Archive for October, 2013

Inside Scoop: Scandinavian Style in The Hague

October 31st, 2013

Hello! It’s almost the end of the week and the start of a very exciting journey for me and my family, because tomorrow we get the keys to our new house! It’s a super cute little row house near the centre of Delft, and though it needs a little bit of love (OK, a LOT of love!) we are smitten and I can’t wait to share bits and pieces of our new home with you all in the months to come when things are a little bit settled. But today I am dreaming of another home, the gorgeous home of my good friend Hedda Pier, which I styled and photographed for my Homes With Heart column on Decor8. It’s light, it’s bright and it has loads of Scandinavian charm, so sit back and soak up the full scoop because I have plenty of eye candy for you today!









As an interior designer, Hedda saw immediate potential when she laid eyes on the period details, space and light of what was to become the home she would share with her husband Michiel and daughter Stella. An experimental renovation quickly followed the purchase of their three-storey row house from the 1800s, and the results are a light and spacious affair that seamlessly weaves function with aesthetics. The living room on the second floor features Farrow & Ball’s Mizzle on the lower half of the walls, which adds a soft touch to the bright turquoise and red accents and a fabulous painting by Anna Taratiel from Amsterdam’s Battalion Gallery. Soft tones return to the space in a variety of cushions on the couch, off-setting those brights and adding balance and calm to the space. Various accessories adorn a vintage credenza, but my favourite is that stunning turquoise vase by Lenneke Wispelwey. The modern colour and structure creates a striking contrast against the retro vintage pieces. That gorgeous painting behind the credenza was a gift to Hedda from her father. On the same floor is the couple’s bedroom.







How gorgeous is that bedroom? This is where Hedda and Michiel come to relax at the end of a busy day, with soothing blue tones throughout. The fabulous Piet Hein Eek ‘Scrapwood’ wallpaper was the starting point for the colour scheme in here, where turquoise, powder blue, charcoal and wood tones weave their way around the room, but really striking is the built-in cabinet the couple had made out of underlayment. Their contractor said it couldn’t be done, but as you can see it was a great success and such a creative and budget friendly idea too. I love the texture that By Mölle blanket on the end adds to the space. That one was picked up at Femkeido. And the bedside tables are rather ingenious – Hedda reused old kitchen cabinets to create those! Let’s check out the kitchen downstairs!




A light colour palette of white, powder blue and pale wood and high set windows cast aside any previous concerns there might have been that this ground floor kitchen would be too dark. Mismatched chairs surrounding their custom oak dining table and charm by the bucket load make this a fun and family friendly kitchen for Hedda and Michiel to enjoy their time together as a family. Through the kitchen and on to the entry, check out Hedda’s gorgeous home office where she runs her interior design business Saus Design.








I love the simplicity of Hedda’s studio, with a central desk in front of the windows that line the front of the house, and plenty of practicality. As a designer, you end up accumulating so much stuff that it’s crucial to have space for it all. Some things look great displayed too, though, such as gorgeous wallpaper and fabric samples, colour cards and this space strikes the perfect balance between functional and stylish.

But stepping away for a moment, let me just tell you a bit about Hedda. She is sassy, stylish and above all, practical, which are all fabulous qualities that she brings into the interiors she designs. But it’s her positivity and sense of self that really shines through for me, not only on a professional level, but also as a friend. Hedda was the one who convinced me to chase my dreams and create a career around styling and interiors from the very beginning. She has been such an inspiration to me, having walked out of a lackluster office job herself to start up as a designer just a few years ago, and for the two and a half years I have known her she has been nothing but encouraging and supportive. Whenever we get together we talk for hours on end, discussing colour palettes, current assignments, and our crazy kids. And we have been known to sink a gin and tonic or two and giggle the hours away but let’s not get off track! To the top floor to where the aforementioned crazy kids reside…







If those aren’t cute bedrooms, I just don’t know what are! I love all the little details she has added to their spaces – the pink skirting boards, cute display boxes for all their trinkets, soft colour palettes with brights popping up here and there, and adorable wall stickers. If I had laid eyes on one of these bedrooms as a child, I never would have left! So much thought went into designing these spaces. Hedda intentionally placed interesting items low down in the rooms to peak the interests of her children and encourage them to reach for books and toys. Very clever.

