Those of you who follow my blog know that I visited the housing fair this year in Seinäjoki. Seinäjoki is quite out of the way for me but I was determined to see this year’s fair as we are moving soon and we need ideas for interior design. I wanted to share some of the photos I took and a few facts about Finnish housing. I think some of you will be surprised.
If you are wondering what a housing fair is, here’s an explanation. It’s a yearly event in Finland, always in a different location around the country. Houses are built and decorated both for this event and for specific families who will move into them after the fair is over. Well not right after, because usually some renovation is first needed after thousands of people have been in and out of your home all summer.
During the fair, any visitor can go inside the houses and look around. Housing developers, builders, interior designers and furnishing manufacturers are present. My parents used to take me to these fairs in the 80’s and I found going from house to house terribly boring. It’s a different story these days, LOL!
In Seinäjoki hubby and I stayed at Hotel Sorsanpesä. At first I was not very enthusiastic about the hotel as I thought it might be quite dated. Hubby had been there last year and he convinced me that the hotel had been refurbished and was very nice indeed. The hotel is located next to a river, outside the city center in the oldest part of Seinäjoki – Törnävä.
The rooms are stylish, comfortable and large for Finland. Usually hotel rooms are tiny over here! My only gripe would be the breakfast, as they did not have enough personnel to clean up the dirty dishes. It’s not very uplifting having to eat next to someone’s used cutlery and dirty plates.
One great thing about staying here was the free of charge VIP taxi service to the housing fair. The car ran every 10 minutes and once you were ready, you just had to call them and they’d come and pick you up. It worked out very well as we didn’t have to pay for expensive parking far away from the fair area.
First, let’s look at some facts about how Finns live. In 2014, the average size of a house was 80 square meters (861 sq feet)! For comparison, in the same year, the average size of a house in the US was 250 sq meters (2690 sq feet). We live in a 107 sq meter (1152 sq feet) apartment and this is considered big for a family of four living in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Over 70 % of Finns live in owned houses. It does seem like the Finnish dream is to own a house. In my opinion housing is small and expensive. In 2014, for old housing in the Helsinki area, you would pay an average of 3530 euros/sq meter. Note that 1 sq meter is around 11 sq feet. The rest of the country was much cheaper at 1700 eur/sq meter. For new housing, the going prices were 4780 eur/sq meter and 3060 eur/sq meter respectively in the Helsinki area.
Now in addition to these high prices, there’s a thing called money transfer tax. It’s the most ridiculous tax ever. The tax is 2% of the price of an apartment or a detached house. For an independent house, it’s a crazy 4%! If you are going to bid on housing in Finland, make sure you remember that you need to have the money to cover this tax too – unless it’s the first house/apartment/etc you are buying. Also, if you buy an independent house on a plot of land, you will be taxed for the land yearly. The cost depends on where it is and how big the plot is.
Anyway, let’s get back to the fair. One reason I wanted to go to the fair was to see ideas for dining room chairs. Unfortunately the fair did not really have much to give in that aspect but I got confirmation on one thing.
Which is… I have to get black chairs for sure! What color chairs do you have?
This dining room table is very far from a typical Finnish one. The whole house was decorated in quite an opulent manner which is very different from the Nordic simplicity we are used to.
Look at the tiny crocheted covers on the chair legs below! A great idea for crocheting enthusiasts, this way the floor won’t scratch.
Now let’s move on to lounging areas.
As you can see, Finnish interior decoration is quite minimal.
I don’t necessarily want a black sofa but I love the living room below. Probably because I don’t like curtains – that large window with the forest as a backdrop is gorgeous.
I don’t think there can ever be too many pillows. These pillowcases are from Marimekko. I’m not usually a fan of yellow but it goes so well with black, don’t you agree?
Now this sofa table is my favourite. It’s from Pentik. There was a whole house decorated by Pentik at the fair.
I love Lexington’s pillows. Especially the one with the anchor on the right.
Earthy colors here.
I am so loving black and white.
This again, very un-Finnish. Looks inviting though.
A teenage girl’s bedroom.
Apparently this was a boy’s room. I love those pillows but can’t see my son appreciating them. This is also from the Pentik house.
This here looks more like a boy’s room. As you can see, the rooms are all tiny! It’s difficult to find any house with what I consider normal sized rooms in Finland these days.
I love the slash of yellow here again.
A goalies room perhaps?
Any little princess would be happy with a room like this!
I’m not fond of black for a child’s room unfortunately.
This is a really cute room. I’m not so sure about having a balcony attached to a child’s room though.
What you might now know is that almost every Finn has a sauna in their house. Even apartments often have saunas! And if not, there will be a sauna in the building for the tenants to use. Actually I have never been to a house showing in Finland for a house without a sauna. I don’t think very many would be interested in purchacing such a house. There were many beautiful saunas at the fair but it was difficult to take photos of them because they were dark; there was a large window; or they were too small to get a good shot.
I snapped this photo below so you could see the green leafy thing hanging there. If you are not familiar with Finnish sauna you might not know what it is. It is a whisk made of bendy birch tree branches – you may hear a Finn refer to it as a vihta. Are you wondering what to do with such at thing? Well – in the sauna, you dip it in water and then whip yourself or your companion with it!! It’s actually a great feeling and the scent it gives out is gorgeous.
After or in between your sauna, it’s nice to sit on a patio like this one and have a drink – usually a beer, for men at least!
I was facinated at looking at these little houses you could have in your yard and make summer even more enjoyable. We often call them “summer kitchens”.
A roof over your head is very handy for Finnish summers – you could still enjoy your bbqing even if it was raining cats and dogs in this little house.
This is just too pretty for words!
Many children in Finland spend their summers playing in little play houses. I used to have one at our summer cottage when I was little. My dad built it himself and inside was a table, chairs, a bed for a doll and cupboards. A carpet on the floor as well and curtains. This one is very modern and stylish compared to the red one I had! I guess having a big one like this is more verstile too, you can use it as a shed when the children grow up.
At Finnish fairs and amusement parks it’s always nice to buy some liquorice from a booth like this one. We have this thing called meter liquorice here – there are many different flavours and it’s so good. Usually we buy several to taste.
All in all the Seinäjoki housing fair was a very positive experience. There were many beautiful and interesting houses to see and even if I did not get a huge interior decoration inspiration, it was good fun touring the houses and getting some ideas for the future. Unfortunately the fair has just come to an end but no fear – there will be a new one next summer, in Mikkeli.
Have you ever visited a housing fair? If not, would you be interested in going? What would be your main interest there?