A pop of pink – Eero Aarnio’s classic chair gives a splash of color to this Helsinki home

The two-bedroom city apartment of Emilia and her family is clean, and the colors are in harmony. Their only impulse purchase was a pink Pastil Chair by Eero Aarnio.

Vitra  Panton chair, white
The Artek 112B wall shelf is a classic. On the wall is a work by Laura Annala. Vitra’s white Panton chair and the Viennese chair both have curved lines. The footstool and sofa are by Hakola.


Assortment manager Emilia Santavuori, 33; freelance director Elias Santavuori, 31; and Frans 3.5. Their home is a two-bedroom apartment with 77 square metres in an apartment block, built in 1953, in Meilahti, Helsinki.

Eero Aarnio Originals  Pastil Chair, white
Emilia loves the play of light and shadow in her home. Eero Aarnio’s Pastil Chair is not only fun but also comfortable to sit in. It is coupled with the Akari 10A lamp by Vitra. Emmi Ohraniemi painted the colorful painting specially for the family.

THE MIDDAY SUN lights up the spacious living room of the city apartment beautifully. It was the abundant amount of space in the apartment that impressed Emilia and Elias Santavuori as they came to view it a few years ago.

Their home is a charming combination of orderliness and creative thinking. Among the harmonious selection of art, second-hand discoveries and inherited furniture stands out merrily a pink Pastil Chair by Eero Aarnio.

Once they had moved in, they only had to carry out minor refurbishments. The walls create a harmonious color palette, and the light mosaic parquet looks modern. What they’re still planning is to have a carpenter make them a bespoke storage system for the hall. In the future, they plan to make bigger changes to the rooms, but there’s no rush. Everything works in their home, and little Frans has plenty of room to play around in.

Artek Safari chair, natural
Plants are a beautiful addition in the living room. The Safari Chair by Artek goes nicely with the sofa. The pink cushion is by Marimekko and the fun bird on the wall is something they picked up during a trip to Stockholm.
Artek  AMA 500 pendant, white - brass
Artek’s extendable dining table from the 1960s was a long-standing dream for both Emilia and Elias, and finally they managed to buy one at an auction. The Viennese chairs, found online, are next to a Bertoia chair by Knoll. The AMA 500 pendant is by Artek.
Marimekko  Oiva - Koppa serving dish
The pink wall was painted with Tikkurila shade G477 Boudoir. The Koppa serving dish is by Marimekko and the Nappula candleholder by Iittala. Emilia’s brother brought the oil painting from Mexico.

The best in our home is...
the light, the feeling of space and the wide windowsills. We have windows on the opposite sides of the building, so we get plenty of sunlight in. The morning sun fills the living room with varying shades and shadows. In the evenings, we can enjoy the colorful palette of the sunset from our bedroom.

We spend most of our time in the living room, which doubles as the dining area and Frans’s playroom. We open the glazed balcony doors early in the spring to gain an extra room.

“We always aim for a clear solution in decoration, even though we want a multi-layered result and colors.”

What we find impractical...
are the storage solutions. We have the original, ready-built cabinets and cupboards, complete with keys. The cupboards are tall and deep, so in principle there’s enough room, but it just hasn’t been used efficiently. This is particularly impractical for wardrobes. Sometimes I wish the kitchen was part of the living room instead of being a separate room.

As in interior decorator I am...
clear but with a touch of personality. We always aim for a clear solution, even though we want a multi-layered result and colors. It’s been interesting and actually quite fun to observe how our home has changed along the years. It has kind of ripened with us.

We invest in high-quality and durable furniture, both in terms of the materials and its design. Although we do have design furniture, the brand is not the decisive factor. We’ve bought most of our furniture in auctions and online recycling forums. It’s OK for items to look like they’ve seen some life. We like items that have a story.

The kitchen is a secluded space for pottering about. Kvik cabinets are ideal for a long space.
Artek  Aalto wall shelf 112B
The Artek shelf has books and treasures from flea markets.

My dearest treasures are...
a chest of drawers inherited from my grandmother. It was taken along by her family, among the few pieces of furniture they were able to take as they fled from Karelia during the war. I’ve had it with me ever since my student years.

Almost all items and furniture have ended in our home after careful consideration. For example, we were looking for a dining table that was no longer in production, designed by Alvar Aalto for Artek, for a long time. The table had seen plenty of life, but it fits us perfectly. You create an emotional attachment to items when you’ve gone into great lengths for getting them.

“Our home doesn’t have to be spick and span all the time, but we do like it clean, because it adds to our comfort and relaxation.”

You’ll never see in my home...
anything in bright or dark red. We do have other shades of red, such as pink, but the traditional red is so restless that it just doesn’t please my eye. I don’t mind colors, but the shades have to be in balance.

There’s hardly ever any chaos or even a mess in our house. Our home doesn’t have to be spick and span all the time, but we do like it clean, because it adds to our comfort and relaxation. We always try to recycle anything we no longer need.

Seriously bad purchases...
there aren’t that many really, apart from a few carpets, because we like to consider things thoroughly before deciding. Our most spontaneous purchase was Eero Aarnio’s pink Pastil Chair, but it actually fits in nicely with the rest.

HAY  Tray table medium square, white
Emilia and Elias chose a calm, grayish green color for their bedroom walls, Tikkurila S440, Silk Road. A Tray table by HAY is used as a bedside table. A woollen blanket by Lapuan Kankurit, over linen sheets by Anno.
A vintage sideboard
Emilia inherited the sideboard from her grandmother, and it’s got great sentimental value. You can see it in their home that Elias is a music lover. A vase by Anno on the sideboard.
String Pocket shelf
The calm atmosphere of the home continues in Frans’ room. For the walls, they picked Tikkurila shade V447, Serpentine. Storage crates are in a neat row under the bed by Ava Room.
String Furniture
The Finarte rug gives some color to Frans’ room. The storage baskets are by Anno, and the chair in front of the String System desk was made by Emilia’s grandfather.

Our daily life is made easier by...
the apartment’s location. We are close to downtown Helsinki, but the parks in Meilahti are good for a family with children. We use public transport a lot or ride bikes, instead of driving. The central park is just across the road and Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is only a stone’s throw away. So, we’re actually close to nature, although the busy Mannerheimintie road runs past us. We both grew up in a small town, but now we enjoy having people and activity around us.

You wouldn’t think it, but...
my husband looks after the plants. Elias seems to have more patience for that sort of thing than I do.

I’m dreaming of...
a large bathroom with a window and a bathtub. On the walls, I’d like to see vertically laid, glossy tiles in some beautiful color. We’ve sometimes thought whether we could fulfil our dream in our current apartment, but we will save the renovation for later.

Get inspired

Eero Aarnio Originals
Pastil chair
AMA 500 pendant
Flower vase
Tray table
String Furniture
String Pocket
Koppa serving dish
Panton chair
Lapuan Kankurit
Saaga Uni

Text: Maria Rautio Photos: Pauliina Salonen

This story was first published in Avotakka's issue 9/2021.

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