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A Lovely, Relaxed Artist's Home Full of Plants

Tjena! We've had a great week on Sweden's West coast - despite a few howling gales. Now, we're starting to wind our way back to Malmö across the Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund seas (it's a loooong sail!). I'm already dreaming about home and my warm, cosy bed - so it feels apt to start blogging about beautiful interiors again today! And what better way to kick off the week than an artists home full of plants, books and inspiring DIY ideas! Denise is a freelance illustrator and art therapist, who's watercolour box is her constant companion. Her light-filled home in Berlin has been furnished with an eclectic blend of pieces, and although pared-back, it's full of character and serves as a wonderful, relaxed space to live and paint. Welcome to Denise's world! 





What a great home! 

I love her DIY headboard against the textured bedroom wall. The futon style bed also emphasizes the tremendous ceiling height. 

Did you spot her amazing rubber plant? I'm not sure ours will ever be that tall!

Is there anything that stood out to you? 

Denise sells her beautiful watercolors through her Etsy shop KunstZimmerBerlin and is also a part of The Conscious Club, a studio and store in Berlin for mindfully designed and crafted products (one to visit if you're ever in town!). I also love her instagram @kunstzimmer - it's full of inspiration! 

How I love a Berlin home, do you feel the same? Here are a few others I've featured: 

The wonderful loft of a furniture designer (OK, I cheated a little here, this is not in Berlin - but it's well worth a peek!)

Have a great start to the week! See you Wednesday (I'll be blogging three days a week until Monday as it can be a bit tricky on the high seas!). 

I hope you're having a relaxing summer, and keeping well out there! 

Niki

Photography: Denise / @kunstzimmer

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Life Change: A Swedish Family Home In The French Alps

We can all agree it's been one crazy year. Never has the home been so important. It presents a safe haven (although I am aware that sadly this is not the case for everyone) in which we can relax and be ourselves. Living in quarantine / isolation - or simply being at home more - has meant taking stock of where we live, and while there are some who are thrilled with where they live, there are others that will no doubt thinking about making some life changes in the near future! 

For Swedish interior designer Bettina Kapare, her husband and two year old son, it wasn't the pandemic that led to a move abroad - but a search for a more meaningful way of life. In 2019, Bettina and her family left their home in Luxembourg after ten years and moved to a small village in the foothills of the French Alps, just outside Chamonix. Today, they enjoy a slower pace surrounded by nature. I caught up with Bettina to find out how they chose their new location, some of the challenges involved with moving, and how she created a home which merges her Scandinavian heritage with traditional Alpine style. Her story is truly inspiring! 

When did you move to the Alps? 
We moved here from Luxembourg in December last year. I guess you can say we made a complete life change. We left Luxembourg after 10 years. At the same time, I quit my job as a business developer in private banking and started working as an interior designer. It's something I'd been dreaming about and had been studying on the side for some years. 


How did you choose the French Alps? 
We owned a small ski apartment in the Chamonix valley and had been spending countless weekends on vacation here skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. When our son was born, we decided to spend part of our parental leave here and it was during that period we started talking about the possibility of moving here. 

How did you make your move happen? 
At first, it all felt like a farfetched dream. Leaving an organised life and a career in Luxembourg, to go and live in the French Alps. But the more we talked about it, the more we realised that it was what we wanted; for our son grow up in the mountains and change to, what we felt would be, a more meaningful lifestyle, with more family time, more skiing and closer to nature. As the saying goes "create a life you don't need a vacation from".

With that in mind, we started thinking about everything that needed to be put in place. We had to find a house, organise work etc. We thought it was going to be a 5-year plan, but once we'd set our minds to it, the move took less than a year. Somehow everything just fell into place. 

What was one of the biggest challenges with moving to the French Alps? 
One of the most difficult things turned out to be finding a house. There weren't a lot of options that were within budget. I had dreamt of a renovation project involving an old farmhouse with a huge garden. Instead, we bought a traditional style chalet built in 2008. It has an open-plan living room and kitchen on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs. It also has a large basement which we use as a home office and studio. 

