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FvF + Vitra = New Berlin Apartment

FvF in Berlin just teamed up with Vitra to create a gorgeous apartment that is now available to rent out for when you want to welcome friends for dinner parties, workshops and overnight stays. They’ve offered me a chance to use the space, so perhaps I will this summer (more info here) but until then, here’s a gorgeous view of the apartment they’ve designed. I just love the kitchen and the windows throughout the space. There is nothing like an old German pre-war building (particularly a Jugendstil altbauwohnung), that’s for sure…

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From their press release, “Under the direction of Freunde von Freunden, the architect Etienne Descloux and the interior architect Katrin Greiling, the 65sqm “Altbau” apartment on Mulackstrasse was rebuilt and designed to become a flexible apartment, adaptable to the diverse scenarios of everyday life.”

Anything in particular that you like about this space? When I look at it I keep thinking of how much I want to get back into client work again – I’d love to design a commercial space – like a restaurant, office, even a hotel. Would be so much fun! Perhaps later this year…

(images: fvonf)

Posted in travel on March 17, 2014

Summer In Denmark (+ a day in Sweden)

When you live only a few hours away from the border of Denmark, and your upstairs neighbors who are also very good friends are Danes, you can’t help but love all things Danish. As you know, I’ve been writing about and traveling to Denmark for several years now – in fact, Denmark was were we began shooting years back for my first book. I’ve made many good friends “up north” in the past years and most recently, a wonderful stylist and author from Copenhagen contacted me to offer me a great rate on her summer house next month since she read on my Facebook wall in March that I was looking for a beach house on the Danish coast to rent in July. I really wanted to celebrate our wedding anniversary on the coast this year so I’m excited to say that thanks to Facebook (!) we’ll be taking a few weeks off in July to drive up to Copenhagen and then further north, to stay in a gorgeous little cottage owned by one of Denmark’s best stylists. I can’t wait! Really!

Summer In Denmark

I’ll take some photos and tell you more about my trip upon my return but I’m very excited about my upcoming trip as I’ve not had a proper vacation in a very long time. That last time I took a real vacation was in 2010 when my husband and I went with our dear friend Esra to Istanbul for 4 days. But that was 3 years ago and since, I’ve been traveling so much for work that it will be nice for once to travel for pleasure. After taking over 20 flights in 2011 and another 10 or so in 2012, my version of a vacation was to stay home. This year, now that we just bought our first car since moving to Europe in 2009, we decided to skip planes and just enjoy road travel again. It’s been so long since we hopped in the car to go anywhere – normally it’s the train for us – but with a car you can meander off here and there and explore (something I love) and in the summer months, isn’t that the best thing to do? Oh, there’s a roadside stand selling strawberries. Stop. Oh! there is a pretty little antiques shop. Stop. Oh honey, can you stop at that cute cafe so I can get a coffee? Stop. There’s a pretty field with flowers, can you stop so I can Instagram that? Stop. Thank goodness my husband is a good sport. When I think about it, I must drive him sorta crazy. But this is typical with blogger’s who are also wives, right?

Our trip to Denmark will be one welcome break and if the weather cooperates, I plan to spend most of my time directly ON the beach. Even if I cannot sunbath, because Danish summers are not tropical by any means, I will be just as content to throw on a sweater, grab a chair, and just read on the beach, snap photos and collect little treasures on the shore. To have a coastal vacation is a dream of mine for several years since I left America – I live inland now and don’t get to the coast nearly as much as my little heart yearns for, so this trip will be a big highlight of the year for me. To smell the salty air, eat some smoked fish and relax in a sweet little cottage  in Nordsjælland (she is even leaving me her bicycle to use!) is something I anticipate highly. It’s all I’m thinking about at the moment! After spending time in the sea cottage, we’ll then rent a space in the center of Copenhagen and spend 4 nights exploring the city. I’ve been there a few times but my husband hasn’t, so we’ll need extra time for him to see the sights and for me to do a little shopping and cafe crawling. :) I’m really looking forward to going to BLACK, the new store there that just opened by one of my favorite ceramicists Anne Black and Kirstine Meier Carlsen.

Summer In Denmark

Summer In Denmark

I wish I could see Astrid Svangren’s current installation there called BLOOM done with flowers, illustrations and still life vignettes. She is a Swedish artist who does some amazing contemporary work that I find fascinating.

Summer In Denmark

I also want to check out the newish restaurant called Höst. Has anyone visited this place yet?

