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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Text: Mimmi Pentikäinen Images: Anna Riikonen, Tuomas Pajuniemi and Jenna Kiuru
The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 4/2022.