Atmosphere matters the most in the home of Elena Palomo

Ceramic artist and Franckly’s content producer Elena Palomo fell in love with the worn plank floors in the two-room rental apartment. They provide a perfect background for ceramics, vintage and good design.

Ceramic artist Elena Palomo
The house is plastered in terracotta, and the old doors are painted bright green. Elena thinks that the color combination is amazing!

Residents:

Elena Palomo, ceramic artist and Content Marketing & PR Specialist at Franckly, Lasse Pietiläinen, producer, musician and student, and their dog, Jim. The home is a two-room apartment in Katajanokka, Helsinki, in a building completed in 1909. Surface area: 58 m2.

Vitra Akari 24N table lamp
Artist Isamu Noguchi is an important source of inspiration for Elena. “I really wanted his Akari 24N lamp. I’ll have it for the rest of my life.” The Matin table lamp is by HAY.

THE EXCEPTIONAL PANDEMIC SPRING and falling in love made ceramic artist Elena Palomo look for a new home. Palomo and her boyfriend ended up in an open house in Katajanokka and felt at home already in the garden-like courtyard of the building.

The feeling only got stronger when they got inside, as the hallway of the two-room apartment opened into a spacious, gallery-like room with a high ceiling and peeling paint.

Ceramic art in the bedroom
The gallery-like spaciousness of the bedroom is important to Elena. On the floor, there are finished and unfinished ceramic works of art made by her. Some of them are already reserved for customers. A Joan Miró art poster from Barcelona adorns the wall above the collection.
The old basked was found at a flea market and the two reeds are from Elena’s childhood home. The artworks on the wall are Elena’s chalk drawings.

How did you end up living in this particular home?
“I was living in a shared apartment on a neighboring street, and Katajanokka as an area was already familiar and dear to me. I and Lasse were looking for our first home together. After a few open houses, our spirits were quite low. It felt like there were no interesting apartments available. Soon we understood what we were really looking for; we were both hoping to find an old apartment that was more or less in original condition yet functional, as in that everything that needed to work would still work. At the time, I didn’t even dare to dream of making ceramics at home but was still hoping to find a space for putting my pieces on display.

This apartment had amazing old plank floors with a perfect, chipped painted surface. Some people couldn’t stand something like that, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world! The atmosphere in the apartment was mysterious yet cozy.”

“One of the things I like the most about our home is that it’s divided into two spaces with different atmospheres.”

What aspect of your home pleases you the most?
“One of the things I like the most about our home is that it’s divided into two spaces with different atmospheres. The bedroom is simple and bright, with a gallery-like feel to it. We don’t want to fill it with objects – with the exception of ceramic sculptures. I like it that when I go to sleep, the room feels peaceful and harmonious and does not provide too much stimulation.

The combined living room and kitchen, on the other hand, has a warm and cozy decor. The space is inviting. One where it’s nice to sit down at the dinner table with friends or lounge on the sofa with a good book.”

Hem Puffy lounge chair, sand leather - stainless steel
The Puffy lounge chair in the living room is the favorite spot in the apartment. The chair, designed by Faye Toogood for Hem, was purchased new for this home. Elena chose leather as the upholstery material so that it would withstand use and gain beautiful patina. In addition to the view of the courtyard through the window, the chair is a great place for admiring the whole home, since there are no interior doors.
Mantis BS1 floor lamp
After a long search, Elena finally found the Mantis BS1 floor lamp by DCW éditions second-hand from Franckly. Its shape has something in common with the patterns in the Joan Miró poster from the 90s hanging above the sofa.
Jim the dog
10-year-old mixed breed Jim used to belong to Elena’s belated grandfather. In the fall of 2021, Jim moved to Finland to live with Elena and Lasse. He is now fully settled and enjoying his new life.
 Maija Heikinheimo Apu 604 side table
Maija Heikinheimo designed the Apu 604 side table for the Finnish brand Asko in the 1930s. It’s one of the latest vintage finds. On the table, there are Elena’s ceramics and favorite books, most of them found second-hand as well.