So what do you think of this house? Gorgeous or gorgeous? If you’re keen to see more of this house and read their whole story, head on over to Decor8!

Have a great day!

Holly x

* All images were styled and photographed by Holly Marder for Decor8 and Avenue Lifestyle

At the Kinfolk Table

October 29th, 2013

I’ve spoken before about my love for Kinfolk. The magazine, the events and their entire philosophy that is all about getting back to basics and enjoying delicious food in the company of likeminded people in an intimate gathering. And now Kinfolk have launched their brand new book, The Kinfolk Table, which draws on these exact ideas and offers beautiful and inspiring recipes to inspire small gatherings. I was invited to attend a Kinfolk gathering last weekend, which took place in a Manhattan style apartment in Amsterdam, hosted by two of the loveliest people I know, Chantal and Harry, whose apartment and Provence home I photographed some months ago. They prepared a feast for their 16 guests of all of their favourite Dutch, French and Italian dishes. It was absolutely beautiful. The tables were simply decorated in fall fashion with tiny candles, fresh herbs and pinecones and we dined off Chantal’s 100 year old serveware that used to belong to her grandmother. It was the most wonderful evening, chatting, sharing recipes and savouring the moment, and all in celebration of the beautiful book. Photographer Danique was there to capture all of the gorgeous details, which I am so happy to share with you here. Bon appétit!





















That’s me holding the plum tart, and boy did I eat a LOT of that! Everything was delicious, with gorgeous cheeses to start the evening off, fish soup, lentil salad, courgette risotto, and trio of desserts which included that amazing plum tart, chocolate mousse and stewed apples. I went home with a full belly and a happy heart. A huge thank you to Chantal and Harry for their brilliant hospitality {and the extra 10 kilo’s I put on that night}!

And Didn’t Danique do the most wonderful job on the photography? If you don’t know her work yet, you must visit her site 88Forever and take a peek into her portfolio. Her style is soft and romantic with a vintage feel to it, and is very similar to the look and feel of one of my favourite photographers, Laura D’Arte. Truly inspiring, and all so soft and natural. You can see more gorgeous imagery of the Kinfolk dinner on her blog.

Have a wonderful day,

Holly x

Photography by 88Forever


Giveaway! Win LileSADI home accessories

October 28th, 2013

I am excited to announce another exciting giveaway on the blog! This time, Rotterdam based accessories studio LileSADI is offering you the chance to win one of FOUR gorgeous products. For this giveaway, I teamed up with the girls over at Nu interieur|ontwerp again to bring this fun product range to you. LileSADI is a collaboration between German textile and surface designer Dinah Smutny and her twin sister Sarah Smutny. The duo work create a range of graphic accessories for the home including cushions, wallpaper and illustrative prints featuring geometric lines, pretty pastels and whimsical designs. You can see the whole collection in their webshop. Think one of the below beauties would look great in your home? See how to enter below!




1. Poster illustration ‘End of summer‘ 50x70cm; printed on 170grams of off-white matte paper (shown above)

2. Cushion ‘Dimensions‘ 45x45cm; including pillow insert of 100% feathers; Inspired by the mysterious colour and light play of church windows (shown above)

3. Illustration ‘Polar Night Bear‘ 21x29cm; designed for the Dutch interiors magazine 101Woonideeën

4. Set of 3 art prints ‘Dimensions’, ‘Graphic Flowers’ and ‘Rise Up’ 21x29cm; inspired by the colours and shapes of church windows in France, signed and dated


– Comment below stating which product is your favourite and why

– Like LileSADI on Facebook

– For an extra chance to win, leave a comment over at Nu interieur|ontwerp, and pop over to the Avenue Lifestyle and Nu interieur|ontwerp Facebook pages and like them too!

