Wednesday, 31 July 2013

space: cleverly placed art

Let's be clear on one thing, I'm not exactly the bullfighting type but this piece of art by Anthony Fry almost mesmerised me when I first saw this nook in the home of interior designer Jaime Parladé, who is a friend of the artist. It's so cleverly placed and the bright pink colour completely transforms this space. On the website of the designer it says: "In the work of Jaime Parladé there are not any norms, only good taste and intuition."

I rest my case.

photo credit:
Nuevo Estilo

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

a stunning view on the Greek island Hydra

If you are anything like I am you are going to need some time to take in the scenery above, the view from a renovated historic house on the Greek island Hydra. It's one of those photos in my files that I keep going back to and every single time it takes my breath away. And it's not just the view; it's also the beauty of that spot, the energy of it. Imagine just starting the day by sitting there, enjoying breakfast or reading or watching the sunset before calling it a day.

Please follow the link below to view the interior and read about the renovation.

photo credit:
Michael Koronis for House by Life & Style via Yatzer

Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer living | Vive l'été

I like the idea of bringing summer into one's home; by that I mean turning a certain spot or a corner into something that looks particularly summery. The one above is in a moderate summer house in The Hamptons, but it's the perfect example of what I'm referring to, it's bright and has a natural feel to it (the woven basket and fresh flowers). This look screams summer.

There are many who use different home accessories (cushions, etc.) during the summertime but when looking at this chest of drawers I begin to wonder if there are people, who don't have summer houses, who go so far as to maybe use different furniture in some spaces. It could be an interesting concept, for example, in the hallway to use a different console table in summertime (applies to those with plenty of storage space!).

What is it about white dresses in summertime? Or white shirts? This photo almost makes me want to hang white linen items in the trees in the garden!

All the photos below are taken on the Spanish island Formentera, which is located south of Ibiza. I have never been on the island myself but I have seen what seems like endless photos of beautiful vacation rentals. It seems like a good place to add to the list of future travels.

photo credit:
1: Eric Josjö for Sköna hem / 2 + 5 + 6: Bikini Birdie via Style Me Pretty (Formentera, Spain) / 3: Miguel Varona via Style Me Pretty / 4: Anna Westerlund Ceramics via Pinterest / 7: Nuevo Estilo (Formentera, Spain)

Friday, 26 July 2013

bon week-end


I woke up this morning to thunders and lightning and the rain has been pouring down. It feels refreshing; I like the darkness accompanying it. Well, the sky is slowly brightening up so maybe today will be yet another sunny day.

Yesterday we celebrated our boy's birthday (the living room floor is a Playmo Knights battlefield) and I also went into the city to go to the library. I so enjoyed revisiting Karen Blixen's book Out of Africa earlier this month and I wanted to read more by Blixen and about her life. I was telling my parents on the phone the other day that I don't know why Blixen fascinated me from a young age. Maybe it was the Danish vibe that I felt in the home of my paternal grandparents, who were both part Danish.

I wanted to borrow - and did - Seven Gothic Tales, which Blixen wrote in English under the nom de plume Isak Dinesen after returning to Denmark from Kenya (Out of Africa came later). Then I got a few books that Sidney Pollack's film Out of Africa (1985) was based on: Shadows on the Grass, where Blixen continues with stories about her life in Kenya, Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen by Judith Thurman, and Silence Will Speak by Errol Trzebinski. The last one is about the life of Denys Finch Hatton and his relationship with Blixen (played by Robert Redfort in the film).

Maybe I should have warned you that this post was about books, but I guess the photo gave it away. Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Garden design: an Old South charm in Charleston


With summer passing way too quickly I feel the need to try to share some of the gardens that I have collected in my summer files. Today I chose this Old South charm in Charleston, one of the many beautiful gardens featured in Traditional Home. I chose the formal parterre to open the post, mainly because of the old brick house and the white climbing roses. It almost looks too good to be true! Next to the brick house is a small garden house seen in the photo below.

