Archive for July, 2013

Featured: Italian Inspired Al Fresco Dinner for Style Me Pretty Living

July 25th, 2013

Hello! I had another ‘pinch me’ moment recently when I saw one of my latest projects, a styled al fresco dining setting, featured again on the pages of the gorgeous lifestyle blog, Style Me Pretty Living. It was a recent collaboration I did with photographer Anouschka Rokebrand and it came out just as I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. A humble, rustic infused terrace setting that captures the simplicity of Italian dining. Good food enjoyed in good company were the main ingredients. Now that the butterflies have settled down a bit, I thought I’d drop by to share some of my favourite snaps with you. Buon appetito!

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I believe that enjoying a meal together is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s not what we eat, so much as how we eat. I have always been inspired by the way the Italians have made food such an integral part of daily life, both in how it is prepared and how it’s shared, a notion that became the inspiration behind this shoot. Food packed full of flavour and natural goodness shared with great people is something to be savoured every day, and we often forget how simple that can be.

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Gorgeous dinnerware made from fallen palm leaves by VerTerra formed the basis of the understated table decor. I love the contrast of the contemporary table the colour of sea foam with the more rustic elements. If you’d like to see the entire album and read more about the process and products list, click here.

Hope this has inspired you to gather a few friends around a simply styled table to enjoy a few great dishes together! Thank you to SMP Living for running this story, and a big thank you to Anouschka Rokebrand for so effortlessly translating my idea into these beautiful images. You are such a clever little lady! I’d also like to thank our sponsors, Nu Interieur|Ontwerp for the location, VerTerra for the dinner plates, Lee Wolfe Pottery for the rustic plate used to serve the asparagus, Edwin Pelser for the pasta dishes, Gosto Design & Lifestyle for the herb pot and Il Tartufo for the delicious food.

Holly x

Food Files: Chicken Puttanesca

July 24th, 2013

So, I’m trying something new. A food column featuring delicious recipes. You see, for some reason, I have become rather predictable in the kitchen, a sad happening which hasn’t gone unnoticed by my other half. Strange, because I absolutely love to cook and have a ton of cooking inspiration to draw upon. But with a hectic work and family life, I sometimes forget to be creative in the kitchen. We do a weekly grocery shop and always come out with the same tried and true ingredients which then lead to the same tried and true meals. For the past few years, my Mum has been giving me a subscription to the gorgeous Australian Delicious magazine, and for a long time I have tossed up giving a food column a go because my monthly issues inspire me so much. So here it is. Finally, a food column to give me back my groove in the kitchen, but also perhaps to inspire you to get food happy too. First up is a gorgeously light Italian dish by Jill Dupleix for the March 2013 issue of Delicious that is not only low carb, but heaven to the tastebuds and ridiculously simple to whip up. What to know how?



You will need:

{serves 4}

4 x 180g chicken breast fillets

2tbs olive oil

2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

500g cherry tomatoes

3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and roughly chopped

2 tbs pitted kalamata olives

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tbs small salted capers, rinsed and drained

2 tbs flat leaf parsley leaved, chopped

2 tbs grated parmesan

How to:

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Brush the chicken with 1 tbs oil and scatter 1 tsp dried oregano and a pinch of dried chilli, then season. Place on a baking tray {I used a layer of baking baking paper beneath the chicken} and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.

Halve 250g tomatoes. Place all the tomatoes in a small saucepan with the anchovies, olives, garlic, capers and remaining 1 tbs oil, 1 tsp oregano and chill. SEason, then cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Stir in most of the parsley.

To serve, divide the puttanesca among plates, then slice the chicken and arrange on top. Scatter with parmesan and remaining chopped parsley.


I love dishes like this that are a cinch to make and are packed with tons of natural flavour. I served mine with baby new potatoes tossed in butter and fresh herbs from my garden, and it was delicious. It’s been the most sweltering summer day, so this fit the bill perfectly. Served on beautiful VerTerra dinner plates made from fallen palm leaves, it was a feast for the eyes, too!

Let me know what your thoughts are on the new column, and if you give this a try, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

Holly x

* Recipe by Jill Duplex for the March 2013 issue of Delicious Magazine Australia / Photography by Holly Marder

Style Crush: Kirra Jamison

July 23rd, 2013

Do you ever come across someone you just want to be? That happened to me recently when I discovered the beautiful images below of Melbourne based Aussie artist Kirra Jamison‘s warehouse home featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Inside Out Magazine! Oh, did my soul do a happy dance at the sight of the artist’s vibrant space. Being slightly timid when it comes to colour, I am in awe of how Kirra has created such warmth in her lofty residence using bold hues, not to mention her fun artwork. While I have officially found my alter ego {who actually grew up not far from where I used to live in Australia}, the beautiful styling by Jason Grant and images by Derek Swalwell are nothing short of gorgeous.

