sneak peek: lotta nieminen


coming from an american perspective, it can be hard to truly appreciate the small living spaces that typify european living, but living in paris has completely changed the way i look at things. that’s why i absolutely love lotta nieminen‘s apartment in downtown helsinki that is 35m2 (376sf) of pure intimate style and grace.  by day this 24-year old works as a graphic designer for a finnish fashion magazine, and by night and weekends is often working on freelance illustration projects out of her apartment, which also serves as her studio. we hope you love this incredible space as much as we do! if what you see below isn’t enough, you can check out the full-sized images right here. {thanks, lotta!}anne

{photos by helsinki-based photographer and graphic designer, maarit hohteri}

[above: I saw the bookshelf in the window of a thrift store one morning on my way to work. I bought it and dragged it home with the help of a co-worker during lunch break.
The framed page on top of the shelf is from one of my favorite magazines, US-based NEWWORK. Fresh cut flowers are by far my favorite decoration item.]

To me, the definition of a perfect apartment is one that makes you want to throw dinner parties to a big bunch of friends. The extension table was inherited from my grandfather, and I wanted it to be the center piece of my apartment. The chairs around it are an odd collection of different pieces with different stories. My parents rescued the Bertoia chair 30 years ago from their apartment building’s trash. The garden chair used to be on the terrace of our childhood home in Paris. The Aalto stools designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto add a modern touch to the bunch.  The Modern Art table lamp was designed by Yki Nummi in the 50s. The white metal locker is from Ikea.

I prefer a lot of smaller lights around the room rather than a single ceiling lamp. I nailed the Christmas lights to the wall in December, but liked them so much I still haven’t taken them down. Even the most ordinary desk lamp looks good when attached to something else than a desk.

It took me a while to really start liking the dark red tiles installed in the kitchen. I’ve slowly grown quite fond of them, even though they’re something I would probably never choose myself. I can’t help collecting paper bags. My former roommate used to go crazy with my ever expanding collection of them stuffed around the flat. A beautifully designed bag can even serve as artwork when hung on the wall. This one is from My o My, a concept store in downtown Helsinki.

CLICK HERE for the rest of lotta’s sneak peek after the jump!

I’m addicted to magazines, and am notorious for storing big cardboard boxes full of old issues at the attic – throwing them away has seemed impossible.  The ladder used to serve to climb in the bunk bed we shared with my little sister when we were little. Nowadays it serves as a rack for belts and gloves. The wooden archive boxes used to be my grandfather’s, who worked many years as a personnel manager.

This old medicine cabinet is from my grandparent’s cottage near Turku, a city on the northwest coast of Finland. I use it as a nightstand. The thing that made me fall in love with this apartment was the amazing sunlight pouring in through the windows.

The flat is small, so a big mirror adds an impression of extra space to the 375 square feet.
I had been looking for a simple bedspread for ages, but only seemed to find very decorative or colorful ones. During a holiday in Portugal, I finally got my hands on this simple black and white one. It’s from Area, an interior decoration shop in Lisbon.

I work from home a lot, and have turned this corner into my office. A pretty workspace keeps me inspired. The framed poster is an ad for the Helsinki Comic Festival, designed by Jenni Rope ( I snatched it from a bar’s bulletin board a couple of years ago.

The cabinet is on loan from a friend who couldn’t fit it in her new apartment. It’s very old and the back is almost split, so can’t be nailed to the wall like it was built to: it’s on the floor mainly for safety reasons. I was browsing though books at Printed Matter, Inc. in New York City, and happened to see a pile of these posters under a table. When I asked for the price, the shop assistant told me to take as many as I wanted for free. I love the contrast the bright pink typography brings to the old wooden cabinet.

I am obsessed with packaging. Diptyque and Ladurée boxes are some of my favorites.

I got this wooden cupboard from a friend, who was cutting her impressive collection of thrifted furniture finds. Instead of repainting it, I added a layer of varnish to preserve the worn feel. I use it to store books and display my favorite shoes. The artwork is by Melek Mazici.

I store magazines in white cases on top of my fridge. I use the metal frames to display business cards and hang tags.

The bathroom is tiled with the same red as the kitchen. I’ve filled the shelves with girly bottles and boxes to freshen up the dark color. I’ve eventually started to like the drama the dark tiles bring to daily bathroom routines.

  1. akshatha says:

    love this house!!

  2. Genevieve says:

    swoon! so very beautiful :-)

  3. it’s so pretty indeed! and I say the my favorite Bertoia wire chair and this is making me love this place even more!

  4. Valeria says:

    Love this place! Especially the light woods mixed with both vintage and modern style! Definitely an inspiration!

  5. claire says:

    Holy moly how did she do that? It looks so effortless.

  6. Thomas says:

    I miss Area! I wish they had more shops around Europe. I’d go shopping there every week!

    Great app!
    Belgian greetings

  7. Kayla Poole says:

    This is so beautiful! I love the simplicity, natural furnishings and feminine charm sprinkled throughout. A lovely, lovely home.

  8. Danielle says:

    I am moving into a small, loft apartment in 2 days.. This is the inspiration I need! Hopefully my place looks half as nice as this one!

  9. phoebeleebs says:

    wow this is so my kinda style…i LOVE it!!

  10. Amy says:

    Definitely one of my all-time favourites! This flat is just perfect – and I’m glad she’s come around to the red tiles, because I love them!

  11. Rebecca says:

    I really love the dark red/pink tiles. I don’t usually like dark surfaces but the glossiness has really got me this time. It’s such a feminine space without being too flowery.

