Monthly Archives

October 2007

Travel

Hotel Rival {Stockholm}

October 11, 2007

You know you’re in for a treat when the hotel you stay in is partly owned by Benny Andersson, one of the members of Abba. And when you see that they have a brochure that looks like this, the anticipation builds because you assume the place is going to be quite special… And with a website like this, Hotel Rival really knows how to build anticipation. But the question I had before arrival was, will it stand up to its claim of being a posh retreat?

Hotel Rival {Stockholm}Oh yes, it did. It surpassed my expectations, and given that we only paid around $150 USD per night, Hotel Rival is quite the budget find. Located at Mariatorget 3 in S?dermalm, the trendy southern island facing a quaint square complete with park and fountain. There are tons of nearby cafes, restaurants, shops, even a grocery store around the corner for picking up the toothpaste that you forget to pack. The super clean subway is one block away and the neighborhood was safe and clean, extremely quiet at night (except for the church bells) so you’d never guess that you were in the center of the city.

The hotel has a restaurant, cafe, bakery, meeting facilities, even a movie theatre – so there’s no such thing as feeling stranded in the middle of nowhere – this hotel has it all and is located in the center of all the action. Just a short stroll to the waterfront, too. Another Stockholm bonus – the salty fresh ocean air. I loved it.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} This is the lobby, and the image in the top right corner is of the bar area (I didn’t take that photo, it’s from their brochure but all the others are mine). I loved the lighting in the lobby and the fun wallpaper in Art Deco style.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} These two images are from their brochure, so now you can see what the rooms look like completely styled and of course, the front of the building with their adjacent cafe and bakery, a cafe that I adored (must try: sweet rolls and a mango yogurt smoothie). Scroll down for the cafe images. But first, let me tell you why this hotel was so special to me.

First of all, location. Super easy to navigate Stockholm from this point. Next, the staff. Everyone made you feel like the most important guest, and this is quite a special way to feel when you are thousands of miles from home. They’re super friendly and chatty, everyone speaks fluent English (I must add that I think this goes for the entire city), and they’ll help you with anything you need. And of course, there’s the property… Exquisite sums it up for me. It makes most of the places I’ve stayed at in the northeast (US) for three times the price look like Motel 6. I’m stunned that such a posh city like Stockholm doesn’t come with extremely expensive hotel rates like you’d expect. I’d love to see American cities get back to offering beautiful places to stay at affordable rates because they’re hard to come by – yet I’m finding here in Europe, even in cities like Berlin, the rooms may be small but the standards are very high and the rates are extremely affordable. And it’s all about luxury.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} Entering our room from the hallway… When I say ‘our’ I’m speaking of Danielle and I, she’s a friend from the Netherlands who is a blogger, the editor of the Hotel Rival {Stockholm} This view is from our balcony. The room was mostly white with an orange hallway and workstation, orange and gray curtains, and a gray door. To the right where you see the desk, there are built-in cabinets with a mini bar, safe, hair dryer, storage, closet, iron, etc. I liked how well this small space was designed. To the left of the desk was the bathroom.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} This view taken by standing in the same position as above, only turning the camera to the left a little more. The blinds can be opened so that while you are showering, you can give your roommate a little show, perhaps? But with Danielle as my roommate, there was no performance happening in this room! But the feature was cute and of course, practical as the bathroom had no natural light so this windowed shower was a smart design feature while being slightly cheeky as well. I must add that the lighting in the bathroom was adjustable so you could shower by candlelight so to speak with your favorite tunes playing, which made for a very relaxing evening shower before bed, especially after walking all day. We listened to Michael Buble and Sade, the best music for evening relaxation with our piles of design magazines, snuggled in our super comfortable beds.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} Abba was over the bed, I imagined that they were playing Dancing Queen the entire time because it’s the only song I could hear looping in my mind each time I entered the room. The cutest thing about Hotel Rival is that the rooms come with a small selection of CDs and of course, one of them is Abba Gold. They’ll even loan you additional CDs, Playstation games, and DVDs at no additional charge.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} And I have to mention the rugs in the hallways, each floor had a different design. This is the 5th floor, the hallway leading to our room. Isn’t the carpet the coolest? So original. I learned that they were designed by Swedish artist Carouschka Streiffert. The rug designs were inspired by ?urban paper waste? incorporating images of restaurant bills, movie or train tickets. I should add that the overall interior design of this hotel was pulled together by designer Karin Ahlgren of Ahlgren Edblom Arkitekter. Their portfolio is extensive and impressive.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} And here are some images from the hip Hotel Rival cafe. I liked all the colors, each wall was different and very bright. But it was the smell of baked goods and the photography displayed on the walls that lured me in. Good food and good design? How can you go wrong?

Hotel Rival {Stockholm} I couldn’t take my eyes off of the gorgeous photography of Ulla Montan. Isn’t it arranged so well, and the lighting — this photographer is so talented! My favorite is portrait of Cecilia Frode (37-yr-old Swedish actress), she is so beautiful.