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I love the way Kirra has layered colour on colour to achieve a soothing space in which to create her works of art. Oversize art, pops of vibrant colour against a neutral backdrop and living greens are the key to her eclectic home style. The industrial bones of the space are an added bonus. She seems to have approached her interior design the same way in which she approaches her art – references to retro modern design with sporadic bursts of colour. Seeing this vibrant home makes me want to toss my tendency for safe hues with reckless abandon and start layering colour in my own life a little more.

It’s been the hottest few days ever here in the Netherlands so at least a small chunk of today will be spent tinkering about in the sun. Must. Get. A. Tan. We had such a long winter I was beginning to turn a rather suspicious shade of blue for a while there…

Have a great day!

Holly x

Credits: Photography for Inside Out Magazine by Derek Swalwell with styling by Jason Grant. Original artwork by Kirra Jamison

First Book Project for Avenue Lifestyle!

July 20th, 2013

To say I am excited is a slight understatement. Very excited comes close, but not quite. Picture the kind of excitement that ensues flailing limbs, giddy laughter and sore face muscles from smiling too much; the jumping up and down with glee kind of excitement; and now perhaps you are venturing fairly close to how I am feeling at this very moment in time. You see, I am to be published in a book. Yes, a BOOK! An interior design book, to be precise.


A little while ago, I was approached by a representative of the German publishing house Callwey, who was on the radar for some blogging talent to collaborate on a new interior design book. At the mention of the words “publishing house”, my ears pricked up. Insert “lifestyle bloggers” and “interior design tips and tricks” and I was sold. We exchanged cards and by five o’clock the following afternoon I had an email in my inbox from the very person I had spoken not 24 hours ago saying they would “be honoured” to have me on board, to collaborate on a book entitled ‘Wohnideen aus dem wahren Leben – Inspirationen der besten Wohnblogger’, complete with a contract enclosed. 

My heart literally leapt from my chest as I excitedly relayed the email to Dirk – who was at the time bathing Lola and was slowly but surely disappearing under a mountain of bath bubbles – but to be honest, I haven’t quite allowed the excitement to sink in just yet. That is, until I received an email from my publisher today that the book is scheduled to publish on September 20, and has already hit the shelves!

The book lends its reader creative ideas and gorgeous inspiration from some of Europe’s best interior and lifestyle bloggers, most of whom I have admired since my blogging journey began. To realise that I am part of this most professional and talented line-up is something I could only ever have dreamed about. I am beyond humbled.

The deadline was rapidly approaching at the time I was approached, and I had a mere two weeks to source out and photograph some of my favourite interiors. It was a face-paced two weeks, and on a few occasions I had to shoot with my energetic two-year-old in tow. Talk about multi-tasking! Images gathered, I then had the editorial to work on and before I knew it I had sent off what to be my most exciting work to date. The pressure was on for a moment there, but I am so, so excited about the results and can hardly wait to see them come to life in a printed publication! I will be sharing some of my favourite submitted shots here on the blog over the coming months so stay  tuned! In the meantime, check the book out online. What you can expect is no less than 400 images styled and photographed by myself and my talented co-authors, all spread out on 240 pages with helpful interior design tips and tricks.

Without getting all teary-eyed and soppy, I just wanted to take this little opportunity to thank you, whoever and wherever in the world you are, for stopping by to read Avenue Lifestyle. Your support makes all the difference.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Holly x

Cover image courtesy of Callwey Publishing


Scenes of Provence: Gordes

July 17th, 2013

Good morning! Still reminiscing of our all-too-short recent trip to Provence, France, I thought I’d bring you another installment today. This time, join me on a quick trip to one of the largest hilltop villages in the region, Gordes. Wander the charming stone paved alleyways and soak up the stunning views of the city, which seems to cascade down the Monts de Vaucluse it’s perched upon.









IMG_9203 What a breathtaking view this was, with a clear view of the town’s castle, located right in the middle of the village. The stone structure dates back to the 10th century and was remodeled during the Renaissance in 1525. These sweeping views over the Luberon Valley left me utterly charmed and breathless, and eager to return. Sigh…

Have a wonderful day,

Holly x

Market Loot and Afternoon Tea

July 12th, 2013

Hello hello! Yep, you guessed it. I am back again with more lovely to show you from our long weekend in France. Day one was spent in the little town of Goult, followed by a relaxed and rustic al fresco lunch. While most of day two was spent shooting the house, we managed to steal away for a moment to gather some local produce and take a peek at the antique markets in the centre of Goult. I wish I had some snaps to share with you of the markets, but we had a very tired toddler on our hands who wasn’t up for shopping and it was a particularly hot day. While grappling with a grumpy Lola, trying to keep future hubs from dying of boredom and the scorching heat, I did however manage to find a couple of sweet antique napkins, which I will be using on a little DIY soon, so all-in-all pleased with the results of our lightening fast market stop! We then headed down the hill on the hunt for some fresh fruit, and came across a lovely road side fruit market stall. If there’s anything I love more than filling a bag with fresh fruit and veg, it’s supporting local trade, so we made a stop and selected some delicious apricots, strawberries, peaches and fresh juice to take home.