Next week

Entires close 10 November. The winners will be drawn at random and announced on Monday, 11 November. There will be four winners, each receiving one of the lovely products listed here.

Good luck!

Holly x

* Photography and styling credits: Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle and Nu interieur|ontwerp

Sukha Amsterdam: A Shop with Soul

October 28th, 2013

Happy Monday everyone! It’s blowing a gale here in Delft today {the tree in my neighbour’s garden is literally leaning sideways!} and I am feeling grateful to be in the warmth of my cosy home. It’s a perfect day to roam the net, search for inspiration, plan the week and tick a few things off the to-do list. We get the keys to our new house this Friday, so I have started to plan for a busy few weeks ahead of painting and sanding, packing and carting boxes, nesting and getting settled in a new home. It’s an exciting time and we are so eager to move into a place that is all ours.

Naturally, with a new house in sight, I am pinning like a crazy person on Pinterest, and my eyes are always on the lookout for styles to incorporate into our new home. But with a wedding in just over 6 months, creating our perfect home will be a slow process {slow is not a word that sits very well with me}, but I am getting excited about small things we can do and add to our new home that won’t cost the earth. I am crazy about Sukha Amsterdam, a lifestyle boutique filled with gorgeous items for the home and body crafted in Nepal and India. What I love about Sukha products is that they are made from pure and natural materials. Wood, wool, linen, cotton and cashmere form a collection truly beautiful collection of accessories and also fashion items. I also love the origin of the name Sukha, which translates to Joy of Life in Sanskrit. If the name alone makes you smile, wait til’ you see the products!




I am always curious as to how a company like this came about so today I want to share the Sukha story with you. Founders and designers Irene Mertens and Sam IJsbrandy journeyed to the poorest regions in India and Nepal where they jointly developed the Atelier Sukha product line-up with local communities. They now have several small handicraft companies creating rugs, pillows, blankets and also special one-off pieces such as chandeliers. The Nepalese women make the knitted products for Sukha, while the men craft rugged wooden benches with warm quilted blankets. Cotton and linen crafts happen in India with care and attention.

I love the ideology behind the brand. Atelier Sukha invests in these local economies, helping to create a better life for the workers and their families by staying loyal and committing to regular orders crafted at a fair price. Atelier Sukha is all about pure and natural elements grown locally following ecological principles. The products look and feel as if they have been crafted by the skilled hands of the Nepalese and Indian people who have poured their heart and soul in them. They are classic, durable and sustainable. I think this world of ours could use more brands like Sukha to lead the way!

sukha 4



If you are in the area, be sure to drop into the gorgeous Atelier Sukha shop in downtown Amsterdam to admire the gorgeous products and learn the stories attached to each product. For those reading this from afar, they also have a lovely webshop to satisfy your online shopping urges.

Have a great Monday!

Holly x

Images courtesy of Atelier Sukha 

Piet Hein Eek Challenge: Before!

October 23rd, 2013

I mentioned last week that I was going to become the proud owner of my very own Piet Hein Eek collector’s edition cabinet, to take part in an exciting competition called 101 karakters being organised by paint company Histor. Well, a few days ago it arrived on my doorstep, ready to be pimped something pretty in the coming weeks before being carted back to the Piet Hein Eek showroom on 9 November for the big reveal! Those who won one of these limited edition cabinets – of which only 101 were made – will be able to bring their design to life at this event, while mine and a bunch of others created by some of my blogger friends will be on display. It’s exactly the kind of creative challenge that I simply can’t resist, so naturally I was so excited to find out I’d be given the chance to design {and keep!} one of these gorgeous cabinets. I snapped some ‘before’ photos of the little beauty today to show you, and I must say, I love it just the way it is already!


