In this artists’ home, books are allowed to be on display. The most beautiful books can be found in the most prominent places of the apartment where they are easy to browse and use for inspiration for other activities.
Colours and books make visual artist Saija Starr and Erno Ekebom happy. The couple’s 67 m2-sized home in Kruunuhaka, Helsinki, also testifies to that. Starr is an aesthetician who loves old furniture, art, beautiful vases, pastel-coloured textiles and beautiful everyday objects.
“And also, the traditional muted colours of the Art Nouveau era, bright neon colours and the ‘mustard colours’ of the 1970s,” Starr continues her list.
“There are many things that inspire me: nature, open landscapes, the sea and forest, visual drama films, the rundown walls of old houses, the browsing of art books and the feeling evoked by books. Different interior decoration and fashion magazines also inspire me with their colours.”
The bookshelf grows with books
Reading is one of the favourite hobbies of Starr and Ekebom, and this is reflected in the number of books in their home. There was a time when tall piles of books lying on the floor were teetering up against the living room wall. Since then, many of the opuses have found their way onto a shelf or are on display in some other way.
There is no room for a big bookcase in the apartment. Therefore, the couple has invested in a String shelf from Sweden, which is high and narrow enough to fit into the space for which it was acquired. The set of shelves features a few stylish slanted shelves for showcasing beautiful books and a section with sliding doors that can be utilized for storing both books and other items.
The shelf is timeless and lightweight in a very nice way.
“It’s practical because it can be easily expanded and transformed. This particular set of shelves was built from the pieces we already had in our previous
home. So, we just bought a few additional shelves,” Starr says.
This is also a useful tip for other book lovers: you can acquire more shelves as your personal library expands. If you cannot bear to part with any of the books you have read, you should choose a series of shelves that can be easily expanded with additional sections and pieces.
Books in two rows
Starr and Ekebom have also shelved books in two consecutive rows on one and the same shelf.
“In the front row, we have the books that we read the most and the books waiting to be read, or the ones with the most beautiful covers. The books ending up in the back row we do not need that often,” Starr explains.
In this family, books can usually be found here and there, often on the floor by the bed, since the couple is still looking for suitable bedside tables. One of the old bookcases was already on its way out of the house, but did not end up in recycling after all, because there is a big pile of hobby and children’s books still looking for a place. However, there is a sense of order prevailing in the apartment, because the books are arranged by size and colour into decorative stacks.
“I sometimes buy books based on their appearance, although, of course, I also need to be interested in them in other ways as well. It’s then wonderful to leave these findings lying on a coffee table or a windowsill: beautiful things bring you joy every time your eyes meet them,” Starr philosophises.
“Books are beautiful objects as such, and I’ve never wanted to hide them anywhere. There are a lot of good feelings associated with the books, and they are part of the spirit of our home. I enjoy the mere idea of relaxing and immersing myself in the world of books.”
Cookbooks into the kitchen
Erno Ekebom enjoys cooking, and even though we are living in a digital age, the couple has quite a lot of cookbooks. The most often used ones are readily available in the kitchen.
“Some of the books are primarily for finding inspiration, while others are of very technical nature, such as Foodlab, the book by J. Kenji López-Alt. It’s the ‘bible’ of Erno’s favourite food blogger, and quite a challenging read due to its size, but in heavy use. As a visual person, I use cookbooks in such a way that I look at the delicious-looking pictures only to see what ingredients are needed, I acquire them and start cooking without the actual recipes,” Starr says with a laugh.
She says that the couple also acquires books related to their trips.
“Before a trip, Erno likes to read books where the events take place in our coming travel destination. When travelling, we also always visit bookstores, because they are so fascinating and beautiful places. From our travels, I may drag home big, heavy art books, even if I could order them online. However, it’s wonderful to browse bookstores, touching books and turning their pages, and then end up buying a tempting book. You cannot get the same wonderful feeling of finding something unique when you order books online.”
Varying places to read
The couple loves slow weekend mornings, long breakfasts and having their coffee in peace. Often, in the peace of the morning, they have time to grab a good book. Starr prefers to read fiction, whereas, in addition to fiction, Ekebom’s favourites include non-fiction books in English.
“I like a variety of books, and there are many factors affecting the reading experience, such as the point in time and life situation. I may be impressed by a beautiful style of writing, ease of identifying with the characters and a kind of intense mood. The last book I read was Tove Jansson’s ‘Moominpappa at Sea’, which I loved, and I know I’ll read again,” Starr says.
“I love the feeling in the books of Haruki Murakami. One of my favourite books from my teenage years is Herman Hesse’s ‘Siddhartha’, which was partly affected by the fact that I read it in a particular age.”
In summer, Starr also likes to read outdoors, in parks and in other favourite places where the sun shines the longest.
“In winter, we read mostly on the sofa under a blanket and in summer in an armchair, when the draught from the windows no longer bothers us. A blanket is an important matter, it is part of the reading pleasure.”
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