Summer In Denmark

We also plan to spend a day in Malmö, Sweden since it’s a close train ride over from Copenhagen and my husband has never been to Sweden. I think he’d really love and with a name like Thorsten, I suppose he really should go there – I’m sure he’d find one of those souvenir shops with his name on a mug for sure, right? He never could when we lived in Boston, ha ha! Have you ever been to Malmö? Any MUST SEE book stores, cafes, shops, antique stores?

July is a good time to vacation because I’m in the midst of my next book and to have a break ‘in between’ shooting and writing will be just perfect. Then I can come back refreshed and energetic - ready to take on the rest of the project so we can turn everything in at the end of the summer.

Where will you go on vacation this summer? Tell me all about YOUR plans! Also, if you’ve been to Copenhagen within the last year, what did you LOVE and what do you recommend I check out? I’m particularly interested in beautiful shops, restaurants and cafes and the most photogenic neighborhoods…

(images: RUM, Black and Host)

Posted in travel on June 10, 2013

Weekend Diary: Hannover Parks & Gardens

I thought I’d pull together a little weekend diary for you – which is really two weekends worth of photos, but they are all really inspiring and beautiful so you will like it! I disappeared last week, though I blogged this past weekend to make up for my absence like a good little blogger… But I was away last week because I was hired to work for Canon Europe to work on a major advertising campaign for them that will run here in Europe, the UK, Russia and the Middle East – so obviously I had to be pretty focused on that. They needed an interiors expert to represent Canon and so they contacted me and I had so much fun working with them! I will tell you more in May once the ads are released – and I’ll show you a few of them, too.

Weekend Diary

Today, I thought I would share some photos that I’ve been taking over the past two weekends because everything suddenly bloomed here and I didn’t want to miss the first blossoms of spring like I did last year. I find this time of year so inspirational, colorful and the light is usually beautiful so I keep my batteries charged and my camera bag ready to go so that the second the gray clouds float away, I can seize the moment. Yesterday was gorgeous and so was last Sunday, so I’ve been busy out and about photographing the natural beauty to be found in Hannover. I’ll tell you where I went – and if you are from the region, or coming by Hannover anytime soon, definitely spend a day here and explore the parks and gardens I’m listing below because you will be amazed at what you find. Here is my weekend diary…

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

Weekend Diary

How was that for a delicious explosion of color, shape, texture and natural beauty? I really loved my outings and hope that if you come to Hannover, you will enjoy the parks and gardens below that I’ve listed for you to explore with your camera, too. There is SO MUCH to photograph in this city, I didn’t even visit ALL of the parks and gardens, the shots above are only from 4 locations – there are dozens and dozens more.

Definitely visit:
Herrenhäuser Gärten – And see the restored palace! The original palace was the former summer residence of the royal House of Guelph and was destroyed during WWII (though the Royal Air Force was asked by the British Royal Family not to destroy it but it was still bombed in 1943), and now the city of Hannover just rebuilt it. I think this was the best idea ever and long overdue. Herrenhausen is a 5 minute drive from my house, and I have an annual pass to enter anytime I’d like, so I take full advantage of this gorgeous park and garden all year round. It has four main green spaces, the Berggarten, which was made to look like typical English gardens (so pretty and natural) and is outdoors, though they have several greenhouses you can roam with everything from gorgeous dessert plants, to orchids and everything exotic that you can imagine and there is a conservatory from 1686 to visit. It’s an amazing place to take photographs – especially during the week when few people are there. Georgengarten is another garden where you can bike ride, jog, have picnics in the grass and relax. There is a big cafe for ice cream, too and a pretty gift shop. Großer Garten is the main garden, it’s directly in front of the palace, and is so special to this city and to England, as well. Sophia of Hanover of the former British House of Hanover (which once consisted of Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Hanover), commissioned French gardener Martin Charbonnier to create 50 hectares of lawns, walkways, statues and hedges, “Arranged in strict geometrical patterns”, says Wikipedia. It’s also where, in the summer, the city hosts festivals and huge firework displays that are just amazing to see. You also have to eat outdoors at the Schlossküche too, the cake is out of this world. I’d LOVE to design the interior space of the Schlossküche, I don’t like eating in there because I find it very dated and tacky and the design doesn’t fit the beautiful property and gardens that it is on, so a redesign is definitely in order indoors. I’d love to design it — every time I go in there I have this vision – I’d make it light and bright and very market-style, a cross between ABC Kitchen in NYC, Rosendals Trädgård (like this style) in Stockholm and Ottolenghi in London. If you want to eat inside, make a reservation, but I definitely prefer the outdoor space. Finally, there is the Welfengarten, which is where Leibniz University, one of the oldest and largest science and technology universities in Germany, is located. The university uses a former castle called Welfenschloss as its main building. I love the idea of a castle being used as a learning Institute. Don’t miss the Wilhelm Busch Museum on the grounds there too, very pretty and a nice spot to have some coffee in the back on a lazy summer’s day. I really love Herrenhäuser Gärten, it’s stunning and worth a trip to Hannover just to see it.

