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Posted in uncategorized on September 15, 2008

Amsterdam Highlights

I promised on Friday that today I’d give you just a slice of what my vacation to Amsterdam was like last week. This post will be mostly visual but I’ll be sure to give you plenty of links so it’s easy to find what I’m talking about on the web. :)

This about sums up how our days began each morning – latte and a map!

First I’ll start with a few of the restaurants where we ate and then I’ll wrap this post up with some of the shops we hit. We stayed in the Jordaan district, so we mostly hit shops and restaurants there.



This is a chain in the Netherlands called Bagels & Beans. We went to one near the fashion district and a nice kitty came and sat with me while I had my breakfast. He was so cute, and he even has a stylish mustache. Eventually he fell asleep on my lap until a little dog came in and then he attacked it. It was quite a riot to be caught in the middle of a cat and dog fight in the middle of a cafe. In the states, animals are not allowed in eating establishments (against codes of hygiene I believe, though I think most people are not as clean as animals so what’s the point!?) but here in western Europe you see pets frequently just about everywhere you go. In Germany you don’t see as many cats, mostly dogs, but in Holland cats are everywhere. It’s so nice though it’s also very practical – cuts down on rodents!

If you want affordable, delicious Japanese-Thai food, Nooch is your place. The atmosphere is so nice and the staff is exceptionally friendly. The food is also very healthy. You have to try their pad thai and make sure to order fresh mint tea and don’t miss the mango ice cream for dessert.

Other great places to eat:
De Kroon: Order their monk fish. It’s lekker!
Lust: Great place to enjoy coffee or eat lunch or dinner.
Toussaint – We ate here twice we liked it so much. Once for lunch and another night for a romantic candlelight dinner. Such a great atmosphere and the food is heaven.
Foodware – Mostly a take-out shop but you can eat in too. Everything is homemade right there in their open kitchen. Great place.

Now for shopping…


Definitely don’t miss the Noordermarkt Flea Market on Saturdays or Monday mornings. I had a blast and even met an Etsy seller there called Accessorize Paradise where I purchased a hair clip that everyone seems to love (I wish she sold them in her Etsy store). I found a pretty print from a children’s story book from another dealer who told me she has a shop on Herenstraat called Antiquariaat Lont. Note: I’m not exactly sure what it’s called, but a block over from this flea market was a huge fabric flea market with brand new textiles including those from top design houses. I found lots of beautiful fabrics there (shown above).

Aside from the flea market, I really enjoyed these stores too…


Hema. They are in Germany and Belgium, but mostly in Holland with several locations in Amsterdam. So many cute affordable things from office supplies to candy, clothing, beauty products, everything! I love their attention to product packaging. I found their postcards so sweet, and I made sure to buy plenty of pens since I can never have to many cute pens.

These are tweezers, also from Hema. Yeah, tweezers. I couldn’t believe it either, such great packaging.

I loved this store, it’s called Het Grote Avontuur. I purchased some white plastic placemats there and a few gifts, I loved the overall vibe of the shop, all of their hand painted Russian goodies, and their lovely Dutch ‘folk’ items. What a fun shop, you have to put it on your list if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam. You can also shop them online, in English!

While you’re on Haarlemmerstraat you can walk to Papabubble, a fun candy store that I first heard about from Irene at Bloesem. It’s worth the visit! Some of the architecture on Haarlemmerstraat shown above, I really liked it!

Egg Mercantile on Leliegracht 6. I loved this shop, mostly because of the great conversation that I had with Joshua who is one of the owners. His partner, Steven, is also his business partner and they’ve done a fine job selecting the best home accessories and stationery for this lovely shop. Steven and Joshua are American, Joshua had lived in Boston before and also New York, San Francisco… and now Amsterdam where he seems to call home. This shop showcases wares from both North and South America and Europe and I just loved the vibe in there. I took the most photos of his shop because not only was he familiar with decor8 (so I felt comfortable asking permission to take photos), but he was so super friendly and warm. I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to share this shop experience with all of you, especially since I recognized nearly all of the work there… I kept thinking how some of you will read this blog, see these photos, and say, “Hey that’s my stuff!”.

This is me chatting with fabulous Joshua.

Do you see the wonderful Elizabeth Soule photography far right?

Love the fancy trays from iBride on the wall…

See the handmade dolls on the fireplace mantle? They are from Heather Louise (website and etsy shop) and are absolutely wonderful in person. Her Marie Antoinette dolls are my favorites.

