The atmosphere reminded me of a secret garden in a nostalgic resort village. An atmosphere that, to me, seemed to suggest a more resort-like and relaxing living.It seemed to me that, living in a place like this, life itself would become more easygoing and relaxed. We made massive renovations in the ramshackle apartment while trying to preserve as much of the original surfaces as we could. Luckily, we were able to spare the old oak-paneled ceiling and most of the original oak parquet. We also kept the old folding doors, which at first were considered hideous by everyone else. Now they garner only admiration, and no wonder – they fit seamlessly with the architecture and the atmosphere. The garden itself has been left to its own devices for now. This is due to a tip we received from those in the know: before making any major changes yourself, it’s wise to first observe the garden’s own way of living. To see what grows from the ground and when things bloom. What a lesson to learn for two impatient people, that sometimes the best thing you can do is to do nothing. In my mind, the secret garden is teaching us how to be lazy and enjoy the moment instead of always living in the ideas and hopes of the future.
You can tell that, once upon a time, the garden was tended to with great love and care. The groundwork is immaculate, everything has been carefully thought through. Even though the garden has not been maintained in many years, the flowers still bloom one by one in the same exact order as they always have. My absolute favorite plant is the enormous rhododendron growing under the window of the dining space, with its ambient shadows cast both inside the house as well as on the terrace. The last rays of the setting sun filter through its branches during the evening. I also adore the azalea, the early summer’s blossomer, the Amur maple which dresses in red during the autumn, as well as the small Japanese succulent garden, which is rather sympathetic in all its disrepair. The small yard has brought more to our lives than we ever could have guessed. It feels like an additional room which opens in the springtime with the melting of the snow. Every activity we can, we do outside: drink the morning coffee, eat lunch, read books, cool off after sauna. If it’s raining, we achieve all of this under the awning. Sometimes I even write under its shade. The dog sisters adore the yard at least as much as we do, most likely considerably more. They sneak around amidst the ferns, romp on the lawn, play together and chase after balls. Lolling in the sun is the favorite pastime for them both. In a way, I do think we chose this home with them in mind specifically. They enjoy the yard equally during the winter: last spring Jarno made a great labyrinth for them in a snowbank. Other animals that enjoy our garden include birds, squirrels and lazily buzzing bumble bees. I could spend hours just sitting there and watching them go about their lives. There is a rather hideous old birdbath in the garden, which has proven too popular among our feathered friends to get rid of. The outdoor furniture consists of only flea market finds, as does most of the furnishing in general. We have a great affinity for wood, rattan and other natural materials, which only improve in use. The patina of time and use should shine through. High quality textiles such as linen only become more beautiful with each wash. We do not plan our interior design in painstaking detail, but rather choose items that catch our fancy and trust that, in some magical way, they will all come together in the end. This brings out the most unexpected and mirthful of contrasts. I have a particular appreciation for objects meant for utility but designed with taste. When the things we use daily please the eye enough, there really is no need to spend surplus time doing actual decorating.
Text Stella Harasek - Photo Stella Harasek, Jarno Jussila, Mikko Rasila