A unique 1950s studio apartment in Helsinki is full of colors and cozy atmosphere

Miia’s studio home in Herttoniemi, Helsinki, reflects her creativity and courage to use colors based on intuition. For Miia, the happiest moments are those when friends or members of the extended family gather around the large table.

Muuto Visu chair
The blue Ekstrem chairs designed by Terje Ekstrøm are one of Miia’s second-hand finds. The green Visu chair is by Muuto. Tommi Musturi’s art adorns the wall. The Les Voliéres lamp is by Mathieu Challiéres.


Entrepreneur Miia Sorvoja and children Sisu, 3, and Urho, 9. The home is a 99-square-meter apartment in a building completed in 1955 in Herttoniemi, Helsinki.

Apartment building in Herttoniemi, Helsinki
There is a line of old trees next to the apartment building built in 1955 in Herttoniemi, Helsinki.

SPRING HAD JUST blossomed. Soft light entered the studio apartment through large windows, and the old birches on the yard were about to put out leaves. The cozy atmosphere swept Miia and her spouse, who were living in the center of Helsinki at that time, off their feet at once. They quickly decided to buy the 1950s apartment located in Herttoniemi, Helsinki.

The home, which has two and a half stories, features an interesting floor plan, high ceilings and plenty of space. A few years ago, at the time of moving in, the apartment exuded the atmosphere of the 1950s, but paint and wallpaper helped Miia create a relaxed background for her “interior design cocktail”. The interior of Miia’s home is not bound to any particular era, as she draws inspiration from all kinds of sources from culture to art.

Miia has a knack for making flea-market discoveries. Despite that, her home is not full of furniture and objects, as she carefully considers every purchase she makes. Even though the interior is a joyful combination of colorful Nomad rugs, old furniture and houseplants, the whole remains calm and harmonious.

Muuto Visu chair
The dining area easily accommodates a large table and a cheerful set of chairs in different colors. The rose-colored sofa and the dining table are second-hand finds. There are ceramics made by Miia on the table.
Parolan Rottinki Peacock chair, natural
There is a piece of art by Ansver Oksman above the Danish vintage sideboard bought from a friend. The table lamps and the Peacock rattan chair are vintage.

To me, home means...

a place for relaxing amidst busy everyday life and spending time with family and friends. My home is both a source of strength and a safe haven. That’s why it matters so much what it looks like. Scents, materials and atmosphere are important to me. I have a soft spot for high-quality bedding and incense. My home must smell good.

“My home is both a source of strength and a safe haven, which is why it matters so much what it looks like.”

The special things about my home include...

the ceiling height, height variations and light of the 1950s studio apartment. The floor plan is unique; homes like this don’t become available too often in downtown Helsinki. The living room is located a few steps below the bedroom, which is like a cozy nest under a slanted ceiling. The room is part of the housing company’s old gathering space acquired by the previous residents, which is why it has two small windows just above the floor. I feel that an old building has so much more soul than a brand-new loft apartment.

Klaus Haapaniemi  Les Chats Ryder cushion cover, linen
A playful color palette was also used in the upstairs living room, which houses another Ekstrem chair. The colorful Moroccan rug is vintage. The Les Chats Ryder cushion is by Klaus Haapaniemi.
Klaus Haapaniemi Equinox wallpaper
The Equinox wallpaper by Klaus Haapaniemi is like a work of art. There is a Suovilla rug by Finarte and a velvet ottoman by Hakola in front of the sofa. The colorful cushions are by Marimekko.

As an interior decorator I am...

bold and innovative. I rely heavily on my intuition. I love colors, peculiar shapes, art and houseplants. I can’t even imagine living in a modern, minimalist apartment decorated with light tones. Aesthetics and craftmanship have been important to me ever since I was a little girl. I work as an entrepreneur in the hairdressing industry and make ceramics. In other words, I also get to use inspiring colors and materials in my daily work.

My friends have called my home…

lovely. I’ve been told that I can create an inviting, warm and inspiring atmosphere. In my home, I’m at my happiest when it’s full of friends, laughter, music and delicious cooking smells. In my opinion, the home should be a relaxed place for adults as well as children and their friends. In our home, the doors are always open to guests.

“In my opinion, the home should be a relaxed place for adults as well as children and their friends.”

My work is reflected in my home...

in the abundance of ceramics. I have also decorated my home with ceramics I make under my own Miso brand and various related prototypes.

A particularly successful solution is…

the downstairs dining area with a table seating 12. Friends gather around it on regular weekdays as well as more festive occasions. I like the large windows in my home, the natural landscape they show and the spacious balcony, where I grow herbs and flowers in the summer.

Miso ceramics Helsinki
Ceramics has become a second profession for Miia. Ceramic products under her own Miso brand are sold in a few places in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The old Paula glogg glasses are by Iittala.
Muuto Push coffee maker, soft grey
The compact kitchen with a checkered floor exudes a 1950s atmosphere. The Push coffee maker is by Muuto.

What I find impractical, on the other hand...

is the rather small kitchen, although it’s nice and compact at the same time. I’d also like to have more room in the hallway, which is difficult to use particularly when it’s muddy outside. That being said, I’m good at adapting and understand that life is choices. If you like living in an apartment, you often have to settle for a rather cramped bathroom or hallway, for example. I could not, however, move further away from the city center just to get a utility room. This central location in Helsinki is important to us.

“It’s important to me that objects at home have stories.”

My most beloved items include...

blue Ekstrem chairs designed by Terje Ekstrøm. They look amazing and have a completely exceptional shape. I found them on Facebook. The chairs had been used in the meeting room of a manor in Porvoo, Finland, and I only paid 50 euros a piece. Other items that I’d never give up include a painting by Ansver Oksman and a teak sideboard I’ve bought from a friend. I frequently visit flea markets, and it’s important to me that objects have stories.

Normann Copenhagen Pocket organizer 4, white
The houseplants have been planted in Pocket organizers by Normann Copenhagen. The tabletop has a nice location under the stairs. The Trinidad chairs are from Tori and the Moroccan rug is from Bukowskis.
Menu Bollard lamp, purple
The snug, nest-like bedroom is located on the top floor of the apartment. A vintage room divider serves as a headboard. The vase forms a nice pair with the Bollard lamp by Menu.

My worst purchase...

is a 1950s sofa I bought at a flea market that turned out to have loose springs. I only noticed that at home. So, it was a bad purchase, but that’s how it goes, you may get a few misses when shopping at flea markets. In other respects, the sofa is nice and still part of our living-room furniture.

The best moments here…

are the everyday moments when we’re all happily doing our own things. On Saturdays, we have friends over with their children. We go to the sauna and cook good food together. Our cozy dining area, which is partly located in a recess below the loft, has a big table with enough seats for even a larger group. These Saturday sauna evenings have become a beloved part of the weekend that both children and adults look forward to.

Get inspired

Visu chair
Suovilla rug
Trinidad chair
Klaus Haapaniemi
Cushion cover
Klaus Haapaniemi
Equinox wallpaper
Push coffee maker
Normann Copenhagen
Pocket organizer
Parolan Rottinki
Peacock chair

See also:

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Text: Maria Rautio Images: Maria Putaansuu

The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 11/2021.

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