Meant for each other – Ulrika and Jakob fell in love with a vintage home in Vaasa

In Vaasa, Western Finland, near the sea and a linden tree alley, there is a cozy home that immediately enchants visitors with its captivating tranquility right from the entrance. It’s no wonder that Ulrika and Jakob fell in love with the apartment even before they decided to move in together.

Ulrika and Jakob with their child and dog
Ulrika and Jakob are grateful for their home, which they found when they were still a fresh couple. Selma, the dog, is little Svante’s best friend and equally a member of the family.


Graphic designer Ulrika, 35, and digital designer Jakob, 35, along with their one-year-old child Svante and five-year-old dog Selma. Spanning 139 square meters, the apartment is located in a building constructed in 1931–1932 in the center of Vaasa. The architect behind the building is Matti Visanti (formerly Björklund).

HAY Loop Stand table, black
Eero Aarnio’s bright orange Polaris plastic chairs, found at an auction, add a vibrant splash of color to the otherwise classic decor. The Loop Stand table is from HAY.

IT’S A SUNNY DAY and the apartment is filled with light. Thin curtains gently flutter in the sea breeze near the balcony door. It’s peaceful, with only the soft humming of the mother heard in the background as she bustles around the kitchen. Soon-to-be one-year-old Svante is busy playing on the floor, accompanied by Cockapoo dog Selma.

According to Ulrika and Jakob, their hometown Vaasa is just the right size for them. It offers the right amount of services, and the proximity to Sweden greatly influences the cityscape and atmosphere. Ulrika describes the vibe in Vaasa as relaxed yet forward-looking, which can be said of their home as well.

Artek high chair K65
The walls and bookshelf were painted in Tikkurila’s V447 Serpentiini. The original floor was preserved instead of installing new parquet. The high chair K65 is by Artek.
Living room decor
Jakob is the family’s art collector. Shepard Fairey’s Ronald Reagan painting was a find from an auction. The Artek coffee table and the bamboo chairs are second-hand.

Ulrika, how did you end up living in your current home?
“We had only been dating for a couple of months when we went for a walk one day and decided to casually visit an open house. The apartment seemed promising, but at that point, we hadn’t even discussed moving in together.

Time passed, yet neither of us could get the apartment out of our minds. Eventually, we checked if it had already been sold and were pleasantly surprised to find it still on the market. We made an offer, which was accepted, and six months after the first viewing, we moved into the apartment.”

What made you fall in love with the apartment?
“We were captivated by its brightness, room layout and general atmosphere. We appreciated the unique details, such as the original wooden sliding doors and the large glass double doors on the balconies. The apartment also had a wonderful sense of airiness and space. The size and number of rooms enticed us to plan the color palette and interior decor.”

“The apartment itself inspired the colors and choices we made.”

Where did you find inspiration for your home?
“We planned the whole renovation together. The apartment itself inspired the colors and choices we made. We wanted to preserve the old details and honor the distinctive features of the apartment. For instance, we selected paint colors from Tikkurila’s traditional color chart. I follow a lot of Swedish interior magazines and Instagram accounts, drawing inspiration from unique and personalized homes.”

Louis Poulsen Panthella table lamp, opal
The walls were painted in Tikkurila’s Y487 Piazza. The painting on the wall is by Ulrika’s friend Janika Löfqvist. The bar cart serves as a small table, accompanied by the Panthella lamp.
Artek Aalto table, birch - white
The Erró pop art pieces were found at an auction. The Aalto tables are from Artek, and the Svenskt Tenn umbrella stand doubles as a paper bin. The walls are colored in Tikkurila’s X459 Uni.
The whole family in their kitchen
“I love the atmosphere of our kitchen. The glass doors open to a lush inner courtyard, and it’s nice to sit there on summer evenings,” Ulrika says.

What kind of renovation did you undertake?
“We completely renovated the 90s-style kitchen and the small guest bathroom. The other rooms received fresh coats of paint on the walls, and some also on the ceiling. We wanted to maintain the original flooring, so it was sanded and refinished in a fresher shade. The bathroom renovation will have to wait since it’s still in pretty good condition.”

Did you encounter any surprises during the renovation?
“We didn’t encounter any major surprises, except for the fact that straight walls are a rarity in old houses.”

