Saana & Olli's Tiny Turku Nest

Saana & Olli's Tiny Turku Nest

Lauren Turner
Nov 7, 2014
(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Name: Saana Sipilä & Olli Sallinen
Location: Pohjola, Turku, Finland
Size: 516 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years; Rented

Finnish textile designers Saana and Olli have made their home in a tiny yellow wooden house in Turku, Finland. Built in the 1890s, the space shows signs of age, but the couple's thoughtful styling and furnishings compliment its well-worn appearance so well that one wouldn't really want it any other way.

(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

The entrance to Saana and Olli's home is through a spacious mudroom, where guests can choose from an impressive collection of wool socks that the couple keeps stashed in an old wooden crate by the front door. While certainly endearing, this practice is also a necessity as the autumn cold radiates relentlessly through the wooden floors of old houses like theirs.

Once inside, it's all charm and coziness, with old floors and ceilings, freshly chopped wood piles, vintage storage boxes and glass jars tucked into vacant spaces, and colorful books stacked along the wall. There is a subtle but pleasant contrast among the clean lines of their mid-century modern furniture, fussy edges of old rugs, and the sophistication of their contemporary lighting fixtures.

Saana and Olli have relied on textiles to create the mood of their space as well. Hand-drawn themes from nature, printed in muted colors on hemp fabric, compliment the simple, natural feel of their overall styling. Sustainability is important to Saana and Olli, both in their business, and at home. This is evidenced by their impressive collection of found objects and furniture, and also in their sage advice to "Celebrate space and purchase only things you can proudly leave to your grandchildren."

Simple, inviting, and thoughtful, Saana and Olli's place definitely feels like home. And, it's not just the decor that makes one feel so welcome—throughout the shoot there was hot tea aplenty, good conversation, and a continuous flow of great records playing in the background. It's certainly the kind of place that makes you want to stay a while.

(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A combination of a minimalist and a collector, who both love flea markets and garage sales and olden day nordic items. After over 10 years together, we have found a good combination of both of our styles. Different approaches create a nice tension in our interior design.

Inspiration: We love olden day folk craft aesthetics. 85% of Finland is still forest, so that definitely has a big effect on our style. We like unique and found items. We also have many great things from our relatives' attics. According to Saana's uncle it is easy to find Christmas presents for us, just go to the attic and find some old "junk" and we're grateful. But we don't want to live in a museum, combining old items in good-looking and airy way is our goal.

Favorite Element: Saana is a minimalist and her favorite piece is the Ilmari Tapiovaara Pirkka kitchen table and chairs from the 1950's. They were in really bad shape after decades of spent in a non-heated shed, but we refurbished them back to life. Olli loves the piles of books and records— he thinks books are the heart of every home. As Olli would say "a home without books isn't a home." Overall, we have found good and interesting items for our house and have succeeded making this rental house a real home for ourselves.

Biggest Challenge: We rent this place, so trying to make best out of the situation where we don't want to waste much of our resources for renovation is a challenge. But we think we have achieved in making this house our home quite nicely.

What Friends Say: Most people who visit our house want to move in.

Biggest Embarrassment: We don't like the material choices in our bathroom, but as long as we have running hot water, we can live with it.

Proudest DIY: We found a handmade side table made by a farmer lady from the village of Laitila, Finland in 1943, which had organic branch legs. We renovated and painted the worn table and now we both love it. It was a great folk craft found.

Biggest Indulgence: The Finnish-made Amphion speakers—perfect combination of style and hi-quality.

Best Advice: Celebrate space and purchase only things you can proudly leave to your grandchildren.

Dream Sources: If we would have an unlimited budget, I don't think we'd change that much. Maybe Olli would buy another Technics SL-1200 turntable and Saana would buy a gas stove. And maybe we'd buy the house and make some renovations to the bathroom. A bathtub would be nice. And a wood stove sauna in the back yard.

Resources of Note:

ENTRY

  • Lamp shade: two ugly flea market lamp shades stripped from ugly fabrics
  • The big wooden box: Shipping container from 1940's. Found from Olli's parents attic. It holds the winter accessories.
  • The mirror: From Ikea
  • The frame over window: From garage sale.
  • The carpet: Designed by us for Finnish company Mum's. Fairly manufactured in India.
  • The miniature bunnies at the windowsill: From Japan. Made to be chopstick holders.

LIVING ROOM

  • The wooden architect lamp (on the 2 x box living room table): From Muuto .
  • The sofa: From an internet flea market. Made by Finnish furniture manufacturer Asko corporation at the beginning of the 1950's. It came to us from the farm where it was used only on Sundays after church for almost 60 years.
  • The pillow covers: our own design, Saana Ja Olli
  • The carpet: Designed by us for Finnish company Mum's. Fairly manufactured in India.
  • The Technics 1200 turntable. Bought by Olli from summer job salary years ago.
  • The Amphion speakers. Made in Finland super speakers.
  • The sideboard: From internet flea market.
  • The lynx print on wood: Made by lovely Finnish artist Maija Fredrika.
  • The lamp by Finnish company Secto. From design market in Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki.

DINING ROOM/KITCHEN

Ilmari Tapiovaara Pirkka table and benches from the 1955
• Yki Nummi's Lokki lamp ( From flea market for a cheap price (it has a fracture at the top, that you cannot see).

  • The ancient rough wooden stool from garbage bin.
  • The old iron-legged stool from an antique store from Turku, Finland.
  • The straw mobile by the window was found from garage sale. We first thought it as a Christmas decoration, but it fit so well that it has been there ever since the first Christmas we spent here.
  • The smaller black bookshelf is handmade by some unknown person. It was saved from Olli's family's ex-summer house at the time when the city of Uusikaupunki bought out all the summer house owners, and built a luxury suburb over the area.
  • The larger white bookshelf is Expedit by Ikea. Excellent for vinyl records.
  • The wooden boxes that hold the cd's above the Expedit are by historical Turku brewery Aura, and we bought them 7 years ago for a bargain price.
  • The heart of the house is Porin Valu's heat-storing wood stove. It has been in use for over 70 years, and it is still working well on daily use in the winter time. A great, great piece of Finnish design.

BEDROOM

  • The iron bed was bought by Olli's parents in the 70's from a family in Pori, Finland.
  • The Alvar Aalto stool, Stool 60, is made by Artek since 1933. We got this one from Saana's grandparents' farm. It had been in use in the garage for decades.
  • The bedspread: our own design, Saana ja Olli
  • We found the handmade side table made by farmer lady from village of Laitila, Finland in 1943, which had organic branch legs. We renovated and painted the worn table and now we both love it. Great folk craft found.
  • The closet is from Olli's parents house, that used to be a school. It weights a ton and was made probably in the 1940's.
  • The wooden chandelier is by Finnish design company Aarikka. We found it from flea market.
  • The rug on the floor was found from the dumpster skip near our house in great shape. Deep and powerful colors remind us from famous Lapland artist Reidar Särestöniemi (1925-1981). Never pass a dumpster skip without checking out what's inside!
  • Painting: "Absurdi aamu" (lit.The Absurd Morning) made by Olli's mother, painter Hiltu Sallinen.
  • Serigraphic print on metal plate behind the painting is made by Olli from the pictures he took as a teenager about life in the small coastal town of Uusikaupunki.
(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Thanks, Saana and Olli!

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