plank flooring. We wanted color in our home, a scheme that’s a departure from the traditional Scandinavian color palette.”
As Oskari describes it, they were fascinated by a “go big or go home” philosophy, in the end making their color decisions in ten minutes.
The basic idea was that we wouldn't have any white walls because we have a white ceiling and white plank flooring. We wanted color in our home.
“Although we did model the different shades of green in our PowerPoint", Jere admits, a little sheepishly. “Me being a consultant by profession, we also had an eight-page home PowerPoint.”
The designs started with room-specific moodboards, shades, elements and existing furniture, Oskari explains. In a few months, the apartment became a home and the color plan turned out as good in real life as it looked in the designs.
Between them, the rooms create three distinct moods – a deep burgundy warmly unifies the busy hallway, giving a welcoming glimpse into the large green-hued living room. For the master bedroom, the couple chose a light bluish-green shade with a slightly gray undertone to complement the shades in the other rooms. Red, blue and green bring balance and cohesion.
The couple were confident in their choice of colors, even though this is their first home in which the walls are anything other than painter’s white. The excitement came when the first strokes of dark red paint were rolled on top of the neutral powder tones.
"After using colors so liberally, I could imagine painting the walls black. Now that doesn’t even feel like a stretch," says Oskari.
Museums and galleries have taught Oskari a lot about colors. Visiting museums in different countries, he has come to understand the importance of color in the surrounding space when it comes to bringing out the best in works of art.
"Even at home, the colors on the walls recreate the artworks. In the same way, the colors that surround me are the basis of my mood," says Oskari.
"These colors of ours were from a museum somewhere, chosen from Oskari's camera roll,” Jere adds “Other people are at the museum looking at the works, while Oskari is zooming in on the walls and the skirting boards," he laughs.
Almost all the furniture and art in the home was bought at auctions or flea markets. In Oskari and Jere's home, everything has its own place – there are no floating objects. The order creates atmosphere and gives the space a comforting vibe. What attracts Oskar and Jere to second-hand furnishing is the possibility of surprising themselves – and the layering that waiting creates. Waiting for the right thing is pleasing. Layering comes from time, patience and discovery.
Right now, everything is in its place. The sun is finally peeking through the clouds, painting a bright green stripe on the living room wall.