Your home has plenty of space. Was it easy to decide on the room layout?
“Certain rooms were easy to decide, like our bedroom and living room. Our bedroom faces the inner courtyard because it’s quieter and cooler than the rooms facing the street. As for the other rooms, we’re still contemplating whether to change their arrangement. We’re particularly considering the locations of the dining room and home office. We’re also thinking about where Svante’s future room should be. Thankfully, we have options, and nothing is set in stone. It’s nice to live with the idea that room layouts can be changed whenever.”

Kitchen sink and cabinets
The kitchen has a restaurant feel while reflecting the era of the 1930s when the house was built. The cabinets and sink are from Ikea. Open shelves work well for storing everyday dishes.
Kitchen decor
An old metallic ”shopping list” acquired from an online auction decorates the kitchen wall. Hunting for vintage items is both Ulrika’s and Jakob’s favorite activity.
Hanging fruit basket in the kitchen
The collection of potted plants on the kitchen windowsill adds coziness. The hanging fruit basket is a memento from the 80s.
Artworks in the kitchen
Artwork can also be hung low near the floor. At the top is Emilia Ilke’s piece, and the blue painting by Curt Hillfon is an auction find.

How would you describe your style when it comes to home decor?
“Our style is quite timeless and relaxed: lots of thrift store and auction finds, playful and colorful, yet also classic. We only acquire furniture and decor items if they please us both and have a special charm. Rarely do we feel the need to buy something brand new. We believe that items should somehow harmonize with each other, but we don’t take decorating too seriously.”

“Home is our family nest, and it should feel safe and reflect who we are.”

What is your favorite spot in your home?
“The most important thing in our home is the atmosphere and coziness. Home is our family nest, and it should feel safe and reflect who we are. The bedroom has a particularly serene and relaxing ambiance. It’s wonderful to retreat there for some reading time after completing the day’s tasks.

I also love the atmosphere of our kitchen. The glass patio doors open to a lush inner courtyard, and it’s nice to sit there on summer evenings, listening to music while Svante enjoys his evening porridge. I particularly adore our dining room and its stunning glass doors that open to another balcony. In the summer, we keep the doors open whenever the weather allows.”

Bedroom decor
The bedroom walls were painted in Tikkurila’s S500 Tyrsky. The rug was inherited from Ulrika’s grandparents. Ulrika bought the beautiful cabinet from a thrift store in Sweden.
Lapuan Kankurit Koirapuisto blanket
Svante’s room is adorned with colorful textiles. The Koirapuisto blanket is from Lapuan Kankurit, and the red-white quilt and linen curtain from Marimekko.
Rose-colored bathroom
The charming rose-colored bathroom is complemented by wine-red tiles on the floor. The Arabia vintage furniture was found at flea markets and at Jakob’s parents’ house.

What does home mean to you?
“Home is an incredibly important place for both of us. For me personally, it means having a space filled with things that reflect my style. I enjoy making small changes from time to time. I’m interested in interior design, and home is where I get to unleash my creativity. Our home is so multi-dimensional, allowing us to explore various arrangements and decor solutions. I love the concept of ‘hygge’ and feeling cozy at home!”

Do you have any home decor aspirations for the future?
“I dream of playing with colors even more. Perhaps we’ll paint doors, door frames, moldings, or even ceilings in shades other than white. I also want to acquire new textiles and mix different materials together.”

Get inspired

Eames DSR chair
Siena cushion cover
Unfold pendant
J41 chair
High chair K65
Loop Stand table
Louis Poulsen
Panthella Mini table lamp
Lampe Gras 204 wall lamp
Montana Furniture
Shelfie mirror
POV Circle tealight holder
Lapuan Kankurit
Koirapuisto blanket
String Furniture
String Pocket shelf

Text: Paula Saini Images: Vanessa Forstén

The story was previously published in Avotakka magazine 3/2023.

Previous story
Next story

Sign up to Finnish Design Shop’s newsletter and enter a monthly gift card prize draw!

Sign up

For the love of design

Design Stories is Finnish Design Shop's own online magazine, that takes you to beautiful Nordic homes, introduces new products and beloved icons – and much more!

Go to the Design Stories front page

Shop Nordic design

Design Stories is provided by Finnish Design Shop, the world’s largest online store specialized in Nordic design.

Discover our selection

Buy & sell authentic vintage is a curated online marketplace for pre-owned design maintained by Finnish Design Shop.

Find treasures at Franckly