Lots of people ask me now that I live in northern Europe what I consider in style here in the world of interiors. It’s hard to point to a few looks and say this or that is the norm just as it is impossible to pinpoint true American style these days. Fact is, Europe is a big place with tons of cultures and influence making each country quite unique but on the flip side, Europe is much more diversified than ever before (a topic that some are uncomfortable discussing and for good reason, the fear of homogenization). I think that fear is something most of us who grew up in 1980s America where we watched borders slowly fade can relate to… Exciting at first, but today many of us long for the days when travel from one state to the next was exciting — it meant being exposed to all new stores and restaurants, even chain stores were different, and that was pretty darn cool when I was a kid.
I guess that is why so many of us cling to handmade and flock to small shops even if it means paying more — and why we support local restaurants — we are trying to hold on to that feeling of uniqueness that we remember from our childhood. My observation entirely but what do YOU think?
Truth is, those living outside of Europe have long admired it for maintaining its uniqueness, from country to country… and that it maintains a special old world charm. However, as you watch the Travel Channel and see show hosts wander from city to city, you can’t help but notice recurring store signage. Borders here are fading in some ways too. I think the difference though is that countries are not so quick to allow products in from other countries unless their is a real demand or interest but also because you are dealing with different governments and languages, it just takes longer to negotiate deals and import/export goods. It’s not as easy to set up shop in another country.
Also, new brands from “outside” are not so easily adopted with a smile. And yet it is exciting to see the good stuff leak over the borders to Germany, I can’t deny this, especially since Germany doesn’t have a strong identifiable “style” post WWII like the Danes, French or the Italians maintained throughout the years. Oh yes, once they did, in fact their design and art movements spawned many other movements worldwide, just look at the Bauhaus and it’s influence. However, since the second world war, function trumped beauty in many respects because so much was destroyed here and people were forced to build quickly to recover part of their life that was lost. But lately the tide is changing and younger Germans are starting to move and shake things. Functional products are looking really good to me and the overall future of German design (interiors, handmade arts & crafts, decorating) feels bright once more. Outside influence is definitely helping, as I see more and more Danish design here (and some Dutch) which excites me as these are two of my favorite places when it comes to design that I personally relate to.
Given that Germany and Denmark share a border to the north, it’s natural that Danish design would start to creep over and influence the modern German home especially here in the north. You can see this in many shops and some cafes in Hamburg, the influence is there for certain. Pick up any good German decorating magazine and you’ll see some of the hallmarks of Scandinavian design being highlighted more and more, particularly the Swedish and Danish stuff. Scandinavian design is very easy to classify but also to like and I’m guessing Danish goods appeal to Germans because the design is not only practical for everyday use and the lines are clean for the most part, but there is a rustic, natural feel to it that Germans as a whole like and can identify with as they are a culture very close to and respectful of, nature. Germans are known for being extremely brand loyal. It takes time for them to warm up to something (or someone) but once you’ve won them over you have a customer/friend for life. This is especially true of northern Germans, and since I’ve been visiting here for the past 11 years and now live and work here as well, I have an outsider’s opinion based on the changes I’ve witnessed over the years when it comes to design in this country. This tells me that Danish companies who win over the hearts of people here will gain a loyal market that will stay in place for a long, long time.
If you are curious to see some examples of current Danish designers who are making some of today’s top trends come to life, just flip through the e-pages of a TineK Home catalog, check out House Doctor, Ferm Living, Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Noa Noa (fashion brand but still), DAY, Greengate, Rice, Madam Stolz, and you’ll definitely find many beautiful things that are very clean, some colorful and quirky, others more streamlined and modern with a neutral palette.
In my mind I tend to group some of the Danish styles that I’m seeing quite strongly here where I live in three key categories: Danish Pretty (Greengate, Rice), Old Meets New Danish (DAY Birger et Mikkelsen homeware, House Doctor, TineK Home, Madam Stoltz) and New Danish Modern (Normann Copenhagen, HAY). This post is more about Old Meets New Danish, as you can clearly see in the images I’ve selected. And by the way, these terms are all “Holly made” so they may or may not be how these individual companies classify themselves!
