A family home with a 15-year style guarantee

The terraced home of this Oulu-based family was renovated and decorated in a way that brought out the best of the 70s, steered clear of all stuffiness and maximized freshness. Interior designer Anna-Kaisa Melvas explains how the home was made more functional with choices that stand the test of time.

Johanna Gullichsen Doris and Nereus cushion covers
The terraced house in nearly original condition was updated to meet the needs of today's life. The Nereus and Doris cushion covers are from Johanna Gullichsen.

ANNA-KAISA MELVAS: I had the pleasure of being involved in the design and renovation of this terraced home that was almost in its original condition. I’d say that the schedule for the project was perfect since I was able to participate in it as the designer as soon as the purchase decision was made.

Karoliina and Kalle definitely made the right choice. The Uistintie detached-house area in Oulu, which is now protected in the city plan, has a reasonable scale and an exceptionally verdant overall look.

70s facade | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The exterior of the house is black and red, but the colors felt too heavy for the interior.
A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The end wall of the living room was covered with the same ribbed paneling as the kitchen island and ceiling beam. All the furniture was purchased second-hand and at flea markets.
A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The bookshelf embedded in a recess in the upstairs hallway is the joint accomplishment of Kalle and a friend of the family.

Karoliina and Kalle had a very clear vision for the apartment’s interior right from the start: Danish-style, cozy, inviting and functional. To name a few details, the couple hoped for a kitchen without upper cabinets as well as natural surface materials.

“Danish style is cozy and classic at the same time, and it features such good design,” said Karoliina when justifying her preference to me at the beginning of the design project.

Kitchen | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The most thought-out detail in the kitchen is the tiling that covers the cooker hood. This solution helped hide a boring technical appliance and increased the amount of the beautiful, tiled surface in the space.
Kitchen | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
Karoliina’s express requirements for the kitchen were that the space should be left without upper cabinets and that the lower cabinets should have solid-oak doors. The vertically laid Country tiles by Equipe reflect the 70s style. The kitchen countertops are made of quartz composite, and the knobs and wire pulls are from Hokola.
Kitchen storage | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The old cold room that was converted into storage space for the kitchen adds a touch of everyday luxury. To reflect the style of the cold rooms in restaurants, the walls were clad in white tiles and the space was equipped with metal shelves for storage.
&Tradition Copenhagen SC7 pendants
The aim was to keep the space open but to separate the kitchen from the rest of the dining/living room area. The kitchen island with a raised back edge and the paneling on the ceiling beam solved this problem. The Copenhagen pendants are from &Tradition.

The starting point for designing the interior of the apartment was to give it a 15-year style guarantee. Renovation is expensive, and in my opinion, a timeless style can be achieved by preserving as many of the home’s original features as possible and taking a critical stance toward the hottest interior design trends. What looked great on Pinterest might not have been the best choice for this apartment.

A timeless style can be achieved by preserving as many of the home’s original features as possible.

Spending a long weekend on site and engaging in active remote collaboration with the couple had a significant impact on the design process. A shared Pinterest folder and messages helped us make many decisions – sometimes even on a tight schedule.

Bedroom | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The master bedroom was created by building a wall in the enormous fireplace room. Since the space was so large, it was also divided a second time into a walk-in closet and a bedroom.
Bedroom | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
Grasscloth wallpaper was ordered for the wall acting as a headboard. Sliding doors separate the walk-in closet from the bedroom. The doors and cabinets are custom-made.

I based the design on the best and most challenging features of the two-story terraced home. Even though the black window frames and wooden ceiling beams dominated the apartment’s appearance, they also gave the home character and structure. However, the striking black window frames made it challenging to select a suitable color palette for the children’s rooms, for example.

The three young girls were still very much in the pink phase, and I spent the most moving moments of the design process with the family’s 11-year-old daughter Maisa, who cried when I suggested a light-gray tone for her room. The thing was that the pink of her dreams did not go well with the black window frames. Fortunately, I was able to make up for the disappointment with a pink bed canopy.

Hallway | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The white painted brick walls are an essential and original part of the interior. The chest of drawers in the hallway is custom-made, and the lamp on top of the drawer is Yki Nummi’s classic Kupoli.
Staircase | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The staircase was one of the apartment’s details that the family fell in love with. Several surface layers were removed from the stairs, which were then restored to their former glory and covered with sisal carpet. Inconspicuous outdoor lamps were installed on the walls.
Iittala Festivo candleholders
Kalle was supposed to be in charge of the interior of the fireplace room, but enthusiasm took over and the space ended up being decorated without a soccer theme. The Festivo candleholders are from Iittala.
Le Klint Sax 224-1/7 wall lamp
The sofa recess, which converts into beds, is used for storing extra blankets. Le Klint's Sax wall lamp is a Danish classic from 1952.

Almost all the walls in the home remained white, except for a few paneled walls and the wall with a grasscloth wallpaper in the master bedroom. The exterior of the house is black and red, but the colors felt too heavy for the interior. The brick-clad walls downstairs had been painted white and painting them with some other color would’ve been a somewhat peculiar move.

Sometimes a few added centimeters are all you need to make a space functional.

The layout of the apartment wasn’t altered that much, but, for example, the gigantic fireplace room, which was way too big for the purpose, was divided to create a spacious bedroom and walk-in closet in addition to the fireplace room. The upstairs layout remained virtually the same; only the intermediate wall between the kitchen and dining room was knocked down and replaced with a kitchen island featuring a raised back edge and covered with ribbed paneling.

Bathroom | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The large washroom exudes the atmosphere of a public sauna. The walls were covered with vertically laid white basic tiles. The red hexagon tiles from Pukkila’s Natura collection were the obvious choice for the floor.
Utility room | A family home in Oulu with a 15-year style guarantee
The utility room was modernized by moving a few walls slightly. The recess was equipped with shelves for storage, and two collapsible drying racks were installed below them.

Before purchasing new furniture for the apartment, we went through the furniture in the old home and decided what to keep and what to sell or donate. Many of the pieces were purchased second-hand, and even the Swiss cheese plant for the living room was found online. Most of the lamps were bought new, as was the large rug for the living room. To avoid compromising on sizes, the storage furniture was made to order, as were the sofa beds and sliding doors in the fireplace room.

The high points of the interior design process were the second-hand finds as well as the spatial solutions and surface-material choices made for the utility room and kitchen.

“Our new home ended up reflecting our style perfectly!” I think so, too, and have heard many other people say the same.

Get inspired

Sika-Design
Charlottenborg table
Johanna Gullichsen
Nereus cushion cover
Le Klint
Sax 224-1/17 wall lamp
Marimekko
Urna vase
&Tradition
Copenhagen SC7 pendant
Artek
Aalto day bed 710
Louis Poulsen
Panthella table lamp
Bialetti
Moka Express espresso maker

Text: Anna-Kaisa Melvas Photos: Ulla-Maija Lähteenmäki

This story was first published in Asun magazine's issue 28.

Previous story
Next story