Finding a home in Stockholm is not always easy. Sometimes it takes pure coincidence to make wishes come true.
The high window in the kitchen and the small French balcony are the wow elements of the apartment. The Bermuda dining table is from Asplund. The dining chairs made of Coke bottles were acquired for the home in Helsinki. The wall lamp is by Ingo Maurer.
Management consultant Freddy Relander, 32, Livly children’s store manager Emma Relander, 31, and Calle, 2. The home has three rooms, a kitchen and a balcony, and it is located in Östermalm, Stockholm right next to Vasastan. The apartment building was built in 1897.
The living room couch is from Emma’s childhood home. Outi Heiskanen’s works are framed in old window frames.
EMMA AND FREDDY’S SON Calle was only five days old when the new father received an interesting job offer from Stockholm. They were faced with moving to a new country and finding a suitable home for a small family. Finding an apartment in Stockholm is not easy. It was so difficult to do from Finland that Emma and Freddy decided to move to Stockholm and rent first while continuing the search.
What was it like to look for an apartment in Stockholm?
Speed is of the essence in Stockholm as the housing market is wild. In highly desired areas, you have to make a decision immediately at the showing; otherwise, good apartments are snatched up right from under your nose. Fortunately, things have calmed down a bit lately. There may also be long lines for showings. We had set an apartment search alert on Hemnet and explained our wishes to a broker. We went and looked at several homes every week, but did not find a suitable one.
Freddy bought the Smålandian rustic antique table in the living room at an antique fair. The beautiful arrangement of cut flowers goes with the decor.
How did you finally find a home?
We were hoping to find an apartment in Östermalm or Vasastan so that both of us could cycle or walk to work. We also went to see places in Södermalm and Kungsholmen, but those areas did not feel like they were for us. In the end, however, we found a home by pure coincidence. I was visiting my cousin living in the same building when the downstairs neighbor came around and said that they would be moving soon and were planning to sell their apartment. We took the opportunity right away, and then everything went really fast.
The clear white kitchen is by Kvik. Emma and Freddy added open shelves to introduce color and a laid-back look to the space. The brass faucet is by Tapwell.
The bookshelf covering the living room wall was drawn by Emma. In the corner, there is a two-piece Gustavian-style cabinet that was a wedding present. One part of the cabinet has been used as corner cabinet in the kitchen and the other in the living room. On the wall is a piece by Hannu Väisänen.
What did you fall in love with about the apartment and area?
Since our home is located right on the border of Östermalm and Vasastan, we get the best of both areas. There are many fun cafés and interesting stores nearby. It is also important that the area is populated with a suitably wide variety of people, creating an interesting cocktail. The light flooding in from the large windows and the height of the rooms impressed us as soon as we walked into the apartment. We did not need anything else to know that this was the place for us.
“The light flooding in from the large windows and the height of the rooms impressed us as soon as we walked into the apartment.”
Did the apartment need renovating?
The apartment had been thoroughly renovated four years earlier, and it was a relief that we did not have to undertake such work with a small child. However, we did make some changes in each room.
White String System shelves were purchased for storage in the hallway. On top of the shelves is a round mirror from Asplund with a fun shelf.
The walls of the bathroom in the hallway are papered with large pattern wallpaper, and the floor has Moroccan-style cement tiles.
What kinds of changes did you make?
In the bathroom, we removed the bath tub and built a shower instead. The whole bathroom was retiled at the same time. The ceilings and walls of the entire apartment were painted, and the laminate floors of the bedrooms were painted light gray. We removed one door from the kitchen and added high cabinets. We also installed a few open shelves in the kitchen.
Between the hallway and Calle’s room, we built a sliding door to give the hallway a little more space. We removed the walk-in closet from the bedroom and built floor to ceiling wardrobes instead.
On top of the Gustavian-style corner cabinet is a sculpture by Tommi Toija that Emma received as a gift from her mother. Next to the sculpture is an old wooden bowling pin found in an antique shop.
How did you decorate the apartment?
We brought a lot of furniture with us from our old home in Helsinki. They fell into place well here in Stockholm. We make purchases carefully: we prefer to buy fewer things and then use them for a long time. Our division of labor in decorating works is organized in a way that I decorate and look for things and then decisions are made together with Freddy.
The hues in the bedroom repeat the color palette of the living room. The bedside tables are drawer units from Kartell’s Componibili series topped with classic table lamps by Yki Nummi. There is a paper piece by Helena von Wright at the foot of the bed.
How is life going in a new home and city?
I enjoy our home every day. This apartment feels even more like a real home than our previous one in Helsinki. The floor plan of the apartment works well even when there is a larger group of us with a family friend or relatives visiting.
The area has parks and playgrounds where we spend a lot of time with Calle. He has his own favorite parks where he can run freely. Humlegården Park is also right next door. On Saturdays, we often have breakfast at Cafe Mellqvist. It became our hangout when we had just moved to Stockholm.
Text: Irene Wichmann Photos: Riitta Sourander
The story was originally published in Avotakka