Skip to content

Blues & Greens: Fall Table Setting Idea

Fall is here! The sun is back out after a period of gray and rain with temps that are cool and bright blue skies. Fall in northern Germany looks and feels just like what I’m used to back home in Boston. I was surprised when I relocated and realized that New England autumns and Northern German autumns are the same – including the gorgeous foliage and for this I am so grateful! To capture some of the season’s gorgeousness, I’ll spend the next few hours strolling the city, parks and forest nearby to collect fallen objects and then, head to the flower shop for snowberry (German: Schneebeeren) branches. I adore their round, fleshy bulbs and their slightly pink tint. In a tall vase, they  look quite striking on the dining table – which is exactly where I intend to display them. Do you love them, too?

Before I go, I simply must share a few lovely things I’ve had in my shopping cart over for a few days now since I’d love to create a fall table around a blue & green theme. Why these colors for fall? Blue is a direct translation of the sky and the green leads us in the holiday season with its pines and lush greenery. I’m thinking to organize a special family dinner before the baby’s arrival to gather everyone for an inspiring meal. Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Germany (obviously), so it’s also a way that I can host something festive in November that makes me feel like I’m home again. Some of my favorite things for a table spread are shown above. I hope that you enjoy them!

Blues & Greens: Fall Table Setting Idea

1. This tablecloth would be my foundation piece. I’d use neon green fabric paint and a very fine tip brush to highly a few rims on the plates and patterns here and there. That’s a nice way to customize a covering like this. When I saw it I immediately thought of my younger years when I was a coloring book addict! 2. I’d then cut this chalkboard table runner in half (width-wise) and lay it down the center to add some drama and to eliminate the need of using placemats. I’d write everyone’s name with chalk above their plates in chalk (maybe lime green?) in my best swirly handwriting, directly onto the table runner. It’s all about the unexpected touches, right?  3. Next, I’d add these animal head vases to display down the center of the table. I would prop them on antique books of varying heights to add dimension and drama and fill them with various berries and dark, dramatic dahlias. 4. I’d add linen napkins with a yellow neon border to top each plate, tied with some twine with a small stem of berry tucked inside from the animal vase arrangements. Neon yellow will further lift the palette and bring out some of the green foliage in the vases.

Blues & Greens: Fall Table Setting Idea

5. I’d mix and match these dinner plates. 6. I’d pull a nice mix of stemware together, like this gathering along with 7. these to add a quirky touch. 8. I’d place a cushion or two on my chairs to bring in more color and fun pattern. And finally… I’d add tea lights in simple glass votives dotted around to set the mood and my playlist would include: Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood… The song featured in this AMAZING video below…

Do you plan to entertain in November? What type of party will you host? Do you have an idea as to a particular theme you’d like to try?


(images: anthropologie)

Posted in Decorating Tips on October 24, 2013

Moving Abroad Influences Your Style

There are so many gorgeous ways to live and exciting ideas for interiors. Decorating is more fun than ever! I love the variety that exists and how much CHOICE we have. When I started blogging, even back when I was in design school before that, I remember nearly everything stylish being available only, “to the trade”. It was frustrating for the average consumer with style because you couldn’t walk into a West Elm (the store wasn’t even around then) to pick up a Moroccan-inspired rug at an affordable price or locate great wallpaper unless you had a designer friend or hired one to take you into the showrooms and purchase it for you. When Target came to New England and I was exposed to their Thomas O’Brien line I nearly leaped out of my skin with excitement. Remember those days? Going further back, my mother used to buy her wallpaper at paint and hardware stores, like Sherwin Williams, when I was growing up. We live in the best of times now and our only complaints, at least the ones I hear quite frequently online from bloggers and their readers, fluctuate between “Show us MORE options!” or the opposite, “There is TO MUCH inspiration, post less!”.

Peter Fehrentz – One of my all-time favorite German stylists! Note: His German book will soon be published in English by my publisher, Jacqui Small.

What are some of your favorite interiors lately? Do you tend to have your own personal style that has stayed with you for years or do you experiment a lot and steer away from a certain look? Are you into spaces with mixed styles (often dubbed ‘eclectic’) or do you head straight for monochromatic, country, Scandinavia, coastal, mid century modern, etc.?

la maison d’Anna G.

