Thursday, 29 May 2014

hello from South Yorkshire

How are you? As I write this I'm sitting on the bed in our bedroom, the only place in the house where I'm able to log into a temporary Wi-Fi. We thought the Internet would be installed this week but it looks like we will have to wait. It means it'll be a bit quiet on the blog in the next days/weeks. Maybe it's for the best, as it forces me to keep my focus on the unpacking.

I'm very happy with the new house. Despite all the boxes I felt at home from day one. I started the unpacking in the kitchen, which is wonderful to work in. I even did a few baking experiments while I was emptying the boxes (think chocolate brownies + pie). I don't know if anyone else relates to this but it seems each time we move we start eating differently (I know we've moved often in the last years but now we're done). Maybe it's because we are grocery shopping in new stores and seeing things we had stopped noticing in stores at your old place. Now it seems we have entered some kind of a hummus phase. It also happened in Antwerp but here I'm eating even more hummus (it reminds me that I haven't shared a hummus recipe on the food blog). These days it's mainly Moroccan-inspired hummus devoured with pita bread and vegetables - yum!

Do any of you have a desk in the bedroom? It's something I have always liked but I'm seriously thinking about it now because of our very spacious bedroom. The movers actually put my desk and rattan storage trunk in here when emptying the vans, and I like them in here. In our old place these items were in my study room and our male Persian cat used to sleep in it, on the windowsill. Now his favourite sleeping spot seems to be this room, the windowsill next to the desk (he's sleeping there right now). It almost feels as if he's chosen this room as my study, that he's telling me to just keep the desk in here. If I go for it I will avoid the office look, I will only place a lamp and a few books on the table and keep the bookshelves downstairs.

Speaking of bookshelves, I'm off to the kitchen to grab some hummus before unpacking the books. There is a bookshelf downstairs that looks lonely without any, and so does the coffee table in the sitting area. Have a wonderful day!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Outdoor living

Outdoor living is a temporary series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating the season of summer!

I'm sitting on the floor in our empty house writing the last blog post from the West Midlands. All our stuff is on its way to South Yorkshire and tomorrow the unpacking starts!

Last week I started this new series, which is a seasonal one on the blog, with a neutral outdoor living area. This week, however, I'm feeling colours. This charming reading nook on a terrace somewhere in Spain has my heart beating faster. I love that pinkish coral shade of the textiles and the contrasting stripes. The pergola with all that greenery looks magical. I wouldn't mind spending my day there with a book and refreshments.

I had to show you the space from another angle, through the bedroom window.

The house, designed by architects Lluís Auquer and Ferran Prats, and interior designer Pepe Cortés, was featured in El Mueble. Last year I pinned its outdoor seating area and in this post I just had to include the gorgeous dining area, which has me swooning.

Because of the moving I'm taking a blog break until Monday. Have a wonderful week!

photo credit:
El Mueble

Monday, 19 May 2014


Today I promised some news. For those who have been following my blog since we lived in Antwerp this kind of news is probably something you have grown used to: we are moving, yet again! This time, however, it's not between countries (well, if our younger daughter had any power she would have us move to Australia. It's her dream to live there one day). We are heading for South Yorkshire and will be living in a town called Auckley, which is a district of Doncaster. The reason for the move is a long hubby-unexpectedly-switching-jobs story (he works in aviation), and he has been working there since February, usually just spending the weekends at home. Our intention was to move houses later this year or next year but then around Easter time we found a house that we just knew was the right one.

After that things happened pretty fast because the kids didn't want to wait with the move, they wanted to switch schools before the summer holiday. I'm not someone who's constantly talking about my children but I have to say that right now I'm in awe with their adaptability. They are unbelievable when faced with drastic life changes. I'm all for being detached but sometimes I wonder if I have raised them to become too detached!

On Saturday I saw the house for the first time and the minute I walked in I felt at home. It's a new house; its style is modern yet warm. There being only neutral colours, it will be very easy to turn it into a lovely home. I love the kitchen, which is very spacious with a wonderful view. I cannot wait to make that first meal and put the first pie or cake into the oven. Currently, the garden is not as nice and flowery as the one we have here. It only has grass; no flower beds, but there are tall cypress trees next to it and we just have to buy flowerpots with roses, lavender, etc. to make it nice. With an amazing garden centre close by that problem will be very easily solved (they e.g. have a Japanese garden and Italian, which I will photograph and show you later).

Tomorrow a team from a moving company arrives to pack all our stuff and on Wednesday we are moving into the new house. We are very excited and I cannot wait to start the unpacking!

Have a wonderful day!

photo credit:
1: Ngoc Minh Ngo, from the book Bringing Nature Home, published by Rizzoli / 2: Bo Bedre via Pinterest / 3: François Halard, from the book Interiors Atelier AM by Alexandra + Michael Misczynski, published by Rizzoli via Hlín/Pinterest

Friday, 16 May 2014

a Dutch manuscript on watercolours from 1692

It has been a busy week but I have used some of my latte moments to view this fascinating Dutch manuscript on watercolours from 1692. The book or manual was handwritten and painted by a man known as A. Boogert. It is over 700 pages long. Boogert writes about the use of watercolours and explains in detail how to mix colours, how to create hues and change tones by adding more water.

