Treasure on the River Aura

The home of Anna, Tuomas and their daughter Aida is in the historic Crichton House on the banks of the River Aura in Turku. Before they moved in, the house was under renovation for two years.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The dining area is placed in front of the windows. Next to the Wishbone chairs is Aida’s 2nd birthday gift, a pink Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair. The back wall of the stairwell is covered in Timberwise parquet, which is repeated in the apartment’s floors. The pendants are from &Tradition's Marble Light collection.

The residents:

The self-employed couple Anna Ritakallio-Mäkelä and Tuomas Mäkelä, and their daughter Aida. The couple are the founders of real estate agency Bo LKV, and Tuomas works as the creative director of the Bo group. Their home is in a wooden house, dating from 1847, on Itäinen Rantakatu, Turku. The apartment has a floor space of 168 square meters.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

Anna Ritakallio-Mäkelä and Tuomas Mäkelä enjoy living in downtown Turku, close to all amenities. Their daughter Aida has playmates in the nearby playground.​​​​​​​

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The burgundy red front door leads you into the home from the sheltered inner yard. The tone is original, from the time of the shipowner Crichton, and makes a beautiful detail in the light-coloured home.​​​​​​​

THE BUILDING, TURUN CRICHTON, stands handsomely on the banks of the River Aura. The Scottish engineer and shipowner William Crichton built the house for his family in 1847. At the time, Crichton’s shipping operations spread along the banks of the River Aura near his house, and the cranes erected on his orders still serve as a memory of that time. Later, when Crichton’s business passed into the ownership of Wärtsilä, the house was used for entertaining guests of the company. The story goes that even the presidents of great powers were among the sauna guests.

Nowadays, the log house is occupied by the family of Anna Ritakallio-Mäkelä and Tuomas Mäkelä, who have returned the light tones and burgundy red door of Crichton’s time to the house. Their home has a floor area of 168 square meters.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The high cabinet doors, by Kitzen, continue all the way to the floor, as Anna and Tuomas did not want the plinths to be visible. The brass handles are by Superfront and the faucet is from Tapwell. The countertops and panels behind the sink are Carrara marble.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The living room and the kitchen form one space. Tuomas had the idea of installing slanted doors under the stairs so that the space could be used.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The entryway continues through the apartment as a hall, which leads into the office on the right, and the bathroom spaces and sauna on the left. The chair is Ton 30 and the lamp is Lampe Gras no. 214.

Tuomas and Anna got to know their future home years ago, when Tuomas’ mother and stepfather were living there. Even though the house was badly in need of renovation, Anna and Tuomas mulled over their ambitious idea, which they decided to turn into reality. They bought the whole house.

The renovation of the house created not just an apartment for them, but five others to sell, and a large office for their company, Bo lkv. The company sold their loft apartment of the time and moved into the 47-square-meter one-bedroom apartment at the end of the building during the renovation. The scope of the renovation was larger than they had thought, and the work went on to take a couple of years.

Anna and Tuomas mulled over their ambitious idea, which they decided to turn into reality. They bought the whole house.

“We got to move into our own home last Christmas, so we’ve lived here for about a year. Moving out of our cramped temporary apartment feels unbelievably amazing,” Tuomas says.

“The renovation has taken time, because the larger floor space means we need a lot of new furniture. We prefer to buy high-quality products that stand the test of time. Going shopping once and filling the whole house isn’t our thing,” he says.

Since then, the renovations in the other apartments have been completed.

“Even though the restoration was much larger than we’d thought, everything down to the building structures has now been renovated and we can be sure that it’s in good condition. We don’t even need to think about new renovations for decades,” Tuomas says.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The double doors connect the office, in the background, to the living room. Thanks to the sofa bed, the space also functions as a guest room.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

A special feature of the living room is a fireplace sunk into the cabinets. The frame and doors of the Kitzen cabinets are made of fireproof material. The couch is by Adea, the Afteroom armchairs by Menu, and the leather Saxe chair is from By Lassen.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

Tuomas has designed the fixed bookshelves for all the family’s homes, and did so in this home, too. The desk is a marble countertop installed in front of the window. The rug is from Tuomas’ s mother.

When the couple renovated their first apartment of their own, they became inspired to buy, renovate, furnish and sell apartments. Their hobby became a way of life when they were sitting around the same table as friends of theirs a few years ago. As they talked, one thing led to another, and Bo lkv, a new kind of real estate business, was born. The company, founded by two couples, has rapidly grown into an employer of 65 and expanded from Turku to Helsinki and Tampere.

Amidst the stress, their love for interiors has remained. Anna and Tuomas have even branded their own interior décor method, and their “Less is more” homes have received lots of attention in foreign interior design magazines and blogs. Their style has evolved, and this can be seen in their home.

Anna and Tuomas's style has evolved, and this can be seen in their home.

“We wanted to honor the era the house was built in, its architecture and design. We also wanted to give our preference to Finnish expertise. We chose timeless, high-quality materials such as timber and marble.” The floors are Nordic-toned planks in a classic herringbone pattern. The same layout is repeated in the tiles in all our bathrooms.

The kitchen is from the Kitzen collection, but it has been installed according to the couple’s designs.

“In our last home, too, we had floor-to-ceiling cabinets, without plinths. We really love the idea of slanted doors, because that means we can use the space under the stairs,” Tuomas says.

The floor-to-ceiling cabinets in the living room and office are from the same collection.

“One of the nicest details of our home is the fireplace sunk into the living room cabinets. We designed its structure in collaboration with the people from Kitzen,” Tuomas says.

The countertops and windowsills are Carrara marble throughout.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

Aida has lots of space to play in her room. The bed is from the Finnish brand Luona In.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

The bathroom tiles are from the ABL tile collection. The faucets and shower are from Hansgrohe and the bathtub is from Bathlife. The surfaces have been partly microcement treated.

Treasure on the River Aura | Design Stories

Upstairs is the master bedroom with a plush bed. The linen sheets are from Anno and the Kubus candleholder is from By Lassen.

The rooms of their apartment are over two floors: Downstairs are the entryway, hall, office, living room, kitchen, and dining space, as well as the sauna, toilet and a bathroom. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. One of the bedrooms is the master bedroom, another is Aida’s and they plan to turn the third into a guest room. For the moment, it has served as a storage space for extra furniture. The couple needs them almost daily in various work projects.

“This is going to be our home for the rest of our lives, because we’ve found here everything we need. There’s more than enough space!”

“This is going to be our home for the rest of our lives, because we’ve found here everything we need. There’s more than enough space! Both of us are from Turku originally, and living downtown is our thing. We can just take Aida out for a walk and go for coffee and donuts in a nearby coffee shop when the mood takes us, or go for a picnic on a jetty on the River Aura,” Anna says.

There are a lot of playgrounds nearby, and even though there aren’t a huge number of families with children living in downtown Turku, Aida always finds friends to play with in the park. The Mäkeläs’ friends also live nearby.

“We love being able to walk to the neighborhood restaurants and have a meal. We’re also spoiled in having our work in the same building as our home.”

Text: Jonna Kivilahti Pictures: Krista Keltanen

This article was originally published in Avotakka magazine.

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