Documentary Our villa

We renovated last year almost 100 years old villa (not painted, yet). I thought I could share the story if here’s interest for it.

Garden in the evening light today

I was a bit hasty, I didn’t understood that it’s still such an emotional stress for my wife. But I promised not to show this thread to her. I have tons of pictures, so please bear with me 🙄

Actually it all started here.



We had lovely little cottage at the community garden where to spend time with friends in august warm nights. Of course tiny sauna for two people at the time. And endless work with the trees and plants.

And then we decided to upgrade our cottage and started looking.
We were looking summer cottage, within suitable distance from home to be used possibly even year round during weekends. Then we found this.


Small house, within three mile radius from the city center. The surroundings are in the conservation town plan with big yards, you are lucky to get property of 1/3 of our yard to build a new house in the city. And it’s full of old plants and trees 👍







Neighbourhood is built with the hurry to get roof on top of people moving to the city in the early days of Republic of Finland. House for 4 families was build on mere two weeks. Very efficient and industrial building at that time. Our house is on the area which was build a bit later, three years after the houses for working men. And we bought it from the family who had owned it from the beginning.

The downside of the conservation plan is that it’s very restricted what you can do with your house, outside. Upside is that you can renovate inside a bit more freely. Because it’s conserved one doesn’t need to follow all modern building standards, and those are plenty, some of them extremely silly. Especially when used in 100 years old wooden house.

My wife is interior designer and we decided to move to the summer cottage within the city. And renovate it with old building methods and as close to original materials as possible to maintain the patina of old house. And to preserve all possible structures in our house. 😬
The house is quite small, only 7x8 meters foot print in two floors and the basement. It had been renovated multiple times during the years, modernised. There were many layers in the inner roofs for example. And luckily original doors had been modernised with plain plates on top of original carvings. We wanted to strip all layers down and build something which honours the original time and style. In the end for budgetary reasons we needed to do some compromises, though. For example windows, we were not allowed to follow original plans and drawings and replace the ‘modernised’ windows from 80’s with original style. Nevertheless the original plans were made by then famous and later celebrated architect who has designed many buildings and city plans in Helsinki and elsewhere in Finland, sigh. Good news is that decision to postpone window renovation probably saved us from bankruptcy 😂

Some pics how it was when we bought it.

The porch is later design and added to the house at 70's


The closets were small, and materials in roof and floor was something which didn't belong to the house. We crossed fingers that we could find original floor and roof under the layers. We knew those might be awesome...

Workig stove 👍 and very personal color, challenge to design. Not in perfect shape, but hey, hundred years of hard use.

Stairs to second floor. We managed to save these. Although re-assembled but with the authentic sounds, you might know what I mean.

These were the stairs to basement where in 70's had been built sauna and shower. When heated and running water came to the house 😳 We didn't thought for a second to preserve this, although the last lady living in the house went for a wash to the basement daily, in the age of 97....


Decision to move shower to upstairs was also easy because the room height was pretty low. 1m85cm as I am, I couldn't stand straight

Stairs from first to second floor. We absolutely wanted to save the pole and the steps and the old patina.

Flying closet on top of the stairs and 'corner' of the lamp we saved as well (and searched a pair for it)

This was wrong, all wrong. But hey, we didn't know then how wrong 😎

There has lived more than one family on the house. Therefore small kitchen also in second floor. And leaking roof on the closet...




But all we could see was possibilities, old garden and the location 😎 ...
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Nice. Looks like you have a decent size yard, which I imagine is not common in or near large European cities?
You’re right. There’s been big yards in Finnish houses but those have been cut to sections and build new houses between old ones leading to situation where houses are wall to wall on the property not much larger than victorian stamp.

We are lucky, we live in the area where there is now conservation plan. The city plan requires to maintain big yards and only very limited additional building allowed to the property.
And the fun begins, we needed to open structures about everywhere to check the condition and whether nowadays doomed to be poisonous materials were used. And boy we found poison. Luckily now everything is sorted out and we can prosper longer life than previous owner who had lived almost all her life in the house and died at the age of 97 😳

We decided on the early phases that we want to preserve, we are not doing a new house, we’ll use traditional materials whenever possible and we will recycle as much as possible. So we disassembled the kitchen and sold it for 20€ to someone who really needed it. It felt good. And excellent opportunity to teach the son to use tools, too. 🤣


Under the newer layers of floors and ceilings old ones still existed. Unfortunately paint used on the floor was so hard and had lead in it so we needed to tore the floors down as well


Insulation, where it existed was fine, but the paper used to hold the sawdust in the walls was poisonous, as well.


Some places insulation was totally absent


And in newer renovations totally wrong materials have been used (in an old wooden house)



Mostly the wood used in building was still fine in the outer shell. Of course it is 100 years old and at that time there was also shortage of good materials. But we could leave the outer shell untouched.

And as usual in these kind of houses the walls are stuffed with old newspapers and magazines.




Bad places were identified, unwanted structures tore down




And recyclable things collected, cleaned and fixed e.g. lamps


During the Christmas time we had a visitor

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So many things I wish I could do which most people can but I can’t. Drawing/ painting is one (perhaps why I use cameras more than most people). But putting together a kitchen as easy as you make it seem is another.
So many things I wish I could do which most people can but I can’t. Drawing/ painting is one (perhaps why I use cameras more than most people). But putting together a kitchen as easy as you make it seem is another.
Well, actually we were tearing down the old kitchen. We wanted to do it nicely because we sold the cabins and rest to someone who needed it badly with the price of two coffee packages :)

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