Mornings Like These…

October 13th, 2015

Sometimes the most uncelebrated, ordinary activity can be so beautifully fulfilling that we wonder why it is that we don’t do it more often. The cold, fall air is official here in The Netherlands and the so is the windchill, and all I feel like doing on the chilly mornings we’ve been getting is snuggling up in bed doing very close to nothing. It’s hard though, to do nothing. To savour the smallest moments pr activites and be OK with them, as they are. Without reaching for our phones. In the fast paced lives most of us lead, simply taking the time to slow down and just be, to linger a little longer in the comforts of bed with a warm but simple breakfast, fresh brewed coffee and a newspaper can feed the soul in a thousand different ways. In the quiet of the morning, during those first hours of the day, time stands still. After spending a couple of days doing pretty much what you see below after a little adventure in the operating theatre at my local hospital (nothing too serious, not to worry), I thought it was a good time to share this editorial I styled and photographed with food stylist Ajda Mehmet a few months ago because those moments in bed have healed me immeasurably.



“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like…ordinary life.” – Brian Andreas

This editorial is all about celebrating simplicity, doing something very ordinary but taking the time to savour the moment, enjoy each heavenly sip of coffee after each bite of warm, citrus infused French toast. No hurry, no deadlines, no noise. Just the calm, quiet still of the early morning.

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Meet Hausmerk + A GIVEAWAY!

October 8th, 2015

Hey guys, not sure if you know them already but there’s a new kid on the block and they do really a small range of minimalistic and beautiful homewares I think you’ll love as much as I do. Meet HAUSMERK. They are a Belgian label based in Brussels, founded by design duo Mimy A. Diar and Ad Luijten. Today I want to introduce you to these cool cats by sharing some shots of my favourite products in their range styled in my own home. And we all like a giveaway, so after you’ve read all about them and their story and design process below, head down below to see how you could win one a gorgeous SOIL ‘Bird of Paradise’ illustrations printed on wood. There are two up for grabs!


// What is the background behind Hausmerk and how long have you been in business? Who are the designers?

Hausmerk started off as a spin-off project of Beaverhausen, our design studio where we create designs for international design editors. In 2014 we decided to design several small home accessories that we could market ourselves. But for this project we wanted to operate under a different name. The name Hausmerk is derived from the Dutch word ‘huismerk’. For us it doesn’t only mean ‘home brand’ but it’s also the private label of our design studio Beaverhausen.

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Style Files: Sofacompany

September 28th, 2015

Sofacompany is a young label with a striking range of Danish designed sofas that caught my eye during a random internet browse some months ago. We got in touch, chatted, discussed ways we could collaborate and I was later asked to photograph their showroom based in Arnhem, the Netherlands. They have since moved to a new showroom (an old car garage located on Vlamoven 37, Arnhem) but the industrial space I visited was filled with quirky and fun sofas in a range of different styles and colours to suit all tastes, plus the team was so warm and lovely to work with so it was a pretty good day all round. If you don’t know of them already, I am excited to introduce to you Sofacompany, with a few of the images I shot for them and an in-depth interview behind the label with the company’s location and marketing manager, Rein Aalbers.


// How would you describe Sofacompany products and what interiors best fit the brand’s aesthetic?

Sofacompany designs sofas, chairs, chaise longues and tables inspired by the interiors of the 50s, 60s and 70s. You can call it retro, but it is Scandinavian design with a modern twist. Almost all of our chairs and sofas have beautiful oak wooden legs typical of this era. What makes Sofacompany unique, however, is being able to design your own sofa, choosing from 1500 combinations to create a sofa that combines your favourite fabric, colour, type of model and type of leg.


// What is the Sofacompany background and how long has it been in The Netherlands?

Sofacompany started in Denmark, where designers Christian and Cathrine set up a whole new concept that challenged the furniture industry by designing beautiful and high quality chairs and sofa’s for a competitive price without using resellers. The concept is totally based on online activity, making it possible to save money and avoid resale, which pushes up the price. From the design in Denmark, the production in Vietnam, to delivery in Holland Sofacompany is responsible for every single part of the process.

Sofa company came to The Netherlands two and a half years ago, founded by Marc Verschuren, who brought a full container with him to see how the Dutch would react to the beautiful retro Danish designs he had fallen in love with.

