Dress up your bite-sized home for the holidays

An aspiring interior designer Riikka DiTolla reveals her best tips for decorating and furnishing a smaller rental apartment when preparing for the end-of-the-year festivities. With these ideas you move from season to season sustainably, budget-friendly and with ease.

Well begun is half done

Well planned and carefully thought of furnishing works as a flexible base for the holiday season especially in the smaller apartments such as studios and one bedroom flats. In those the tighter squaremeters can otherwise hinder the festivities.

In a compact apartment it is clever to prefer furniture that can be configured to suite any occasion as well as the everyday life. Foldable tables, for example, offer coveted extra space when opened up to their full size. Suddenly you can have all your friends cheering their bubbly drinks around the same table.

Riikka recommends 'Norden' table from IKEA ›

Planning is wise also when acquiring new decorations. The essential thing is to choose decorations that can have another role when the holidays are done. Say, the bauble stringlights bring party feel to the darkest December days, but they are also a lovely addition to your balcony in the summer nights.

Consider how to save the storage space: Can you take the ornaments apart or fold them to fit a smaller space? Could you use a holiday pillow cover on top of the everyday one, and just swap their places when the season changes?

1. Layer colors

Plan the holiday color palette to brighten your home from the first day of December to the beginning of January. Choose a couple of neutral base colors, and top them with holiday colors - royal blue for the Independence Day, dark red for the Christmas or another tradition you celebrate. And for the New Year, something sparkly, perhaps?

In recent years an earthly yet light brown, traditional red and dark green have become trendy again. To spice those up Riikka suggests adding a wintery dark blue.

2. Make use of everyday recyclables

You don't have to buy new holiday decorations. Instead you can utilize old newspapers, glass jars, and textiles, and bring them to life as unique and sustainable adornments.

Some proper decoration materials also include baking paper, wallpaper swatches and old book pages. Fold them to create a fancy star to hang on the wall or window, or to put on the top of the Christmas tree. You can find an abundance of inspiration from Pinterest and TikTok - they are filled with crafting tips and guides.

'Idahh' blog has instructions for folding gorgeous paper stars (in Finnish) ›

SATOkodin asukas Emmeth kuuntelee kuulokkeilla musiikkia vaalealla sohvalla. Seinällä isoja paperitähtiä.

3. Led there be light

When it's dark outside, you have a permission to shine!

Led string lights and fairy lights are an easy way to bring the much needed light to your home. Put them in a glass jar, twist them through and around a Christmas garland, hang them on your French balcony or release your inner artist and hang the lights on your wall in the shape of a spruce.

4. Evergreens and eucalyptus

If you are more of a Western traditionalist, the branches of coniferous trees such as spruce and juniper are a lovely base for flower arrangements and festive garlands. They bring as much olfactory as visual joy.

A more modern take on holiday greenery is eucalyptus. It dries beautifully and even a few branches can bring you joy for months and beyond.

If Riikka's ideas spark an interest in you, mark down here business Rohki. In 2024 Riikka will branch out to interior design. Her 'alma mater' is interior design school Harmonia in Helsinki.

5. It smells like the holidays

Speaking of olfactory: A handy little tip to create a Christmas atmosphere is to warm up some cinnamon in your oven - a great way to feel like you have baked something with no dough in your hands.

Dried oranges are also a great way to fill your home with wintery fragrance. Just slice a few fruits thin and dry them in low temperature in the stove. You can decorate your tree, your holiday cake or even some presents with the dried orange disks.

Take a look at more detailed instructions in Finnish at Dr. Sugar blog ›

6. Garlands all around

Long-lasting ornaments and decorations are sustainable and budget friendly, and they save you time. A couple of snazzy paper stars or gorgeous garlands are timeless options and won't steal too much storage space.

A conifer garland is an especially multifunctional decoration since it can adorn your home indoors or fancy up your balcony. You can decorate the decoration itself with everyday items like cinnamon bars, stringlights and the aforementioned orange disks.

Of course you can make a garland from other materials, too. Fill up some appropriately colored balloons and hang them in a form of a garland on the wall or around the inside of your doorway. We recommend Command tape that does not leave marks on your walls.

SATOn asukkaat Soyoung ja Emmeth yhdessä Soyoungin parvekkeella. Taustalla oranssi puupaneeliseinä ja joulukranssi.

An extra tip: More fun together

An especially lovely holiday idea is to craft your ornaments with your favorite person(s). Everybody can bring their preferred materials in their favorite colorways, and of course sharing is also fun! The end results are most definitely perfect for their owners ' homes and the secondary (and arguably best) product is the time spent together.