Oh, the colours, the textures, the promise of sheer delight at the sweet flavours of summer. I had a sneaking suspicion that the loot we came away with would be absolutely delicious, and I was right. The Netherlands just doesn’t compare when it comes to fruit that needs a tropical climate in which to thrive. The fruit in the south is so sweet and juicy!

We then picked up a sweet treat from the local boulangerie ~ two almond tarts and a strawberry tart for Lola ~ to enjoy afterwards with a coffee and headed back to enjoy together on the terrace.






I don’t know about you, but my tummy is doing somersaults at the sight of all this delicious food! I find so much pleasure in food. Not just in how it tastes, but also in how it’s presented. It’s among one of the most basic needs we have as human beings, but can impact heavily on our lives and wellbeing. Food that is fresh, healthy and tasty, served with love in a pretty setting can really lift the spirits. Seeing the items we came home with splayed out on the table for my family to enjoy brought me such joy. Lola of course devoured enough strawberries to feed a small army, and ended up with smeared strawberry goodness all over her face and hands, but we were on holiday so ‘alles mag’, as we kept repeating to each other. Anything goes when you’re on holiday 🙂

Back again tomorrow with the next chapter of our adventure!

Holly x

* Photography: Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle

Tastes of Provence: Lunch Al Fresco

July 10th, 2013

Back again today with more about our little adventure in the south of France! After hitting the charming town of Goult on day one, we took ourselves on a hunt for some locally sourced food to enjoy on the terrace of the house we were staying in. I can’t wait to share more images of this place with you. It is pure magic. But until then, sit with me a moment and join me, my fiancé and our hungry, strawberry smeared toddler {who in fact devoured the entire punnet of strawberries while I was snapping away and sipping wine. Oops!} as we dined on a simple array of the most delicious food we could find, perched under a fig tree. On the menu was fresh baked bread from the local boulangerie, some lovely brie, cured salami slices and a salad of garden leaves, thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We washed it all down with a fresh glass of vin blanc and finished it all off with {what was left of the} strawberries. Bon appétit!









It was a simple but delicious lunch, which I hope you enjoyed as much as I did. Back tomorrow with another gorgeous dose of French provincial pretty to soak up!

Holly x

* Photography: Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle

Scenes of Provence: Goult

July 10th, 2013

Hello! In my last post I mentioned that I was off to the south of France to photograph a stunning house in Goult, a little town in the heart of Provence. We ventured down by car, arriving late Friday to a sun drenched and beautiful Provence ~ all lavender fields, vineyards, fruit orchards and rolling hills ~ and set off back to the Netherlands again on Monday night. It was a heavenly few days of exploring not only the beautiful 17th century farmhouse I was photographing, but also the surrounding villages and local delights. But more than that, being there in that beautiful slice of paradise even for just a few days was a true exploration of the senses. The sights, sounds and smells were invigorating, leaving me feeling nothing but inspired and grateful. Over the coming days I will be sharing bits and pieces of Provence for you to devour, so get comfy because I’ve got a whole lotta pretty coming your way! First up, I thought I would take you on a visual tour of the charming town of Goult, where we spent the morning of day one. The colors, textures and sheer romance of this quaint hilltop town will have you checking flights, I am quite positive.











Overlooking the rolling hills of the Luberon region of France that seem to stretch on for eternity, Goult is an ancient fortified hilltop village that dates back centuries. It is one of the lesser known villages of the region, making it a hidden gem that I was delighted to discover. The beautifully preserved village has a small collection of shops and restaurants, with a buzzing antique market that takes place on Sundays. I loved the little antique shop Gatti, owned by a lovely English woman called Jan who has made France her home for about 30 years.

We spent the morning wandering around the village, up and down narrow streets and alleyways, admiring the gorgeous buildings which to me seem to be an extension of the landscape. Built out of natural stone, and in some placed literally carved out of the stone of the hill itself, any painting that has been done to building exteriors echo the natural pigments of the earth. Original shutters and doors handcrafted by local tradesman can be seen in all shades of blue and green, giving the streets of Goult a vibrancy and charm that had me swooning around every corner. A glass of wine at the most buzzing cafe in town, Cafe de la Poste, and we {or should I say our hot and bothered toddler} were ready for a dip in the pool!

Hope you enjoyed these little scenes of Goult. I’ll be back tomorrow with more lovely Provincial inspired imagery to have your heart racing and your hand reaching for your passport!

Holly x

* Photography: Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle