This timbered residential building with two rooms was transferred to the museum’s site from Puijonkatu 29 in 1975. The house is weather boarded horizontally. The building dates from around the middle of the 19th century. It houses a home of a small town family from the 1930’s. In addition to the kitchen and the chamber there is also a hall, a lavatory and some fitted cupboards.
The Great Depression was straining the foundations of living in the 1930’s. It influenced various aspects of Finnish society. One of its consequences was that functionalism was à la mode. Its defining characteristics and ideals were practicality, technology and equality. The key words of that era were technology, industrial manufacturing and mass production. The egalitarian way of thinking was reflected also in architecture and decoration: the aim was to produce similar kinds of residences and consumer goods for everyone.
The apartments got smaller in size and renting them became more common than owning them. This had an influence, for example on furniture design, among other things. The furniture had to be of a smaller size, lighter in weight and suitable for various apartments. The quality of the houses started improving. While bathrooms and fitted cupboard started to be more general, washing cupboards, large wardrobes and roomy storage chests of drawers became unnecessary. The invention of pressed plywood had a significant impact on furniture design.
The home of a small town family of the 1930’s had already many modern conveniences: running water, sewage, a lavatory, electricity and central heating.
The lavatory is in the hall. In the first half of the 19th century, the lavatories were situated either next to the other buildings or in between of them also in Kuopio. Separate lavatories were built. The very first water closet in Finland was in the Bank of Finland in 1883. Afterwards, water closets started to be built also in town houses. In 1930’s, 70 % of houses in Helsinki had water closets. In Kuopio, the number was only 22 %.
In this house, the water closet has a cast-iron flushing container with a pulling-handle at the end of a chain. The water pipes are in sight. The toilet seat’s cover and its lid are wooden.
On the walls and at the ceiling one can see interlaced electric wires. They were installed in sight. In 1882, printing manager O.W. Backman established a private electricity plant in Kuopio. In 1900, Backman transferred his business to Kuopio’s Electricity Plant Ltd. The town started building its own electricity plant in 1906, and town’s own electricity started to lightening up the streets and the marketplace next year. At the end of the same year, there were 137 private electricity consumers in Kuopio. Next year the number of consumers had increased to 270.
The central heating radiators appeared to some Finnish homes in the end of the 19th century. Their breadth has been considerably unequal. Water central heating started generalizing in the 1880’s and in the 1910’s it became the most common heating system. In 1930, 45 % of the houses in Helsinki were within the range of the central heating, and in Kuopio 6.5 %.
Room 1202/Kitchen from the 1930’s
When water taps and sinks appeared into the kitchens, as novelties, they were not hidden away. The pipes are left at sight also in this house. The sink is placed underneath a metallic water tap and it is zinc coated. Kitchen units with sinks embedded in the tables became general only after the Second World War. Here, aluminous dishwashing basins are on the table. In Kuopio up until the 1910, household water was fetched from wells, springs and the lake. The situation changed in 1914 as the town’s water pipes were completed. By the end of 1915, there were altogether 309 households connected to the water network. In 1929, the amount had increased to 622.
Old Kuopio did not have sewage. The slops ran along the streets through shallow gutters. In 1888, the town council made a decision to have an underground sewage dug. The first municipal sewage was built in 1892. The actual sewage system was ready in 1907. In 1928 the length of the town’s sewage network was approximately 17 000 meters.
Although the housing conditions were improving, the stoves were still a part of everyday life in many households. The first electric ovens and refrigerators were not installed into the kitchens until the 1930’s. In Finland, Strömberg started manufacturing electric ovens in 1939.
On the kitchen walls, there is a coffee grinder and storing containers for salt and flour. In the kitchen cupboards, there are on display some everyday articles. For example, a Diamant-dinner set which was produced by Arabia in the 1930’s and Paulig’s coffee tins, which could have been used also for other purposes.
In the cupboard, there is also a vacuum cleaner. At the end of the 19th century, engineers were already developing new kinds of household machines. Some of them worked with electricity. First vacuum cleaners were manually operated. During the first decade of the 20th century a bicycle-pump-like model was invented. Around 1910 the electric vacuum cleaners started gaining ground.
Room 1203/Living room from the 1930’s
The aim of the 1930’s was practicality and lucidity. A great impact on the way of thinking and doing things was the new pattern of thought and new stylistic trend – functionalism. It underlined the relationship between form and purpose of the object. It preferred mass production instead of unique handcrafted items and demanded improved quality of consumer items.
The sofa and armchairs with their straight-lined shape represent this stylistic tendency. These kinds of simple bed sets, armchairs, round tables and smaller chairs changed the appearance of many Finnish homes.
In the 1920’s radio broadcasting began in Finland and radios started appearing in Finnish living rooms. The radio on the side table is a Philips from 1929.
The lack of space in small apartments was a problem. One of the solutions was a squeaky iron bed that folds up to save space. This so-called ’heteka’ was designed by Jalmar Gallén for a steelworks factory in Helsinki in 1934. It was popular in Finland for a long time.
Behind the ’heteka’ on the wall, there is a rya, which has the year 1939 woven in it. The rya on display is a copy of the original. Ryas were popular items in Finnish household still in the 20th century. On both sides of the rya there are black bracket candle sticks.
The painting behind the sofa is painted by J.Fr. Tuhkanen. It portrays a wintery scene from Kuopio.