Franckly Friends: Embracing slow living in an historic wooden house

Iina Hautala and her partner Axel, both charmed by the allure of old buildings, discovered their ideal rental home a couple of years ago just outside the heart of Turku, Finland, in a wooden house built in 1914. Design Stories got a peek into this home brimming with history and stories – come join us!

Creative writer and communications specialist Iina Hautala
Creative writer and communications specialist Iina Hautala lives in a two-story rental apartment in an old wooden house with her partner, professional musician Axel.

Hey Iina and Axel! Your wooden house seems like a very special place to live. How did you end up here?
Iina: “We both grew up in old wooden houses, and the idea of living in one has always intrigued us. I moved to Turku at 18 for university and lived in a wooden house already then. I’ve lived in Seoul, South Korea, and Helsinki, before moving back to Turku with Axel a few years ago to this home. This place was the second one we checked out, and we were instantly captivated by the character of the house and this apartment.

Axel: “I grew up in the Helsinki metropolitan area, and studied briefly in Turku and Berlin. When we came to see this place, we were the only ones at the showing, and the landlord immediately said they wanted to rent it to us. Perhaps our application, expressing our deep appreciation for old buildings, played a part in this decision.”

Vintage furniture in a light-colored living room
The spacious living room serves as a versatile space for relaxation, work, and gatherings. The antique tile stove is warmed up daily during the winter months.
Artek chairs around a vintage table
Bold tables define different areas of the living room. The tables, GUBI’s Semi pendant lamp, and some of the Artek chairs and stools were found at online vintage marketplaces.

How does living in an old wooden house differ from living in an apartment building?
Axel: “Since the building is old, the apartment can get drafty. We don’t like to crank up the electric heaters, so we heat the place with wood using our tile stove and kitchen stove. On really cold days, we need to light fires in both.

Every spring, we head to my family’s second summer cottage in the local archipelago to chop firewood. The wood dries over the summer, and in the fall, we bring it to our woodshed for the winter. It saves on electricity too.”

“There’s something very satisfying about pausing to appreciate the important things in life.”

Iina: “Choosing to live in a wooden house is usually a deliberate decision. You long for that idyllic and old-timey feel but also understand that an old wooden house requires care and can be cooler in the winter. The atmosphere is communal; we chat and engage with neighbors in the yard.

In wooden house living, things take more time. Many people, I believe, are looking for a counterbalance to convenience and ease. There’s something very satisfying about pausing to appreciate the important things in life. For us, heating our home with wood is a source of great pleasure.”

Artworks and a sculpture on a glass cabinet
Art, books, and well-worn furniture take center stage in Iina and Axel’s home. The glass cabinet is a cherished piece from Iina’s parents.

Your home does give off that vibe of truly enjoying life.
Iina: “I believe a home should be a place where you can focus on what’s important to you, get work done, and bring together loved ones. Our spacious living room downstairs is perfect for gatherings with close friends. We also listen to a lot of music at home.

My favorite time of the day is morning, so I always make time for my morning coffee ritual. It’s wonderful to watch how the light moves throughout the day: the living room gets the morning sun, the kitchen the evening sun. The last light of the evening filters beautifully through the leaves. The trees outside our windows also mark the changing seasons.”

Axel: “In our work, we both deal with art and culture. Art challenges us to broaden our perspectives, and it can play a significant role in people’s well-being. It’s nice to enjoy some of that at home too.”

White sofa and shepherd’s rug
Some paintings are patiently waiting to find their perfect spot. The graphic artwork is a gem from a recent flea market haul. A soft, aged shepherd’s rug cozies up the space in front of the sofa.

Apart from your home and the archipelago, you enjoy big cities like Paris. What do these places mean to you?
Iina: “Interestingly, big cities and the archipelago share some common moments. In both, you can get lost in your thoughts and feel small amidst it all. Both are filled with passion, tenderness, and inspiration.

I love cities where art, design, and architecture are prominently on display. In Paris, you can discover a new gallery with each visit. I’m particularly drawn to the visual arts and love French literature. France also holds childhood memories for me; we traveled a lot along the Switzerland-France-Germany axis – my parents lived in Switzerland before I was born, and we have relatives there.

I think you bring a lot of ideas home from your travels, sometimes without even realizing it. Compositions, shapes, or color combinations might reflect the aesthetics that inspired you on your journey.”

A white staircase and kitchen island
The compact kitchen is enhanced with a small island, adding flexibility to the space. Under the staircase leading to the sleeping area upstairs is an additional storage space built by Axel.
A wood-heated stove and lilac flowers
Layers of time are evident in the kitchen, where the old wood stove blends with modern cabinetry. On frosty mornings, the wood stove is fired up, conveniently doubling as a spot to cook the morning porridge.