This restored house belongs to Ben and Cindy Lenhardt; it's located in Charleston’s historic district and dates back to the year 1743. Ben, now retired, was only ten years old when he planted marigold seeds for the first time and since then gardening has been his passion. In fact, he's the chairman of the national Garden Conservancy and the role of the organisation is to preserve exceptional gardens. They also arrange open days for the public to enjoy private gardens.


Ben’s garden design was under the influence of Loutrel Briggs, a legendary landscape architect in the Charleston area that began his career in the 1930s. His idea was to use different levels to make gardens appear bigger.

Ben is a humble gardener and in the article he speaks with enthusiasm about gardens as living art:
It’s the most difficult art form because it changes. It takes an appreciation of balance, color, and different kinds of plant materials with strong -architectural components—all of which must be coordinated with the changing seasons to create a symphony of color, beauty, and -tranquility.


In the period “Charleston garden” there are these urns with potted petunias, geraniums, violas, and roses that add colour to the garden that mainly has white blossoms. There is also a Lutyens-style bench.


There is a colonial-style fence by the front parterre, which is planted with boxwood, ivy, and dwarf mondo grass.

Do you see the old stone mooring post in the carriageway below? It was discovered during the restoration of the house. Apparently, the house had been at the edge of a creek that lead to the Cooper River and rowboats were tied to the post.

Historic indeed!


photo credit:
Brie Williams for Traditional Home

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

space: Annette + Oscar de la Renta's home in Punta Cana

During my blog break I realised that I missed my Charming Spaces series this summer so I wanted to revive it sooner than intended, and also, for the sake of simplicity, change the name to SPACE. Not posting at least one interior photo per week just felt wrong somehow. This one belongs to Oscar de la Renta and his wife Annette's beautiful home in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. It appeared in the book Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People by Hamish Bowles.

The photo is a scan from a spread in Vogue US (Nov. or Dec. 2008, I think) and there is a small part missing to the left, between the mirror and the bookcase, which slightly distorts the symmetry of the room. I couldn't find another large enough. There is so much in this room that catches my attention: the books and lamps, details like the black garden seat and wooden stool, the floors and the perfect balance of the room. The fact that the rug is torn only makes the room feel more personal and shows that this house has been lived in. I love it that someone like fashion designer Oscar de la Renta doesn't bother about such an insignificant detail as a torn rug. Not seen in the photo are white French doors that lead out to the veranda (seen here).

I am also drawn to the round table in the middle - not the style but the idea of such a table - decorated with personal home accessories and books. There is just something very appealing to a table like that. If you have enough room for a round table somewhere in your home then go for it, and don't forget the books!

It was architect Ernesto Buch that designed the house and for those of you who want to explore it further, please take a look at the links under photo credit.

It feels good to be back to blogging but it was nice spending some time in the sun and reading my new books. I even got another one last week, which I will tell you about later. Have a wonderful day!

photo credit:
François Halard for Vogue Living via Cote de Texas

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

new books + pink peonies + blog break



Tomorrow is my birthday so today I'm sharing with you the content of this year's Amazon birthday package and then I'm taking a blog break. The children are finishing school this week so it's time to enjoy these warm and sunny summer days. I will be spending my evenings reading on the balcony or, if it rains, on the chaise lounge (I think my coffee table is looking good with the new books).


In my package there were three coffee table books that were on the top of my wish list. I was just beaming when I took them out of the box and held them in my hands. Have you ever squeezed a book tight and held it close to your heart? I did that with all of them, and the rest of the items in the package. For my fellow book lovers out there, the title-links will take you to my aStore on Amazon if you want to learn more about the books:

  • Interiors Atelier AM by Alexandra & Michael Misczynski - see further below
  • Country by Jasper Conran - I told you just a little about this one in my 'First Day of Spring' post. It has plenty of text which I'm looking forward to getting lost in and then there is the stunning images of country life by Andrew Montgomery, who is one of my favourite photographers
  • Travels with Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn - the book's subtitle is Five Journeys from Hell because Gellhorn decided to share her best horror journeys. Maybe some of you only know her as one of the wifes of Ernest Hemingway but she was a wonderful travel writer. In a review in The Times it said: "She is incapable of writing a dull sentence."
  • Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey - I learned about this novella through the Style Court blog by Courtney Barnes, when she talked about the motion picture
  • Out of Africa by Karen Blixen - no words needed, I have already mentioned it so often
  • Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo - see further below
  • Little White Lies (2010) - I had to get something to watch and this French film by director Guillaume Canet simply had to be added to my film collection


