Over the course of the decades, Aalto designed several private houses for his personal friends. Each of the houses strongly conveys the personal relationship between the residents or family and their home. The most significant of the homes designed for friends is Villa Mairea (1938-1939). It was built for Harry and Maire Gullichsen, the director of the company A. Ahlström and his wife, in the Noormarkku ironworks area.
The elevations are partly in wood, with teak and Finnish pine, and partly with thin stone slabs and rough-cast rendering. The main entrance has a colonnade of unstripped saplings supporting a free-form roof. A few steps lead up from the entrance hall to the living room, whence a staircase bordered by irregularly composed wooden poles leads up to the upper floor. The ground floor is reserved for entertaining. The spaces naturally invite the visitor to stay, and despite their somewhat public character, have nevertheless an intimate feel. Part of the external wall is movable on a sliding system so that “the house can be completely opened to the garden”.
The dining room window looks out over the inner courtyard and the door in the rear wall opens onto the covered way leading to the sauna. The kitchens are beside the dining room with rooms for the domestics behind them. There are stairs up from the kitchen to the children´s playroom cum breakfast room and the guest wing. On the upper floor are also the bedrooms and Maire Gullichsen´s painting studio.