I’ve always been a lover of neutrals punctuated with color but my style has definitely morphed over the years. I remember when I lived in New Hampshire in an 1870 carriage house that we rented (before that, we lived in a big barn near Boston), I had wall-to-wall berber carpet, wood-trimmed doorways, windows and moldings and wooden doors with matching kitchen cabinetry in my home. The walls were cream but my landlord broke down and allowed me to paint one in a very faint blue. My color palette was mostly blue, orange, olive and cream. Around 2005, I brought in more mid century pieces so I won a gorgeous $800 teak credenza from Sweden on eBay, invested in Eames chairs and a Saarinen tulip table, ordered a sofa from Room & Board with mid century lines and began my obsession with Jonathan Adler. I also started my blog. I had to make due with my interior space because I was a renter and wasn’t a fan of berber carpets and wood trim, but when you rent you have to work with what you have and accent the features you love. I loved my original beam ceilings, the history of the home, our large living room windows overlooking a gorgeous yard and pond and how warm and cozy the house felt – like something you’d see in a typical New England village. It was a nice space. But it wasn’t really me and I knew that. I grew up on the coast liked a very light and bright style of decor. I wanted to live in a larger, brighter space. I craved moving abroad to my husband’s homeland, especially after first seeing some of the city apartments in Germany on my first visit back in 1999. To have what I wanted and to start a family (we hoped to have our first child in Germany), we set our sights on relocating.

Hamburg-based photographer Ilona Habben for Schoener Wohnen – a great German magazine (wasn’t so great when I moved here but it’s really come a longgggg way!)

In August 2009, we moved to northern Germany. At first, we lived in a small boxy apartment while looking for more permanent housing. Then when the right place came along, we moved into our current city apartment with over 2,000 square feet and “floor through”, meaning we have the entire floor to ourselves. Rare but heavenly for a city space. It was built in 1900, so it’s in the Jugendstil style that old German city homes are prized for. To me, it’s one of my top 5 architectural styles in the world – it’s unmatched. You can google Jugendstil to see what I mean. It’s a real education and so many Americans have never heard of Jugendstil because we have nothing equivalent and mostly when people in the states think of Germany, they think of Bauhaus or Biedermeier. Our home has chevron-patterned original hardwood floors, white walls, gorgeous floral motifs carved into the ceiling, ceiling medallions, and a ceiling height around 3.5 meters high. We are blessed with massive windows and behind out house is a gorgeous forest given to the city by a former Duke once upon a time so it can never be developed – it’s twice the size of Central Park. How can I complain? Living like this is a dream come true and I feel so blessed. But moving abroad definitely influences your style. It influences everything from your taste buds to how you dress and act. I can barely eat sweets from the states anymore – everything taste TOO sweet. I recently had Quarker Apple & Cinnamon oatmeal and after one bite, it went into the trash. It was like eating pure sugar to me now. Again, everything changes – even what you least expect!

Ilona Habben

With interiors, I can say from my heart that my style has been influenced living in Germany, though it’s more than Germany that has influenced me – it’s Europe in general. Germany is just a small part of it and a fraction of what I am exposed to design-wise living here as I’m frequently traveled and find enormous inspiration at fairs and in cities like London. Your eye changes. I live in the north of the country so our weather patterns and lighting is very northern – and we border Denmark so we have tons of design influence from Scandinavia, especially Denmark. When I moved over, Germans were still a bit resistant to moving away from their typical love for Tuscan interiors, all things Italy!, and a very odd contemporary style that I just couldn’t relate to. But since my relocation, northern Germans are embracing Scandinavian style more than ever which means you can find Danish and “Nordic” design in general fairly easily and the magazines are always featuring Scandinavian homes so you really can’t NOT see it. This style morph has been lead, in my opinion, by bloggers and pressure from neighboring countries who are just doing interiors better. German magazines have also been swayed. I find it refreshing but it also has influenced me because when you are constantly seeing design from companies like Ferm Living, House Doctor, Tine K Home, RICE, Nordal, HAY, Muuto, Bo Concept, Bloomingville… You are naturally going to look at your own living space differently. Though honestly, I’m a bit bored with seeing the same styles on blogs over here and even now in the states and am trying to find a new way for myself that feels much more in tune with who I am. Decorating is really about taking everything you see, applying your own filter, personalizing it and developing a look that speaks to you. Not cut and paste from catalogs or design shows.

Photographer Heiner Orth, a stunning interiors photographer from Marschacht, for Schoener Wohnen.