Hotel Rival {Stockholm}Hotel Rival {Stockholm}Hotel Rival {Stockholm}
So, if you travel to Stockholm and would like to locate the perfect city hotel, make Hotel Rival your hotel of choice. You won’t be disappointed, I’m sure of it!

(images taken by holly becker for decor8 unless otherwise noted beneath the image)

Objects, Travel

Good Design {For All} In Stockholm

October 10, 2007

One thing amongst many that I completely loved about Stockholm is that good design truly is accessible to all income levels. It wasn’t just at DesignTorget, ?hl?ns, or Svenskt Tenn, but great things could be found in even the budget shops and especially the vintage and antiques stores.

Good Design {For All} In Stockholm Some textiles that I purchased, I love the new Elisabeth Dunker pattern to the far right called Str?ssel, I have 2 yards now for sewing a roman shade for my kitchen and it cost about $80 USD total for the fabric from ?hl?ns.

Good Design {For All} In Stockholm (this image only via Elisabeth)

Good Design {For All} In Stockholm
This (below) is ?hl?ns, it’s right in the center of Stockholm so you can jump off the train at Central station and go directly upstairs to ?hl?ns, DesignTorget, even an inexpensive store called Lagerhaus that we discovered while roaming around that I’d not heard of before. I’ll show you Lagerhaus further down in this post. But first, back to ?hl?ns. It reminded me a lot of Herrods in London or KaDeWe in Berlin.

Good Design {For All} In Stockholm
The sales lady in their fabric department was so sweet, she even allowed me to take a few photos. Look at these gorgeous bolts of drool-inducing Scandinavian prints. I had to hold myself back because I truly wanted to buy a yard or two of each for further projects.
Good Design {For All} In StockholmI should add that this store not only has amazing textiles, but the best selection of things for the home, like curtains, duvets, cookware, and I can’t even get into their floor of fashion. I could have dropped several thousand dollars on each floor, everything was so on target with my personal taste that I felt like I had walked into a giant decor8 blog or that perhaps the entire store wasn’t called ?hl?ns at all, but Holly-Land perhaps? Have you ever been into a store where you could own everything? For me, ?hl?ns was such a store. (Along with Pure And Simple, a boutique store near our hotel.)

Good Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In Stockholm
Of course, good design should be available to all, and in Stockholm, it truly is. Lagerhaus located at Birger Jarlsgatan 18 was so inexpensive that I had to pinch myself, in some cases prices were lower than IKEA. From tin tea cans to bread boards, curtains, pillows, decals, postcards, mugs… Okay just about anything you can think of, Lagerhaus had it in abundance at great prices. I snapped a few quick photos while inside their store to give you a glimpse. Most of what you see is under $10!

Good Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In Stockholm
Speaking of affordable, Swedish blogger Emma took me to a Salvation Army store in SoFo that is a fair trade store and they had some incredible stuff for the lowest prices. Of course, there’s a lot of vintage shops around the city, a few of my favorites include Retro Etc., where I found this bread board that is 30 years old for under $20. This shop was so color loaded that you nearly need sunglasses to walk through the front door. And it’s not just retro vintage stuff, there’s lots of brand new goodies to look through like Mibo lighting and Orla Kiely deliciousness.

Good Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In StockholmGood Design {For All} In Stockholm
I also must comment on how easy it was to find gorgeous textiles in Sweden. Almost every store that offered pillows or curtains also sold the same fabric from bolts, you could purchase whatever you wanted and as a sewer, I appreciated seeing this so much. My ‘issue’ back in America is all the “to the trade only” nonsense, and although I can walk in and buy what I need, many cannot so they’re banned from these items unless they have an contact or hire a designer, etc.

Back home, the common shopper, and I say common with all due respect just to mean someone who doesn’t belong to the trade, has to go to fabric stores in either the big cities or the suburban chain fabric stores and hope to find some stylish textiles because what they really want is only available to certain people, if you know what I mean, those trade people. And I dislike this very much.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this whole “to the trade” even exists in Sweden because again, good fabric was all over the city and anyone could walk up to a sales clerk and purchase yardage in their favorite print. I couldn’t believe it. I really wish that in America, this whole practice is eventually done away with because it shuts out so many from things that they would otherwise own if only they had access to it.

I like Elle Decor, House and Garden, and other high end glossies for their gorgeous style and eye for design, but when I check the resource guide and see 90% of everything shown in the magazine is mostly to the trade only, I get this sinking feeling because I know that my friends are shut out and it’s not fair. Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, you have design-friendly and extremely accessible and savvy Stockholm. Another reason why this city completely rocked.

{I’m heading out to a fusion Japanese Jazz concert with friends, so I’ll be back tomorrow with more Stockholm finds for you to enjoy.}

(images from holly becker for decor8)

Travel

Afroart (Stockholm)

October 10, 2007

I loved Afroart and could have lingered in this gorgeous color-filled shop for hours sifting through the endless piles of rugs, blankets, textiles, ikat fabrics, woven this, embroidered that… Oh it was just such a great place to discover, and it was a block from our hotel. Heaven.

Afroart (Stockholm)Afroart (Stockholm)Afroart (Stockholm)
Yum! All so very delightful and the greater good is accomplished when you shop here as it is owned by a group of Swedish designers who work directly with artisans all over the world and purchase directly from them. They have lots of information on their website about their cause, you should read it for all the details.

