A house fire prompted a fresh start
After years of renting student accommodation with a mishmash of old furniture, Jonna and Matias Toukonen decided the time had come to buy a home of their own. ‘We wanted more freedom to renovate and do things our way, but we didn’t have time for a big renovation project,’ says Jonna. ‘ We needed to live near the city centre for our jobs, but it also had to be affordable.’
The property they chose in Vaasa, Finland, was built in 1967 for Army staff and their families and ticked all the right boxes. ‘ We loved the open-plan feel of it, and the huge windows that bring in lots of light,’ says Jonna.
When it came to decorating, Jonna’s whimsical style had a chance to shine. ‘I love colours and unexpected details, Fifties and Sixties furniture and modern Scandinavian design, so our apartment is a combination of all those elements,’ she says.
Inspiration comes mainly from Instagram and Australian homes in particular. ‘They are so effortlessly beautiful, with just the right amount of colour,’ says Jonna. Her use of vibrant shade combinations is instantly noticeable in the fantastical kitchen wallpaper and the feather-patterned design in the study. ‘I love colours like red wine, aubergine, dark blue-green and yellow, which all look great with grey,’ she adds.
Unfortunately, however, decorating was not all plain sailing. ‘Shiny white furniture surfaces might have looked good eight years ago in a store, but pair them with
brightly coloured wallpapers and you get a disaster. Everything is reflected ten-fold, which is why I only buy matt white furniture now,’ says Jonna.
All told, the couple are happy. ‘It feels like home,’ says Jonna, ‘and although my husband and I don’t always see eye to eye on the decor, we make all the big decisions together. He prefers a more modern look, while I lean towards retro stuff, and the combination works well.’
Matias adds, ‘A home has to be both pragmatic and easy on the eye, which this is. I’ll veto any outrageous plans regarding colour palette or exorbitant purchases, but that doesn’t happen very often.’
At just 76.5sq m, the apartment has limited space, but Jonna finds it hard to curb her collecting habit. ‘I get inspired by second-hand stores and antiques markets and I always try to find cute little design stores and bring something home from our travels,’ she says.
While ideal for now, this one-bedroom flat won’t be a forever home for the couple. ‘The era in which a property is built can define how it is decorated,’ says Jonna, ‘so I’m curious about living in a house from a different age, to see what we would do with it.’
kitchen- diner stylish wall shelving is combined with wow-factor lighting and a dramatic, retro-style wallpaper. Hoppmosse wallpaper in Black, £59 a roll, Wallpaper direct, is similar. galley pendant lamp in Ochre, £10, dunelm, is comparable. Cuboid shelves, £14.99 for three, groupon
sitting room Clever storage is key in a small home, so the coffee table hides clutter. Jonna made the floor and seat cushions from fabric scraps. Chiva coffee table with storage, from £629, Boconcept. For a similar rug, try Onix Triangles in Teal, from £59, Modern Rugs. Pom-pom fairy light garland, £29.95, Notonthehighstreet.com
bedroom The white walls and teal bedcover make for a chic sleeping space. hay Mega Dot bedcover, £169, Finnish Design Shop. Minus tio City Sunday magazine rack, £117, Funktionalley
Study originally yellow, this workspace now sports a calm, patterned wallpaper. Viola Feather, £10.99 a roll, world of wallpaper, is a match. rune armchair in rouge, £ 449, Swoon