How did you approach the chalet interior?
I faced a challenge merging our furniture and my style into the traditional chalet style. For me, interior design is not about following trends and constantly buying new stuff, it's about creating a space for the people who live there. Incorporating functional aspects with a personal style and a homely feel.  

Since we're living here all year round, I didn't want our home to have a traditional 'ski holiday' chalet feel. I wanted to turn it into a home where we would feel at home every day of the year.


How have you merged your Scandinavian design heritage with the Alpine style? 
Being Swedish, I believe the Scandinavian style is in my nature. When we moved, I felt that I wanted to incorporate the Scandinavian style. Both the Scandinavian and traditional Alpine style use furniture with simple but elegant craftsmanship - something I always feel inspired by. But the Scandinavian style has a lighter feel than the traditional Alpine style. In our home, I've brought in a lot of solid wood furniture, but with a light white finish instead of the traditional darker one. My Norrgavel coffee table is a fine example of this. 

Where did you source your furniture? 
We actually brought most of it with us from Luxembourg - including many Scandinavian design pieces. It's a blend of items we have inherited and second-hand treasures that I have been collecting over the years. I'm happy that we brought them with us, because it made us feel instantly at home. And with everything that has been happening in the world lately and the past few months of lockdown and isolation - our house has turned into our comfort zone. 


What do you love most about your new home?
Almost every evening I have been cuddling up on the sofa or on the bed, and looking up at the mountains outside the windows feeling grateful for our new home. I love the closeness to nature and I'm so happy we dared to make the life change. We haven't regretted moving one single day, on the contrary, our life choice feels more meaningful than ever. I have never felt happier.  


Thank you so much for telling us about your move and your beautiful home in the Alps Bettina - your story is truly inspiring! 

***

I'd love to hear about how you feel about your home - is it somewhere you can always imagine living, or has your perspective changed this year? 

If you've always dreamed of moving abroad, I hope Bettina's story has inspired you. Your big move might be more tangible than you first thought! 

You can see more picture of her beautiful home over at @chez_kapare and find out more about her interior design service Kapare Interiors

Fancy taking a peek at other Scandi homes abroad? 


Ahhhh, I love seeing the Scandinavian design heritage merged with other cultures / styles, how about you? 

Ha det så fint! 

Niki

Photography courtesy of Bettina Kapare / @chez_kapare with kind permission.

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The Wonderful, Playful Loft Of A Furniture Designer

Oj oj oj, do I have a treat for you today. And I love that it's so different from yesterday's rustic, farmhouse tour too! This stunning loft in Bielefeld, in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region of north-east Germany serves as a home and workspace for Lilli, her husband Sascha, a furniture designer, and their two daughters (16 and 6). The light and airy space has been sparingly furnished in a thoughtful way: selecting only pieces with exceptional design including many of the pair's own designs, IKEA hacks and a few design classics. I had a chat with Lilli to find out more about their wonderful, unique home. 

What do you do for a living? 
We live and work under one roof and love to openly connect all areas of our lives. Sascha is a freelance furniture and interior designer and I love working in the field of marketing and social media


Can you describe the layout of your home?
Our home is not very big - it has an open-plan kitchen and dining area and two bedrooms, and we have no living room and therefore no sofa. But is more important to us that it is beautiful, than it is practical! 

I'm so curious - how do your daughters find not having a sofa? Mine have been spending half their school summer holiday flat out on ours! 
Haha! She hangs out on her bed - it's her sofa!!

Where do you hang out as a family? At the wonderful dining table?
Yes, we love to play a lot of games as a family, and if we watch a movie, we'll do it together in our bed. 

That sounds so cosy!

The geometric light is from Schneid studio and the table is one Sascha's own designs. 

Can you tell us more about the furniture in your home?
We have many of our own designs and we also have exceptionally designed pieces by younger, designers, as well as a few IKEA hacks and some design classics. We attach great importance to high-quality, sustainably produced furniture and home accessories and therefore prefer to have fewer, but more special things. 

