Let’s talk about messy homes and motherhood. But first, I find the most interesting people via Pinterest. But the thing is with Pinterest, to reap the real benefits of using is, you need to click on the images you like and link out to the sites where they’ve been pinned from. It’s easy to habitually repin what you see on others’ boards or in your feed, but the beauty of Pinterest is that it also connects you to new people which is exactly how I found author Annika von Holdt. Annika is such an interesting woman! She splits her time between island life on Harbour Island in the Bahamas and her home in Copenhagen, and not only does she style interiors but she is a bestselling novelist, writing professionally for nearly 15 years – the same amount of time that she spent as a fashion model. You can learn more about her four thrillers, The Mummers Play, Sleep Like the Dead, The Night Hour and The Haunted, here (in her left menu click on Books).
I also found Annika on IG yesterday and immediately followed her – I love her aesthetic despite how different it is from my own. Her style is very popular in northern Europe and Scandinavia at the moment – very graphic, a little dark, edgy, just all around rock star cool. I also love that her home is so posh and clean although she has an 11-year-old son – mothers often tell me that it’s not possible to have a child and a beautiful home and I’m always so quick to defend how I feel which is that you really can have it all. Most mothers then say, “Well you’ll see after the baby is born”. My son will turn one in 10 days and he’s running all over the house now, opening cabinets, the typical toddler routine… Yet I’m still a decorating fanatic and a clean freak. Annika must feel the same way as I do because she pays a lot of attention to her interior world.
Some mothers are quick to think that those of us who are so devoted to our interiors after we have children are simply plagued with this disease called perfectionism or are even a bit strange or “troubled”. I’ve heard this quite often, especially online where mothers tend to voice their opinions without holding back. But I believe differently – that some women require total life balance in order to be the best mom that they can be. Some of us simply cannot turn our homes into a giant playground and be happy with that, and I’m that kind of mom. And for those mothers who don’t mind, well that is wonderful because honestly, it’s less stressful if you aren’t the type to be bothered by sticky surfaces and sofa stuffing tumbling out onto the floor. I often wish I didn’t care so much. I may be able to relax more and spend less of my free time tidying up.
I don’t think either approach is wrong – being attentive or inattentive to housework and decorating – whatever a mother chooses is how it should be for her and her family. And of course, dad should be included when it comes to chores because not everything can fall on the mother, right? Yet, no one can judge how you manage your home unless it’s so unsanitary that it’s not fit for human life. But it is a mistake to look at those who have immaculate interiors and assume children are being neglected or brought up unable to be kids simply because their mother loves to keep her home nice. Personally, I spend a lot of time when Aidan is napping or asleep at night to tidy the house or work on a decorating project. And I have a cleaner for 4 hours who, before my son, came once biweekly and the moment he arrived, she is with us once weekly – and it’s wonderful and I just cut back in other areas to be able to afford little luxuries.
But back to Annika. I’m so inspired by women with children who are also invested in their interiors. Because sometimes, I really have wondered if I am crazy or if my decorating bug should be stamped out for awhile until my son is older. But I just can’t imagine my life without loving my home and I only love my home when it is clean, organized and looks appealing to me. I must add though that my home is not photo-worthy at the moment, it’s a bit upside down since we moved in a year ago because our baby arrived a month after we moved in so some things are still boxed up in our spare room. And I need to finish decorating my home – something I’m currently working on slowly. Because with a baby, you aren’t able to keep your same pace so what would have taken me a week before takes me a few months because I can only work on a project an hour here, and hour there. Yet, it feels good to not be sacrificing part of my life or what I value because I had a baby. I really didn’t want to lose that part of myself just because I became a mother.
What are your thoughts on motherhood, messy homes and keeping your interiors inspiring despite sticky fingers? And how great is this space from Annika?
(images: annika von holdt)
This is a really nice apartment, featured not too long ago over at Fantastic Frank, as styled by Ida Cederlöf and photographed by Jessica Silversaga. I particularly love the natural light but even more, the color palette in the bedroom and the open plan kitchen and dining area. I want to cook for friends and eat in this space! Whenever I entertain, everyone ends up crammed into my tiny kitchen so I dream of having a big, open cooking and eating space like this. If you want see all of the details, click on any image below. First I want to start with this fan and flowers photo styled by Maria Kangärde and photographed by Emily Laye because I think it’s just so simple yet dreamy!
