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!”
The family's activity centers around the open-plan dining room, which does triple-duty as a living room and kitchen. Susanna prefers a motley set of dining chairs over a coordinated set; that way guests can pick their favorite when they sit.
The apartment has no couch; “We simply don’t need one—plus it would take up a lot of space,” says Susanna. A string of outdoor lights fosters a cozy atmosphere. “I tried them out once for a party and they looked so nice that I decided to keep them. The light is warm and inviting.”
Since the couple knew they'd soon rip up the kitchen during a major pipe replacement and renovation, Susanna devised a cheap and easy way to prettify the nondescript cabinets in the meantime: she cut triangles out of black contact paper and affixed them to the cabinet fronts.
On the black-and-white palette, Susanna remarks: "It makes it easy to add accent colors, like petrol blue, and also makes the apartment’s architectural details—like the original doors and deep window ledges—more prominent."
The master bedroom is a real continuation of the main living space; Varpu rides her tricycle through, and the whole family gathers on the bed to watch movies and cartoons on the television across the room.
It took Susanna several layers of sanding—and then finally tossing her water-based paint and selecting the proper oil-based formula—to get the floor as white as she'd envisioned. But she couldn't be happier with the result. “The apartment looks bigger when there are white surfaces for the light to bounce on,” she says.