For a person who opens up his personal life in social media for a living, an apartment is much more than just a home. It is a workplace and a showcase, part of the public persona. The social media couple Janne ‘naaG’ Naakka and Valtteri Sandberg found an apartment that meets the needs of both their lives and work, by the sea in Espoo.
The first resident to answer the doorbell, with joyful barking, is the two-year-old Pomeranian Lucky, and then Naakka opens the door and welcomes the guests to the brand-new apartment. Naakka, 24, and Sandberg, 24, are the first residents in the apartment, which was completed in 2018.
In addition to nature and the proximity of the sea, that was one of the reasons why Espoo attracted them away from Herttoniemi of Helsinki.
“The old apartment had begun to feel cramped. Above all, we needed more space, and it was hard to find that in Helsinki,” says Sandberg.
The new rental home is a family apartment with as many as five rooms. At one end of the apartment, there is a bright balcony and a spacious open concept kitchen and living room, and at the other end three bedrooms.
“There aren’t that many five-room flats available in apartment buildings, especially new ones. We preferred a home that wouldn’t show too many signs of wear and tear,” Naakka continues.
Room for work
Why does a two-person household actually need so many square metres? For integrating work and living, is the answer.
The large bedroom that makes up the heart of the apartment has been transformed into an office, as both bloggers mainly work at home. The couple is in the process of building a fully equipped studio for the purposes of filming and recording in one of the bedrooms.
“In the past, all filming work was hard, because we had to erect the studio in the middle of the living room, and, of course, pack it away when the filming was done. It took excessive amounts of time,” Sandberg explains.
Now both residents consider the joint home office their favourite place in the apartment. In the room, they have adjacent work desks and their own illuminated makeup tables.
The home office is also the place where they spend most of their time. Naakka and Sandberg are the real power duo of Finnish social media: Naakka is one of Finland’s most popular bloggers and his YouTube channel has over 150,000 subscribers. Sandberg does influencer marketing for major brands and explores the subject in his thesis.
They both address largely similar themes in the media content they produce — relationships, style, fashion and other lifestyle topics — but with different emphases. For example, interior decoration is Naakka’s area of interest, and he also showcases his home in social media.
The roomy apartment also brings some luxury to everyday living. For example, it is not that common to find a flat in an apartment building with a separate utility room.
“That’s Valtteri’s domain,” Naakka says teasingly. In turn, he got one of the bedrooms turned into a luxurious walk-in closet for himself.
The couple has come very far from their first common apartment.
“It was a single with 24 square metres in the city centre. I kept some of my clothes in kitchen cabinets, since there was no room elsewhere,” Sandberg reminisces with amusement.
Lucky the dog also enjoys the spaciousness of the new home. The carpets in the hallway are in a constant state of disarray, as the pup runs back and forth in the long corridor after a tennis ball, wagging its tail as it goes.
Renting a home conveniently from a webstore
Naakka and Sandberg had been thinking about changing apartments for a long time, but when they found the right one, things happened quickly. Naakka, who considers himself “a rental housing guru” browses housing ads as kind of hobby, and he came across the new home in the Lumo webstore.
“I wrote a long blog post, where I gave guidance on how to acquire a rental apartment. How do you stand out in the viewing, what you should wear and so on. As far as this apartment is concerned, all the instructions were useless,” he says.
“We did not need to elbow ourselves through viewings. All it took was a couple clicks of a mouse. It even felt somewhat unbelievable: oops, I just rented an apartment!”
However, moving to Espoo was a big step that Naakka and Sandberg considered carefully. At that point, the house was still under construction, but the apartments were sought after and they were reserved at a fast pace.
“I went out to do some shopping, but I didn't get any further than the vegetable section when Janne called and said ‘we’re going to take this apartment’,” Sandberg says.
Making decoration visions come true
The move took place in November, and an endless interior decoration project has continued since then. For Naakka, Pinterest is a boundless source of inspiration, and so are interior decoration and design online shops. According to Sandberg's wishes, the new decor is less graphically black and white and contains more natural, muted colours and vivid surfaces, such as marble.
“I'm a little crazy about marble tables. We currently have eight of them around the apartment,” Naakka confesses.
Even though the apartment is rented, it hasn’t prevented me from carrying out my own visions,” he explains. A custom-made, metal-framed glass screen was fitted to separate the kitchen from the living room. Its installation almost went wrong in the worst possible way: the element was too large for the staircase, so it had to be lifted up with straps through the middle of the stairwell.
The long wall that runs through the whole apartment has been given a grey plaster finish.
“Another good thing about the wall is that it provides a good background for taking photos,” Sandberg points out.
Picture-perfect blog home
There are also many other things in the apartment that have been chosen with the social media life in mind. The decor is well thought-out and stylish in a contemporary way, even to the extent that some guests consider it impersonal. The pictures hanging on the walls and the decorative items on the shelves have been chosen on aesthetic grounds, not with their story in mind.
“I do understand that people develop emotional ties to objects. I have some things like that as well. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be kept on view,” Naakka says.
Cleaning the apartment for photo shoots does not require much effort. It is always as tidy as this, Naakka claims. No piles of dishes are allowed to gather on the kitchen counters, and there are no plastic bags from Ikea lying around. And the same systematic approach continues inside the cabinets: all dry ingredients are stored neatly in glass jars.
“Then Valtteri does this,” Naakka exclaims and shows a package found in the cabinet, the contents of which have not been transferred into one of the identical jars. Sandberg shrugs his shoulders. Everything is not 100% perfect.
And a small amount of disorder is just cosy.