Old Meets New decorating, Danish style anyway, is clean and bright (when you live in the north, white is essential!) but there are definite French, Asian and Moroccan influences in surfaces, shapes, colors and patterns. There is also an industrial edge making this style accessible to city loft dwellers in addition to those living in country homes. Think rustic pottery, straw totes with leather handles, metallic (mostly silver) surfaces, linen, jute, wool, metallic linens, rustic wood, industrial, vintage Moroccan tea trays, metal bases on tables, metal lockers, wheels on rustic wood coffee tables, etc.
If you want to recreate this look in your own home, consider keeping your foundation pieces clean and fuss-free, mixing in a few statement pieces that may be painted in gray, blue or black for instance or you may choose to bring your statement pieces in using metal furniture – lockers, metal cabinets on wheels, wood tabletops with metal pipe bases… Also pay close attention to texture. This is what makes this look work. The Danes are naturals when it comes to making people feel at home, I felt very accepted and at home in Copenhagen earlier this year when I was there to work on my book. They are also effortlessly stylish, which I admire so much.
This style is a well-edited look appearing to be effortless, but in reality it is very well thought out. If you are trying to recreate the look use some of the images in this post as your inspiration. No matter where you live, no doubt you can find objects in your local neighborhood that can be used to create this look if you don’t have access to the companies that I’ve mentioned above.
If you like the photos that appear in this post, they are from the Danish brand Madam Stolz, run by husband wife duo Pernille and Peter Stoltz since 1995 who live and work on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. They also run a delightful shop during the summer in Svaneke that I would love to visit as it appears as though everything they stock I would consider owning! If you are interested in Madam Stoltz products, please visit their website to see their online catalog or contact them directly to find a sales rep nearest to you.
(images: madam stoltz)
Hello friends, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I had a great shopping weekend, I found some things for my new place simply by staying at home and shopping online — we got a lot of snow so it was the perfect plan of action! I’m dying to pull in all of the key foundation pieces so that I can start decorating, sewing, and crafting together my new apartment from there. I ordered a new sofa last month, but it won’t arrive until mid January, so until then I’m trying to pull things in piece-by-piece, as I bring together my crafty, eclectic, old-meets-new home. I will show you some of the pieces that I picked up over the weekend so you can get a sense of where I’m going with all of my decorating plans… To refresh your memory, my place looks like this: Click Here for my new apartment tour.
What’s what: 1. Vintage chandelier won on the German eBay site. 2. Desk for my sewing machine “area” from Jantuma, 3. Vitra MedaPal chair in black/white purely purchased based on comfort, 4. Another vintage chandelier from eBay.de (I am only doing chandy’s in two rooms, the rest of the rooms will have mid century classic modern lighting in mostly white, 5. Muuto all wood desk light, 6. Chevron-patterned 240 x 170 cm jute/wool rug from Impressionen for my eating nook located in the hallway outside of the kitchen (I haven’t shown you photos of that space yet. 7. IKEA PS Sinka to organize things and 8. White table with birch trim from Danish brand HAY in the 250 x 92,5 cm size for my actual work desk – it will hold my iMac, MacBook and Epson color printer plus I can lay things out on it as I work.
Here’s a little glimpse into my everyday world, a polite corner of my dresser — “as is” in my bedroom. Here you can clearly see my very organic, natural way of putting things together. Which is also why I don’t work on one room at a time but all of them together as part of this experimental composition of sorts. When I worked with clients in the past, I did the traditional room-by-room mood board. With my own home, I don’t bother. I do pull together mood boards but end up referring to them only as loose ideas as I improvise constantly since my budget is so strict. Plus, I believe that your most authentic creative expression is the best to use in your home. I also learned after styling all of those homes that you’ll soon see in my upcoming book — what you see in books and magazines is not an exact image of how people really live. I think writing the book and working in so many homes this past year made me much more aware of that fact than ever before.