Though an online business at the core, we try to keep the contact with the customers as personal as possible. In the year and a half I have worked with Sofacompany, I have personally answered the phone, replied to emails, sent fabric samples, assisted customers in the showroom and have even delivered the sofas to their new homes myself. This personal contact with our clientele means we know exactly what people want. If people are asking for a new type of sofa, for example, we contact our designer in Denmark directly and share the customer’s ideas.

Sofacompany_Avenue Lifestyle

// Tell us about your showroom. What can visitors expect to see when they visit?

Sofacompany has grown step by step in The Netherlands and Belgium and is really proud of their designs and quality. Although Sofacompany is still an online retailer with online pricing, people can now visit the new showroom in Arnhem every Saturday between 10:00 and 14:00, and each Wednesday between 14:00 and 18:00. Our visitors should not expect a sleek showroom, but just one big cosy living room with a lots of beautiful designs, an old scool grammaphone player and some lovely rugs on the floor to compliment our unique sofas. People travel from as far as Brussels to see our designs in the showroom. Sofacompany does not trade at any other retailer, but we do visit various markets to show people all over The Netherlands and Belgium what our designs look like and of course how lovely they are to sit in. Markets we attend include the Feel Good Market in Eindhoven, Sunday Market in Amsterdam and the Flagship Market in Den Haag.


// What is your background, Rein, and how did you get Sofacompany off the ground?
I studied Small Business and Retailmanagement in Nijmegen, with the dream to start my own restaurant or café one day. After finishing my studies I started helping Marc a year and a half ago. What began as a temporary job, because I also started working as an interviewer for a magazine, turned out to be a little bit different. After a few months, the growth of Sofacompany was enormous and I had a full time job on my hands helping customers, planning deliveries, answering questions, visiting markets and setting up the marketing. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to quit working as an interviewer and shifted my dream to start a restaurant to the future. It is wonderful to see that people are getting to know Sofacompany, thanks to setting up a online marketing strategy and simply being visible in all kinds of channels – magazines, blogs, lifestyle markets and concept stores. If you believe in your products, like we do, you just dare to invest and don’t just sit around waiting for people to visit your website without lifting a finger. We pride ourselves on customer service. Though we are growing, we’ll never lower our high standards of customer service, because happy customers make us happy.


// What do you think your customers love about your sofas, and what are your best sellers?

Our bestseller is by far the Vera sofa, but the Herman, Ellen and Sally are popular too. People just like our style because it’s really different to everything else you see at interiors shops. The details – such as covered buttons, stitch detailing and wooden legs – the colours and affordability have been large factors in our success. Sometimes people ask me if the quality is good for these prices, so I invite them to visit our showroom, or come over to a lifestyle market where they can test our sofas and chairs and judge for themselves.



// In terms of colour, what are your clients most drawn to? Is it difficult for people to commit to a bright yellow sofa, for example?

Grey is the most common color for a sofa and it will probably always be, but we see a trend in ordering more colourful sofas. Sofacompany lovers are not afraid to make bold choices. For example our green Ellen sofa is a popular one and it is a beautiful, but distinct color.


// If people come to visit your showroom, can you recommend some nice places to eat and shop in Arnhem?

Arnhem is a beautiful city, but you really need to know the right places. I have been living here for two years now and getting more and more enthusiastic. It turns out that Arnhem is a city for fashion and design lovers, and increasingly so. Klarendal for example is a old working class neighbourhood totally mixed with wonderful small fashion and design shops, and lovely cafés and restaurants. For the best coffees with a retro vintage atmosphere, go to Espressobar Tape. If you visit the city center, you can’t miss the cakes, sandwiches and fresh juices at Patiserrie Hemels. It is situated in the Kerkstraat in a nice part of the city with cute side streets dotted with little shops and boutiques.

Sofacompany blog 4


So guys, what do you think of these sofas? I have one of my own and am very happy with it. The one I have is a discontinued line but it is in their ‘Fleur blush rose’ colour (the same as the little sofa pictured two images above). It’s firm and comfortable and a bit different to the usual grey or brown sofa’s I see so often when I shoot interiors.

A big thank you to Sofacompany for welcoming me into their showroom to share these images with you guys!

Which is your favourite sofa in their collection, guys?

