For the architect couple and their six children, the holiday season is a time for candlelight, evergreens, and the aroma of good food. While these elements contribute to the festive atmosphere, what truly matters in creating the holiday spirit is the relaxed togetherness and the art of savoring the moment.
Interior architect Eeva Takkunen and architect Tapani Takkunen live with their six children in a self-built house surrounded by open fields near the city of Oulu, Finland.
Hello Eeva and Tapani! Thank you for letting us take a peek into your preparations for the holiday season. How does the approaching Christmas manifest in your home?
Tapani: “We appreciate the darker season because it allows us to retreat into the peace of our home. As the evenings get darker, we light many candles and sometimes invite friends over for a simple evening get-together. With winter’s arrival, activities tend to naturally reduce, making it lovely to spend even ordinary weekday evenings with loved ones.”
“We appreciate the darker season because it allows us to retreat into the peace of our home.”
Eeva: “Within our family, we cook and bake together. The kitchen is the heart of our home, and we spend a lot of time there as a family. That’s why we recently revamped it to make it even more functional. Tapani is usually the cook in our household, while I enjoy baking. We both love setting the table beautifully together. A well-set table elevates the atmosphere, even if the meal is a quick weekday dinner.
In our home, the Christmas ambiance is built on tiny details, such as lighting, music, or even just the scent of mandarins. Soft textiles, like rugs and throws, bring a cozy and nest-like atmosphere. However, the most crucial aspect is knowing how to calm your mind and relish the tranquility.”
Do you have specific holiday traditions, or do you prefer to create new ones each year?
Tapani: “You can enjoy the holiday season more when you realize that it can be celebrated in your own way. It would be best if people didn’t stress over the preparations but rather welcomed the holidays with enjoyment, doing things they love. We aim to approach the holiday season as something that lifts everyday life and believe that Christmas should be about what you get to do, rather than what you have to do. For instance, Eeva and I enjoy doing our holiday shopping together, and we take pleasure in it. This attitude is something we want to pass on to our children as well.”
Eeva: “Many other holidays often involve going elsewhere, but during Christmas, we want to be at home with our own family and establish our traditions. I often go on a little forest trip, gathering small spruces for decorating our yard and indoor spaces. One essential tradition for the kids is when they hear the rustling downstairs on Christmas Eve as Tapani and I wrap the presents.”
How would you describe your interior style, and how does it reflect in your choice of Christmas decorations?
Tapani: “We believe it all starts with creating an interesting space, and the interior design complements and completes it. In our own home, we’ve used a lot of wood and plaster surfaces, and the foundation itself offers a lot of spatial variation with small nooks and recesses. As an architect, I find home design the most enjoyable because it emphasizes the user’s perspective. I approach the design process very humanly, and that’s why every home turns out to be unique and, most importantly, a reflection of its inhabitants.”
“We believe that playfulness is essential when decorating your home. You can experiment with various things, make mistakes, and then try something else.”
Eeva: “In my work, I’m interested in spaces and the moods and feelings they evoke. I’m very intuitive, and I decorate our home based on emotions and moods. Although we get many visual influences through our work, we seldom consciously decide to buy a specific piece of furniture or an item. I visit flea markets and antique shops a lot and browse through online flea markets. Many items in our home are second-hand design, but we choose them more for the idea and value they carry rather than their fame. Furnishing with second-hand finds creates layers of time in our home. We also believe that playfulness is essential when decorating your home. You can experiment with various things, make mistakes, and then try something else.
We don’t buy many Christmas-specific decorations; instead, we decorate with candles, evergreen branches, and fruits. However, we do get a real Christmas tree every year and hang glass baubles on it. The best moments are when you see the tree first thing in the morning and last thing at night.”
How do you create an unconventional holiday table setting?
Eeva: “In this matter, I am very intuitive, and I let my imagination guide me. I believe the most crucial rule is that there are no rules. For instance, I might pick a Christmas color, like red, but set the table in an unconventional way. Last Christmas, I bought a lot of red tulips that were casually left to hang in a vase. An unconventional table setting can also be achieved with a very minimalist approach, such as a simple tablecloth and dishes that you don’t use on other occasions. I have, for example, made ceramic plates that we use almost exclusively for eating Christmas porridge.”
How can Christmas decorations be refreshed for New Year’s celebrations?
Eeva: “Many people tend to dispose of the Christmas tree right after Christmas, but for us, the tree is part of the holiday and creates a joyful atmosphere even after Christmas. If you want to bring some freshness, you can remove the red ornaments and other Christmas-specific elements. Temporarily moving extra items aside can also add a sense of freshness and variation to New Year’s celebrations. However, I primarily rely on one’s well-being – external settings won’t help if you feel stressed. So, I don’t stress about the big post-Christmas clean-up or spruce needles on the floor; I prefer to peacefully linger in the festive atmosphere after Christmas.”
What are your wishes for this upcoming Christmas?
Eeva: “I recently graduated as an interior architect, and Tapani and I have our own architecture office. Autumn has been a very hectic time for us, so now we hope for time to relax, recharge, and be together. Christmas doesn’t have to be about doing or being busy all the time; it’s more about being and doing what you love. For me, it might mean, for example, skiing in the nearby forests.”
Top 3: Eeva and Tapani’s holiday favorites
- Music: “As a tradition, we visit Oulu Cathedral before Christmas to listen to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, which helps create a wonderful holiday atmosphere. During Christmas, we enjoy calm and peaceful holiday music.”
- Food: “We found a recipe by Hanna Sumari for raspberry and bitter almond cake, which is perfect for the pre-Christmas season. It’s a delightful departure from more traditional spiced cakes. The cake’s dry cake batter contains sour cream and bitter almond oil, and on top, before putting it in the oven, you add raspberries, brown sugar crumble, and almond crumbles.”
- Gift idea: “We both love spending time outdoors and connecting with nature, so we might wish for outdoor gear, like a warm sleeping bag. Quality, long-lasting utility items make excellent gifts, such as a high-quality frying pan, a pocket knife, or a beautiful kitchen knife. We often give homemade gifts, like ceramics or a hand-knitted hat. A food gift, such as jam, chocolate, or homemade bread, would surely delight anyone. We believe that both giving and receiving gifts should be taken lightly and as something enjoyable. After all, the thought behind the gift is what matters most!”
Text: Jenna Kiuru Images: Emilia Koskelo