It also helped me to feel more comfortable in my own decorating skin now that the smoke and mirrors have lifted. You become quite hazy when you live so much of your life online and with beautiful books and magazines surrounding you each day. You start to develop this fantasy that all homes look like the ones you see in print, or online, and that no one ever stains their white sofa, that the dog doesn’t occasionally pee on the patchwork rug and that your kid doesn’t run wild with markers on your newly applied wallpaper. It happens, it’s called life.
Above is some artwork and handmade things on a bookcase in my living room. Nothing is arranged with skill, in fact none of the art is staying there — it will be hung in other rooms… but it’s pretty just the same, because reality can be just as fantastic as the dream.
I hope that through decor8 I can somehow help you to feel safer in your decorating skin, too. I try to keep it real around here and I have some projects brewing for next year that I can’t wait to share as I continue my journey forward into my 6th year of blogging. The more e-mags popping up, and lifestyle magazines, and cooking magazines… well they are all very beautiful and inspiring but it’s very easy to feel as though that is how we each must live to be happy and it is not. If anything, we should pull ideas from these beautiful resources that we have and apply them in our own unique way. That is exactly how I decorate, from the heart, not to impress or pretend to be more than I am. What you see with me in real life is what you get, and online it is no different.
In fact, everyone who has met me, and you can comment to verify this if you have in fact met me in person, realizes right away that I am the same warm, friendly and down-to-earth Holly offline as I am here online. I don’t play games, I don’t gossip, I’m not negative but I love to point out stuff that irks me but always in a funny way, and I’m encouraging. But I also am real, I have bad days, I get down at times about myself, I often fear things, I worry for instance that if I do have a book signing that no one will show up, stuff like that. I take great pride in the fact though that I’m the real deal. And so does my home – what you see is definitely what you get here! And I’m proud of it.
I was starting to get in a decorating rut, you may remember this post (CLICK HERE if not), but I realized that the rut was one I’d dug myself. I was putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect. I was listening more to others than to my own heart. I was worrying that if I didn’t create the perfect “decor8″ house that no one would take me seriously as a writer, a book author, a human being. How stupid and petty this all is when you have people dying all over the world from hunger, aids, and cancer to name a few. Children are being abducted. Bad stuff is going on worldwide yet I was hung up over how well I decorated my house? What a bunch of rubbish, how self-centered of me — and if you are a blog author and you worry about how you present your life online and get so caught up in it that family members get ignored, chores go undone, your stress level soars, or anything else negative is resulting from your own quest to please others and have some pretend amazing life then let me tell you it’s absolutely nuts and a waste of time to bother. Just be yourself, show your friends and readers your real life and be proud of it and own it.
But we’re all only human. An example of this: yesterday I won those two great chandeliers that you see above from eBay and one of my “anon” readers told me how kitschy and more-or-less terrible they were and how much I let her down because she relies on my style so much. Imagine being told that? But you know, I’m not calling anybody out or saying that it was wrong of them to hate my lighting. They have the right just as much as I have the right to like it. Thing is, when you put yourself out there like we bloggers do and share things from your heart, you often wonder why someone who doesn’t know you would put the energy into commenting that your ideas are bad or have let them down. Like so many women out there (can you relate?), I am a people-pleaser so it actually bothered me for 3 seconds that I let someone down.
That single comment made me think about the expectations others have of me and it made me realize that the most important expectations to meet are those that I have of myself, then those from family, friends, business colleagues, customers and so on. But the first person is you, you have to live up to your own expectations, meet your goals and even exceed a few, and just be happy. If you have taken good care of yourself you have automatically taken care of others. That is why people love to be around those who have their act together. It’s just the best feeling to be in the company of a really down-to-earth talented person who put themselves first in the most unselfish sense. And if people don’t like your lights, well whatever man. You’ve got to let stuff like that go. The most impressive people are people who try not to be impressive, right?
