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September 2008

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Flea Market & Thrift Finds

September 16, 2008

I usually save the more ‘personal’ posts like this one for my Haus Maus blog, but I am way too excited about my recent flea market finds to not share on decor8 today. For those of you who may not know, my husband and I took on a second home here in Germany in addition to our New Hampshire home (primary residence) since we visit Germany 2-3 months each year and last year we got REALLY tired of always staying in a hotel suite. We wanted something that belonged to us, that we could furnish and decorate and live in while we’re here. And we needed a place where we could stay whenever we wanted, not having to check in with the hotel to ensure dates were available. BIG PAIN. Last Fall, we decided to take an apartment and it was gut renovated and became ours officially in April. Of course we weren’t able to come over right away, so we let it sit and wait for us over the summer and then we arrived the first week of August. We are still here and will remain until the 3rd week of December. We will then return back to New Hampshire to spend the winter and most likely, in the Spring or early Summer, come back over for 3-4 months. I’m guessing this will go on for the next few years so I’m really enjoying the experience of dual residency and western European living — it’s so nice to experience!

With all that being said, I’ve been working hard on our apartment here over the past nearly 6 weeks. I had to start from scratch, we only had floors and walls pretty much! It’s been a really fun process, but I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the thrill of the hunt the most… hunting for furniture and housewares. Between Amazon.de, a few German websites I enjoy, and all of the local stores I shop here in Hannover, I’m doing great and staying within my budget. One great tip I must share though is that if you do decide to relocate to Europe one day yourself, don’t pass up your local flea markets. Find out where they are the second you arrive. Also look at ‘junk’ shops. They are really great and filled to the brim with mid century modern furniture (mostly 1950s stuff) priced to sell. I recently purchased two 1950s bed tables (solid wood) at a local thrift shop for ?20- for both! They will be delivered this Thursday. I also found a beautiful mirror with lights for 100 Euros and some gorgeous white porcelain vases.

Flea Market & Thrift FindsFlea Market & Thrift Finds

Here’s a vase/flower pot that I found just yesterday for ?2,50- (that is around $3.60) that is a mid century piece. It’s very Jonathan Adler I think. I thought the flowers gave her some much need hair. She is so stylish!

Flea Market & Thrift FindsFlea Market & Thrift FindsFrom the local flea market I found some coasters with lace dollies and glass. All four for ?1!

Flea Market & Thrift Finds Here is another local flea market find. This is an old French plate with great colors and I adore the illustration on it. It has a hook for hanging, which is what I plan to do with it. It was priced ?32 but I got it for ?25.

Flea Market & Thrift Finds This is a vintage ruler for ?1. I will use it on my desk to hold my favorite postcards (once I get an actual desk, that is). Another great flea market find I think. I love old folding rulers in yellow. No clue why.

Flea Market & Thrift Finds This is a little desk lamp from the early 50’s. It was ?25 but I got the seller down to ?20. I have a rule, if it’s over ?8 I never pay full price. :) The vase is also from the flea market, ?7!

Flea Market & Thrift Finds These two blue/white floral bud vases are so sweet, both for only ?1 at the flea market.

Flea Market & Thrift Finds I found the best pink lantern candles and small crystal cube holders at the thrift shop yesterday, 20 candles and 3 cube holders for ?2.50. I like to light them in my window at night. The bowls, tea tins, and the lilac and white bowls are new. The tins are from House Doctor and the purple bowls are from Rice. I’m not sure of the company that produces the Lilac/White patterned bowls because they are not marked, sorry.

Flea Market & Thrift Finds For ?1 I found this stone mouse that hangs on the wall. I will paint it a soft gray and place it near my front door since my husband calls me ‘haus maus’. I can’t tell you what a great flea market day I had this past Saturday but I think these photos express that — it was just great. It’s amazing what a few vintage finds can do to make a new apartment feel warm and loved. I will be in Berlin this Saturday so I won’t be at the Hannover flea market this weekend, but I am attending a garden & home festival on Friday and a fabric bazaar here on Sunday, so if I find anything good I will post some photos next week.

Hope you enjoyed some of my flea market and thrift shop finds for the month!

(images from holly becker for decor8)






Shop Tours, Shopping + Products, Travel

Amsterdam Highlights

September 15, 2008

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. :)

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

Amsterdam Highlights

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.

Amsterdam Highlights
Amsterdam Highlights
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!

Amsterdam Highlights 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…

Amsterdam Highlights
Amsterdam Highlights 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…

Amsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam Highlights
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.

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

Amsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam Highlights

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!

Amsterdam Highlights

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!

Amsterdam Highlights 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!”.

Amsterdam Highlights This is me chatting with fabulous Joshua.

Amsterdam Highlights Do you see the wonderful Elizabeth Soule photography far right?

Amsterdam Highlights Love the fancy trays from iBride on the wall…

Amsterdam Highlights 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.

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

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

Amsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam HighlightsAmsterdam Highlights

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

Amsterdam Highlights 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…

Amsterdam Highlights 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.

Amsterdam Highlights 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.

Amsterdam Highlights

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

Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights 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)






Shopping + Products

26 Decorating Objects I’m Digging

September 15, 2008

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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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.
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.

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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

26 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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 Decorating Objects I'm Digging

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)






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