Ceilings with dark wood beams, sloping walls and skylights are essential elements of the atmospheric second home of Tiina’s family in Hanko, Finland's southernmost town. The home was renovated in the loft of a house built in the late nineteenth century.
Tiina Gefwert, who works in the interior design industry, with her husband Aksu and their children Leo, 13, and Bea, 11, and Labrador retrievers Olli and Elmo. Their second home is in the loft of a house built in 1874 in Hanko. The home is 160 m2 in area.
IN THE HEART OF HANKO, on the linden tree-lined Bulevardi street, old houses built in the late nineteenth century stand harmoniously side by side. In the summer, they are filled with summertime residents of Hanko. At the end of 2020, a new apartment for the Gefwert family was completed in the loft of a house.
Tiina, you and your husband have renovated a second home in Hanko, in the heart of this atmospheric small town. Where did the idea come from?
“I have to reveal that I made a takeover bid for the loft of the house without any plan, because I fell in love with it so much. I immediately saw its potential, and I made the offer from that standpoint.
In Hanko, it doesn’t help to spend too much time in pondering home sales, as you can miss out on good opportunities. Once the scale of the renovation project became clear, one could of course in hindsight say that I should have considered things for a moment and figured out the need for repairs first. However, the finished home is now worth all the effort, and everything is in order.”
What attracted you to Hanko?
“We used to have island places in Hiittinen and the Tammisaari region, and we spent our summer holidays in the peace of those places. But now I wanted something different.
Hanko was familiar as a town, as I have sailed my whole life and I liked its leisurely atmosphere. It was clear to me that I wanted an old house, even though we have experience in building new detached houses. We were tempted by the idea of living right in the center of town, but in an old house and in the shelter of our own yard. We go everywhere by bike or on foot, and even the beach is only a few minutes away.”
When do you start the villa season?
“Hanko is wonderful in the summer especially, but I love its atmosphere all year round. In the future, we plan to be here always on holidays and weekends. For the summer, we will move here completely and work remotely from Hanko.
As autumn approaches, Hanko becomes quieter and I enjoy even more walks with the dogs on the endlessly long and peaceful sandy beaches. Our Christmas in Hanko was beautiful and atmospheric, and I believe it immediately became a new tradition for us.”
“Hanko is a wonderful town in the summer especially, but I love its atmosphere all year round.”
What was most important to you in beginning the design project?
“I wanted the loft to stay as open as possible. We needed three bedrooms, one for us and two for the kids, and I wanted them on the sides so that the living spaces would be as large as possible.
We added skylights for more natural light. I chose high-quality and timeless materials – I didn’t want to compromise on those. I have worked in the interior design industry for many years, so it was obvious that I would be making all the decisions myself.”
Tell us about the style of your summer home decor.
“I wanted to combine the new and the old, to create layering and contrasts. The kitchen is new, but the rugs around it are old. I picked up the antique mirror and old paintings at an auction to add atmosphere to the large rooms.
For the living room, I bought a large sand-colored couch and several white armchairs to create a relaxed living space. Grohe’s brass faucets, sinks, showers and handles give a finished look. I chose linen and cotton to a large extent, with sand-colored materials in addition to white, and bright shades for the pillows, for example.”
What is your favorite place in your home?
“The whole family likes the living room, where it’s wonderful to spend time on the couch and numerous armchairs. We play games a lot and sit on the floor around the coffee table. The skylights create an intimate atmosphere, and the plush antique rug is enticing to sit on.”
What is your daily life like in Hanko?
“We spend a lot of time outdoors, and we bike and wander along the beaches with our dogs and children. We often go to the store on foot or by bike, as everything is so close here. We have a boat in the harbor, and some days we pack a lunch and head out to sea for the day. The children also have their own inflatable boat, because they got used to travelling by sea on the island. In the evenings we might pop in to the Makasiini restaurant to eat or for a drink. We have a lot of friends in Hanko, and our children also have plenty of company here.”
Get inspired by beautiful summer houses
The Happy Homes: Summer Houses book by Jonna Kivilahti and Krista Keltanen is a richly illustrated exploration of Finnish summer culture. This volume presents a selection of the most beautiful Finnish leisure homes in which Finns spend their lazy summer days, and this lovely second home in Hanko is also included. Published by the Finnish Cozy Publishing, the book is part of the Happy Homes series.
Text: Jonna Kivilahti Images: Krista Keltanen