You can read a short description of the manuscript on the website of historian Erik Kwakkel, who points out that it "provides an unusual peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators."
You can view the manuscript in high resolution online on the website of the French database E-Corpus. It is kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France.

I'm in awe with its pages.

Have a wonderful weekend! I will be back on Monday with some news.
photo credit:
1-2, 5-6: via E-Corpus / 3-4, 7: via Colossal (discovered via Architectural Digest)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Outdoor living

Outdoor living is a temporary series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating the season of summer!

I have been waiting to start this series and get the chance to focus on outdoor living areas - terraces, patios, loggias, decks, and balconies - in various styles from all corners of the world. In summertime these spaces, if we are lucky to have one, become such a huge part of our everyday life, at least for those who are homey and enjoy al fresco dining, and I always find it inspiring to see how people decorate them.

I'm starting in Saint Tropez in the south of France with this minimalist terrace, a Pierre Yovanovitch design, that I randomly picked from my folder. The exposed beams are a wonderful contrast to the clean lines of the house, and the gorgeous tableware is a delightful contrast to the neutral coloured and stylish furniture. And, yes, there is a pool and a Mediterranean Sea view.

photo credit:
Julien Oppenheim for AD Magazine France

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

space: Story Hotel in Stockholm

With a few exceptions, my Space series features rooms in private residences that I particularly like. This space is one of the exceptions: the bar at the Story Hotel in Stockholm. They say that if their restaurant is the beating heart of the hotel, the bar is the soul. Its design inspired by the jazzy atmosphere of a Parisian salon is bound to make you feel welcome. The wall art and the stylish mix of concrete and wood lured me in. Let me just add that if you haven't visited Stockholm already, please put it on your list of travel destinations. This Nordic capital will enchant you.

photo credit:
Story Hotel via Hemmanet

Monday, 12 May 2014

the bench and wall art look

A friend in Iceland just opened an art exhibition which he calls 'Word' and when I viewed the photos some of his works reminded me of Cy Wombly pieces, e.g. this one. When I mentioned it our friend said Wombly was one of his inspirations. This weekend I was having an email conversation about art with another friend and all that art talk made me think about how we display art in our homes. I have always wanted to create the bench-and-wall-art look, as I refer to it: letting a large piece of art hang above a bench (or a daybed) in the entrance or a corner of the living room, or in any place where the artwork stands out.

These three images show what I have in mind. The top image shows an entrance in Brussels. One of the homeowners, Melañio Gomez, found the steel bench on the street and he made the painting himself in the style of artist Barnett Newman. The second image is from a Melbourne home and shows a Miranda Skoczek painting above a painted wooden bench, which at first sight looked like concrete. I like the decorative objects on display; they seem to compliment the painting and bench.
The last image is from a townhouse in Manhattan, on the Upper East Side, a William Diamond and Anthony Baratta design. The large painting, Wind, 1989 is by artist Joan Mitchell.

Have a wonderful day!
photo credit:
1: Richard Powers for Elle Decor / 2: Eve Wilson for The Design Files / 3: Simon Upton for Elle Decor via The Pink Pagoda

Friday, 9 May 2014

linen shopping in Merci in Paris

Sometimes I wish I lived in Paris just so I could go tableware shopping in Merci, the wonderful concept store on Boulevard Beaumarchais in the 3rd district, whenever I felt like it (remember this post?). They have an online shop but it isn't quite the same as browsing in the shop and touching the fabric. I love their washed linen tableware and I have added many items to my wish list. If you are looking for natural materials for your home, Merci is your shop.

Table napkins, 100% linen, French blue + blush pink

I have a few of their table napkins in neutral colours. They are made of washed linen and have a natural rumpled look. For the summer I'm dreaming about them in colours such as French blue, blue lagoon, blush pink, and even bright pink, which to me looks coral rather than pink.

Tablecloth, 100% linen, graphite grey

Last summer my favourite tablecloth, a cotton-linen blend in blue/greyish colour, got ruined with wax from one of those fly repellent candles. I bought it when we lived in Antwerp and I haven't found a similar colour here in the UK. I remember viewing the linen tablecloths in Merci and being very smitten with their graphite grey and off-white colours. I also have a little crush on the violet.