Truth is, the decorating rut I was in is over. I’ve climbed out, readjusted my approach and for 2011 (I’m making advanced resolutions, gang) and I’m going to decorate my home and have a heck of a time doing it.
I’m digressing big time. Today I just felt like talking. I hope you do as well, I wonder what I’ve said here that you’ve thought about recently, or that you never thought about before, that resulted in some of your own food-for-thought? If so, and you feel like sharing, please do.
So those are some updates from my little world here in northern Germany where it is so cold, but with all of the Glühwein stands sprinkled on so many corners around the city, you barely notice the temps. Your outsides are freezing but your insides feel real nice. And speaking of nice, did you know that Nichole and Even from Little Brown Pen are flying to Paris next month to sneak away with my husband Thorsten and I? Oh yes, we are. And I promise to share some of the shops we find, but also I’ll be attending for the first time Maison & Objet where I plan to meet up with Aphrochic who will be there, too. Can’t wait!
(images: linked to their sources above)
Are you ready to see some gorgeous photography coupled with inspiring palettes that I’ve put together for your home? I found out about Danish photographer Anders Schønnemann from Charlotte at Rice and now I’m hooked – what a stunning online portfolio! Check out some of these shots (and the styling, great stuff!)… Along with my interpretations of the collaged images that I’ve included from his portfolio below. I combined photos that felt cohesive to form a specific palette taking in mind current trends for interiors and fashion in my part of the world (northern Europe). Though as I look through magazines in Australia and the United States, I see these palettes as well so I think it’s safe to say that you most likely can find objects in your local town to pull together in order to build one of these looks at home for yourself. Enjoy!
Creative Sunday Afternoons
Wintery Walks In The Snow
Collections From Afar
I gravitate towards the Collections From Afar palette because I love the overall vibe though I’d be inclined to bring in some violet accents and on that gorgeous creamy sideboard with the paper lamp I can imagine my white ceramic vase filled with branches in the winter months and in the spring, pink cherry blossoms as I think pink would be a great accent for the Collections from Afar palette in the spring/summer, moving into the Fall add in some persimmon perhaps and in the winter, violet….
Which palette speaks to you, if any? Why? What feelings does it give you? What do you like about it? What elements can you bring into your own home? What do you already have at home that you could use to build one of these looks, even just in a corner or small room, to try it out?
(images: Anders Schønnemann)
I have some super colorful products to share with you today from Rice in Denmark from their Spring 2011 collection. Rice is a household name in Germany, at least in the northern part of the country where I live. You can find it in many small shops and they are best known for their melamine plates, bowls, cups and so on because they are very practical for children but also great for dining outdoors. People in my area are big on using their balcony, patio, garden and winter gardens for eating so as soon as the weather is nice it’s common to take the melamine outside and enjoy the fresh air and something light to eat. I found some things from Rice that float my boat that I thought I’d share with you today, thanks to the lovely Charlotte (founder of Rice) for sending me special access to their image database — I had my pick of imagery to share. Here is the world according to Rice for Spring 2011… a small glimpse of what is to come… COLOR, baby!
There are some nice things in the Spring collection, especially if you take a few of your favorites and bring them into a more subdued home for just a dash of color. I’m a little color shy so Rice is a bold big step for me (I need more neutrals around me in order to calm down and think because my brain is always racing and tons of color seems to excite me even more — so I lean more towards neutrals, black, white, gray, silver and then some color on top). With that said though, I can definitely see using some Rice candle holders in a window, gray and pale blue ceramic bowls stacked in my kitchen on a shelf, a straw crocheted tote in the kitchen to store bottles of water, a key hook in black in the entryway… It’s all about picking things from a collection that work for you and your lifestyle!