Any particular features about this space that you also like?
(images: fantastic frank)
I’ve been thinking a lot about France, and relationships, and past versions of myself and my friends and it has all meant that I’ve spent a lot of time deep in thought. And lots of these thoughts keep going back to France, particularly Paris. Looking at the gorgeous IG stream of Jessie from Supply Paper Co. and then her website, also helped bring back a lot of old feelings. That, and the fact that my son’s uncle is half Danish, half Italian but raised in the south of France so I hear him reminiscence about French life quite often. I recently introduced him to a friend who also speaks fluent French and we had a chat together and that was enough to bring back my once obsession with all things French. Just listening to them speak with such passion for food and travel sparked something inside of me. I watch French films as much as I do American ones, but that’s not really the same. When you are around those who lived there once and speak the language, as you listen to them excitedly speak about “the good old days”, you are suddenly filled with curiosity and joie de vivre. You suddenly want open windows like these below, windows that overlook slate gray rooftops, with sweet little lace cotton curtains. You want to hear the sound of pigeons cooing and the smell of fresh baked bread making its way up the staircase. You want France.
I used to go to Paris a lot when I was single. Did you know that? I lived in Boston, but distance (nor being broke) didn’t stop me. I remember once in ’98, my friend found a great deal on a last minute flight to Paris so I told my boss that I needed Monday off (it was a Thursday) and after work, I transferred most of my closet into a suitcase, raced to the airport, and landed on French soil the next morning with no clue what the hotel would be like that I booked 5 minutes before my cab arrived. That trip was one of the highlights of my single years — just doing crazy, last minute vacations to anywhere and everywhere. Looking back, each spontaneous journey helped me to find myself and get closer to the future Holly. Each trip got me to where I am today and for that, I am grateful.
I remember roaming narrow cobblestone streets,marveling at the architecture, the chalky-colored buildings, smacking my lips on yummy crepes, buying colorful scarves and perfumes at Galleries Lafayette, shopping in tiny grocery stores enjoying all of the product packaging… And snapping photos with my trusty film camera in only black and white because I wanted to be just like one of my favorite photographers, Robert Doisneau. Cheesy, I know. I remember listening to Morrissey on the plane as I flipped through French magazines feeling so invigorated and full of wonder as I journeyed back to Boston to my boring office job. That same year, I met my German husband online so then I got into German life + culture, traveling to Germany a year later. Though my big dream, since I was a teenager, was to move to England, Paris was always a spot that I wanted to visit regularly for inspiration so I reasoned England was close enough so I could easily live a double life if I lived in or near London.
Plans change. I’ve been living in northern Germany for over 5 years and I truly love my life here. Yet I’m wondering what happened because I don’t travel nearly as much as I imagined I would if I was ever lucky enough to live in Europe. So I’m thinking it’s time to change that and stop thinking so much and start doing. It’s time I drive over the border to France and to the many other countries that I have easy access to.
On a side note, I often wonder if some of us were meant to roam, to wander, to have 9 lives like a cat? I often thought that maybe we’re meant to have a new partner each decade since we change every 10 years anyway and if there are no kids involved and both are in agreement, a change could be good. So a new partner, a new city or country, a new language, a new life every decade. Can you imagine? Does this sound even a little bit fun to you or does it make you sad or feel lost? I think that once you’ve done the decade thing 3 or 4 times, you’d settle down with a partner and stay with them, in that place, forever – but only when and if the person and the place felt right.
I moved a lot as a child. Moving to Germany was a seamless transfer for me. I still haven’t been homesick. Not once. I’ve never thought of moving back. But in my heart, I don’t have a set home. I guess now with a baby, he’ll need to have stability, and my husband treasures his home and stability here, so for them their experience is different from my own childhood experience. But all of the moving left me with a roaming spirit. I often identify myself with birds and butterflies and things with wings because I like to take flight, whether that be in my heart, my mind or in real-time. I’ve always loved to explore and see new places. Yet I crave stability and home, too. So my heart is wandering on one side and very content and very “found” on the other. I often wonder if my stable husband finds this side of me very annoying and hard to please. I don’t complain but I think my actions may show my lust for life and travel. I think it’s obvious to all who know me well that I have passion for things that require traveling to really experience and enjoy.
