In the peace of the city

Is it possible to live in an architect-designed house in Helsinki in such a way that the best neighborhood playground is the natural forest nearby? It actually is.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The residents:

Horticulturist Annu Mustonen and construction sales professional Tuomas Mustonen, as well as their children Saaga and Nooa. Their home is a 122-square-meter townhouse in Alppikylä, Helsinki. The house was built in 2014.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

ANNA JA TUOMAS MUSTONEN'S townhouse is part of a long line of colorful detached houses in Alppikylä, Helsinki. The site, rented from the city, is bordered on one side by a low-speed residential road, built by the city, and on the other side by a natural forest, which is a shared play space for the neighborhood’s children. The house, designed by architect Antti Heikkilä, was one of the first houses to emerge in the area. The house, built in 2014, has a floor space of 122 square meters.

What have you realized during the time you’ve lived here?
We’ve noticed that with good architectural design you can make daily life smoother, and, through that, happier. An interesting interior is brought about by combining various materials and elements. In addition, the house feels like a home if it is homey and does not have too much stuff.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The living room is Annu’s and Tuomas’ favorite place. The soft Adea couch is perfect for lounging, and it provides a great view to the inner yard and the nearby forest. Annu found the marble coffee table top on Tori.fi and the legs in a second-hand shop. The E60 stool is from Artek.

How did you end up living in precisely this home?
We dreamt of building our first home in Helsinki. We were looking for a site and managed to rent one in Alppikylä. Our aim was to build a practical home to suit the everyday life of a family with kids. We think Alppikylä is a modern residential area, and we have lovely neighbors! The kids always have someone to play with and the adults always have someone to go for a run or walk with. With the help of architect Antti Heikkilä we got a unique home that matches our requirements, and we really enjoy living in it.

Fluffy, soft and rough textile surfaces, and green plants give a softer, homier feeling.

What practical needs did you have?
We wanted a separate and spacious outdoor clothes storage room, and a place to store prams under the stairs. Upstairs, we put the bedrooms and a separate utility room. Our aim was for laundry to travel over as short a distance as possible. In addition to being practical, our home had to be beautiful, too. In terms of the floor layout we wanted the kitchen and living room to be the same space. The living room has a full-height ceiling, meaning it’s even more spacious and bright.

We maximized the square meters in the kitchen by installing the fittings along the walls. In choosing our furniture we wanted to add some more contrasting elements. Fluffy, soft and rough textile surfaces, and green plants give a softer, homier feeling.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

HB provided the concrete staircase. Annu got the idea for the natural white rya from Anna Pirkola’s wall hangings.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The bespoke kitchen was crafted by furniture carpenter Heikki Lohi, and the black extraction hood was ordered from England. Annu got the idea for a marble backsplash on Pinterest. The lights are Artek's A110 pendants, and the cast iron pot is a classic from Iittala.

Did the whole family take part in making the decisions?
There were no big disagreements when it came to the interior design, because our styles match pretty well. We do of course explain our ideas and potential purchases to each other, and we talk about them together. We decided to go for natural tones in our home, because they are harmonious and close to each other. In choosing surface materials and textures we managed to create a layered effect in the interior design.

In choosing surface materials and textures we managed to create a layered effect in the interior design.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

On top of the storage unit there is a changing collection of elements that add feeling, such as Nappula candlesticks. The blue typography poster is from Playtype, and the Artek 75 Years poster was illustrated by Kustaa Saksi​​​​​.

How and where did you buy your furniture?
We bought most of our furniture new, but there are also second-hand items we came across. You get the most interesting result by combining old and new. We bought the Viennese dining chairs, the toilet lamp and the Artek chairs for the kids’ room second-hand.

If we find pre-owned pieces of furniture that withstand time and wear and tear, we definitely prefer to buy them. We like simple and clean forms, more than antique curls and decorative patterns.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

On the guest bed there is a throw made of Marimekko fabric. The light-toned wool rug and basket weave storage box are from the Anno collection. The petroleum blue box is from Hay and the Skog scented candle is from Skandinavisk.​​​​​​​

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The feature wall in the toilet was covered with waterproof plaster and finished with clear sealer. The towel rack was ordered from the Vantaa Vocational College.​​​​​​​ The monochrome cosmetics bag is from the Johanna Gullichsen collection.

How is Annu’s job as a horticulturist visible in your home?
Designing and building our own yard was an important part of the construction project, because we have a professional in the family. The first yard of our own is really special. We designed and built it with feeling. On top of the plants that change with the season, our yard has two elements that are really important to me: water and fire. They create ambience and it’s really nice to stop for a moment to enjoy them.

The first yard of our own is really special. We designed and built it with feeling.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The bedclothes are old Marimekko Lokki sheets in blue, Annu’s favorite color, and they were sewn from adults’ duvet covers found at a flea market.​​​​​​​

What construction or interior design project do you have planned next?
We’re not going to make any new purchases for this house, because we’re already designing a new house with an architect. Construction will start in 2018. For our next home we’ll buy a piano, at least, and we plan on placing it in a visible spot. We also hope to buy art by Lauri Ahtinen and Matti Hintikka for the walls of our new home.

In the peace of the city | Design Stories

The yard is divided into three parts: terrace, lawn and tiling. On the back there is a sand area for the kids and a fire pit. The black Hee lounge chair is from Hay.

What is your dream home like?
We would like to live freely in a place with beautiful views. Annu dreams of a countryside environment and a large site with an atrium-style yard. The home would have a big living room with a fireplace, a very long dining table and several guest rooms.

For the kids, the house would have exciting secret passages. The yard would have a yard sauna, of course, prominent plants and a water theme. Tuomas would be happy to have a large yard the kids could do various hobbies in. A motocross track of our own would also be nice.

Text: Mimmi Pentikäinen Pictures: Kaisu Jouppi

This article was originally published in Avotakka magazine.

Previous story
Next story