Nordic design finds are the stars of Saara’s decor, and only the best pass her strict scrutiny

In downtown Helsinki, under the spires of a castle-like Art Nouveau building, there’s a home whose residents value a cozy atmosphere and design from past decades. Join Design Stories on a visit to this charming home!

Eames LTR Occasional table, black
The living room is located by tall grid windows. The interior is made up of Nordic classics: the daybed was designed by Borge Mogensen, and the LTR Occasional tables are manufactured by Vitra.

THE SUN REACHES the breakfast table. The day starts with a leisurely meal, which also seems to be of interest to a certain duo. The wire-haired dachshund seniors Mauno and Kusti are not given anything from the table, but they decide to remain close by – just in case.

When sifted through the grid windows, morning light gets a particularly warm tone from the yellow surface of the building opposite. The resident of the home, Saara, says that in the very spot, morning light is at its softest.

Aalto pendant A110 "Hand Grenade", all white
The Bertoia chair was manufactured under license by Fiskars in Billnäs, Finland. Artek’s all-white A110 pendant has been hung low to create a cozy atmosphere.
Aalto Screen 100
A clever elevated workstation was created by the small bay window in the living room. Hidden behind Artek’s Aalto screen 100, the ensemble includes everything needed for remote work.
Artek Aalto tea trolley
The table lamp on Artek’s tea trolley 900 is Oluce’s Perla, the Tuikku candleholder was designed by Heikki Orvola for Nuutajärvi and the relief on the wall is by Krogh Andersen Studio.
Artek Aalto tea trolley 900
The heart of the home is the beautiful original brown tiled stove. The tiles were made in Helsinki by Wilh. Andsténin Tehdas Oy, and the same stove model was used in various buildings designed by the Finnish architect firm Gesellius, Lindgren, Saarinen.
String System shelf in white
The white String System shelf in the living room is used for storing books and displaying cherished treasures. The large ceramic vase on the floor is made by the resident.

One of the apartments in the impressive Art Nouveau building, designed by architect Gustaf Estlander and completed in the early 1900s in the center of Helsinki, has been made into a home with collected classics, diligently searched-for rare gems and other special finds.

Experience has brought precision to the acquisition of pre-owned design items.

Saara is interested in Nordic furniture from past decades, but particularly in Finnish ceramics and glass. Saara has an eye for spotting old Iittala and Arabia items in second-hand stores, but experience has made her critical, and not just anything passes her scrutiny. Nowadays, only very special items get selected.

Saara has also saved various gems from a miserable fate – with resourceful refurbishment and great effort, she has reached the potential that would have gone unnoticed by many.

Artek AMA 500 pendant, white - brass
The carefully designed and well-thought-out kitchen works particularly well when a large group of friends gathers around the table.
Artek AMA 500 pendant lamp
Artek’s round H93 table is accompanied by classic chairs by Vitra and Knoll. The lamp above the dining set is the AMA 500 pendant designed by Aino Aalto, and the beautiful transparent weave on the wall was designed by Riitta Kostamoinen and manufactured by Helmi Vuorelma Oy.
A grey-colored kitchen cabinets
The kitchen is simple and functional. The space is flooded with light from the living room, and all functions are within easy reach.
Customized Artek shelves
The Artek wall shelves are customized for the purpose.

Just a few years ago, the apartment itself was also a diamond in the rough. Now most of the square meters in the apartment, which has windows at both ends, are used for lounging and dining.

In connection with the renovation, the kitchen was placed in the former sleeping alcove.

During the extensive renovation, the former kitchen was turned into a small, cozy bedroom at one end of the apartment, which freed up the rest of the space for other purposes. The kitchen is now a natural part of the whole – both a practical and convenient solution for entertaining.

A hallway in an Art Nouveau building
The apartment in an Art Nouveau building, completed in the early 1900s, has been modernized, but in a way that pays homage to the architectural features of the construction period.
A chandelier of Italian Murano glass
The chandelier was left by the previous resident. The lamp resembling a bunch of grapes is most likely made of Italian Murano glass. The suspended ceiling features skillfully made undulating wooden slats that have been treated dark.
Hang it all coat rack, chocolate
The chocolate brown Hang it all coat rack was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1953. Nowadays, the coat rack is manufactured by Vitra.
Juttu stool, large
The bedroom is a snug, quiet nook, where sound sleep is guaranteed. The Juttu Stool is by Eero Aarnio.
A bedroom with storage space under the elevated floor
The lofty ceiling height of the apartment left room for innovative thinking. The bedroom features a clever elevated floor, with plenty of storage space underneath. There are many collected gems hidden from view.
Aalto wall drawer 114B, natural lacquered
The color scheme of the home includes neutral grays and light tones that nicely complement the warm wooden surfaces and details. The 114B wall drawer was designed by Alvar Aalto.

The majestic, original tiled stove is the heart of the living room. Typical of the time of construction, the ceiling height in the apartment is lofty. The color palette used in the interior consists of neutral, light and gray tones that gently complement the warm rattan and wooden details.

Despite the central location, the atmosphere in the home is quiet and peaceful. Whether that is because of the thick, century-old stone walls of the building or the beautiful, tranquil interior of the apartment, the serenity is palpable.

Shop the look

LTR Occasional table
Toivo publishing
Paavo Tynell
Johanna Gullichsen
Tilkku tube cushion
Aalto pendant A110
Aalto screen 100
Lampe Gras
Johanna Gullichsen
Beetle cushion
Ultima Thule pitcher

See also:

Asun Homes Vol 5 bookazine >
New arrivals at Finnish Design Shop

Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Sameli Rantanen

This story was originally published in the Asun magazine’s issue 43.

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