Do you see the Cardboard Safari head on the left wall? No animals were hurt!

I love these ceramic pieces by Lola Goldstein, don’t you? You can buy them online here.

Here’s some of my loot from Egg Mercantile. I was pleased to see lots of cards and notebooks by Camilla Engman.

Subrosa (Rozengracht 49-E) is another shop I liked, lots of tin and silver and tons of ethnic influence here. I picked up some jars and a colorful string of lights with tiny Chinese paper lanterns. It’s right down the street from my next favorite store for all things kitchen called…

Kitsch Kitchen (Rozengracht 8-11). And kitsch it was, two floors of wild and crazy colors and patterns. Wow. Great, affordable and fun. Kitsch Kitchen has tons of locations in Europe and even one in Southern California but none here in Germany. I hope they change this someday and bring Kitsch Kitchen to us here in northern Germany. It’s totally great.

I really liked Shirdak, it was like roaming the pages of my favorite magazine Selvedge. If you read Selvedge, you know it deals with textiles and the history of fabrics from all over the world. Shirdak had a collection of some of the most gorgeous things ever, it was like a museum of beautifully crafted rugs, throws, bedspreads, even slippers and bags.

Here are some other shops I hit (but did not photograph):
Jan (Utrechtsestraat 74)
Sissy Boy (clothing, some home stuff.)
V&D (for clothes)
Fame (for 5-Euro CDs and DVDs, all brand new. Amazing store, I purchased about 15 CDs and a Japanese DVD I’ve been wanting to see called The Cat Returns, a Hiroyuki Morita animated film.)
H&M: I think there was one on every corner downtown. It was H&M heaven.
Zara and Zara Home
Noa Noa (clothing)
… And a slew of other miscellaneous shops in the Jordaan district that I didn’t write down but lots of fun!

Shopping Note: I had planned to spend the entire morning and half of the afternoon on Monday going to my favorite design shops. I was so amazingly excited, I could hardly wait all weekend. On Monday, we headed over to Pol’s Potten, Droog, Keet in Huis, and Frozen Fountain only to realize that they were closed. :( I couldn’t believe it. Shops are closed in Amsterdam on Mondays for the most part, except for large department stores and a few ‘select’ shops, but even they don’t open until around 1pm. I was absolutely heartbroken. Oh well. Please don’t make the mistake that I did!

And to close, here are a few random inspirations from the city.

The ultimate of posh: A mini cooper to match one big, gorgeous townhouse.

A little bird peeped a chipper goodbye as we headed towards the train station, 4 hours on a ‘slow’ train (but first class) to Germany was really nice and relaxing. Rolling hills, farmland, clear sunny skies…

That sums up my mini break to Amsterdam. Hope you enjoyed my highlights from this lovely city today. And a special thanks to all the ladies who met me at the meet and greet, you each made my visit to Amsterdam SO MUCH better than I had imagined.

(images mostly taken by my husband Thorsten Becker, others by yours truly)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, travel on September 15, 2008

I’m Digging…

Good morning! Many of you asked if I would share some of the home products that I’m finding here in Germany as I furnish my apartment, so this post will introduce you to some that I frequently find in local shops. Of course, this isn’t to say that this is ‘the’ style in Germany, it’s not, but it is pretty common to find the items on the below list in small design shops or even larger department stores in northern Germany.

If you are interested in learning about where you can find these products in your country, please visit the websites linked below and click around… you are sure to find a store locator on each site. Here’s a quick list of what I’m seeing in shops and what is inspiring me right now. I think these things are also hot in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Norway too as I read design magazines from all of these countries and have noticed some or all of these things contained within their pages.

1. Aluminum or hand painted boxes (with lids) from India. My aluminum ones are from a little shop near my house for only 20- Euros each but they can go as high up as 100- Euros elsewhere.

2. Poufs. Very popular. In all sizes and shapes, leather, fabric, you name it.

3. Lampions and rice paper pendants (round). P.S. Someone in the U.S. seriously needs to order and sell the Orike Muth collection of lights and pillows, she is a local designer from Hannover and is hugely popular. If you are a shop owner you have to check her out and bring her goods to America.
4. Colors: Berry tones and gray. White and black. Lots of lilac, fuchsia, and gray.

5. Folksy design (see the box I found in Amsterdam above for an example) and Asian motifs (lotus flowers for example). Lots of Russian nesting dolls too.
6. Wallpaper is still pretty hot here.