The chair in your dining room is so unique, where is it from? 
The chair is from Japanese sushi restaurant Nihombashi in Berlin. My husband fell in love with it and negotiated with the owner until we could take it home with us! 

I also love the kroko (crocodile) low table (designed by Sascha) in your dining area - and notice that many items in your home are playful, is this something you're drawn to?
We love design that is fun and doesn't take itself too seriously but is still aesthetically pleasing! 

The lips are from Italian brand Seletti - who I see, are currently selling some fabulous face masks too (with proceeds contributing to the Italian multiple sclerosis foundation), the clothes hanger is by designer Florian Saul and the side table is from German brand e15.

And finally, I love the use of colour in your home, have you always been a fan of bringing in bright hues?
In recent years, our loft has become more and more colourful. We love strong Bauhaus colours and earthy, soft nude and red tones. We also like plants, so it's getting greener by the day. 


The bed and smiley steps are one of Sascha's own designs.

Thank you so much for showing us around your home Lilli! It really made me smile in so many ways! 

You can see more pics on her fab instagram feed @kitschcanmakeyourich and check out all of Sascha's furniture designs over at Art can Break your Heart - as well as shop for fabulous pieces in their online shop

Is there anything that stood out to you the most about Lilli's home?

Leaving you with a few other playful homes today: 


Sending lots of love from a rainy Sweden today! 

Niki

Photography Benjamin Janzen 

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A Magical Farmhouse on a Hill In Vermont

One magical, sunny day in 2014, photographer James Gardiner and I made our way up a long, winding track in Vermont, USA. Eventually we came to a clearing, and there at the top of the hill amidst 100 acres of luscious New England pasture stood Nadine Dole's farmhouse. We spent the day shooting the house known as 'The Hill' for my book Modern Pastoral (now re-named to Relaxed Rustic). It would be a day I'll never forget. 

The remote farmhouse is simply furnished with a mixture of antiques, handmade items, vintage finds and wonderful pieces of art. Natural materials and a neutral colour scheme unify the eclectic pieces and work in harmony with the surroundings. The windows open inward and upward, filling the living space with a wonderful cool breeze - and providing uninterrupted views over open fields towards distant mountain ranges. 

Meals and afternoon tea are enjoyed at a 19th century pine harvest dining table. The natural woven seating of the dining chairs is slowly coming unraveled, enhancing the relaxed nature of the home. 

The kitchen is simple yet purposeful and made entirely from salvaged items. 

A row of linen aprons (this lovely linen apron* is similar) in muted makes a delightful display on the back wall. Vintage rolling pins are stored in the pockets. 

A Kasanof's & Paramount Bakeries tin bought in an antique store sits above the green armoire. The impressive 'Blueberry' painting is by John Young. 

Nadia collects art from all over the world. The nude portrait was found in a brocante (a secondhand market) in Maussane, France. Dried honeycombs found in the garden in winter rest on a table found at auction. 

An old schoolhouse light hangs above an ornate mirror and porcelain sink and a simple lion claw tub provides a perfect place for a soak while looking out over the pastures, where black bears, coyotes, wild deer and chickens wander freely. 

You can see more pictures of Nadia's magical home in my book Relaxed Rustic (formerly known as Modern Pastoral). 

I also love following Nadia's latest projects on her instagram

If you're as taken with her style as much as I am, you might also like to keep an eye out for one of her workshops - and if you're lucky enough to be in the area a little birdie tells me she might be opening a small shop, cafe or bakery (or perhaps all three?) soon! 

Discover other incredible country homes in the archive! 

Wishing you a wonderful start to the week!

Niki

PS There's currently a give-away over on instagram to win Relaxed Rustic along with five other interior books. 