Afroart (Stockholm)
I couldn’t take it all home with me, so I decided to locate one item that I would forever keep – something special. And this was easy, as it was the first thing I spotted the moment I stepped into the door. It was on a wall ladder that I found my dream blanket, which will go in my living room when I return to the states, a queen size hand-embroidered 100% cotton blanket from Bangladesh with the most beautiful birds on it. It was around $1,200 kroner which was maybe $200 USD (I think, I have to check with my bank). There was also a stuffed elephant and bird to match, as well as a small blanket for kids that was around 400 kroner. I love ethnic stores like this one because the designers select things that are very hip and colorful, bright, fresh – some stores offering ethnic things tend to go more towards the dark woods, colors, and lots of kelly green and orange. Not this place – it was a hue-infused exotic paradise.

Afroart (Stockholm)Afroart (Stockholm)Afroart (Stockholm)They have two stores in Stockholm, but I preferred the one on Hornsgatan 58, in the S?dermalm district because it’s much larger than it’s newly opened sister store. I highly suggest Afroart when in Stockholm, it’s a must-see for those in love with ethnic prints and patterns, helping the environment and villages around the world, and of course, recycling.

(images from holly becker for decor8)

Travel

Stockholm Scoop!

October 10, 2007

I hope you’re prepared to travel this week, because I’m back from Stockholm and ready to give you the full scoop. So if you’ve ever wanted to travel there, this will be your virtual vacation. I can’t wait to share the ‘best of’ highlights from this delightful travel destination. You’re in for a treat this week!

Stockholm Scoop!
But first, a big thank you for your patience while I’ve been away. I think all bloggers battle with taking time away from their blogs and although I was only out for 3 days, it feels like eternity! But no worries, I’m back in full swing now!

Ah Stockholm. What a terrific time away and certainly one of the most inspirational — everything is super stylish, from fashion to interiors, and the people are friendly and helpful, streets are clean, food is amazing, magazines and books are filled with color and character, I’ll have great memories of this city for the rest of my life. What I appreciated the most is that despite ‘having it all’, the people are the most laid back and unpretentious in the world despite how they hold the key to so much beauty, talent and style. There’s no “too cool for school” vibe like I sometimes feel back home in America in certain areas, where you almost think you aren’t good enough to run with certain crowds. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I mean. It was just so nice to land in a place where I instantly felt accepted and welcomed by the people, but that I in turn felt an attachment to – like I could live in Stockholm because I had the feeling that living there could work. It’s not a feeling I have too often.

Stockholm is welcoming, open minded, confident, modern, vibrant, and if you love design and food (as I assume you must), you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. It takes a lot for a city to impress me these days, due to my own age and experience I guess, but wow – it’s a fascinating, beautiful spot that I can’t wait to share with you.

Stockholm Scoop! Book from DesignTorget, ceramic pieces by Karin Eriksson via Cosas.

Oh, and if you like the horse from the first image above, he’s also from Cosas, a gorgeous Swedish online store that I was able to shop from in person at their booth at the Hem ’07 show. I love his little wool saddle. :)

…Back soon!

(image by holly becker for decor8)

uncategorized

Vacation Time!

October 4, 2007

Time for a girls’ getaway! I’m signing off now because in the morning I’m heading up to Stockholm to meet up with Danielle, who is flying there to meet me for holiday. We’ve both wanted to see Stockholm for many years now, so it’s exciting that the time has finally arrived and that we’ll be taking in the sights together, with Emma and a few other friends as our trusty guides. (Psst: Emma wrote a terrific guide to Stockholm if you’d like to see some of things we plan to do while there.) I can’t wait to finally meet Emma!

Vacation Time!I’ll be away from the blog until Wednesday, October 10, so please feel free to browse through the archives and some of my favorite blogs in the left column while I’m away. And when I’m back, I’ll share with you all the highlights from our little adventure in Sweden, from the stores to hotel photos, and a ‘best of’ round up from the Hem design show. I’ll see you back here on Wednesday, October 10th! – xo Holly

(Image: Rob Schoenbaum for the NYTimes)

Inspiration

Mijn Moodboard

October 4, 2007

Want to have a little fun? Time to play! If the idea of creating a moodboard today sounds good to you then visit the Dutch site Mijn Moodboard from VT Wonen and enter your email address to the right, check the box, and click login – that will take you where you need to be to create your very own inspiration board. Here’s one that I quickly pulled together to show you an example of what you can do.

Mijn Moodboard
This little tool/toy is in Dutch, so you’ll need to be patient with yourself to get through it. But once you figure it out, since it’s a highly visual tool, you’ll be on a roll.

I hope an American design magazine eventually integrates something like this into their website because it’s quite a helpful tool and from a marketing/sales perspective, it would be a clever way for a magazine to obtain sponsors, at least I would think. Imagine a site where you could build a moodboard using products that are each linked so you can purchase them if you decide to? I think I’m onto something. Anyway, have a good time, it’s addictive!

(image from mijn moodboard)

Top