Piet Hein Eek challenge 5


It is a simple design, beautifully executed. For those of you who don’t know Piet Hein Eek, he is one of the Netherlands’ most esteemed designers, who specializes in creating simple and beautiful designs primarily out of wood. He’s practically a household name over here, with a gigantic showroom in Eindhoven and furniture and accessory lines being sold through large retail chains for those who appreciate a bit of design in their homes at an affordable price.

I love my cabinet. But, as pretty as this little baby is, she’ll be given a little makeover as soon as my Histor paints arrive! Part of the challenge was to describe the character of your Piet Hein Eek original in a brief sentence, before choosing three Histor paint colours to use on the final design. To be honest, I took all of about one minute to put together my design, as I was instantly drawn to a particular colour range and was of course imagining the piece in my new home (which we get the keys to in TWO WEEKS!).

I promised you in my last article that I’d be sharing my ideas and the entire makeover process over here on the blog, so to give you an idea of what I’ve been dreaming up, I thought I’d present a little moodboard of inspiration for my design. Drum roll…

Piet Hein Eek Challenge

The colours I have chosen are Histor’s Leliewit, Damp and Cyber. I tried to covey similar shades in my moodboard for you to get an idea of the colour combination with a few images to convey the kind of feeling I wanted to give my cabinet. Cool, calm and collected were the words I used in my description of the final design when I entered the competition. I wanted it to be a sophisticated piece, without taking itself too seriously. I was going for a fresh colour scheme that I wouldn’t tire of, and as I get bored with colour really quickly, I thought shades of white, grey and putty green were perfect! I love the addition of terracotta in this mix too, so will be using cognac leather handles by Nu interieur | ontwerp. I used them once on a glass Ikea cabinet for a styling project I did for Style Me Pretty Living and they look fabulous!

What do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts. As I love the original version of the cabinet so much, I’m considering leaving some of the cabinet unpainted, but am undecided. Any tips or suggestions you can give me?

I’ll be sharing images of the progress on Pinterest and Instagram (using hashtag #101karakters).

See you back here soon!

Holly x

Inside Scoop: A Sleek Monochrome Home

October 21st, 2013

Happy Monday everyone! The temperatures are turning icy in this part of the world and my mood always tends to shift to a slightly more somber one. Having grown up in tropical temperatures in South Africa and then Australia, it’s no surprise. At this time of year, I am drawn to light and bright spaces, so this monochrome modern space is just the ticket. It is the home of my good friend and interior designer Nathalie Fransen, and is for sale. It has in fact been on the market for quite some time, and in a last ditch effort to have it sold, she asked me and Tessa (her business partner, whose holiday cottage I featured last week) to help her to style and shoot the house to give it fresh appeal to potential buyers. The results are clean, calm and understated, a testament to their style as designers.





Nathalie and Tessa’s homes demonstrate their unique ability to hold back when it comes to colour and decorating. I am always intrigued when I watch them as they style a space. Their taste is so developed, so fine-tuned, so disciplined. I wish I had so much discipline when it comes to decorating my own home! Whether decorating their homes or the homes of clients, they love working with clean, contemporary lines, infusing modern spaces with a monochromatic colour scheme and injecting them with soft texture and delicate pattern. Thick woven rugs, woolen blankets, cushions and wooden accessories add warmth to the whole look. I had to resist flopping down onto that sofa, I must say!









I hope our combined efforts help Nathalie to sell her home soon. I know first hand that it’s a tough market for sellers at the moment in the Netherlands. As buyers ourselves, we took two years choosing the house we just bought, knowing full well that home owners desperate to sell their home would just lower their price until we would eventually end up with a bargain. I hope this doesn’t happen to Nathalie and the right owners turn up soon!








How great is that loft bedroom? I just love the light that pours in…

If you or anyone you know is looking to buy a home near Delft, be sure to pass on the link to this article as this home is stunning (and huge!) and is just begging for a big family to fill it.

And for those not in the market for a new house but rather a little bit of decorating inspiration, I hope you were inspired by this pared down, black and white interior.

Have a great week!


