Interior design editor Anna Kristeri admits that she is a serial renovator. During the last six years, she has renovated three apartments. In her new home, the absolute favorite thing is the blueberry colored kitchen.
Interior design editor and set designer Anna Kristeri , 42. Kristeri lives in a 61.5-square-meter, three-room apartment in Maunula, one of Helsinki’s suburbs. The apartment building was completed in 1962.
“I DIDN’T PLAN THIS. I bought my first apartment six years ago, at 36. I wanted a two-bedroom apartment in need of a renovation, and it had to be in a house that was older than I am. I found the perfect top floor apartment in need of a kitchen renovation in Pajamäki, Western Helsinki.
I got the apartment evaluated after I had lived in it for two and a half years. The plumbing in the building had recently been redone, which increased the value of the apartment by 100,000 euros, so I put it up for sale right away. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to try flipping an apartment again.
MY CURRENT HOME in Maunula has two bedrooms. This is the biggest apartment I have had just for myself while living in Helsinki. The house was built in 1962, and the entrance hall in my apartment is more like a corridor. It has doors to all rooms except the bedroom. The room layout has been preserved in its original form throughout the years, and I like how practical it is. You can access the bedroom through the back of the kitchen, and you can easily get around the apartment from every room.
“The apartment’s layout has been preserved in its original form throughout the years, and I like how practical it is.”
Renovating is sort of like a romantic relationship: first, you fall in love, then you get bored, after that you start thinking about breaking up, and finally, you reach a stage of contentment. I was ready to sell this apartment about five months after I signed the deed. All major renovations, such as redoing the kitchen, installing parquet floors, wallpapering and painting walls, were done, but each room seemed to have a million small details I still needed to take care of: sawing moldings, cleaning up door frames and installing curtain rods.
I decided that I had had enough, and I called my broker to say that I want to sell this apartment – now. But in the end, we decided against it, since massive renovations were due to start within six months of that moment. Plumbing, elevator installations, geothermal work, all that. No one would have paid my asking price just before the beginning of such a big renovation project. So, I accepted my fate, and after six months, once every last piece of molding had been installed, I found that I was indeed a very happy with the apartment.
I FIRMLY BELIEVE that a kitchen is what sells an apartment, and I just happen to be especially good at renovating them. I love planning kitchens. It was my favorite part of the renovation in this apartment as well. This time I wanted a kitchen that had some color to it. Even though I personally love orange and brass-colored doors, for example, I decided to go with a blueberry shade, as it was the safest option with regard to potential buyers.
“I love planning kitchens. It was my favorite part of the renovation in this apartment as well.”
For the cabinets, I chose white standard models and interiors. This way, I could still fit a terrazzo countertop, a breakfast cabinet and luxurious leather pulls into my budget.
Another thing I was adamant to invest in was a parquet floor. This was the first time I switched out the floor of an entire apartment, and the possibility felt exciting. I found a parquet with a suitable block width for a house built in the 60s in the Finnish company Timberwise’s collections.
NEXT, I WANT TO BUY a large studio apartment in a house that is roughly a hundred years old. After experiencing the functional architecture of the 50s and 60s, I feel like it would be really fun to go crazy with flashy decorative moldings and phenomenal fixed furniture. In a studio apartment, this would be possible even with a smaller budget.
I love learning new things. Now, after completing my third renovation, I know so much more than I did six years ago. I also know what I don’t know how to do and what I do not want to do. I am good at taking structures things apart and I do it quickly. I am also good at wallpapering and painting, but on the other hand, I hate smoothing out walls and cutting moldings. These are the things that, from time to time, test what little patience I have.
People often ask me why I want to move and renovate my home so often. Why would I not? This is just one phase in my life. I lived in a rental apartment in the center of Helsinki for a long stretch of time. I enjoyed the fact that I was not tied to anything and that everything was so close by. Now, I live in the suburbs and find myself constantly dreaming of renovating and starting a new project. When I get tired of it, I will do something else.
I do not have children, so I have more than enough time for my renovation projects. They keep me busy. I am curious by nature, and it has always been easy for me to trust my own decisions, for which I am grateful. When you dare to do things, it opens up a whole world of new possibilities, and I am really looking forward to where this renovation journey will take me.”
Text: Anna Kristeri Images: Mikael Pettersson
The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 11/2022.