A 1970s home in the tranquil Turku archipelago stood empty for decades. Anna and Tuomas fell in love with Villa Nagu and brought life back to the building. They said goodbye to the yellowed wooden surfaces and gave the place a fresh new touch.
Anna Ritakallio-Mäkelä, Tuomas Mäkelä and their six-year-old daughter, Aida. Anna and Tuomas are the founders of Bo LKV, and the family lives in Turku city center. Their holiday home, a 1970s building by architect Sigvard Eklund, is located in Nagu in the Turku archipelago. With four rooms and a kitchen, it has a surface area of 95 square meters and can be rented through Airbnb.
THE BUILDING WAS empty for almost 30 years. Architect Sigvard Eklund had designed it in the 1970s, for a family that wanted tranquil holidays in the Nagu archipelago. Over the years, the family moved abroad permanently.
A few years ago, friends told Anna Ritakallio-Mäkelä and Tuomas Mäkelä that the house had been put on sale. This was exciting news, partly because Anna’s parents had a summer home just two plots away and the area was already familiar to them.
Many Turku residents holiday in Nagu, which has a church village much loved by the couple. Anna and Tuomas live in the center of Turku, on the banks of the Aura River. The couple initially wondered if, as urbanites, they were cut out for life in the country. However, the hour’s drive from their front door to Villa Nagu felt like the perfect distance.
Tuomas, what made two townspeople dream of a second home in Nagu?
“We live a busy city life and enjoy being able to walk to a restaurant and having services nearby. Traveling is our passion, and we try to travel as often as work allows. On the other hand, we longed for a place where we could slow down and spend time as a family. In addition, we had spent a lot of time boating in Nagu, and visiting our friends’ summer homes. We had minor doubts: would we visit Nagu often enough to make proper use of the residence.
Anna Helminen, a good friend with whom I have been designing and renovating homes for many years, came on board for the project. We each paid half for the place, but I took charge of the renovation, and its design and organization. We agreed that my wife and I would have the chance to buy Anna out if we fell in love with the property. We did this last fall, and Villa Nagu is now entirely ours.”
Anna, what charmed you so much that you wanted the building for yourselves?
“Villa Nagu conquered our hearts. We noticed that visiting Nagu had become a kind of positive obsession: early in the week, we were already dreaming of Friday, when we would pack the car and set out for the holiday home. We already start to unwind on the ferry. Visiting the island does us all the world of good.”
Tuomas and Anna bought only furniture that is necessary. They wanted to dedicate the wall space to windows rather than to things.
How did you improve the building, Tuomas?
“The building needed a major renovation. We renewed all the surfaces, sanded the floors and changed the room layout. We created a bathroom and sauna in place of the closet. We also remodeled the kitchen and ceilings, and replaced the interior doors with sliding doors. We created openings for large windows. The entire shoreline wall was glazed. We had the dining room wall and small window replaced with a wall-size glass sliding door. The window wall in the living room was restored and its wooden parts were given a black finish.”
How did you put your own stamp on the building?
“Renovation is nothing new for us. We have renovated several homes for our family. I planned the renovation, made all the material choices, and decorated the building. Familiar professionals implemented the renovation. Our homes tend to be pretty light-toned, but this one has a strong color scheme. For the decor we chose brick-red tones based on the fireplace, and added green and gray colors inspired by nature. Black is a natural fit with the look of the building.
We finished off the interior with souvenirs, such as macramé and decorative pillows in the bedroom. We called the building Villa Nagu, in honor of its location.”
Yellowed wooden surfaces and red brick are challenging for interior decorators. How did you manage to create such a fresh ambience in the residence?
“I think it all works tremendously well because we combined old with new in a controlled manner. We wanted to preserve the look of the building and respect its architectural style. We dispensed with the yellowed wooden surfaces. The changes we made were carefully designed to look as if they were part of the original building.
The biggest change involved creating large openings in all rooms for new, high windows starting at floor level. These make the surrounding forest part of the interior. Black also connects the rooms as the color used on the window frames.”
Anna, has the holiday home changed you as city dwellers?
“We appreciate the peace, quiet and slow daily rhythm of the island. Everything we do at Villa Nagu differs from our city life. We may have lunch and then go on an adventure in the woods. We stroll around, gaze at the waves through the sauna window, and gather sprigs for display in a vase. Nature is present in a very different way than in the city. We’ve hidden the TV in a cabinet and barely watch it.”
Tuomas, what are your favorite activities here?
“Definitely cooking; I enjoy it when I have sufficient time. I might start preparing food in the morning for dinner. Aida draws a lot and we listen to music. When here, we tend to enjoy long mornings in bed. One of us gets up to make coffee, returning to bed with a tray. We look out to sea and just enjoy ‘being’.”
Text: Jonna Kivilahti Photos: Krista Keltanen
The story was published in Avotakka's issue 11/2020