My friend once lovingly criticized me saying that all cities look alike – you’ve seen them all if you’ve seen one. She thought I was crazy for loving Montreal so much, for example, “What’s wrong with Boston that you have to drive 5 hours to Montreal for?”, was her argument. But Montreal is French and felt different and the experience of being there was new and the possibilities felt endless. I never saw all cities as being just cities, places that were more or less the same. I’m a people person and I study people when I out. I watch everything. I see each detail. I don’t miss a thing. So all cities may have big buildings and a Starbucks, as she noted, but they each have their own culture and blood and that is the big draw for me. The action. The possibilities. The stories I imagine as I study its inhabitants. The architecture, the smells, the sounds. The what if. The expectation.
I often wonder what happens to our former fun-loving younger versions? The me that hopped on planes to foreign countries with just 8 hours notice, a few hundred bucks, and no hotel? My baby has made me realize how much I miss my younger Holly. He is so full of wonder and so keen to explore and see and touch everything. We adults may not be able to turn the clock back but we can bring the best parts of ourselves forward with us into the future so why not bring along the spontaneous screw it side? For instance, I’m longing for bad coffee, rude waiters, gorgeous streets and flaky croissants. And since it’s been a few years, perhaps Paris is calling. I think Paris with a baby boy would be just beautiful.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this essay, I didn’t have a point to make to be honest. So I’m ending it here. Yet perhaps maybe you see something in yourself as you’ve read this. I often wonder how many of you have wanderlust, too? This strong desire to see, and do, it all. My wanderlust is not felt consistently though, only during certain months or periods in which I’m feeling uninspired – like the end of gray, dreary Januarys!
(images: Supply Paper Co.)
I’m forever spotting things that I think could be the next trend, like decorating with plants, taking a slower approach to living, brick walls painted white, adopting a more laid-back approach to flower arranging, and of course, Nordic design taking over Europe (and it truly has). All of these trends not only arrived but have stuck around, almost becoming a part of the bigger picture, of a more established design. But every now and then, I spot micro trends, and that is how I see factory windows, also referred to simply as black metal-framed doors and windows, — a micro trend yet a trend indeed. They are making a real comeback in both commercial design but also residential spaces – not just vintage ones but faux versions, too. And I think they’re all quite fabulous.
If you follow industrial design, you’ll note that concrete floors, soaring ceilings, brick or stone exposure, metal with raw wood furnishings and large bell-shaped pendant lights, also in metal, are hallmarks of industrial style. And of course, black-framed metal windows and doors with their grid-like patterning and squares, or rectangles, of glass. They are a great solution for when a homeowner or office places priority on creating a space with multiple functions without losing natural light.
I like them, not just because they bring a hint of nostalgia, even a bit of “edge”, to a space but also because they are practical. How so? First, they act as terrific space definers if you’re using them to divide a space. Next, they really let the light in. They’re also great for allowing privacy without sacrificing a sense of space – a room divided by glass still feels spacious – a wall wouldn’t accomplish that. Finally, paned windows and doors are quite practical because if you break one, you only need to replace a small panel of glass e vs. an entire sheet as in windows without panes. Maybe that’s why they were popular in factories years ago? If a metal part flew through the window off of a machine, only a panel needed to be replaced.
Whenever I see factory doors and windows, I think of the homes I’ve worked in while in Paris for my books. I think of old factories. I think of some of the restaurants I’ve been to in New York, London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I think of vintage schoolhouses. I remember some of the restored lofts in Lowell, MA that we toured back in 2006 (and almost purchased but, being in Lowell, we politely passed). I also think of creative spaces because I imagine lofts in cities that were only used in the flower power era to house artists. I remember seeing them in Sonoma at some of the wineries we toured or in LA at the stunning home of Amy Neunsinger when I worked on my first book.
©Renee Arns styling & photography
©Renee Arns styling & photography
Photography: Armelle Habib
What do you think? Do you like this look? Would you like them in your own home or office?
(images: source linked below photos)