I’m back at my desk after a late-summer blogging break, and I’m kickstarting my September posts with a peek inside a beautiful Finnish apartment that’s sure to provide lots of interiors inspiration.
The home of stylist and photographer Maria Hiltunen, it sits in an early 20th-century building in the city of Tampere. It’s been sensitively renovated throughout and the result is a wonderful example of how to mix period features with modern design, creating a contemporary space without losing any of the original soul. It’s also a masterclass in decorating with neutrals, with soft furnishings, considered lighting and lots of texture adding warmth and cosiness to the calming beige and white scheme. What’s more, Maria and her husband kept longevity in mind throughout the project, choosing quality furniture that will last for years to come rather than paying much attention to fleeting trends – always the best approach in my opinion!
Over to Maria herself for more about her home, her style and her top interior-design tips…
Hi Maria! Firstly, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
“Hi! I live in Tampere with my husband and two kids, and a year ago I turned my passion into a business by starting my own company. Nowadays I provide beautiful product pictures in beautiful set-ups for my clients. For a couple of years I worked in an interior design office and graduated as a decorator, so I also provide interior consultancy and styling. I worked for many years as a salesperson in different lifestyle and fashion boutiques, and today some of my clients are my former employers.”
Where’s home, and how long have you lived there?
“Two years ago we moved to Pyynikki, which is a very old and peaceful area in the heart of Tampere. The building dates from 1916 and the last update to the apartment was done in 1987, so we carried out a full renovation before moving in. We wanted to retain the parquet floor and the ceiling decorations, but we polished up the flooring and worked on the walls. The biggest part of the project was the kitchen, which we fully redesigned and replaced.”
How would you describe your interiors style?
“It’s a mix of soft and modern. I like materials and tones that blend together in harmony. Neutral shades just sooth my mind.”
Maria redesigned the kitchen before moving in, pairing sleek beige units with sophisticated marble splashbacks and a marble-topped dining table. Brass accents, sumptuous curtains and soft upholstery gently warm the scheme.
What does home mean to you, and has that changed at all during the pandemic?
“Home is also my office so I feel it should be a place for inspiration. We spend a lot of time at home as a family, so it has to be a place where we can relax and unwind and feel loved.”
Where do you find inspiration for your home?
“I’ve always loved decorating and believe I inherited my eye for beautiful things from my mother, as she used to decorate our childhood home. I also love travelling and I get most of my inspiration from the places and hotels we visit on our trips.”
What’s your favourite part of your home and why?
“Our living room is one of my favourite places. In the morning it’s filled with beautiful daylight and when the evenings get dark we light up a fire in the old fireplace. My husband works as a lighting designer so the soft, warm, dimmed lights create a perfect cosy atmosphere.”
The living room is Maria’s favourite space, and it’s easy to see why. The tiled fireplace, wall panelling and plasterwork are offset by clean-lined furniture and abstract art, with snuggly textures for cosiness and black elements for depth and structure. The sofa is from IKEA’s modular ‘SÖDERHAMN’ range, and the floor lamp is Ferm Living’s ‘Arum’ design. The concrete figure is by Finnish-Swedish sculptor Kristiina Haataja, who I interviewed here.
And your favourite piece of furniture…?
“I can’t pick out one favourite, but I love our selection of lamps. I believe in a period house there needs to be a combination of new and old design – something to remind you of the original style but not make you feel like you’re in the home of your grandmother!”
Where do you like to source items for your home – any favourite brands or shops?
“I like investing in designer lighting, but I also love sourcing secondhand finds. Things don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful and complete the overall look. I’m not obsessed with any particular brands but I am willing to pay for good quality. I can then change things up with textiles and smaller items.”
The main bedroom is decorated in the same combination of white and beige as the rest of the apartment and has the feel of a soothing sanctuary. A built-in wardrobe provides lots of storage, and its moulded doors echo the panelling on the wall behind the bed and in the living room. Sculptural lamps (New Work’s portable ‘Kizu’ and Ferm Living’s ‘Hebe’) add elegance and interest, and there are occasional black accents here too.
Do you have any future plans for your home?
“I’m happy with the interior of our home as it is. When we renovated, we wanted to make decisions that would suit our style and last for a long time. The only piece of furniture we still want to add is an armchair.”
Finally, what’s your top interior-design tip?
“Fresh flowers in a vase always cheer you up and create a new look. And don’t underestimate the power of scent. Laundry day and the smell of a fresh new bedsheet is a treat!”
See more of Maria’s gorgeous home and styling on Instagram.
All photography by Maria Hiltunen