Photography original to Avenue Lifestyle by Holly Marder 

Best of Etsy: Cushion Crush

September 24th, 2015

Hey guys! Long time no see. I’ve been doing many things over here behind the scenes, one of them shopping profusely, day in, day out, for the very fortunate people I call my clients. I know. It’s hard. The other thing is binge watching New Girl on Netflix during the evenings, which is proving to be a problem, mostly for this blog. Moving right along, nothing to see here, back to shopping. I do a lot of that over on Etsy because the range is just so huge and most of what you find is hand made and of very good quality. I shop accessories a lot on Etsy when I’m looking for special pieces to finish off the spaces I am working on. Lately, that’s been a couple of bedrooms and the odd living room so I’ve been bringing in gorgeous cushions left right and centre – and that’s not including the 15 beautiful cushion slips I brought back with me from Marrakech. So I thought I’d throw together a little collection of the cushions I’m currently crushing on in case you’re looking for a few cosy touches to bring into your fall homes this season.




A couple of well chosen cushions can be just what your living room or bedroom needed to pull everything together and create a lovely whole.

I’m really into textural pieces at the moment – African mud cloth with bold patterns in subdued black and whites, Turkish kilim cushions with beautiful muted palettes and striking woven designs, and plain and simple yet classic linen pieces that balance out colour and pattern.


Best of Etsy Cushions 1.1

..  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 ..

I love all of the cushions in the above selection because they’re neutral yet still have the ability to transform a sofa or bed. In each collage we have put together pillows that can sit pretty alone or work really well as a collection. I own cushion 1 in the above board and combine it at home with a Ferm Living black and white kilim I bought a while back and this african mud cloth cushion in black and cream.

My favourite shops for cushions on Etsy right now are Boho Pillow and One Fine Nest. They are always updating their collections with lovely creations and I am loving the monochromatic style and interesting patterns of the African mud cloth textiles they use a lot in their collections.

Which cushions would I put together from the above selection? I like subtle yet textured so would go for a mix of 3, 4, 6 and 8. For a pop of colour and pattern though I’d throw 1, 4 and 10 together on a bed, maybe with a 2 tossed in there too to shake it up a bit.

Best of Etsy Cushions 2.2

.. 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 ..

I love mixing patterns and varying textures, and the above cushions all look good together so it’s a no brainer and would be super easy to bring any of these cushions together in your space. What would I put together on a sofa? I love those palm leaves so would throw 18, 19, 14, 20 and 21 on a cream couch in a heartbeat.

So guys, what is YOUR favourite cushion and how would you mix it up? If you’re having trouble deciding and don’t quite know where to start with matching your favourites together, the general rule of thumb when mixing and matching cushions, or any textile really, is to:

> Pick 3 patterns in a complimentary colour way and in a range of scales to combine together. For example: a thin stripe or zig-zag (such as 14 or 4), a medium size geometric (such as 2), and a floral or kilim (such as 18 or 11)

Make sense?

Have a great day, guys, and I’ll see you back here shortly for a peek at a very cool brand of sofas and my recent trip to Marrakech.

Holly and team x

All Images via Etsy |First image courtesy of Project Sarafan | Collages made by my awesome assistant Malou Muizer

Moody Blue Interiors

September 15th, 2015

Temperatures are dropping fast and days are turning in much earlier now that summer is on it’s way out, making me drawn to moody hues perfect for fall. Though I’m typically drawn to light places, I do love the impact a dark element or two can make to a space. I’ve been working on a bedroom restyle for a client recently and we’ve been toying with using Farrow & Ball’s ‘Stiffkey Blue‘ on the walls which I’m a bit excited about, and then last weekend I took the plunge and painted the inside of my front door ‘Railings‘ by ‘Farrow & Ball’ – a deep, black/blue colour which has warmed up our entry way very nicely. Dark blue, while a little scary at first for those who are timid to the idea of rich lashings of colour on their walls, works well in pretty much every room of the home, so I wanted to show you some spaces that really make it work and how.

dark blue my scandi home


Dark blue walls add an instant mood factor in a living space, amping up the cosiness and giving a space drama. I love dark blue walls paired with lots of texture and interesting textiles. Side note, this space is making me long for the textiles I just spend five days pining over in Marrakech. It was epic. Will share more about that later. On with the dark blue walls!

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