Eilenriede Forest – This is one of the largest natural city forest in Europe boasting over 1,600 acres of parks, a zoo, cafes, mini golf, hiking, trails, paved walkways, etc. Part of it is behind my house, so I get to enjoy it whenever I want. It’s also a gorgeous place to take photos!

Von Alten Garten – This is a park in Hannover in the district of Linden and is a really nice space to relax and is especially crowded (and fun) on the weekends when the sun is out and they have cute festivals in there from time-to-time, too.

Tiergarten – Oh this is such a sweet place because you can go into the big green space and spend the day with beautiful deer all around you – none of them in cages – running free – you can take beautiful photos. The wild boars are in a fenced-in area, but other than that, the deer roam free.

Erlebnis Zoo Hannover – I don’t even like zoos, I mean at all, but this one is an exception. I love this zoo – it’s amazing! There are so many beautiful animals and places to relax, eat, drink, and photograph. I love taking photos in this zoo – so much to explore. It’s THE best zoo in Europe and people come here with their families from all over. It also borders the Eilenreide, so you can take the family bike riding in there while you’re at it, too.

Maschsee – While not a garden or park, it is a gorgeous lake in the middle of the city next to the art museum, natural history museum and the stunning town hall. Each year, the Maschseefest takes over for three weeks and it’s the best thing ever. Bands, concerts, nightclubs, restaurants — all are built and placed around the lake and you can go and eat and dance all night long. I did a lot of that last summer and plan to do it even more this year because summer is just too short to stay inside. If you go to the town hall, definitely take the curved elevator ride to the top to see the city views – it’s amazing. I did it for the first time last summer and fell in love and you can see the best view of the Maschsee there, too and the grounds of the Hannover town hall are worth a stroll (so pretty) and the town hall has a nice restaurant with great food, too.

Stadtpark – Lots of beautiful flowers to photograph, very pretty, I went yesterday too. I have to admit almost everyone who is in this park is over 65. I call it the senior’s park (sorry). But on a sunny afternoon, it’s wonderful to relax there and grab a scoop of ice cream from the cafe.

There are many other great places to stroll,

Posted in travel on April 29, 2013

Holly Shops: Columbia Road in London (+ some blogging advice)

Hello everyone! I’m kicking off a new column today, Holly Shops, that will begin now and run into the new year. It will be all about places that I shop at when I travel, featuring my own photos of stores, fairs and markets along with other travel-related highlights that simply inspire me. I am frequently on the road more and more, though I remember a time when I would have loved to travel this often and envied those who did! That’s why I want to do a bit more travel writing on decor8 so that you can come with me, even if only virtually.

Columbia Road Flower Market

It’s funny though… Once you start traveling for mostly business you forget the pleasure and sometimes you miss having fun along the way. Holly Shops will help me to mix business with pleasure much more because it will encourage me to create content for this blog as I go. I’ll post Holly Shops at least once a month, sometimes more, depending on my schedule.

Columbia Road Flower Market

So let us get started! On Sunday, I was in London so I woke up early for breakfast with my friends Charlotte and Steffi and then I ventured off on my own heading straight for Columbia Road Flower Market. I’d never been so I must first confess that I wasn’t “feeling it”, you know those days where you just want to stay in bed and pull the blankets over your head? I thought that being at a flower market would be nice, but since I was due to fly home the next morning I couldn’t really buy any flowers and it was quite chilly… Excuses for sleeping in kept dancing in my mind but I dragged myself to breakfast anyway because I kept thinking that I need to be a good role model to my students. What I mean is that I preach constantly in my workshops and e-classes that they have to use their blog as a catalyst to live their best life.

