Vivian and Santeri live in a charming wooden house in Turku

To Vivian and Santeri, their home is a place for winding down, a place where they only want to have durable and long-lasting furniture. The Port Arthur area of Turku has become an important basis for them, where everything is near.

Finarte  Dyyni rug 140 x 200 cm, beige
The Artek dining table and chairs are a gift from Santeri’s parents. Under the dining table, they have a Dyyni rug designed by Saana ja Olli for Finarte. The piece by Kuutti Lavonen was an engagement present from Vivian’s grandmother.

Residents:

Account manager Vivian Nissilä, 27 and student and project manager Santeri Salminen, 26. Built in 1905, their home is a 55-sqm apartment in Port Arthur, Turku, Finland. The downstairs has a living room cum kitchen, with a living room and bedroom upstairs.

A portrait of a couple in front of an exposed log wall
Vivian and Santeri fell in love with the original log wall.

WALKING BETWEEN THE WOODEN HOUSES, you could think you were inside the pages of a storybook. If you ignore the cars parked along the road, you could easily think you had stepped back a century in time. The Port Arthur area of Turku was built in the early 20th century, when it was being developed for local workers.

For historical reasons, most of the apartments are small, yet very charming. Vivian and Santeri have expanded into the attic, with every bit of floor area put into good use.

&Tradition  Flowerpot VP1 pendant, dark green
It took a long time until the couple found the lamp above the Artek 84 dining table. Eventually they came across one in the right color, it's Verner Panton's Flowerpot from &Tradition.
Arabia Kosmos plate 20 cm, brown
Their coffee set is old Kosmos by Arabia, designed by Gunvor Olin-Grönqvist. Kosmos was manufactured between 1962 and 1976.

What made you love the place?
“The good spirit of an old wooden house, which has mesmerized both of us. We also loved the exposed log wall the first time we saw it in a showing. The location is also very good for us. We are pretty close to the city center, but it’s nevertheless a secluded area. Later we have learned that our neighbors are absolutely wonderful, and there are plenty more here with a great sense of community.

What are your most treasured moments at home?
“On weekend mornings we often get fresh root bread from a nearby bakery and enjoy our coffee with delicious sandwiches. Leisurely mornings with the paper and each other are the best. In the summertime, we like to go to the courtyard, sitting down to enjoy the sunshine, reading and having sandwiches.”

Green Pukkila tiles in the kitchen
The green Pukkila tiles were chosen to catch the eye in the kitchen. The piece above the tiles by Kuutti Lavonen was a present to Santeri as his 25th birthday present from his parents and grandparents. The wood-heated stove warms up the downstairs well.
String Furniture  String Pocket shelf, walnut-black
The Kvik kitchen was built in the bottom floor, utilizing the space under the stairs with a String Pocket shelf. The island has plenty of storage space. The chrome A330S lamp is by Artek.

What do you consider a particularly successful solution in your home?
“We planned our kitchen renovation really well, because we wanted to make the best use of every inch we had. We have often been pleasantly surprised how the kitchen has served us and been able to meet our various needs, ranging from a large Independence Day celebration to dinners for just the two of us.

We sketched and drew the design ourselves. We put the cooker in the island, and created plenty of storage space. This was important to us, so we could get all the dishes and other stuff out of sight. And we definitely did not want to have top cabinets, as we wanted to retain a feeling of open space.”

“We like Finnish design and try to buy it, whenever possible, second-hand.”

What is your the dearest thing you have bought?
“We like Finnish design and try to buy it, whenever possible, second-hand. One thing that springs to mind is the desk chair we found in a second-hand furniture shop. We tested Ilmari Tapiovaara’s chair carefully, and then decided to spend our Christmas gift money on it.

We always consider carefully what we want to buy. Each piece of furniture must have a clear function in our home. We may save up money for quite some time to get the furniture we want, but have also received furniture and art as wonderful gifts.”

HAY Elephant table, 50 cm
The living room upstairs with the diagonal ceiling is a single space, ending in a workstation, ideal for remote working. The Elephant sofa tables are by HAY. The Artek table was bought second-hand.
Artek  Aalto wall shelf 112B
Books and small items on a second-hand Artek 112B shelf. The olive Flower vase is by Marimekko.

What kind of interior decorators are you?
“We are practical and don’t rush in, but also like to experiment. We’re not afraid of colors, and actually quite bold in their use. We focus on high quality, and focus on furniture that will last a long time. Timelessness in interior decoration is an important consideration for us, and we are looking for furniture that can be repaired if need be.”

What’s the worst thing you have bought?
“We always consider carefully what we want to buy. I must say it’s the small wood-colored cabinet we bought for the bedroom just in case, because we didn’t have enough storage space. It’s not the most beautiful piece of furniture you can find, and not a carefully considered purchase, but quite necessary at the moment.”

HAY  Rice paper shade 50 cm
They didn’t want to have legs in their bed. It gives a feeling of extra space in the room with a diagonal ceiling. The rice paper lamp is by HAY. Santeri bought the small rug years ago for his first own home.
Courtyard in Port Arthur, Turku
The courtyard is pretty much how it used to be when the houses were built. There’s also a sauna building at the back.

What do you dream about?
“We dream about renovating the bathroom, and to make the hallway more beautiful and more practical. The bathroom needs floor heating, and we’d like to have hexagonal, light beige tiles on the floor, and white walls. The hallway needs a new closet, and the stairs could do with some repair. We’d also like to have some colorful floor tiles there – maybe something Moroccan.”

What does a home mean to you?
“A place where we can relax, with room for friends, too. We like to spend time just the two of us, but we also like to have friends over. Our home is designed to be functional, even if we had more people over for dinner or brunch. The main thing for us has been to create a home that is both aesthetically and functionally the world’s best place for just us.”

Get inspired

Artek
A330s pendant
Finarte
Dyyni rug
Marimekko
Flower vase
Artek
Aalto chair 69
Majamoo
Pot stand
Artek
Lucius candleholder
Marimekko
Tasaraita duvet cover
Hario
Buono kettle

See also:

New arrivals at Finnish Design Shop >
Pre-owned design treasures at Franckly >

Text: Heli Thorén Images: Elina Simonen

The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 2/2022.

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