Lots of people ask why Scandinavians are so obsessed with light, bright interiors? In northern Europe, our days are shorter in the Fall and Winter months and sunlight isn’t as frequent, so it’s quite practical to use lots of white and color in your space to brighten things up and to cheer yourself. It’s very easy to get depressed in northern climates if your walls are dark with heavy indigo blues and deep greens and black. Some cultures find it cozy while others find it downright depressing. Years ago in Germany, homes had woodwork and deep, saturated colors – particularly around the time my home was built. Look at London in the 1800s and even New England, small windows and dark spaces. But since, at least where I live, interiors and stained woodwork have been uniformly painted bright white. It seems over time, people have given more thought to how color influences mood learned that dark interiors are quite moody and if you don’t have the personality for them, they can be a bit overwhelming. We also have modern heating and lighting and aren’t dependent on wood chip stoves and candles to heat and light our homes. Times have changes.

Photo/Styling: Peter Fehrentz

Lately, I’ve been a bit bored with the usual looks I’m seeing though. I find myself evolving yet again and I’m wondering where all of this will lead me. I will always have a red thread that runs through everything I do but still, change is in the wind. I’m not as excited with what I’m seeing as much as I was before – I feel “over it”. I keep thinking of what my next wave will be and I actually know what it is – much more moody and atmospheric, yet still very happy, and definitely more grown up and edited, yet very layered and lovely. I’m planning to work on my home for the next few months and give you a home tour when I have it all figured out for myself – I can’t wait to show you what I’m cooking up. Please note: I will never paint my walls in saturated colors – so don’t expect red or bold blue walls from me. I still need my interiors to be serene so I can think…

What are some of your interior inspirations lately? What do you see that is blowing your mind? What do you love at the moment? Any favorite brands? If you’ve recently moved to another part of your country or abroad, how has the local culture influenced your design? Are you currently going through design changes? Do share!

(images linked above)

Posted in Decorating Tips on October 12, 2013

How To Decorate a Baby’s Room

Hello friends! This month we will begin working on our baby boy’s room. It’s the tiniest room in our house, a former guest room, but I’m still so excited to transform it! I’ve been thinking of what I’d like to do and am flooded with ideas. I want to incorporate all of the things that we love as his parents (for now) until he is old enough to find his own style and turn his room into whatever he would like.

How To Decorate a Baby's Room

I want to incorporate Liberty London prints because I don’t want a typical boy’s room in the sense that I really don’t want to raise a little man to be scared of floral prints disregarding them as “girly”. There are so many stylish men running around wearing colorful trousers, floral bow ties (like my husband), and flashes of neon on their shoes (my husband has a pair with neon blue soles)… So why not bring these touches to his room too? I also want the room to fit the rest of our home for now until he decides to pin up Transformers posters later on (which is fine!). But for now, mommy and daddy make the decorating decisions so I’m going to rule with my heart and go for it.

The first step to any decorating project, at least for me, is to collect inspiration. Is that how you begin? I’ve been collecting ideas over at Pinterest (here), but I’m still on the fence with lots of things and cannot decide. This is rare for me, but given that I’ve only designed a few nurseries for clients in my life, I lack experience with them so I’m not so sure where to begin. Nothing like learning with your own child, so this is a fun chance for me to explore something new. I’m thinking to begin in the way I would embark on a living room or bedroom, so I’ve put together this list and plan to follow it!

