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.
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…
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.
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,
I can’t stop thinking about my walls lately. This past week I was hired to work for a major client on an advertising campaign here in Europe, so I had to do a lot of shooting using my home as a studio space. It was SO much fun and worked out beautifully, mostly because I made some nice backdrops for the walls, etc. but I kept feeling really discouraged with my ugly raufasertapete walls. I know you have heard me complain about this before, but in Germany nearly every rental property is coated with raufaser – it’s this super dated and tacky wood chip wallpaper that, while it may have been popular during the Bauhaus period, I vote we move on and have smooth, normal walls in rentals. That way, it’s easier to paint or paper over them and apply things like decals and washi tape (particularly fun in children’s rooms). Smooth walls are also so easy to clean and maintain. Plus, raufasertapete tears super easy. Here is what it looks like.
Raufasertapete makes me cringe for so many reasons, but mostly cosmetic ones. But there are also the problems you run into painting it. You have to apply 3-4 coats, sometimes more depending on how deep the color is, because it just soaks in your paint color like a sponge and a lot of times, the color isn’t so even when you are finished which is particularly noticeable if you’ve used a really dark shade, like charcoal. If you want to clean raufasertapete you can spot clean it, which takes a long time, or you can paint over it which is what nearly everyone does – paint over dirt, stains, smudges, candle smoke, etc. I don’t want to sound snobby but paint over dirt? No thanks.
While I singlehandedly cannot change what people want to put in rental property here, I keep thinking about what I can change in my own rental home without getting in hot water. We are looking to buy a home now, but the house hunt will take years and I’m all for future thinking but you also have to love where you live today and for me, the one big thing that makes me love my home less is the raufasertapete everywhere. Thankfully, the landlord didn’t put it on the ceiling in the four rooms in front of the house, but in the hallway, kitchen, guest room, master bed, both baths and my husband’s office, she put it on the ceiling too – which just makes it look like those equally bad “popcorn” ceilings in American. Thankfully, my ceilings are SOARING so you don’t really notice it at all but still. Such a shame to see this cheap paper in a gorgeous period home built in 1900. Why do people devalue their property and take out the charm just because it’s a rental property?
So I’m thinking a lot about ways to camouflage it, especially since more and more magazines want to hire me to style for them and shoot in my studio, and because I’m shooting my next book partly in this space, so what can I do? I cannot learn to live with it. I tried for 3 years and I cannot change the fact that I think it’s the ugliest stuff on the earth. Sure, it’s white and you don’t “see” it unless you are photographing against it – but when you style shots you mostly are styling against a wall if you are showing art or photos or shelving, etc., so the wood chip ‘bumps’ are super visible and even appear grayish and cast odd shadows and some days, it even goes a bit yellow in the sunlight.
I thought to use wallpaper, though my landlord says I cannot paint or wallpaper my walls, but I think that is very unfair given what we pay for our apartment so I’m thinking to speak to her again. I want to do remove the raufasertapete and hire someone to smooth out the walls and then paint them in muted Farrow & Ball colors (nothing dark, I really dislike dark walls). I wonder what she’ll think of that? I’m a little afraid to ask! And I would only do it if I didn’t have to return everything back to the way it was when we rented it – meaning, install the raufasertapete all over again. No way, I would never do that, the smooth walls are so much more beautiful and easier to wipe clean and only make the property more valuable and gorgeous.
I was also thinking to spare the expense and headaches and leave the walls as they are and just hang murals like the ones shown in this post from Anthropologie, or buy wood panels and create some wood backgrounds behind my bed or sofa, for instance… Or mount some plywood on the wall above my sofa and wallpaper it, or or OR! I just keep thinking, what can I do!?
I think, aside from learning German, raufasertapete is the most challenging thing for me since I moved here – thankfully I love German but not the wood chip paper. Our last apartment had it too. I just don’t get it. And I just don’t want it!
Any opinions to share?
I really like it when people are so clever and creative that they reuse stuff that might end up in the cellar, or worse, a dump otherwise – making new out of the castaways, creating something stylish and one-of-a-kind. That’s what I admire about OUD Now! located in the Netherlands. I wrote about this Dutch firm a few years ago, but I have to refresh your memory because I think the man behind it, Dutch designer Theo Herfkens, is so cool!
Those Dutch know how to do some pretty cool things to old stuff, I think they are the masters of transformation. I always like seeing what will come from them next. OUD Now! takes unloved pieces that are ornate and maybe “grandma” style, and combines them with very clean, modern and spare pieces so that the result is a mix of styles that somehow works.
I would love to own this one, or this one, or okay this one too (only with a different handle, like this one from Chocolate Creative)… My friend, Margarita Lorenzo, makes the best knobs – I have to place an order for a few myself. Love them.
What do you think of these cabinets?
I love the home wares collection (and furniture!) from French Connection. When I was last in London, which was in November, I saw some of their collection for the home and really liked it. The quality looked just fine and I loved the muted, relaxed palette because you can mix these things into your interior world so easily without wondering if they’d match or not – can’t go wrong with raw materials like wood with grays and whites. So versatile. They just rolled out some new furniture that I love. Here are some favorites below, with links, and since it’s gray and rainy today, I find these images restful and just well, nice to look at.
My favorite things: leather and jute gray rug, wooden table with wheels, safari babe chair, tied bedding, driftwood mirrors, tree trunk wooden stool and the leaning shelves. I would love to buy some of these things, but they won’t ship outside of the UK. So I guess I just have to look like most of you who aren’t living there…
I’d add some music to this mix by Rose, Coeur De Pirate and Carla Bruni – they’ve been on constant rotation in my studio all week. I’d also light a few candles, add a string of twinkle lights over a door or mirror, and bring in some tea along with a really nice plate of yummy healthy things to eat. That’s what you have to do on gray, dreary days. Relax and go with it. Create your own sanctuary and make a little magic.
P.S. I’m so happy French Connection seems to be moving away from their branding as FCUK, I always thought that was so degrading to their image. Did you ever think that too?
(images: french connection)
I’m not finished yet talking about lights and these from Kerrie Brown Design Studio in Sydney are sooooo nice. My columnist, Jillian Leiboff, told me about Kerrie’s work this morning and I loved her lighting immediately. Here are a few photos for a little show and tell.
I had a good look around her website and really fell in love – very quirky and colorful… I can really see these shades being sold at Liberty in London, can’t you? In addition to lampshades, you can find pillows, wallpaper, blind, fabric, headboards, cabinets and more. I was fascinated to learn that Kerrie is actually an Academy Award nominated set decorator and interior designer – what a fantastic background! She’s worked on the sets of The Quiet American, Mission Impossible, The Chronicles of Narnia and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark.
Wouldn’t it be an amazing job to be a set designer for major motion pictures?
(images: jillian lieboff)