On the last week of our friends and family tour of Finland, my Mom and I arrived in Oulu where I met my cousin Eija for the first time (daughter of my late Dad’s youngest sister).
Eija and her husband had just moved a week ago and still generously welcomed my mother and I to come and stay. I let her know I’d help her hang pictures!
Here are some before pics of the small living area which was suddenly even smaller because the movers had placed the cabinet (below) in the middle of the living space.
But what made the small space even smaller were the steps leading up to a Juliet Balcony (above). If you were tall, you’d have to duck to walk through the back door leading to the backyard.
After lunch, I declared the steps had to go. Eija happily agreed and since their two sons were also there because they’d come to meet us, they were a big help in taking it down (below):
I grabbed this later from my Instastories to post here because it was a fun photo
Eija had already found a new sofa and her husband Timo was anxious to get my approval before they bought it.
They liked the faux finished accent wall in the living room and it did relate to the Tuscan inspired tile floor.
After we removed the steps and moved the furniture, we jumped into the car to see the sofa. I declared that it was just right for the space and on the way home, we stopped at Pentik because of course, we needed lamps. AGAIN.
Because Finland is a northern country, it is DARK in the wintertime. If you work in an office without windows from 9 – 5 every day, you will not see the sun. This makes owning a lamp with a shade, absolutely imperative to your well being.
Moomin is a very popular Iittala line in Finland.
Lots of cream in the artwork lightens and brightens
Anyway, on the second afternoon (we were only there for two nights) Eija unpacked all the rest of their pieces which they had collected in their travels. I laid out their artwork on the floor and arranged it many times until we determined what looked best.
Timo said he was partial to the art with the olive branch because when he retires, he wants to be looking at a real olive tree because that means he’s probably living in Portugal. I loved that!
And here is the after. I didn’t have to go far to find two leather chairs because they were already in the house. One I pulled from the dining room and the other from the upstairs loft. We did not have time to find the right area rug.
All greens go together
Eija had lots and lots of Iittala glass that she has collected over the years, which I happily arranged into vignettes. I also commented ‘It must be easy to buy a present for your friends in Finland, all you have to do is go to the Iittala store’. I had no idea exactly how much gorgeous glassware came from Finland until I saw it all at the outlet store and was so sad to learn they don’t ship.
Notice how all the shades of green look good together!
I love this Kastehelmi pattern, I bought the votives, plates and glasses. And I found them online, you can get them here.
Eija already had lots of wonderful house plants in perfect white plant pots. All I had to do was arrange them!
See the plant in the middle (below)? It’s a Shamrock plant and the leaves close at night, I watched it happen when I was there and one side of the room got darker. They’ve had it for years!
Cognac leather repeats the rust colours in this accent wall
Here’s the other side with the pillows we found and a comfy leather ottoman. You have to walk through the living room to get to the back patio door so this made an ottoman a better choice than a coffee table that you’d likely bump into. Also, for this reason I suggested a creamy cowhide rug because the shape is unstructured.
Here’s the other side of the room:
Cream always makes earthy rust tones feel fresh
Eija had two cream drapery panels from her former house so we hung them up in the dining area but I told her she needed two more so it would look more full and finished.
A common mistake that many people make is hanging a drapery rod only over the window. Once you hang up even two panels (which only works for a really skinny window) they start to cover up the windows.
In this case she had wall space on both sides of the window in the kitchen dining area so hanging panels there helped to define the area and make it feel more like a dining room.
A round table would definitely be a better solution for this area, so I told them to keep that on the list as the budget allowed.
Here’s the kitchen and fireplace on the other side of the living room. Happily, the tile around their heat-storing Finnish fireplace was already a creamy classic and timeless tile!
I also suggested a lamp on the kitchen table (I know you’re shocked) which meant that in this house it’s in the middle of the room (below) making it a perfect soft light that illuminates the surrounding area anytime.
Here’s the before picture again after I had re-arranged the furniture (before the new sofa came the next day):
And the after again:
And here’s my sweet cousin Eija! Mom snapped this photo of us while we were pillow shopping! And we had obviously shopped at the same store for new scarves earlier that day 🙂
My Mom was very moved that Timo hung the Finnish flag in the backyard in honour of our arrival! It was an emotional two days for both of us!
Eija couldn’t believe we got so much accomplished in less than two days. She was thrilled with the feeling of her new home and said she loves that the living room now invites you to sit, relax and enjoy music or a good book!
And then, the story isn’t over yet.
We arrived on Tuesday afternoon. After lunch, we ran out and bought the lamps, approved the sofa that same day. Then Wednesday we picked it up along with a few other items, went out for lunch, and then came back and put everything away.
Late Thursday morning (we were scheduled to take the train back on Thursday evening) we drove out to Paavola to meet my aunt Amanda (believe it or not it’s just as much a Finnish name as an English one) and Eija’s two brothers (more of my cousins).
Amanda (below) came out to greet us when we arrived and I immediately started crying I was so moved by this woman who treated me like I was a long lost daughter.
I literally could not stop crying all afternoon, I was so moved by the entire experience of meeting family for the first time.
She took me upstairs and we looked through photo albums where she had collected photos of us that my Mom had sent her over the years.
The family lives in two separate homes on over 350 acres of land.
After we had lunch in Amanda’s home, we walked over to her son’s home for coffee and dessert:
Finnish hospitality is really amazing to experience and they do drink more coffee than anyone else!
And this is a typical Finnish colour scheme. Now I understand why every time I see a photo from Finland there’s a little red house in it! I snapped this photo of their gorgeous property when we were leaving:
I loved this trip to visit my roots and experience my Finnish heritage and it was especially profound to be with my vibrant and fun-loving Mother. She has boundless energy and I love being with her so much! I feel so blessed to have a Mom who is so young (73).
Mom (Hellen) and Maria
I also really appreciated staying in private homes because I truly got to see how Finnish people live and the similarities in the culture. It’s one of the reasons I have always loved staying at Bed & Breakfasts.
I plan on doing a round-up of everything I noticed in a post very soon!