1960s architecture meets warm interior decoration in a home that combines old and new seamlessly. Michelle Planting and Thomas Zambra decided to make their home a place where friends and family love to get together.
ALONG A BOULEVARD in Helsinki, the houses are painted in soft colors. Sophisticated details adorn the walls and the light creates patterns on the window panes. The house was built airily, with the light bouncing playfully from wall to wall even in the stairwell.
The light, and reflections from the nearby sea and the leaves of the linden trees waving around outside the large windows were things that caught the eye of sea-loving couple Michelle Planting and Thomas Zambra on their first visit.
The apartment in the house built in 1966 underwent a major renovation by the new residents. Now they’ve been living there for a year and the feeling of novelty has worn off. Their home has settled into a soulful and beautiful state, as if it had been just like that for a long time. Things have found their own places and the home has a beautiful lived-in feel about it.
A variety of materials and surfaces create an inviting atmosphere that is comfortable to be in.
Stories are created by carefully chosen textiles, furniture and the dialogue between works of art. Treasures by Viktor and Tove Jansson have been borrowed from the family’s collections, complemented by new acquisitions. Rough bronze status, rich oil paintings, softly three-dimensional wall rugs, quilted blankets, braided chairs – a variety of materials and surfaces create an inviting atmosphere that is comfortable to be in.
They buy works of art with feeling. Thomas describes himself a more cautious interior decorator than Michelle.
“Art makes an apartment a home. The best way to find out which works go together is by trying them out. Sometimes we rearrange their order, and sometimes a piece will find its place instantly and it feels it’s always been there,” says Thomas.
They were guided by an idea of creating a space that would not be too perfect or too obviously Scandinavian. Michelle and Thomas planned the renovation and layout change together with architect Katie Lockhart. During the pandemic, they visualized and worked on the space in video meetings, through pictures and messages – as Katie was in New Zealand.
The oak skirting boards and cornices running along the ceiling and floor accentuates the clean lines of the 1960s apartment.
Lockhart wanted to highlight the apartment’s spirit of long lines, typical of the 1960s, with oak skirting boards and cornices. The oak transports the eyes from the hallways to the rooms, smoothly from corners to doorways and the furniture, drawing out the shape of the apartment with firm and natural strokes. The fittings designed by Lockhart and skillfully crafted by Hemmabäst carpenter Jaakko Nousiainen are the icing on the cake.
In the renovation, the space was opened to make the kitchen, dining area and living room connected to each other. Now everything seems to be naturally in its proper place.
“When not everything is perfect, you get that homey feeling,” says Michelle.
Michelle Planting, a holistic wellness coach and co-founder of the Bonbon Community, is vocal about the importance of the home on one’s overall wellbeing. Natural materials and colors are soothing, and the correct space solutions invite people to spend time together, and the space also inspires people to experiment more. So it was important for the couple to make their home a place where friends and family can get together and spend time enjoying good food.
Both have to travel abroad for their work, sometimes for longer periods – and this is a place that is always good to come back to. Home is not just a place, it’s a feeling. And it feels even more like home when you have friends around the table and the space is filled with sounds and the smell of food.
Text: Päivi Helander Images: Sameli Rantanen
Featured products may not be available worldwide. This story was originally published in the Asun magazine’s issue 45.