PPS If you are one of the first to pick up a copy of Relaxed Rustic online and enjoy it, I'd be so happy if you could leave a review - thank you so much :)

Credit: Relaxed Rustic by Niki Brantmark, published by CICO Books (19.99 GBP). Photography by James Gardiner - copyright CICO Books. 

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Angela's Inspiring Light-Filled Munich Home (With The Cutest Snoozing Pup!)

You'd be forgiven for thinking the beautiful home of Angela Giovanna is in Sweden. There's something about the light and airy, pared back feel, gallery walls and designer pieces that give it a distinct Scandinavian vibe. And then there's those wonderful towering ceilings, huge windows and double conjoining doors that flood the space with light. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly, but there was still something about the architecture that gave the game away and I figured the building had to be in Germany. Angela shares her wonderful home in the old section of Munich with husband Tommi and their furry friend Juno (the pair are expecting their first child in September (a baby boy!).  The duo have decorated look their apartment using a  strictly monochrome theme with vintage furniture nestled beside a multitude of New Nordic design pieces, books and art. I reached out to find out more. Meine Damen und Herren, allow me to present Angela's inspiring home!

An Ivar cabinet from IKEA has been painted to match the colour of the wall - a simple, clever way to add storage without drawing attention to it. 

What drew you to the apartment in the first place? 
We love the typical style of the old buildings in this area and were so happy to finally find our dream home last winter. Since then we have been slowly filling it with a lot of good memories and creating an interior we love. 

A series of decorative objects including an echasse bowl*David fragment sculpture and decorative coral have been arranged beside design books, magazines art and a lamp (from Westwing) in the sitting room. 

How would you describe your style?
I would define our style as a mix of design classics, vintage pieces and trend influences.  

Was a monochrome palette a deliberate choice, or has it evolved organically?
I love colours, but since I change my mind so often, I decided to go with a more monochrome scheme. It's timeless. 

Marshall bluetooth speakers* rest atop a vintage cabinet. Above, a series of decorative objects and design books have been displayed on Swedish String Pocket shelves

Do you have any favourite pieces? 
The pieces I love the most in our home are the ones that tell a story. We have a strong emotional attachment to some - like a vintage picture frame that my father gave me almost 20 years ago - and the glass cabinet in our home office (seen above). We also love to upcycle old flea market finds to create something new. 

There are many great German interior bloggers / instagrammers out there to follow for inspiration. Do you have any favourites? 
Yes, I love to follow @Sarah-cocolapine, @svenja_traumzuhause and @oursweetliving

Nothing like a snoozing dog! Being a non-dog owner, I'm curious, I heard something from training 101 that allowing a dog on the sofa is a complete no-no - is this true? 
Haha! Very good question! Before we got Juno, I was super convinced that I would be strict and not allow her on the sofa or bed. But when she was a puppy, she cried a lot during the night - so we allowed her to sleep in our bed. That was a big mistake - haha! She still completely owns them! 

On a different note, I noticed on your instagram @tasselsandfringes that you recently re-painted her dining room wall from dark to light. It looks fab (I couldn't resist sharing a couple of snapshots below) what made you decide to do this? 
Thank you! I really loved it in the dark colour, it gave the dining room a 'restaurant feeling' and was super cosy when lit with candles. But with coronavirus, the dining area became my home office and was simply too dark. In order to sit there eight hours a day, I needed to brighten it up. I love the light beige tone, it made a huge difference to the space. 

Such a lovely home! 

I can't wait to see what you do next - especially with a nursery to create - exciting times! 

***

You can see more of Angela's home and follow her future projects over at @tasselsandfringes

I've shared quite a few other lovely homes from Munich in the past (there must be a real creative hub over there!) - check out these if you're curious:


I've had Munich on my list of places I could live one day thanks to its proximity to the Alps - in the winter, you can hit the slopes whenever you like - luxury! Lake Garda in Italy is only 6 hours away too, just saying!

Wishing you a great day friends! I'll be back tomorrow with a beeeeautiful danish home, so make sure you stop by! 

Niki

Photography: Angela Giovanna 
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