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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Text: Anna-Kaisa Melvas Photos: Ulla-Maija Lähteenmäki
This story was first published in Asun magazine's issue 28.