I feel obliged to tell you just a little about the book Interiors Atelier AM written by two of my favourite designers, Alexandra and Michael Misczynski. It contains little text, mainly captions next to the "poetic" photographs of five homes that were taken by François Halard. This is a large hardcover (248 pages) so the images, either showing a clear view of a space or a vignette, look stunning. There is plenty of raw materials or that rustic style that I find fascinating, but what I mainly notice is how personal the five homes look.

In his foreword, Belgian antiques dealer and designer Axel Vervoodt - also one of my favourites - writes:
Michael and Alexandra Misczynski have an eye for discovery. Often before anyone else, they see the intrinsic value of certain pieces of furniture and art that I, too, love very much—for their authenticity, humility, and discreet, honest strength. This includes art from all genres, from all parts of the world, and from all sorts of periods, as long as it is honest and real.


Later in his foreword, Vervoodt observes:
A sense of proportion dominates my taste, and that's also what drives Michael and Alexandra. I try as much as possible to avoid the purely decorative, but I do want to achieve an effect of harmony among the architectural environment, the furnishings, and the works of art and antique objects. A house and a collection of art are always a portrait of the owners, and in the end, the people living in the house must be able to find more of themselves.


If you are in the mood for more photos from this book then I have posted some earlier on both the English and Icelandic versions of my blog: a loggia and a kitchen in the Los Angeles home of the designers, and a selection of images from the book. Then there are quite a few on my Pinterest boards. The spread below shows the study in a Las Vegas home - that sofa speaks to me.


I have already shared with you Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo but I just had to include this spread from the book to give you another preview. As I have said before, this is such a beautiful book. The flower arrangements by Nicolette Owen are captivating and Ngo photographs them beautifully. I cannot get enough of this book; it's a constant source of inspiration.


I will tell you about Jasper Conran's Country later. I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying beautiful summer days and that winter is behaving well in the southern. I will be pinning with my coffee but not back to blogging until Wednesday, 24th July.

À bientôt!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt
- photos in the book Interiors Atelier AM by François Halard; in Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

K&A: mushroom salad

Earlier today I posted a mushroom salad recipe on kitchen & aroma. I came across it on Saturday when leafing through the French food magazine Saveurs. It was excellent with grilled chicken and couscous.

Today has been an ideal day for experimenting just a little in the kitchen. (Our boy woke up with some bug so he didn't go to school. Luckily he's already feeling better.) One of the things I made was a polenta mash with herbs and just a touch of garlic. I served it for lunch with cold chicken and fruit salad and it was delicious. I think it may become a staple in this household. Now I'm on the balcony, relaxing in the sun with my books and a big stack of magazines.

Have a wonderful day!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Monday, 8 July 2013

Summer Living | Vive l'été

If I had to pick three keywords to describe my today's mood I would go for seaside, sailing and aqua. My mind seems to drift either to a marina in Holland that we used to go to or to a beach somewhere, preferably on a Greek island. You may notice that all the images except the top one have something to do with fashion, but it isn't really the outfits or accessories that I'm after, but the story they tell.

To me this is the essence of summer.

photo credit:
1: West Elm Summer 2011 Collection via Bright.Bazaar (cropped) / 2: John Balsom for GQ España, June 2012 via Like the Sky | model: Cedric Bihr / 3: Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes / 4-5: Blumarine Spring 2013 via Vogue US / 6: Alasdair McLellan for Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring 2013 ad campaign | model: Jacey Elthalion, styled by Katy England / 7: Thomas Northcut for Free People, April 2013 Catalog (behind the scenes) / 8: Guy Aroch for Free People, April 2013 Catalog via Fashion Gone Rogue | model: Ieva Laguna / 9: Daniel Řeřicha (Oia, Santorini, Greece)

Friday, 5 July 2013

bon week-end

New magazines filled with inspirations - interiors, gardens and patios - and Out of Africa just sitting there waiting patiently for me to finish Hemingway; A working on a new piece in the atelier downstairs; coffee, biscotti and fruits. Something tells me that this is going to be a good day.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone and thank you for the kind and encouraging words yesterday (those of you who sent emails, you know who you are).