How have you decorated your home?
“We both brought the few pieces of furniture we had to this home. They just all somehow magically go well together here. Almost all our furniture is vintage. We’ve made carefully considered second-hand purchases as well as discoveries in our parents’ basements – and even on the street. It feels completely different to have dinner in the light of a vintage lamp made in the 1950s than under a new, shiny lamp that’s in keeping with the latest trends. Everything doesn’t have to match, but when the choices are justified, they’ll give you joy for a long time.

The only thing that I got new was the Puffy lounge chair I bought from Finnish Design Shop. The steel frame withstands everyday use and doesn’t get scratched easily. I’m already excited about how the leather surface will gain beautiful patina over the years.”

“Everything doesn’t have to match in the decor, but when the choices are justified, they’ll give you joy for a long time.”

Which shapes and colors do you like best?
“I’m interested in all round, plush and abstract shapes, which is also reflected in my ceramics. I greatly admire the late ceramic artists and sculptors Valentine Schlegel and Barbara Hepworth, whose art combined completely white spaces with different shades of wood. I’m also inspired by Joan Miró’s sharper symbolism and colors.

I’m drawn to all strange and unusual things. I found a burl table for Lasse to serve as a nightstand. It’s so weird that it’s awesome! I love colors, even though I live in a white home. There’s orange, yellow, green and blue on the art and books we own.”

Elena Palomo
Elena works with pre-owned design at Franckly. The bowl is made by her and the coffee cups are by a Barcelona-based ceramic artist.
Domus chair
This painting is the dearest to the couple: Lasse painted it when he was two years old. The couple found the 1950s dining table and the chairs at a flea market soon after moving in. Their latest discovery is the Domus chair designed by Ilmari Tapiovaara, which has the patina that Elena loves so much. The 1950s lamp by Svend Aage Holm-Sørensen is a purchase from a vintage collector.
Alexander Calder inspired stabile
The couple’s love and appreciation for music is also visibile in their home. The second-hand speakers and Marantz’s amplifier from the early 80s are all from Elena’s father. The black Alexander Calder inspired stabile on top of the speaker is bought from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

How is your profession reflected in your home?
“In addition to ceramics, I work with pre-owned design at Franckly. When it comes to interior design, I believe in sustainability, patience and giving things time. It’s better to trust your instincts than to try and get everything that’s new and popular. When you take the time to learn a few easy revamping and restoration tricks, you can give old, shabby objects a new life. Of course, doing things with your hands is also fun and good for you.

When you get interested in the stories and history of the objects, you get attached to them. It helps you see them in a different light and encourages you to take good care of them. Thanks to Franckly, I know even more about different designers and design. It has enriched my life and my interior design style.”

Vitra  Akari 16A pendant
The Vitra’s Akari 16A pendant light was also designed by Isamu Noguchi. Like with many other design elements, Elena fell in love with the pendant’s organic form.
Mantis BS2 Mini wall lamp
The delicate, drawing-like silhouette of the Mantis BS2 Mini wall lamp is pleasing for the eye. The Lapuan Kankurit blanket adds a pop of color to the otherwise white and serene bedroom.
Akari 1AD table lamp
The Akari 1AD table lamp was another great second-hand find from Franckly. The windowsill is filled with little art objects and souvenirs that are dear to Elena and Lasse. The shell vase is made by a ceramic artist Riikka Piippo.
A burl table from a flea market
Elena bought the burl table at a flea market to serve as Lasse’s nightstand. The small mirror is a find from Paris.

If money was no issue, what would you get for your home?
“One day, I’d like to have a studio at home and a sculpture park, something like Laila Pullinen’s Nissbacka. I admire her greatly. We also dream of living abroad, at least temporarily. I’ve lived in Paris and Barcelona, and sometimes I miss the hustle and bustle of a big city. We think fondly of Berlin and Barcelona. Perhaps my love for Spain can be explained by me trying to get back to my roots. I am, after all, half Spanish.”

Get inspired

Hem
Puffy lounge chair
Vitra
Akari 24N lamp
Mattiazzi
Portobello bowl
Franckly
Coffee table
Artek
Domus chair
Franckly
Pro Arte Primo
HAY
Matin table lamp
Franckly
Ceramic bowl

See also:

New arrivals at Franckly >

Text: Mimmi Pentikäinen Images: Anna Riikonen, Tuomas Pajuniemi and Jenna Kiuru

The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 4/2022.

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