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Fine Finnish

A pair of crafty designers on a serious budget show that though their apartment may be short on square footage, it’s long on charm.

Susanna Vento, pictured here with her daughter Varpu, is a Helsinki-based editor, stylist, and interior designer. Asked about her design approach in her own apartment, she says: “As an interior designer I choose new designs for my clients, but for my own home, I tend to prefer crafty or old stuff. If I buy something, I want to buy only things that stand the test of time. But even better is to buy nothing at all and do-it-yourself!”

Last summer, Susanna and Jussi Vento purchased a two-bedroom, 660-square-foot apartment in Helsinki’s Punavuori district, where they live with their one-year-old daughter, Varpu. The building was “an unremarkable ’50s high-rise,” says Susanna, “but we liked the light in the apartment, the practical layout, and the original double doors between the rooms.”

The tiny abode was in desperate need of a makeover, but knowing that an expensive pipe replacement loomed, the couple had to be frugal in their interventions. Fortunately, both work in creative fields—Susanna is an interior designer, stylist, and editor, and Jussi is a graphic artist—and renovating with a tight budget was exactly their kind of challenge. “We come from families that love doing things with their hands, so it’s natural for us,” Susanna says. With less than $4,000 but plenty of DIY spirit, the couple turned a boring flat into a visually exciting home. Susanna shows us how.

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    Fine Finnish: Entrance

    When Susanna entered her future home for the first time, it appeared cramped and uninviting. Her first step in adding a sense of spaciousness and clarity was to paint all the surfaces—–walls, doors, cabinets, ceilings, and parquet floors—–white.

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    Fine Finnish: Kitchen

    In the kitchen, Susanna and Jussi tore down the ceiling and wall cabinets with the help of Jussi’s father, a skilled craftsman. “Behind the cabinets we found lovely little nooks that work perfectly as shelves for things like salt and pepper mills. When you strip everything to its original state, you are able to see what the house is truly about.”

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    Fine Finnish: Living/Dining Room

    The focal point of the living/dining room is an oak table from Ikea. “We like to draw, read newspapers, sew, and invite friends over, so a generous table suits our lifestyle.” No couch? “We simply don’t need one—–plus it would take up a lot of space.”

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    Fine Finnish: Master Bedroom

    Despite its serene appearance, the master bedroom is an active, multifunctional space. The family sits together on the bed to read and watch cartoons: Tove Jansson’s Moomin, about trolls who live in the forests of Finland, is a favorite.
     

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