Franckly Friends: Art and revamped vintage furniture create an enchanting atmosphere in the home of Katarina Fredrikson

Katarina Fredrikson is not afraid to combine design finds from different eras with pre-owned furniture she has refurbished herself. The numerous works of art and soft wall colors really tie the decor of this Helsinki-home together.

Katarina Fredrikson
Franckly Friends is a column that visits the homes of interesting individuals and delves into the stories behind their design treasures. This time we get to visit the home of Katarina Fredrikson in Etu-Töölö, Helsinki.

KATARINA FREDRIKSON and her spouse moved from Kallio to Etu-Töölö in Helsinki in the spring of 2022. What made them move to Etu-Töölö was a 75-square-meter two-bedroom rental apartment in a building from the early 1900s, exuding a charming atmosphere of the past.

“We fell in love with the apartment’s high-ceiling rooms and plaster ceiling medallions, the arched doorway in the entrance hall, the patinated plank floors and the slightly odd labyrinthine layout, which adds a fun element of surprise to the apartment,” says Katarina.

Before moving in, the couple got the lessor’s permission to paint the walls of the apartment with the colors of their choosing, so they grabbed paint rollers and brushes and got to work. Dazzling oranges and bright blues made way to softer and more subdued colors. Now the atmosphere in the apartment is calm and serene, perfectly in line with that of the building, dating back to the early 1900s.

Living room with green walls
Katarina painted the living room in a soft green shade. The tiled side table is revamped by Katarina, and the impressive pendant is from an online flea market.
Vitra Eames LTR Occasional table, white - chrome
Katarina bought the table from a flea market for 5 euros and covered it with mosaic tiles with her sister. Samsung’s Frame flat-screen TV blends in with the works of art.
Flos  Taccia table lamp, small, black
For Katarina, design lamps are a passion in which she is ready to invest. The Tacchia table lamp by Flos was designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962.

WHEN IT COMES to furniture, the couple relies on recycled items and flea-market finds. Almost everything has been purchased used. Katarina says that she likes to visit second-hand stores and follow online recycling groups.

Spotting recycled gems started already when Katarina was a student and toured the nearby flea markets. Since noticing what gems may lie among recycled furniture, Katarina has not bought any pieces new.

“Old items just have this unique feel to them. I like genuine, durable materials and the way that vintage items look. I’m also against wasteful consumerism. I don’t want any more unnecessary things to be made into this world.”

Sofa table made of wood planks
Katarina’s spouse made the living-room coffee table from thick planks found in his parents’ attic – the wood that the planks are made of is originally from a tree felled in their yard. The bookshelf is from an online flea market, but Katarina painted it in a muted shade of red.
A portrait of Katarina Fredrikson sitting on a sofa
The painting on the wall is by Katarina’s grandfather, artist Lars Fredrikson. It is one of Katarina’s most beloved possessions.
Vitra Eames LTR Occasional table, white - chrome
The living room features, in perfect harmony, a plastic mirror, a Bauhaus-style divan, an LTR Occasional side table by Vitra and a modern rug.
A picture of an apartment in Töölö district in Helsinki
The home in Töölö exudes the atmosphere of the past. The ceilings are high, and the rooms form series of spaces running through the building.

FLEA-MARKET FINDS also encouraged Katarina to try repairing and refurbishing furniture. The first larger project she took on was a wooden 1950s chest of drawers, coated in yellowed and blistered varnish. The surfaces had to be sanded and treated several times.

“It took me an enormous number of hours to repair that chest of drawers! Many times we thought about whether we should just give up and toss the whole thing in the fireplace,” says Katarina and laughs.

Even though the project took a great deal of work, it was worth it. Now the chest of drawers is one of Katarina’s favorite pieces and occupies a worthy spot in the living room. Contrary to what might be expected, the project did not discourage Katarina from taking up the tools again, as she has purchased several pieces in need of revamping over the years.

Katarina has a relaxed, experimental approach to painting and choosing colors – as well as to buying furniture and decorating in general.

“I buy furniture when it’s already evident in the sales photos that the piece is in need of refurbishment. To me, it’s no problem, as I like having something to do with my hands while I watch TV in the evenings. I usually always have some painting or DIY project underway,” she says.

What Katarina particularly likes about self-refurbished furniture is that it is always unique and matches their decor perfectly. Katarina says to have a relaxed, experimental approach to painting and choosing colors – as well as to buying furniture and decorating in general.

“If the choice of paint turns out to be the wrong one, I’ll just repaint the piece. Similarly, if an item I’ve bought doesn’t match our decor after all, I’ll just put it up for sale at the same price and look for a more suitable one. Decorating is not that serious.”

Knoll Wassily lounge chair, black leather
For a long time, Katarina had been looking for a Wassily lounge chair designed by Marcel Breuer. Finally, Katarina’s sister found one online, in a Stockholm-based recycling group, and Katarina’s father transported the chair from Sweden to Finland.
ferm LIVING  True cushion, sugar kelp - black
The base of the lamp is from a flea market, but the shade was bought new. The nightstand is from an online flea market, and the striped True cushion by Ferm LIVING is from Finnish Design Shop.
An old wooden cabinet in a bedroom
The wooden cabinet, which is a perfect match with the old apartment, was found on an online flea market. The nightstand is from Katarina’s grandmother’s childhood home in the Stockholm archipelago, and the lamp is from Katarina’s father.
&Tradition Formakami JH3 pendant
Katarina likes painting furniture with bright colors. The green chair was in poor condition, but she repaired and painted it. The Formakami pendant lamp by &Tradition is a second-hand find.
Knoll Bertoia Diamond chair, chrome
The Diamond chair by Harry Bertoia in the bedroom was bought used, whereas the Nessino lamp by Artemide was purchased new.

KATARINA SAYS that she enjoys pairing different and sometimes even contrasting things. Her home features – in perfect harmony – cute plastic objects, gems of Nordic design, less-well-known design from past decades as well as contemporary items.

“Even if you combine things that are very different from each other, they can still look nice together.”

Furniture that Katarina and her spouse have inherited and received from their families also contributes significantly to the atmosphere of the home. In addition to being durable, the pieces have a great deal of sentimental value.

“I love the large, extendable dining table I’ve inherited from my Swedish grandmother. It spent a long time in storage, but this apartment was finally large enough to accommodate it. We’ve had many wonderful moments around it with friends and family,” says Katarina.

GUBI Semi pendant 47 cm, matt black
The kitchen hosts a Semi pendant by GUBI, wooden chairs and an extendable dining table, all items that Katarina has inherited from her Swedish grandmother.
Blue and amber vintage tableware
Katarina has found the blue and amber tumblers in vintage stores.

IN ADDITION TO vintage furniture, the interior of the home is characterized by art. Not only do paintings adorn the walls of every room in the home, but they are also stacked in storage, waiting to be hung on a suitable spot.

“My grandfather was Swedish artist Lars Fredrikson, so we’ve always had art in the family. Already in my childhood home, I got used to having a lot of art on the walls. One of my most beloved possessions is an oil painting made by my grandfather. The painting is hung in our living room. Even when moving to this apartment, I first looked for the best place to hang it and then the places for the furniture. After our cat, Osku, the painting would be the next thing I’d grab in the event of a fire,” says Katarina.

Get inspired

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See also:

More pre-loved design treasures at Franckly >

Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Niclas Mäkelä Video: Joni Tuominen

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