Your home’s decor is primarily made up of used furniture. How important is it that items have a past and a story?
Iina: “As a writer, I naturally love stories. Plus, I appreciate when not everything is sterile. It feels right to furnish our home in a way that matches its character. I don’t believe in strict decor rules or think that our home, built in 1914, should only contain Art Nouveau furniture. I’d rather mix different styles and let my preferences guide me. While I do follow the design industry closely and am interested in new pieces, even those can be purchased thoughtfully. Nowadays, it’s also really easy to find beautiful, lightly used furniture.

“I don’t decorate with single items but rather slowly build up entire ensembles.”

I don’t decorate with single items but rather slowly build up entire ensembles. I liken this to writing, where combinations of words and their arrangement, especially in poetry, create meaning more than individual words do. Together, the layers and the whole create significance.”

Axel: “Old items are unique and full of surprises. Hunting for vintage requires you to slow down and be patient. But it’s rewarding when you’ve put effort into finding something, and later, it reminds you of the fun search.”

A bed in a bedroom with yellow walls
The upstairs sleeping area is bathed in warm tones, creating a distinct ambiance highlighted by the natural light from a skylight.
A bedroom with a skylight in the upstairs of a wooden house
The upper floor offers a tranquil retreat at the end of the day. The old ceiling beams are a nod to the house’s original character.
A hand-painted table lamp by Arabia
A sunflower-yellow accent wall, a valance sheet, and a hand-painted vintage lamp from Arabia evoke the feel of a quaint inn in Southern Europe.

Can you share the story behind one of your vintage finds?
Axel: “Once, we were driving back to Turku from Tampere, after a long trip from visiting Iina’s family for Christmas. Iina spotted online a cheap, beautiful glass table nearby, and we immediately went to pick it up, unsure if it would even fit in the car. The frame didn’t fit inside, so we had to strap it to the roof and drive home with our fingers crossed in the middle of winter. Luckily, it made it home in one piece!”

Iina: “We also found our dining table on an online marketplace. We had long dreamed of a round dining table, and I had spotted a model I liked in a commercial space. One day, as I was browsing through the ads, I saw a table that resembled that one. Due to the low price and a blurry picture, I wasn't entirely sure it was the exact table we were looking for. We managed to arrange delivery right to our doorstep, and we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw our dream table arriving – and in great condition, no less!

One tip for finding used furniture is to browse online marketplaces targeting locations you’ll be passing through in the coming days. This works especially well outside major cities, where you can find incredible deals at very low prices.”

A carpenter-made stool and table with an intarsia surface
The upstairs also houses a stool and an inlaid table crafted by Axel as part of his carpentry thesis project.
Iina Hautala by the window in her home
Thanks to large windows and sheer curtains, the apartment seamlessly connects with the surrounding yard, bringing the outdoors in.

What else speaks to you when making purchases for your home?
Iina: “It’s not important to us to have furnishings designed by specific designers; instead, we prefer a mix of shapes, colors, and textures. For instance, I knew I wanted a round lamp above our round dining table. Our home features a lot of wood and glass – materials that show the wear and patina of lived life.”

Axel: “As a carpenter, I naturally value old, well-crafted furniture. They often reflect practical thinking, like a chair designed to be both durable and light. Items used to be made to last a lifetime because people didn’t change their home interiors as frequently. Patina is something that many of our furniture pieces share. We don’t even know the origin of all of them; they’ve come to us from parents, friends, and acquaintances. Professionally, I also admire the intricate craftsmanship of antique furniture, like decorative carvings and inlay work.”

“Patina is something that many of our furniture pieces share.”

How do you hope your home evolves over time?
Iina: “Our long-term dream is to find a beautiful old place to renovate and make it our own while respecting its history. But for now, renting here suits us perfectly. We’re looking to find a lovely new couch, acquire more art, and paint the living room walls warmer shades. There’s something appealing about incompletion. A home feels gentle when it allows for change over time.”

Axel: “We’ll likely add little things here and there. It’s important to leave space for solutions to emerge. Even temporary solutions can be delightful while waiting for the right one to come along.”

Books on a windowsill

Iina’s favorite books

  • Patti Smith: Devotion
  • Pirkko Soininen: Kipulintu
  • Deborah Levy: The Cost of Living
  • Helvi Hämäläinen: Selected Poems
  • Claire Castillon: On n'empêche pas un petit cœur d’aimer

Get inspired

Aalto chair 66
Aalto stool E60 Zebra
Semi pendant
New Works
Kizu table lamp
Lago coffee table
Shaggy rug
Festivo candleholder
Oiva Räsymatto teapot

See also:

Latest vintage arrivals at Franckly >

Text: Jenna Kiuru Images: Jenna Kiuru and Tuomas Pajuniemi

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