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Wow! The Design Files Open House

Good morning friends! Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas? I feel like Autumn totally flew by, don’t you? Our baby boy will arrive in just five weeks (eeeeee!!!!) so I’m over-the-moon excited about it and busy prepping his room and getting massive butterflies as I think about how much we have to look forward to. I’m also in the midst of renovations on our new apartment, though I’m only overseeing things, but it’s still “work” and I’m happy to report that it’s nearly finished! We will move in 2 1/2 weeks! Yeah, wow is right. But all is well – the paint smell is gone, the new floors are installed (and gorgeous), and everything looks so fresh and pretty that the effort involved in sprucing has totally paid off. It’s a total clean slate. I can’t wait to move in and DECORATE! Yay! I will definitely share photos as I go with you, so expect to begin seeing those in January.

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And speaking of decorating, I simply must share the lovely event that recently occurred in Australia hosted by design blogger Lucy Feegins from The Design Files. She contacted me over the weekend offering me first dibs on this content and sharing it here on decor8 so I couldn’t turn her down. I’m super behind her amazing concept and love how she and her team convert an empty house into a pop-up showroom all in the name of design and promoting local talent in Australia. Items are sold, they have hundreds of visitors, and then the home is cleaned out and is returned to whomever owns the property. What a cool concept, right?

This year for the first time they held the event in Melbourne (Lucy’s home town) and then again in Sydney 2 weeks later. Normally she only does it in one location so this was quite an undertaking. You can see the inspiring TDF Open House 2013 Video here or simply watch it below. This video was shot, directed and edited by Jessica Leski.

And here are some more photos for you to drool over, taken by Brooke Holm, of the Melbourne open house event.

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I love all of the bold accent walls – especially the blue tones and that gorgeous watermelon-y color. Super pretty and so interesting to look at – the art by Melbourne artist Miranda Skoczek is amazing. I also love all of the colorful rugs and textiles, and the white wooden blinds in the bedroom shown above (I’m soooo into wooden shutters at the moment and want to install them in my bedroom, but these blinds are lovely too).

Isn’t this a lovely project? What do you think of the color palette and use of pattern? See any objects in particular that inspire you?

I’d like to wish you all a very lovely day! I’m going to finish up on some shopping, then it’s time to bake cookies and relax… Hope you make some time to relax, too.

AND a special thanks to Lucy for sharing this content with us today!

(images: brooke holm)

Posted in events + markets on December 23, 2013

Homes With Heart: Scandinavian Style Dutch Cottage

Hello readers! Are you ready to tour a light and bright Scandinavian style Dutch cottage? It’s Holly Marder again and I am back with my Homes With Heart column. While many vacate their summer homes for the winter season, warm textures, endless light and understated Christmas touches make this petite residence the perfect winter escape for owners Nathalie Fransen and Bas van Egmond, and their three children.

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Interior designer Nathalie Fransen and co-owner of NU interieur | ontwerp, and architect Bas van Egmond purchased this 38 square meter vacation home late last year as a place for them to escape to the Dutch countryside on the weekends with their children. Once a brown, dark and dated interior, Nathalie and Bas spent the summer creating what is now a light, bright and welcoming space.

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“We live in a really small apartment in Delft, the Netherlands. While we love our urban lives, we wanted to compensate it with a bit of nature,” Nathalie says. “We were really lucky to find this space. It was owned by an old couple who had lived here for 17 years. It was no doubt already dated 17 years ago, but they didn’t change a thing. You could feel that they really loved the space, as if it was some sort of treasure.”

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The first thing Bas and Nathalie did was coat the dark interior with white paint, replace the kitchen and bathroom and infuse it with their minimalistic sense of style. “We decided that painting it white would freshen it up, but would also make it look and feel a lot larger,” Nathalie explains.

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White floors infuse the space with light but are also surprisingly low maintenance. “I want our kids to have the freedom to be children, but I really like neat spaces,” Nathalie explains. “Therefore, I seek solutions that can ensure the space can be tidied up easily after the kids are in bed, such as smart storage.” As a designer, Nathalie, with her business partner Tessa Weerdenburg, strives to offer the same combination of practicality and aesthetics to her clients.

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Design classics and inexpensive Ikea products combine with a black, white and wood colour scheme, making for a charming Scandinavian style retreat for this family of five. “We love to combine old and new, sentimental items that have been handed down, with new pieces and also inexpensive items. We were lucky to inherit design pieces from Bas’s parents because they know we appreciate them.” The family escape to their cottage most weekends, and love to continue that tradition through the winter. And though they don’t make as much use of the garden as they do during the summer, they enjoy creating a warm and cozy cottage to enjoy when the temperatures drop.

Spot something that you love? Here are some of the items in Nathalie and Bas’s home: Lamp above dining table: Vintage Arne Jacobson AJ Royal Louis Poulsen lamp; Royal Shelving System: Poul Cadovius; Dining table and stools: Ikea; Sofa: Ikea Soderhamn; Coffee table: Montis Tor Table; Paper star; lanterns: Snug Studio; Paper lantern bags: Broste Copenhagen; Wooden bird: Architect Made; White vases: Snug Studio; Kitchen / storage: Ikea; Grey throw on bed: Zara Home; Graphic throw blanket on sofa: Hema; Cushions on sofa: Dille & Kamille (green); Marble cheese board: Lijns

I hope you enjoyed this fresh and festive cottage tour! Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and I’ll see you back here next month with another Homes With Heart column. – Holly

(text/photos: holly marder)

Posted in Homes With Heart on December 20, 2013

Simple Times: Celebrating In Ireland

Hello friends! It’s Rincy again with a little post on the holiday season here in Dublin. I love this time of year, similar to spring, it feels as though there is a secret promise of a new beginning just around the corner. It can either be a frenzied blur of events or the slowest of periods and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had our fair share of both (takeout food and Friends re-runs, I’ve been there done that). But every now and again a funny thing happens in the midst of the chaos of presents, crowds or family politics, there is a moment of contentment. Bliss. Joy. Love. Gratitude. Ever so brief or all at once, it happens.