Photography by Holly Marder / Styling by Nu interieur | ontwerp

My Top Picks From 91 Magazine A/W ’13

October 19th, 2013

I’m sneaking a weekend post in today with my top picks from the Autumn/Winter 2013 issue of the lovely 91 Magazine, a British online publication that I had the pleasure of contributing to with this lovely home tour. From inspiring interiors and style tips to clever crafts that are as easy as they are pretty, be sure to take a few moments for yourself this weekend and browse no less than 136 pages of lifestyle inspiration from more than 20 talented contributors.


91 magazine home tour by Elsa Young

So what caught my eye first? Chloe Mitchell‘s a home tour called ‘Global Gatherings’ on pages 44 – 53 features a fabulously eclectic London residence that I lingered over for an eternity. Surprise, surprise, I know. For some odd reason, no idea why, I am drawn to home tours! With gorgeous photography by Elsa Young, I was hanging onto every inch of this gorgeous tour and loved reading about how it’s homeowners, interior stylist, Nic Guymer and photographic retoucher David Turner (the faces behind the webshop Wooster), fill their home with pieces from far away lands that were scoured for over the course of many adventure-filled years. I always feel that it is these homes, that are brimming with treasures gathered from travels and past lives are the most personal ones, and the ones with the most interesting stories. And trust me, I have written my fair share of interior stories over the last two years!



Klara Markbåge styled a lovely feature mixing raw, industrial spaces with cool hues, soothing textures and touches of nature on pages 34 – 43. I particularly loved the image above, shot by Mattias Ermanbrix, with Klara’s simple styling and that gorgeous lamp! The combination of gold and glass against the rough industrial wall just makes me smile.


I loved reading Darla Champigny‘s article ‘Style Notes from a Vintage Bathroom’ on pages 25 -29, giving readers tips and tricks on how to transform an ordinary bathroom onto a style sanctuary. Shown above, the image with the postcards is styled by the talented Emily Chalmers with photography by Hilary Walker. This is such a quick and easy way to add character to a white space.


I was equally as inspired by the bathroom below with the gorgeous subway tiling and vintage apothecary bottles from editor Caroline Rowland’s article on page 84 – 95 about the Wilkie Family Home Barn. And speaking of apothecary bottles, my friend Louise de Miranda also contributes to this issue with an article all about these glass treasures, to be found on pages 30 – 33.

Meanwhile, stylist Tiffany Grant-Riley came up with a naturally gorgeous tablescape that weaves in elements of the earth for fall entertaining for this issue. The feature, on pages 74 – 82, just springs out with an inspiring and fresh palette of green, white, peach and copper, while photography by Michelle Young is pure perfection.




This just scrapes the surface of what you can expect for the latest issue of 91 Magazine as there really was just too much to mention, so be sure to take a peek.

But compiling this post had me thinking what an inspiring bunch of contributors it was that put this issue together, and how honoured I feel to feature alongside them! When I started this blog and took the leap towards a life and career that offered a creative challenge, I never dreamed I would have work featured in such a gorgeous publication. Yet here we are, just months into the journey and my home tours are being seen not only on 91 Magazine, but also on Decor8, Style Me Pretty Living, Houzz and soon in some of my favourite Dutch magazines too. I’m having a true ‘pinch yourself’ moment and I feel it’s important to stop every so often to simply appreciate all the wonderful opportunities that come our way. Huge thanks to Editor-in-Chief Caroline Rowland for featuring my work in 91 Magazine!

Happy reading, and see you back here soon with another inspiring home tour.

Holly x

* Image credits: 1 & 2 Photography Elsa Young; 3 & 4 Photography by Mattias Ermanbrix, styling by Klara Markbåge; 5 Photography by Hilary Walker, styling by Emily Chalmers; 6 Photography by Michael Sinclair; 7, 8 & 9 Photography by Michelle Young, styling by Tiffany Grant-Riley

Inside Scoop: A Scandinavian Style Retreat

October 16th, 2013

Hello hello! I have an exciting new project keeping me sufficiently occupied these days, so apologies for my absence lately. But I have something that might just make it up to you: a dreamy white Scandinavian style retreat to soak up, and the holiday home of my good friend Tessa of Nu interieur | ontwerp. We recently ventured to her home to style it for a feature on Houzz, and now that the article has published, I am thrilled to take you inside for the full scoop! Ready?




