My son and his girlfriend have recently moved into their first home - an unfurnished rented apartment in a converted Victorian house in Bristol. The fact that they are unable to change the walls and floor has not diminished their delight in planning how to make good use of the space on a limited budget - it made me wonder how we all managed before the days of Ikea!
My son's girlfriend is from Helsinki, and has very firm ideas as to how she wanted to furnish their new home - I've had many long and deeply satisfying conversations on the meaty subjects of towels, bed linen, kitchen utensils and of course vases and planters. Disappointingly my son's pulse does not quicken at the thought of duvet tog ratings and he cannot see why he can't bring with him a bright red fridge emblazoned with a Coca-Cola logo. I feel I may have failed as a parent.
In trying to explain Finnish style, I was shown a couple of websites showing apartments for sale in Helsinki and was instantly hooked. I couldn't stop clicking on the gorgeous images, and have liberally sprinkled some of them within this post. I wonder why my local estate agents don't make more of an effort with their photos - the muted monochrome palettes are more subtle than Lost in Translation and more neutral than Switzerland during an armed conflict. If ever there is a worldwide shortage of pale grey paint, I think we know which nation to blame.
It was explained to me that for the Finns, texture is far more important than colour - a fluffy throw, a concrete lamp or a smooth dish in grey, white or black is far more appealing than bright colours. It's okay to add a pop of colour with a plant or a picture, but apparently a bright orange wall is as shocking as seeing a nun dance the can-can.
Nordic and Scandinavian style is easy to put together, although does require a certain amount of restraint. I wonder if they all have a room that they don't show to visitors - one that's full of pink cushions, green rugs and purple spotted wallpaper?