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Last week, we celebrated our friend Emily’s birthday in the midst of the holiday season. It was an evening full of collaborative efforts, DIY touches and a family whose love is incredibly palpable- it was beautiful to be a part of it. It was without a doubt, one of those moments.

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Emily’s sweet take on the evenings events: “When I moved to Ireland just over five years ago, there were a lot of things that necessitated adjustment: driving on the other side of the road, not being able to buy anything in bulk at the grocery store, those kinds of things. What didn’t take any time at all to adjust to was how the Irish celebrate the Christmas season. They gather, they linger, they spend time around a table or a fireplace. They chat and they sing and time stands still for a few hours. On the day of the dinner party, I pulled my car over by the coast of Dublin Bay and trekked down to the water line. I pulled out a big old piece of driftwood and squeezed it into the back of the car. We suspended it above the table, and from it we hung the most beautiful geometric Christmas ornaments. Candles placed throughout the room twinkled and sparkled. We held hands around the table while my husband prayed grace over the meal. Then we ate, drank wine, shared stories and laughed. Time stopped for a few hours; there were no phones or work. We were right there, together, celebrating exactly the way I’ve learned to in my time in Dublin. Truly present, with nowhere else to be but right there.” – Emily

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Whatever way you choose to spend your holiday, I hope bliss, joy love and gratitude are a plenty. Wishing you a very happy holiday season from Ireland. – Rincy

(Styling: Ciara O’ Halloran, Flowers: Claire Ryan, Cake: Kate Packwood, Photography/text: Rincy Koshy)

Posted in Simple Times on December 19, 2013

Delicious Bites: Pavé aux Chocolat Recipe

Looking to make Pavé aux Chocolat? Would you like an easy recipe for baking it this Christmas? It’s Jillian here with a special Christmas Delicious Bites post for you. When Holly asked me to come up with a simple Christmas dessert, I have to say I was stumped. In the Leiboff household, we’re nothing but traditionalists when it comes to our Christmas Day menu. Despite the 32°C heat outside, we always have roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas lunch followed by a traditional steamed plum pudding, well spiced and heavy with fruit and nuts. My work holds a Christmas lunch each year where we’re asked to bring along a dish to share. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I always bring along dessert so today I’m sharing with you a recipe for a favourite dessert of mine, a Pavé aux Chocolat.

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It’s almost a family heirloom recipe because my Mum used to make a version of this when I was growing up, which she called Biscotten and it was one of her dinner party staples. Mum used to soak sponge fingers in a mixture of brandy and milk, layered them with a chocolate cream filling then covered the cake with whipped cream. I found this version in an English magazine long ago, wrote it out by hand and it’s been in my recipe box ever since. Pavé aux Chocolat is more about assembly than cooking so it’s easy to put together once the chocolate cream has been made. It’s not a last minute dessert though. You do need to make it the day before it’s served to allow all the flavours to develop and for the sponge fingers to soften. The sponge fingers are lightly soaked first and you might want to do a practice run on a few. Soak the sponge fingers for too long and they’ll be too soggy. Don’t soak them for long enough and they’re too crunchy.

The recipe is pretty flexible as well. I used rum but you could alter the flavour of alcohol used to soak the sponge fingers or skip it entirely. For an alcohol free version you could use some vanilla extract instead of the rum or you soak the sponge fingers in coffee or coconut milk instead. If uncooked eggs are a concern, I’m sure you could leave the egg yolks out of the chocolate cream entirely. The egg yolks add richness to the cream so perhaps you could add 100 mls of cream while melting the chocolate to make it more ganache like or maybe fold 100 g of mascarpone through the filling. I topped the Pavé with some chocolate curls but you could always top the Pavé with a layer of whipped cream just like my Mum used to.

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Pavé Au Chocolat: Here’s the recipe for you:

Ingredients:
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate
125 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
125 g (4 oz) sifted icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 tbs Dutch process cocoa, sifted
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup milk
18 – 24 sponge fingers (Savoiardi)

To decorate:

Chocolate curls/whipped cream

Filling

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over hot, not boiling, water or in the microwave. Set to one side and allow the chocolate to cool a little. Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until well combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring them in thoroughly. Gently mix in the melted chocolate. Refrigerate the cream while preparing the sponge fingers.

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Preparation

Combine the rum with the milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the lady fingers into the milk mixture and make a row of one-third of the lady fingers down an oblong platter. How many sponge fingers you use is determined by the size of your platter. Cover the lady fingers with a third of the filling. Build up two more layers of lady fingers ending with a layer of chocolate. Refrigerate the cake overnight to allow the flavours to develop. Decorate the top of the cake with chocolate curls or cover with whipped cream if you like. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

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pave aux chocolat

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your family and friends. See you all again in 2014 with some more Delicious Bites. – Jillian

(images/text: Jillian Leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on December 19, 2013

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