Architect couple Tuula and Anders Falk's house in Östergötland, Sweden, has space, light, and peace and quiet ideal for creative work. Their timeless home is a good place to test self-designed furniture.
Interior architect Tuula Falk and architect Anders Falk, who have a joint design business, Falk Arkitekter. Their home is in the south of Sweden, in Åtvidaberg in Östergötland, built in 1952 as the official residence of the local electricity company's director. The house consists of 400 square meters.
THE SCORCHING SUNSHINE HAS turned the lawns brown in the well-kept low-rise residential area in Åtvidaberg. There are no people to be seen. Maybe the sweltering heat has forced everyone to go indoors where it is cooler. But not everyone: there's someone in front of a stone house with a sloping garden. A woman in a black summer dress is picking peaches off a tree next to the house.
"The heat is good for the peaches, but the garden looks terrible," says Tuula Falk.
The interior architect has been living with her family in the house on Lake Bysjön for 20 years. Their four children have already left the nest, so Tuula and her architect husband Anders have all 400 square meters to themselves.
The house was built in 1952 as the official residence of Åtvidaberg's electricity company director.
The director had an original sense of interior decoration. The house had thick, brown wall-to-wall carpets, and the kitchen had a bar counter and swinging saloon doors," says Anders.
The house has 13 rooms and a kitchen. The Falks have renovated the house completely. The interior walls have been kept in their original places, but they moved the kitchen to another part of the house.
The living room is classic but relaxed with its large sofas and armchairs. In the middle of the sofa set stands a sofa table designed by Tuula. The wavy top is a tour de force of Finnish carpentry.
"I test my furniture at home. It's an important part of product development. Interior decoration is a way of working for me, resulting in surprising encounters and eureka experiences."
"I test my furniture at home. It's an important part of product development. Interior decoration is a way of working for me, resulting in surprising encounters and eureka experiences," says Tuula.
The homey library still has the bespoke bookcase made for the electricity company director, with the oak shelves laden with books from floor to ceiling.
”The library has always been the favorite room of our children, Sebastian, Henri, Wilhelm and Julian," says Tuula.
The house has a spacious dining room and a classic fireplace, now adorned with Falk family photos on the mantelpiece. In the middle of the room there are two dining tables designed by Tuula. These have been put together to make one big table.
"One table is not big enough when the entire family meets for a dinner," says Tuula.
The house also has five bedrooms, and three guests rooms upstairs. The nurseries have conveniently been converted into guest rooms for families with children – there are now three grandchildren.
The south wing has two studies. Tuula's desk is strewn with rolls of paper, markers and a row of chair models. She has been designing furniture for years for Finnish companies Adea, Peltola, Piiroinen and Rintala.
"Furniture design requires patience, because the trail from prototype to the production stage can take several years."
Tuula and Anders also have some joint projects. Tuula designs fixtures for public buildings designed by her husband, renovated houses and private homes. Anders has many local customers, as he is probably the only architect in Åtvidaberg. One fruit of such a joint project, a modern bungalow, stands next door.
"Sometimes we think what it would feel like to live in a house we have designed. But the main thing for us is that the residents like it," says Tuula.
An interior architect can also get some surprising assignments in the neighborhood. She designed the modern residential rooms for the people who live in Adelsnäs Manor on the opposite side of the lake.
"It was a very special thing to design a separate loft home for a family with children in the residential floor of an old manor. The other rooms on the same floor retain the original historical interior."
Tuula grew up in a designer family. The creative atmosphere in her childhood home art studio in Hanikka, Espoo, has influenced for own home's interior decoration and lifestyle. A home is an inspirational place for working.
"We have the luxury of having a home and workplace that has space, light, peace and quiet and is also close to nature," says Tuula.
"We have the luxury of having a home and workplace that has space, light, peace and quiet and is also close to nature."
Contemporary Nordic art and abstract paintings by her mother, the textile artist Airi Snellman-Hänninen, hang on the walls. Tuula, together with Marja Turkka, have made a book on her mother's experimental sculpture-like ryijy rugs. Kuitujen sinfonia ("Symphony of fibers") came out a year ago.
"It was an enormous job, taking three years. We compiled material from my mother's drafts, newspaper clippings and photos. I'm happy that my mother's significant life's work within art history has now been documented!"
Their house also has chairs designed by interior architect Olavi Hänninen, Tuula's late father. Tuula's favorite is the timeless Juha chair with its T-shaped backrest from 1958.
"The minimalistic chair made by Peltola is a classic. My next project is to find an international market for it," says Tuula.
She has an easy way of taking a relaxing break from her work. She enjoys her afternoon coffee at Lake Bysjön, just 50 meters from the house.
Text: Anna Aromaa Photos: Johanna Myllymäki
This article was first published in Avotakka's issue 7/2019.