A 60-sqm, two-bedroom apartment in Käpylä, Helsinki, was converted nicely for five, when the father who got enthusiastic about interior decoration came up with some creative solutions.
Event producer Katri Hyvärinen ja sound engineer Tomi Rajala and Iiris, 12, Seela, 10, ja Hermanni, 5. The family’s two-bedroom apartment is situated in an apartment block in Käpylä, Helsinki, designed in 1939 by architect Hilding Ekelund. The floorspace of the apartment is 60.5 m².
TOMI RAJALA LEARNED a lot about interior decoration as he worked as the sound engineer for the Huvila & Huussi interior decoration TV program.
“I realized that the residents’ attention was always first drawn to a bold detail or color,” says Tomi.
In their home in Käpylä, the eye-catching elements are the wallpaper with green flowers in the living room and the pink wall in the kitchen. The light rose-colored wall in place of the lively wallpaper was beginning to feel too bland to Tomi, especially as the sofa was in the same color palette. As Tomi was wavering between color alternatives, the answer came to him in an Amsterdam art museum.
“The Van Gogh Museum is our favorite. Inspired by the paintings, Tomi started to consider wallpapers and found some fine Van Gogh ones in the hardware store. I made the final choice,” says Katri Hyvärinen.
The family moved to the village-like Käpylä from Alppiharju a decade ago when there were only three of them. This green part of the city is known for its 1920s wooden houses and the apartment buildings built in the late 1930s. There are very few two-bedroom apartments in Käpylä for families with children, and they are sold ‘through the grapevine’, so to speak.
“I was in the park with our firstborn, when I heard from a friend that a two-bedroom apartment in good condition was becoming available in Käpylä. We got lucky and managed to get this place,” says Katri.
As the family grew, the equation of three children and two bedrooms had to be solved by dividing the space differently as the children grew. The firstborn, Iiris, wanted to have a room of her own. Fortunately, Tomi is a deft hand at spatial planning. In his first conversion plan, the kitchen would became part of the living room, with the kitchen becoming a room for the youngest two.
“Transferring the kitchen was so challenging both technically and financially that we abandoned the idea.
Then Tomi had the idea that the bedroom next to the kitchen could be divided into two with a partition. Iiris got her own room, and the parents got an alcove wide enough for their double bed. The end wall of the living room was opened to put in a double door.
“We have the same tone in pretty much every room. It’s kind of the decoration theme that runs throughout the apartment.”
“I’m good at coming up with ideas, but when it comes to the actual work, I thought it wisest to let the professionals take over,” says Tomi. The kitchen was fully renovated, too, giving Tomi good reason to get rid of the top cupboards. They were the first things he got rid of also in their previous kitchen.
“We’ve had a fair amount of discussions about top cupboards. Katri sees the practical side of things. She’s the more sensible one,” admits Tomi. Despite their differences of vision, Katri likes her husband’s interior design ideas, such as the wall, half covered in tiles and half painted pink.
“We have the same tone in pretty much every room. It’s kind of the decoration theme that runs throughout the apartment,” says Tomi with a laughter.
He’s into interior decoration, reading domestic magazines and following things on Instagram. Hunting for interior decoration ideas comes and goes. He gets keyed up when there’s a need to change something in their home.
“At the moment I’m interested in paneling. I was given permission to put finger panels on the alcove wall. When I get a vision, I have to try it out.”
The home of a family with children must withstand the effects of playing. We have a pair of gymnastic rings in the living room and stall bars for climbing. Katri and Tomi like clear interior decoration and a feeling of space. The children must have room to play in.
Tomi and Katri have bought both new and second-hand furniture. Their latest acquisition is a small sofa, replacing the 1970s faux leather sofa, from Tomi’s grandmother, re-upholstered with a turquoise wool fabric. “We got a feeling that our home needs a fresher sofa,” says Tomi.
From the living room balcony, you can see the school yard. The decibels rise quite a lot during breaks. “I’ve been working from home for 12 months, and I love to listen to the children out there. I can meet my children during breaks,” says Katri.
According to Tomi and Kati, the sense of community is the best things in their neighborhood. The children play with their friends in the yards and families meet around the common barbecue area.
Text: Anna Aromaa Photos: Antti Rintala
The story was first published in Avotakka's issue 6/2021.