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Thursday, 4 July 2013

revealing the atelier / workshop downstairs


It is about time to tell you what is going on in the garage downstairs. I know that some of my readers were getting quite curious.

When we moved to Luxembourg, A was ecstatic to have his own garage again and last autumn he started building a boat. It's a wooden boat that is called a Weekender and can be used on any lake or river (not a seafaring boat). He bought the drawings when we lived in Denmark, not knowing if he would ever have the chance to use them. With his primitive working tools he has spent all his spare time in the garage and now the structure of the boat is ready (he used the drawings he bought but also added his own ideas). Currently, he is applying a special cloth to its hull, which he then seals with epoxy to completely seal the wood.


I don't know if these photos do the boat justice, but it is looking really good and it looks so much bigger than it does in the photos. A few people have already been downstairs to admire it. I don't know when we will be able to launch it, we are in no hurry to do so, as this is simply something for the family to enjoy in the future.

The work on the boat intrigued A to visit an old dream of his, to own a wood working machine, which he could use to pretty much design and build whatever he likes. I don't know how often we have been looking at furniture in stores and I have told A that he could build a more beautiful piece for even less money, depending on the wood. "If I only had the right machine," has usually been his reply. We are very interested in rustic furniture with certain elegance and it's difficult to find these things. We need a few pieces in our home, especially a console table for our hallway. I am not going to tell you how many consoles I have viewed in the last months and either they are too big or too small or way too expensive. We are still looking for garden furniture because we haven't found anything within our price range that really suits our needs.


To make a long story short, we decided to take A's dream to the next level and buy a real wood working machine to design the things we needed and also to set up our own small business: to create our own production, a line of furniture, garden furniture and kitchen accessories, like cutting boards and trays. After quite a research, A bought a used Felder machine in Germany and it was shipped to Luxembourg recently - it's quite some piece, a little over 700 kilos (about 1545 lbs.). Now that we have the machine, we are throwing ideas back and forth all the time and when they have been defined and refined the actual work will start. I guess the process of the design will happen organically and we will play with many ideas before nailing down a specific line of furniture and accessories.

A few weeks back I was telling A that I couldn't find any wooden bangles that suited me. I'm not exactly the jewellery type and most of the time I wear my wedding ring only. However, I have been searching for a bangle and either the design is a bit off or the quality is just not good enough. No offence to the Chinese, but I cannot stand all that mass-produced made-in-China stuff. I asked him if we could maybe add bangles to our production.

Without telling me he purchased another machine, which he also felt we needed, as it makes the polishing of smaller items much easier. Then on a beautiful Sunday he gave me this bracelet as a pre-birthday present. For the production he used two types of wood and to pop it up he added a bit of greenish/turquoise colour. It suits my eyes and skin tone perfectly and I haven't taken it off.

Later I asked him if he could make another one, wider and made of dark wood only. He got full artistic freedom to design it as he pleased and this is the outcome.

Last Friday I broke my third pizza slicer; my favourite one that had a bigger blade than my other two. This is probably bound to happen when one has a Friday-pizza tradition - tools are put to very good use! Anyway, instead of buying yet another one, A took the blade downstairs and yesterday he presented me with a new pizza slicer, made of two types of wood which he designed and made himself. It will probably last a lifetime!

Tomorrow I'm using it for the first time!

The design of my console is still on my desk and I feel my ideas getting more and more concentrated. It will have a rustic feel to it but I haven't decided which wood to use. Currently A is getting used to his new machines and right now he's designing a stool from hardwood, which can also be used as an end table. That will be the first actual furniture he builds with the Felder machine. I will show it to you when it's ready.

Thank you for visiting and reading. Have a wonderful day! And to my American readers I say Happy 4th July!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt