Jutta and Jani renovated a wooden house from the 1920s: “Here, space has become a new kind of luxury”

Renovating a wooden house in poor condition proved a challenge, but in the end, it was worth the effort. The move from a loft apartment to the wooden house of their dreams in Turku brought more than a hundred square meters more space.

&Tradition Formakami pendant light


Designer, interior designer and stylist Jutta Tanninen and her entrepreneur husband Jani Vuorinen. Their home is in a wooden house built in 1923 near the center of Turku, Finland. The space of 160 square meters spreads on three floors.

&Tradition Formakami pendant light

The wall between the living room and dining room was taken down. The chalk paint gives the walls a soft surface. &Tradition’s Formakami pendant is from Finnish Design Shop. Jutta prepares displays to suit the style of the house on the low shelves in the background.

WHEN YOU DESIGN interiors and style apartments for sale as a profession, the experience is also useful when you’re looking for a home for yourself. Jutta Tanninen and Jani Vuorinen decided to leave Littoisten Verkatehdas, the old broadcloth factory in Lieto, they loved so much and the 55-square-meter loft to look for a bigger flat in the center of Turku.

The idea was to renovate a house in poor condition and turn it into a dream home. They found a suitable place via a friend. But it happens to the most professional of us: the apartment was bigger and more expensive than the couple had thought, and the renovation was much more complicated than they imagined. The end result is, however, worth the effort, as there is abundantly more space than before.

The apartment was bigger and more expensive than the couple had thought, and the renovation was much more complicated than they imagined.

&Tradition Formakami pendant light

For the first time, the couple has a proper dining area. The chairs for the dining table Jutta has bought at an online flea market.

How did your house renovation go, Jutta?
We had seen the house through rose-tinted lenses. The house had been renovated in the 1990s, and in the light of current expertise, this had been done poorly. On the other hand, it wasn’t a shame to demolish what was poorly done in the first place, and we made good changes also in the floor plan.

My father was a great help, as he’s a carpenter by profession. He was responsible for the renovation of the flat, which took more than a year. There is still a room downstairs waiting for a makeover. We dream of turning it into a small home that can be rented out for short stays.

Hay's black Loop Stand trestles

The pearl gray kitchen cupboards get a kick from black string handles. The table top was sawed from planks and set on Hay’s Loop Stand trestles. Cupboards and worktops, Unique Home. Stools, Ville Aakula.  

Artek's black Domus chair

The black-stained chair next to the kitchen table is Artek's Domus.

Which phase of the renovation process was the most rewarding?
The best thing was seeing when the plans became a reality and served their purpose. After a long day of renovations, I could just stay and admire a ready detail, even though there was chaos all around. The interior design required a whole new kind of creativity, as previously we had only lived in small apartments of less than 60 square meters. Now the spaces were much bigger and required more furniture.

A large-scale renovation did not leave much money for the interior, but I made many good purchases when I found something affordable. The best finds made me feel amazing.

How did your own skills help with the project?
I have the ability to see things as they are when they are ready, even if there is a wreckage in front of me in reality. I can thank my father for this ability, and my siblings have it as well. The biggest change in this house was moving the toilet to another place, and in this manner, we made the upstairs staircase and the entire floor plan much more spacious. Moving the toilet was my father’s idea, and at first, we were a bit scared of it because of the expenses. But now we are happy with the result.

Cooperation with our father works well. I plan and he implements. At the same time, we make a note of structural issues in order to take them into account in the future.

&Tradition Formakami pendant light

The living room ceiling was repaired and lined with moldings, hiding the curtain rail and lighting. The lamp is &Tradition’s Formakami. The sofa was bought even before the renovation had properly started. The armchairs Jutta bought from one of her design projects and had them upholstered with Saana and Olli’s Myrskyn jälkeen (After the storm) fabric.

Hay's black Serve coffee table

Hay’s Serve sofa table and the rug inherited from grandmother provide a warm feeling in the living space.

What are you particularly happy with?
I am happy that now our home is now exactly like the vision I have had in my mind for a long time. The middle floor changed most in the renovation process. We took down the wall between the living room and the dining space and now we have a spacious room where you can eat and socialize. We renovated the beautiful ceiling in the living room and added moldings in order for the curtains and the lighting to remain out of sight. We carried on with the same idea for the dining room ceiling.

We renovated the floor of the middle floor completely. The idea was to save the old board flooring, but unfortunately, there was not much left to safe after discovering the board floor under eight different floor materials.

“Our home is now exactly like the vision I have had in my mind for a long time.”

Where did you find the leading idea for the interior design?
The style of our home was easily created around a clear color map. The house has white, black and gray, but above all, layers. We wanted to respect the old building and decorate our home in a manner that suits its style. However, I didn’t want a granny style home, so the aim was to bring also modern and new items along with flea market discoveries. The house is quite ascetic and all the things have their place.

In my work, I live among a lot of stuff and I wanted our own home to be quite simple. Most of our things are still in the move-in boxes in the storage. We still have plenty of stuff but we aim to display them little by little. We’ve had to learn a lot, but I am starting to do so gradually. Our old home was black and white, but I wanted to create a softer atmosphere here.

Renovated wooden house in Turku

The slatted staircase is a graphic and outstanding element. The stairs made by Jutta’s father were painted pearl gray with Betolux. Moving the old toilet made the staircase spacious and straight.

Staircase painted gray with Betolux

What are your favorite places in your home?
For the first time, we have a real kitchen and dining area! In our old house, we didn’t even have a dining table and the kitchen was largely ornamental. We have learned to prepare food together and also invested in the table setting and in eating together.

“Here, space has become a new kind of luxury.”

This must sound a bit odd, but both Jani and I like our own space at home, as we both have very busy jobs. I may go upstairs with my magazines and Jani enjoys listening to music on the middle floor. Our previous home was so much smaller that here, space has become a new kind of luxury.

Linen bedding

The bedroom is in the most distinctive space upstairs. The slanted roof and beautiful window provide the perfect place for a bed. The linen bedding in different shades of gray suit Jutta’s style.

Hay's black Loop Stand

In the bedroom, Jutta has compiled a convenient sideboard from Lundia’s black-painted shelving elements. The clothes stand is Hay's Loop Stand.

Which room do you think was the most successful?
I am very happy with the solutions in the downstairs hallway and sauna and bathroom premises. The kitchen also looks just like I dreamed it. As sugar on the top, we have the staircase finished with black slats.

1920s wooden house in Turku

Jutta and Jani's home is in a 1920s house in Turku.

What kind of interior design dreams do you have?
I was able to implement most of my dreams when it just so happened that we sold the furniture in our old place with the apartment. I got to start over in this house. I do dream about a headboard with a linen hood. We also need some lamps upstairs.

Downstairs, we still have a project the size of a small inn. We would like to turn the space that now serves as storage into an Airbnb someday.

Text: Jonna Kivilahti Images: Krista Keltanen

The article was originally published in Avotakka.

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