Having grown up taking summer holidays in her parent’s cottage in Drenthe, The Netherlands, interior designer Tessa and her husband Martin jumped at the chance to purchase the neighboring cottage four years ago as a place for them to escape to the countryside with their three daughters. What was once a dated interior sporting heavy brown woodwork and a tired kitchen, Tessa infused her signature contemporary and cozy style to create an inviting space that she and her family can enjoy throughout the year.

As the floors were already a pale wood and the walls were white upon purchase, the first thing Tessa and Martin did to the place was add a few coats of white paint to the dark brown woodwork and infuse their new getaway with their minimalistic sense of style. The new colour scheme soon had their petit living room looking and feeling a lot larger, while a navy blue sofa grounds the space and adds contrast and ample seating for the family of five. The grey rug from La Perla adds a cozy touch to the room and combats the chilly autumn and winter temperatures.







Tessa’s preference for uncluttered spaces meant that smart storage solutions had to be installed to keep mess and clutter at bay during their visits. As a designer, Tessa strives to offer the same combination of practicality-meets-aesthetics to her clients. She and Martin used a set of ‘Billy’ cabinets from Ikea to create storage behind the sofa, but customized it by making the doors themselves.

When decorating the cottage, Tessa chose to use lots of white and neutral tones throughout with wooden accents to add warmth. “I didn’t want it took look particularly styled, but I did want it to have a light and bright look and feel, like a Swedish summer cottage,” Tessa says.

I love the little writing desk above. Beside double doors that lead off the living room out onto the patio, it makes the perfect spot for creating, reading or writing.





The tiny kitchen can be found beyond the dining area, and consists of a small row of cupboards top and bottom, which were original to the cottage when Martin and Tessa purchased it. The kitchen window looks out onto the back garden with views onto green fields beyond. I love that they upgraded the original kitchen with a few details, such as a new countertop and hardware. I also love the glass Ikea cabinet that Tessa customized with her own self-designed leather handles. Such a simple, clever and pretty solution for a small space!




Tessa and Martin’s bedroom is compact but comfortable and cosy. The twin cupboards on either side of the double bed were there when they took over the cottage, but they customized them by adding Ikea ‘Besta‘ cabinets above the bed for extra storage space and finished it all of with a set of black leather handles. I love the memories of past summers scattered around the cottage.




Tessa’s three (gorgeous!) daughters share a cute little bedroom, which they love. I can just image the excited little giggles that must come from that tiny space late into the night. Tessa made that little yellow owl, the clever thing she is, and interspersed between white on white are some little fall inspired accents here and there. IMG_5083

Though Tessa and Martin don’t visit their cottage as often as they would like to as it’s a two hour drive from home, they do plan to take advantage of their getaway more in the future. “We will soon be moving to live in the city, so it will be nice to have this little escape amongst the nature,” Tessa says.

I’m looking forward to spending a weekend with Tessa and her gorgeous family there (yes, Tessa, I did just invite myself, and my crazy family!). I can just see myself perched on a low slung deck chair breathing in the fresh country air, glass of wine in hand, while the girls (mine included) explore the surroundings and run to their heart’s content…

What did you think? Did you enjoy that little tour? Tessa’s interior design aesthetic relies on a lot of white with black and cognac brown highlights to add coziness and contrast, which is so right for small spaces like this. Who knew white could be so cosy?

Not quite done yet? See more pics I shot of this home and read the full story here! I also noticed that a Houzz contributor Laura of the gorgeous UK based blog Lolalina was so inspired by this little cottage that she featured it over on her blog too. Thanks Laura!

Have a great day!


* Images by Holly Marder for Houzz