  12. Emma says:

    So inspiering to see what you can actually do with such a small space! I love all the small details!
    I found this one, wich is in Copenhagen, but also tiny and a bit of the same style :

  13. Jen says:

    It’s very inspiring to see this house, as a fellow graphic designer/artist living in a small place. Small spaces can equal sleek & chic! :)

  14. Panda says:

    one of the best sneak peeks ever!!

  15. elle says:

    i look forward to having a roommate free apartment that is gorgeous and stylish like this!

  16. i so knew this was finland just by looking at your stove and stools :P very cute home!

  17. erin says:

    unbelieveable…so simple yet so beautiful. And what kind of single-stemmed cut flower is that in the first image? it’s giant!

  18. Carina says:

    Oh wow! This is so so pretty! I want to move in immediately! She has a great talent for home design!

  19. yvette says:

    great sense of style. love it.

  20. Hannah says:

    What a beautiful space you have! I love all the details – especially the flowers above the oven, and your grandfather’s archive boxes – i’m on the hunt for some similar.
    Can I ask where you store your clothes?!

  21. sunny says:

    I swear I wasn’t meant to live in the States! Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to live in small, efficient apartment or home. This studio is pretty perfect!!

  22. Absolutely gorgeous. Such an amazing individual sense of style at such a young age. Inspiring.

  23. Thank you everyone!

    Hannah: they’re hidden in the closet with mirrored doors – you can see a glimpse of it next to the wooden cabinet with the art book fair poster on top.

  24. Sonja B. says:

    Your apartment is a beautiful example of contemporary femininity. Unfussy, sophisticated and at times striking. I love the deep red tile, though like you I likely would not have picked it. Looks great with the white. Fresh flowers bring so much life. Nice editing and the photos are beautiful.

  25. Anna says:

    i heart all of it! especially the sunlight, the colour scheme and the modern, yet pretty, simplicity.

  26. wow, 376 sq ft, i can’t imagine! somehow it looks spacious despite that. i love that everything has a meaning and origin.

  27. Veronica says:

    Really loving the simple clean design and stories behind everything. Fantastic work! Your place really has soul. :)

  28. drollgirl says:

    absolutely amazing! so beautiful! and so inspiring!

  29. Katie says:

    this is my ideal apartment, it’s so beautiful! perfect use of given space and light. I also really love the NY book fair poster, nice find!

  30. Amanda says:

    I love seeing what people choose to display in such a tiny space – having lived in Spain, you really have to pick and choose what you include in the decor – you can’t have it all! It really puts American materialism into perspective. Beautiful space.

  31. i love the quirky touches she’s introduced to make the space her own. the vintage archive box and the magazine storage are to die for! i’m a big fan of la durée’s packaging as well :) great sneak peek!

  32. Rebecca says:

    oh this is so funny to see this place, i was in school with lotta back in paris when we were kids…..!!
    this is exactly ths kind of place i would want : a practical space with tones of light, not too much stuff, touches of color and lots of light wood……
    this is very gracefully arranged !

  33. dinah says:

    LOVE all this. I love the light and airy feel with touches of romantic warm colors.

  34. corrie says:

    every time i see a scandinavian apartment tour with all white walls, the look grows on me more & more. the colors and the light in your space are incredible. everything looks loved, used, appreciated, and beautiful. this is exactly the type of space i want to live in. you’ve inspired me to brighten up my tiny 250 sq ft shoebox of an apartment some more.

  35. theaxx says:

    LOVE the way she puts stems of flowers everywhere… what a simple a beautiful… poetic effect!



  36. Paulina says:

    this is amazing! minimalist but not empty, put together but not too matchy, pretty but not too girly.

  37. Becs says:

    I love it! Very clever! I love how you’ve embraced what’s there. And the fact that you’ve fallen for the tiles even though they arn’t what you’d go for! I’m always doing that! I love those big windows!!! And the FLOWERS!!!!!!!! Ahhh happy sigh!!!!!!

  38. mirta says:

    so pretty!!

  39. Eva says:

    wow, i just discovered her work 2 days ago, and now i see her apartment here (which is very cool btw). Love her work, she’s one of my fave designers/illustrators now :-)

  40. ellemck1 says:

    Wow, I love this place. It’s so sunny, and dramatic, and pretty all at the same time. :)

  41. Ningy says:

    There’s something about this one with its simple yet sentimental treasures that makes me melt.

  42. I love this place – serene, somewhat playful, and cozy. Beautiful home.


  43. issy says:

    Beautiful home; terrific graphic designer, and wow, great collection, especially those shoes. I am green with envy.

  44. Christen says:

    Does anyone know of an affordable source for antique persian rugs like the one in the dining room? Besides ebay…

  45. B.K. says:

    Love that little bedside cupboard, and the window pane book shelf.

    Super nice!

  46. akshatha says:

    Christen for the rugs you can have a look at if you like!!

  47. Chloe C says:

    I really enjoyed this tour. It was very personal, and something about the photos seemed very real and candid.
    Best wishes for all your ventures, Lotta!

  48. Carol says:

    Oh my, this apartment is so beautiful and inspirational. Woods and glass, flowers & color

  49. Claudia says:

    As I am 24 as well and live in a very tiny apartment (27m2!) I really loved this one! It seems a lot more liveable and realistic than so many other home tours.

    The only thing I was wondering: where do you store your clothes and shoes? That’s my biggest problem in my tiny room.


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