A Bright & Quirky 430 Square Foot Helsinki Loft

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Name: Saara Helkala
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Size: 430 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; rented

Just beyond the small, shadowy entryway to Saara’s loft-style apartment, daylight beckons through two grand windows on the main wall of the living space. While the natural light in Saara’s apartment—during the months that the sun actually shines in Helsinki—is really remarkable, it’s just one of the many inviting things about her space.

(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

An Art Director, avid Instagrammer, inspirational illustrator, and blogger of all things visually inspiring, Saara has composed a living space that is both cozy and spectacular. Scanning the vast walls of her apartment, one can learn quite a bit about Saara’s interests, including the places she has visited, her fashion inspirations, and even where she shops. A self-professed typography fan, Saara displays packages and shopping bags like pieces of art. In many other spaces, this much visual stimulation might be pegged as clutter, but Saara has managed to amass and arrange an interesting and aesthetically appealing array of objets d’art with the skill of an urban (and Nordic) aesthete.

From the lofted sleeping space—where there is room for little more than a bed and a small dresser— one can really take in the drama of the high ceilings and large windows. From this view, one can also appreciate the interplay of brightly colored textiles and black and white furniture, especially against the stark white, wooden floors. Even Saara’s black and white cats match the color scheme, and they certainly up the coziness factor as they loll about, half snoozing and half posing for photos of the unique space that they call home.

(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mix of white and color, bohemian artifacts and weirdness, typography, DIYs and design classics.

Inspiration: I change things around a lot in this space, according to my mood and inspiration. I work as an Art Director, so I’m really involved with fashion, beauty and blogs. Also whenever I travel, I get really inspired and I bring back that inspiration in the form of tiny souvenirs, which I place on my “memory shelf.”

Favorite Element: The height and whiteness of this space.

Biggest Challenge: How to fit all my clothes and shoes into the only closet I have. Also, cat hair.

What Friends Say: Guys say: amazing layout; girls say: amazing interior. I’ve heard many times that if there was a picture of a female graphic designer’s home in a dictionary, this just might be it.

Biggest Embarrassment: A few years ago, I went sort of crazy with paper garlands and made them so much that my place ended up looking like a kid´s room.

Proudest DIY: The kitchen curtains that I´ve designed and screen-printed myself.

Biggest Indulgence: The Eames rocking chair. My friend and I have a thing where we buy “Survival presents” for ourselves whenever we’ve been through something not so pleasant.

Best Advice: Don’t over-think it. Just have fun.

Dream Sources: I love Scandinavian design, so Finnish Design Shop is one. I also like Etsy a lot. I’d love to go to Morocco with a huge empty suitcase and just buy so much stuff. I love the way the Moroccans use print and colors.

(Image credit: Lauren Turner)

Resources of Note:


  • Normann Copenhagen Norm 69 lamp
  • Pop table sofa table
  • Saana&Olli pillows
  • Poola Kataryna wall hangers
  • HAY poster
  • Marimekko curtains
  • Eames rocking chair

  • tebian table
  • String shelf
  • Saana& Olli storage box
  • Donna Wilson plates
  • Marimekko dishes
  • DIY curtains
  • Eames chair

  • Vintage Marimekko bedspread (DIY)
  • &bros pillows
  • (Image credit: Lauren Turner)

    Thanks, Saara!

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