Striped aprons, 100% linen, light coral + dark navy blue

Another Merci item I would like to buy is pretty much any colour of their striped aprons, also made of washed pure linen and have that natural rumpled look. They come in one size and you can wear them with the halter, or fold them and tie around your waist.

photo credit:

Thursday, 8 May 2014

space: the study of textile designer John Robshaw

Textile designer John Robshaw has been featured on the blog a few times. His website is one of my sources of inspiration, a go-to place for exotic textiles. Today I wanted to show you the study in his NYC apartment on the Lower East Side, which is in a 1930s six-storey Art Deco building. The blue painted walls and window frames caught my attention right away, as did the campaign chair, but it was the balance of the room that appealed to me the most. The chair and desk are a Richard Wrightman design. The daybed is custom-made, which Robshaw upholstered in a silk, and the vintage rug and portrait are from India.

photo credit:
William Waldron for Elle Decor, December 2012

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ulla Johnson Spring 2014

These images from designer Ulla Johnson's spring 2014 ad campaign have swept me off my feet. Effortlessly bohemian is the first thing that came to mind. Naturalness was the second; the carefree mood went straight to my heart. Bravo to stylist April Hughes for allowing the natural beauty of model India Menuez to shine.
photo credit:
Anna Palma for Ulla Johnson Spring 2014 ad campaign | India Menuez styled by April Hughes

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

house tour: South African art gallery turned home

In Linksfield, Johannesburg a former art gallery has been turned into a home. German-born Egon Guenther, a printmaker and a former art gallerist, specialising in African art, built the house in the late 1950s, and in 1965 he added the gallery. He now lives in the part of the house that used to be the Egon Guenther Gallery and his daughter and her family live in the main house.

The double doors leading into the gallery from a brick courtyard were carved by artist Cecil Skotnes (1926-2009). Guenther represented Skotnes, and artists Edoardo Villa, Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae, "and together they had a huge influence on South African art from the 1960s on." Guenther's private collections of African art can be seen in these photos that were featured in the April 2012 issue of House and Leisure. His collection, which I find both stunning and impressive, used to be much bigger. That was before an auction in New York back in the year 2000.
I collect art, furniture and artefacts, but also books, cameras, pipes, wine, microscopes and more. When you collect, you learn a lot. I have never bought for investment purposes, only for love. A collector’s relationship with his collection is almost like a love affair; you make contact with a piece. That’s why a collector must not become an accumulator; the monetary value is not important. My impulse is to share rather than to keep my collection to myself. There are more important ways to be rich than hoarding. To create a good collection of anything, you must collect with intelligence and knowledge (and a sixth sense, too). I feel the things I collect are very important because they reflect the history of the time. Your collections become a reflection of yourself. Collecting is like a disease… a sickness.
Egon Guenther on collecting
Egon Guenther is both an art collector and a printmaker.
If you are interested in Egon Guenther's background, here is an interview with him about his career.
photo credit:
Elsa Young for House and Leisure, April 2012 | styled by Leana Schoeman

Monday, 5 May 2014

restyling your home

You know the feeling when your home fails to inspire you and you feel the need to rearrange all your furniture or even throw everything out, repaint or, the most desperate stage, move houses to feel inspired again? Just take a deep breath, get yourself a cup of coffee or whatever works for you, sit down and relax. This moment will pass.

What your home needs is probably just a touch of restyling. It doesn't have to be your entire home, maybe one corner will do, one shelf or a console table. I always find it best to use moments like these to get rid of stuff that has started to pile up. In my opinion, clutter kills creativity. Get rid of it and start to breathe again! Giving the home a spring cleaning can also work wonders.

Look at the styling in these three photos: Sometimes it's enough to rearrange a few books on your coffee table and add some decorative objects (I frequently restyle my desk and a large rattan storage trunk and it never fails to inspire me.) If your bookshelves only contain books my advice is to change that. Remove some of the books, especially the ones you know you will never read again and don't reflect your personality, and add vases and bowls or any small objects. Buy a new plant (or fresh flowers) and put it on a table and use a tray to display a few of your precious objects. Move an artwork from one wall to another to create a different favourite corner in a room. (The hummingbird wall hanging (wool and silk aubusson) in the last photo is by the late Alexander McQueen.)

photo credit:
1: David Ross for House and Leisure, styling: Leana Schoeman / 2: Victoria Skoglund / 3: Jeroen van der Spek for Living Etc.

Friday, 2 May 2014

colours in a Greek island village

I snapped these images from my copy of the book My Greek Island Home by Claire Lloyd, a book that always sits on my coffee table or desk and is a constant source of inspiration. Perhaps you remember that I featured it on the blog last September with a short interview with Claire and a few publicity images. The reason I wanted to come back to it today is to congratulate Claire on the UK publishing of the book by Clearview.

Without any planning on my part, the latest Friday blog posts seem to have been all about colours. Therefore it seemed fitting to continue with that today: to show some of the enchanting colours of Claire's village on the Greek island Lesvos.

I am constantly struck by the way the colours of the landscape find their way into the village. (p. 60)

Trust me, this is a book worth having. It's unpretentious and has none of those glossy photos of a leisurely life in the Mediterranean. It shows the real life of people in a small village on a Greek island.

This book has soul.

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Claire Lloyd, from the book My Greek Island Home, published by Clearview (photos of book pages taken by me)