An apartment in Helsinki, Finland houses this 300-year-old, restored “Könni” wall clock. It was handed down to Ulla-Maija by her mother’s family — still chiming every hour on the hour as it would centuries ago. She believes a home is made gradually over time through pieces that reveal one’s true past, present and future. “You add to it as you go, and little by little it becomes a reflection of who you are and where you’ve been.” Ulla-Maija’s decorative ideology is represented in a space full of meaningful family heirlooms, including a family tree gallery wall of portraits dating back to the 1800s.
It would be the perfect home for Sarah were it not for the fact they can’t have cats. “I have offered bribes and contracts and everything I can think of to our landlord but we just can’t have a cat.” Luckily, Cat Town Cafe, America’s first permanent cat cafe, is within walking distance. It also happens to be one of several non-profit groups where Sarah has volunteered her design work. Other than the lamentable absence of a cat, I can imagine that an ideal evening would be spent in Sarah and Matthew’s gorgeous home, listening to their records, sipping Matthew’s flawlessly mixed cocktails, all while coveting that unbelievable crown molding. And, of course, toasting Sarah on her courageous and inspired decision to reimagine her life.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
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