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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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
Hello everyone, would you like an easy recipe for baking 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.
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.
Pavé Au Chocolat: Here’s the recipe for you:
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)
Chocolate curls/whipped cream
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.
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.
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)
Hello everyone! We are Liz & Jewels with another episode of Food In Motion! Every month on decor8 we want to show you a video with a beautiful recipe that we like. Since we began in March we’ve alternated months, so I take one month and Jewels takes the next… This month we have a special Christmas gift for you! The concept of our blog is that we challenge eachother every week: We cook, style and photograph the same recipe on two continents. Liz in Muenster, Germany and Jewels in Brooklyn, USA. So for this Food in Motion episode we exchanged a christmas cookie recipe and we both made the cookies at the same time! We didn’t know what the other one was up to and were thrilled when we saw eachother’s films! Jewels (and her dog Lola!) made a darker version of the “Almond Sugar Cookies” in Brooklyn, sprinkling them with black and gold sugar (which she had never heard or seen of!) and I called the kids together and had a fun, but also a little bit crazy afternoon, baking a more colorful version of the same cookies in my German home. We’ve combined both very short videos into one below, so please watch it and let us know what you think.
Liz: The kids just loved helping. Putting on aprons, washing hands, kneading the dough, selecting the cookie cutters…. But the best part was decorating them! They just loved the colorful sprinkles and couldn’t wait to use them. It was a little bit tough baking, keeping an eye on the cookies and on the three cuties, but it was worth it and they had tons of fun!
Jewels: My dog Lola volunteered to help my with the baking of the cookies, but I thought that lovely friend Kristen was a better choice. Lola kept a close eye on us though, to make sure we would follow the recipe to the tee. The three of us a had a beautiful, calm afternoon because my husband had taken our baby Clementine out with him. It probably was a bit more quiet than Liz’ kids afternoon, but isn’t it great how one recipe can have two so different outcomes? I made the darker, more “Brooklyn style” version of sugar cookies, but they tasted great and we all loved them. And of course – one moment of not paying attention and Lola got her share of cookies, too. She loved them!
Almond Sugar Cookies
1 3/4 sticks of cold butter
1/3 cups of sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cups ground almonds
1 1/3 cups of flour
or colored sugar
How To: With an electric mixer, cream butter, salt and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Gradually add the flour and the ground almonds, beat until combined. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Roll out the dough on flour dusted kitchen counter and cut shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before decorating.
We wish all readers around the world wonderful holidays and thank you so much for all your great feedback, inspiration and warm words during our Food in Motion time this year on decor8! See you in 2014!
Liz & Jewels
(images/video: liz & jewels)