Columbia Road Flower Market

This means that a blog should inspire YOU first and help you to live a happier life – to create a more interesting life because of having a blog and a blog can be big time motivation to push yourself. This often means challenges and to do what doesn’t always come so naturally, or what you don’t want to do BUT since you have a blog to write on then you need to be doing cool stuff or else you’re readers will fall asleep and the most dangerous part is: so will you. If you aren’t having some fun in your life then it’s time to use your blog as a push, a motivator, to go out there and find something interesting to do so that you can feel encouraged to share it and inspire action in others.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Think about your own blog for a moment. If you have readers who interact with you via the comments section, don’t you feel a sense of responsibility to them? If you say you will go to this or that event and that you promise to share it, then you don’t – they feel let down but most importantly (and my point) is that you let yourself down. You can push your way out of bed, push through fear and even push past self doubt the more you DO things that build your confidence level. So many of us have built up our skills very publicly – I know lots of bloggers who were amateur photographers or budding food stylists when they started their blogs but the more they worked on blogging and bettering their skills the more their blogs blossomed. This is what I mean when I say to use a blog as a catalyst.

Columbia Road Flower Market

(These ladies, The Sugar Sisters, were so good! Listen to them here.)

When I am feeling down or lazy or not motivated, I reason how I should be using my blog to better myself and how can I do that NOW? Should I go to a flower market that I don’t really feel like going to because it will give me an interesting experience and blog post? Okay, sure – why not do it because usually, 10 minutes into the adventure, I’m SO HAPPY that I pushed myself to do it. Having a blog gives me a healthy dose of obligation I guess you can say – it makes me accountable and if there is one thing lacking in modern society it’s accountability. We really need it to grow and become better people – when we are accountable to others for some things, we push ourselves more than if no one would ever watch or notice.

Columbia Road Flower Market

It’s the difference between singing in your underwear in the bedroom with your hair brush as a mic and singing at a local karaoke bar – when we’re before others, we try a little harder and this often helps us to build up our skills. There are a lot of professional singers who got started in small bars and clubs. We all start somewhere and often it’s accountability that motivates us. I’m sure those big names out there wouldn’t be as efficient if they weren’t as accountable, right?

Columbia Road Flower Market

So that is the approach that I took on Sunday morning, that I would go to the market alone and turn my adventure into a blog post. This blog post! Now let us talk about Columbia Road Flower Market, shall we?

Columbia Road Flower Market

What I didn’t know about this market is that it’s not just about flowers! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the road is lined with independent shops, tiny bakeries and cafes on either side and a few street performers thrown in for that lovely London charm. There are a few little passages here and there to, where I found a lovely bakery called Lily Vanilli and they happen to have a stunning bake book called Sweet Tooth just out, too! Girl, you know it’s true! I noticed that Columbia Road LOVES paint – it seems that every door and facade had a delicious paint color beckoning passerby’s to take a peek. I was so excited to see all of this COLOR since I was staying in a mostly gray and white part of town behind Victoria Station in Eccleston Square at the Eccleston Square Hotel which was all black, gray and white inside and out. Leaving the monochromatic decor for colorful Columbia Road was quite a happy start to my day!

Columbia Road Flower Market

When the flower market isn’t in full swing on Sunday mornings, you can shop the lovely stores any day of the week so during my visit to Columbia Road I did a little bit of everything. I loved the coffee at Lily Vanilli and the big brownie that I shouldn’t have had but hey, I hung out with some nice Londoners at a big farmhouse table near the window so it was worth it. Aside from that, I didn’t have lunch or anything because I really wanted to play photographer and take some nice photos before it became too crowded. I also wanted to spend time perusing the shops and I wanted to pick up some presents.

Columbia Road Flower Market

On Columbia Road, you will find a bunch of beautiful stores – a full shop list can be found here. I popped into Elphick’s, fell in love with Jesse Chorley and Buddug, loved the art and signage at Nelly Duff, spotted cute candies in Suck and Chew, visited Ryantown, found nice tiles and other things in SuperNice, and drooled over the ceramics in Nom. Vintage Heaven was loaded with granny chic. Oh, and I loved some of the vintage jackets with sewn on patches and fabric from Queenie and Ted.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

I am so glad that I visited this gorgeous market, aren’t you?!?

If you’re in London between now and the 19th of December, shop the Columbia Road Christmas Market that is now open on Wednesdays from 5pm to 9pm. More information can be found here.

Have you shopped Columbia Road before? Oh and what do you think about my thoughts on blogging above???

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in travel on November 29, 2012

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