A renovation made a good stone house perfect for a family from Oulu. This house has a calming effect, due to the wonderful sense of peace generated by its many wooden surfaces.
Tiina, a communications expert; Rauli, an entrepreneur; their three primary-school aged children; and their cats Namiskuukkeli and Kompiainen. The house is a two-story, 170-square-meter stone building in Oulu. It was designed and built by an architect, Esa Kauppi, for his family in 1993.
YOU CAN OFTEN TELL at a glance how old a building is. However, there is no way of telling whether this Oulu family home is new, or dates back to the mid-twentieth century.
Tiina and Rauli bought the 1990s stone building in 2013. Due to factors such as its location, this two-story house was ideal for a family of five, but the interior needed updating. After spending a couple of years in the house, the couple invited a designer to help them. Six months of mayhem began, with a good basis being turned into the perfect interior.
What attracted you to the house, Tiina?
“Its classical exterior. We also liked the lovely views from the upper floor. The surrounding forest landscape won us over. The local yards have not been mowed smooth, but are still dotted with charming old pine trees.”
How did the design project proceed?
“We asked Kirsi Luttinen, an interior designer, to come up with ideas for making the house more functional, spacious and bright. We created a wish-list in advance and put together a portfolio of inspirational pictures. Then we asked Kirsi to go through our ideas. We created a WhatsApp chat group, with pictures and ideas flying back and forth throughout the project.”
“Our key aim was to create a calming environment, in which stress levels fall rather than rise.”
What was your key wish?
“The goal of the project was smooth, everyday life in a beautiful house. Our key aim was to create a calming environment, in which stress levels fall rather than rise.”
There's a lot of wood in your house. What attracts you to that?
“First of all, we like how wood looks. It added the warmth and coziness we wanted for this stone building. My childhood home was full of varnished wooden surfaces. Such a past might have put some people off, but for me wood never loses its genuine, timeless beauty. It has many good qualities in addition to its appearance: it's surface feels good to the touch. Wood creates pleasant acoustics – something which you rarely consider when choosing materials. It also balances air humidity.
Above all, wood has been shown to have a calming effect on people. We now have a good balance between wood and stone. Due to the stone frame, you can't hear footsteps from the upper floor and the stairs don't creak.”
Why did you move the kitchen downstairs?
“The house began to feel a little like a dark labyrinth. We wanted more space and light. The kitchen and living room were originally on the upper floor. We got fed up of carrying shopping bags up and the garbage down.”
You highlighted acoustics during the renovation. In what way?
“We wanted rooms that were clearly compartmentalized from each other. The idea was to reduce unnecessary noise by replacing the dividing doors with sound-insulated ones, for example. You can now play a piano in the living room even if someone is sleeping. The living room's sound reproduction and acoustics were adapted for watching movies. Mikko Sundman of Sonolux helped us with this.”
How would you describe your taste in interior decor?
“We both like the modern Scandinavian style. But we also wanted to add an old farmhouse touch with rag rugs, and cushions sown together from old wall textiles.”
“We also wanted to add an old farmhouse touch with rag rugs, and cushions sown together from old wall textiles.”
Where does your interest in traditional farmhouse culture originate?
“Our roots are in the countryside, which you can see from the house. Our second home and town house, which is a nineteenth century farmhouse, are bound together by references to folk traditions. We now have a ‘country cottage’ in the city.”
How did you create the rooms in the new living area?
“The lower floor changed most during the renovation. We combined the former fireplace area and bedroom to create a multi-functional space. We made the formerly upstairs kitchen and the hallway part of the living area. The kitchen is now nicely tucked away – any mess made while cooking can't be seen from the nearby dining table. We turned the former garage into an office and guest room, and built a separate carport.”
The family has two Burmese cats. How do they go together with the velvet sofa in the living room?
“Kirsi, our interior designer, knew from experience that cats don't claw velvet sofas. Our cats are short-haired, so vacuuming once a week is enough to keep the sofa clean.”
How did you take account of the pets during the renovation?
“For everyday life, the best innovation was the cat litter in the hallway. It was built as part of the new staircase. It includes two sections built into the cupboard. One has a pellet litter for the cats, which they enter and exit via the other 'lobby' section, where they leave any pellets that stick to their paws. The wooden pellets retain odors and the litter is easy to clean via the door. We also had pull-out food bowls built into the plinth of the kitchen cupboard.”
What are your best moments at home?
“There are so many. During the spring, I love to potter about on our glazed terrace, getting my fingers dirty with seedlings. I've enjoyed many inspiring conversations with friends and family around the big dining table in the living area.”
Text and pictures: Heikki Rautio
The article was originally published in Avotakka 4/2019.