How To Decorate a Baby’s Room

1. Start pulling magazine tears or start a Pinterest board dedicated to your project. From there, locate a single source of inspiration that will inspire everything else. A piece of fabric. An image. A painting.
2. Measure your space and create a mood board – a physical board or a digital one works.
3. Decide on a basic color scheme (usually pulled from your inspirational source) then mix in fabric choices, though remain flexible. Look for patterns in several scales.
4. Decide where the focal point should be in the room and start “building” from there.
5. Buy your key piece of furniture, which is often the largest and most used in the room. For this space, it will be the crib. So I will buy his little bed first.
6. Decide how to make your focal point a genuine focus. For this space, I will need to strip off the current raufausertapete (it’s a bumpy woodchip wallpaper in white that is throughout our home, sadly thanks to the landlord) and then either hire someone to plaster the walls or wallpaper them. I may paint or wallpaper the wall the crib is on in a different color.
7. Clean out the room, strip the walls, paper or paint, let the room air dry for a few days and then clean it top to bottom.
8. In the interim, decide on what else is needed in the space, at least for furniture and lighting – a dresser? A pendant? A lamp? A changing table? Rocking chair? Bookshelf? Closet? Start collecting pieces that you love (photos) and move them around on your mood board until pieces begin to “fit” together visually. Also MEASURE every piece to ensure they would fit. Start working on a floor plan and sketch something up to add to your mood board.
9. Order the pieces that you decide on or start flea marketing to find what you need.
10. Consider soft furnishings. A soft rug to crawl on, pillows, blankets, window treatments. For this space, I want a roman blind because I don’t think curtains and kids work so well together and don’t want curtains hanging to the floor in that room (dust collectors and easy to pull down). I will most likely have one custom made since the window is an odd size and I want a blind that blocks out light at night.
11. Consider storage. What do you need to store now and what can you imagine needing to store once the baby arrives?
12. Think of decorative ideas. Back to your focal point. What can you do to make the focal point more interesting through decorative elements? Start making decisions.
13. Shop and Decorate! Buy what you need for storage, soft furnishings and decorative accessories. Once your furniture has arrived and is in place, begin your decorating plan of attack. Arrange, hang, etc. Also think of what you can make by hand. This is a special little space, bring lots of mommy love to your little baby love.
14. Wash all of the cute little baby clothes you’ve acquired over the months (if you’re like me you already have enough for the first few months) and enjoy the process of folding and hanging sweet little sweaters and trousers and stacking all of your hats with ears (my current obsession).
15. Take a final inventory. What are you missing? Burp cloths? A diaper bin? Something to hang on the wall that is a family heirloom? Is the lighting adequate? What is missing? NOTE: It’s better to have only key elements in place before the baby arrives and not to obsess over making the room perfect or packing it with stuff “just in case”. Like any room in your home, it needs room to breath, to expand, to evolve. Even more so with a room that will have a brand new occupant whom you’ve never met before, who will have their own needs and those needs will only be known after the little one arrives. Just have the basics in place for now.
16. Have you “babyproofed” the room? There is a great article about this on Lifehacker, so please read it if you’re soon to be a new mom like me. Also remember: There should be nothing in the crib with your baby but the baby and the bottom sheet which should fit snugly over the mattress – no covers, pillows, bumper pads, no positioning devices and no toys. If you have these things “displayed” in there before the baby arrives, remove them and place on a chair until he is older. Read more about SIDS prevention here.

That’s my list and is all I can think of for now. I can’t wait to start my mood board and really begin on this space. I would love any baby room tips that experienced moms out there may have to share, so please add them into the comments section below.

(Photo: Norwegian photographer Elisabeth Heier, visit her blog – it’s gorgeous!)

Posted in Decorating Tips on October 08, 2013

I’m Loving: White Brick Walls

Hey everyone! I’m seeing painted brick as trendy, especially painted in white. Have you noticed that too? Seems that lots of people are painting brick walls or brick fireplaces white these days. And though it is HARD (some say nearly impossible) to ever restore the brick back to its original glory, many who do go with painted brick are fine with that – they are content to keep it painted for years to come. Last year, we photographed a loft in SOHO and the homeowner had amazing brick walls that she painted in a very deep eggplant. I’m not a fan of purple walls, but in her home, it looked almost black until the light came in and wow – it was magical. For me, when it comes to brick, I love seeing it painted in black, gray or my favorite, white. Here are some examples of white brick walls that I love. For more inspiration showing rooms with white brick walls and fireplaces, visit my White Brick pinboard!

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: micasa

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Kevc

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Parlour Treats

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Small space living in Japan

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Dwell Studio

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Bungalow Classic

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Fritz Hansen

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: Pretty Stuff

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: the red house

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: 79 ideas

I'm Loving: White Brick Walls

via: home decor obsession

So what do YOU think? Would you consider painting brick walls or is that, to you, the ultimate taboo – like painting an antique piece of furniture? Or have you done it and love the results? Are you a little on the fence? 

(images: linked to their sources above)

Posted in Decorating Tips on July 09, 2013


Some of my books

Co-editions are also available in many languages, learn more


Next dates

Blogging Your Way
e-courses, 2015
Visit our e-course website to learn more about our inspirational e-courses by bloggers, for bloggers.