7. Ethnic inspired lighting, especially pendants with cut out patterns.
8. White porcelain also with cut out motifs. See my Pol’s Potten lamp below from Le Souk as an example of this.
9. Roman blinds and white sheer curtains or brightly colored gauze or cotton curtains with tie or tab tops. Think Morocco or India. Relaxed but vibrant. Little pattern on the windows, solid hues are in.
10. Wood floors kept natural or painted in a bold color or white. I don’t see a lot of high gloss black floors here. Lots of pergo (affordable and durable).
11. Wall decals, mostly florals.

12. Baskets, like these from Rice via Car Mobel, in bold berry tones.
13. Tin mirrors.

14. Party lights around mirrors or windows, no party necessary. :) I put mine around a simple mirror from IKEA in my living room. Note: My living room is only 6 weeks old and still in progress so this is not the final view of the space.
15. Mid century modern furniture paired with modern or ‘country’ style. IKEA is everywhere, but mixed in with vintage flea market finds or Jugenstil-inspired furniture.
16. Topiary trees on windowsills. I see this fairly often when I’m walking around my neighborhood. I have a small Myrtle Tree myself. Rosemary is another good one to use.

17. “Cute” design, like Barbapapa, colorful accents from RICE, crochet coasters, plastic lace placemats, fun magnets, small toys on shelves, plastic deer toys, items with personality. I picked up this Barbapapa in Amsterdam and placed in my cabinet until I find a better home for him.
18. Natural minimalism with lots of wood, white, silver. I usually see lilac as the accent color or medium gray.

19. Wooden cabinets in white or black with glass doors. I have one in white.

20. Plastic floor mats, usually found in the hallway or kids room. Rugs from RICE are very popular. Cotton stripe rugs are also popular. I like the one shown above with the cutie squirrel trim. :)
21. Plastic melamine trays for serving guests.
22. Moroccan tea trays as coffee tables like these from Le Souk or small round wood tables of varying heights arranged in front of the sofa painted in gray, white, black, etc.
23. Natural wood stools placed near the bathtub for stacking towels.
24. Orchids as houseplants. I see them everywhere!
25. Moroccan lanterns in white, black, or silver metal.

26. Turkish towels with tassels. I love them! Le Souk has them (where I purchased mine) but you can also find them at shops like Zara Home or in this Dutch shop called Zester.

Now for some popular brands that I find in small shops locally:

  • Rice. Not the kind you eat, rather the Danish company that you wish you could eat as everything is so sweet looking. I find their products in many shops here in northern Germany and on various German online shops. They’re a real hit here.
  • Sia. When I first saw their label I thought of one of my favorite singers from Australia but this Sia is different, it’s a home fashion brand based out of Trier, Germany. I find many of their products locally, too. Pillows, dishware, etc.
  • Kokon. This is a company based in Munich with a large store there as well, but I am finding their products in shops around here too. I just picked up a gorgeous embroidered floor pillow from them last week at a local shop called Looms. I like the Kokon aesthetic very much.
  • TAJ Wood & Scherer is another shop with goods all over Germany, found mostly in fine home shops. The pillow on my sofa is from TAJ. I find their products very colorful, detailed, and unique — I don’t know of any U.S. based companies with similar wares, which is nice! I especially love their They happen to have an online shop and it’s in English in case you’d like to purchase some things for your home. They ship worldwide, too!
  • UK designer Cath Kidston and her romantic girly prints and patterns.
  • House Doctor – I’m truly in love with this company. Flip through their online catalog to see what I mean.
  • Green Gate – More feminine florals and bright colors. Browse their online catalog for Fall/Winter 2008/09 here.
  • Nordal – Lots of ethnic inspired design, another brand I love.
  • Lisbeth Dahl
  • …and if you’re shopping here for baby you’ll go crazy! Things here for children are SO DARN CUTE. You’ll want babies if you don’t already have them when you come to northern Europe. I love how kids dress here and absolutely adore all of the Anne-Claire Petit stuff I see in stores.

Of course, these brands above are not the only ones around! They are many more but my focus above is on what I’m finding in the smallish boutiques that I shop at.

(images from vtwonen, rice, and of course my own photos taken at home)

Posted in round-up, shopping, textiles, travel, trends, walls on September 15, 2008

Darling Nursery Textiles

Baby Chic with Rikshaw Design

Posted in uncategorized on September 13, 2008

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