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An Interior Designer's Beautiful, Calm Open-Plan Living Space

How about something calm to complete the week? No one does soothing colours and materials like Holly Marder, an interior designer and co-founder of Avenue Design Studio. I once had the pleasure of meeting Holly when she came to photograph my home in Malmö many moons ago - and I've been following her work ever since. In 2019, Holly and her husband completely gutted the ground floor of their 1920s house in Delft, and set about renovating it with an aim to add "light, flow and functionality". The pair opted for a minimalistic palette inspired by nature in order to convey "a sense of calm and cohesiveness" throughout the down stairs living area. An eclectic yet muted array of furniture, mid-century art and ceramics collections complete the lovely space. Welcome to Holly's world - as with all her projects, you're in for a treat! 









Beautiful!

I always find muted colour schemes like this so calming and the wood adds so much warmth, don't you think?

I've shared so many of Holly's fab projects in the past - curious to take a look? Here are some of my favourites:

Holly's beautiful sitting room make-over
Take a tour of a calm, natural kitchen

Holly's former studio in the attic (and how she transformed it into a lovely guest room)

The crazies FINALLY go back to school on Monday and I'm looking forward to writing my daily posts again. Next week I've got a few exciting things lined up including some BEAUTIFUL home tours and also the final reveal of my new wood floor!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend - I hope the sun shines for you!

Niki

Photographs: Holly Marder / Avenue Design Studio

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Step Inside Dave's Light and Airy Munich Home

Is anyone else sweltering today?! I'm back at my desk at home and it's over 30 degrees (86 F) outside - kind of crazy for Sweden! We're soooo not used to this! I love it, of course - but it's so distracting as all I want to do is head down to the sea every five minutes and dive in. It's times like this, that carefully edited, minimalist homes really come into their own, don't you think? Take Dave's home in Munich, Germany. The living space, which Dave shares with his boyfriend Enrico and their golden retriever Bruno, has been carefully edited to include only pieces they truly treasure. There's nothing superfluous to need. No frills. Just simple, beautiful pieces of furniture, each of which are like a work of art. The result is a light and airy home in the heart of the city that oozes cool. I wonder if he'd mind if I pulled up a chair and stayed for a while. Anyone care to join me?


I'm feeling cooler just looking at these pictures, how about you? Although a nice cool drink (did you see the summer herb infused lemonade recipe I shared last week?) on the rattan chair in his garden wouldn't go amiss too!

I particularly love the sitting room with the mid-century credenza (source a similar one here*), jungle wall chart and snoopy lamp* etc. Is there anything that stood out to you? 

Here a few other light and airy homes to keep you cool today: 

A beautiful, simple white Danish cabin

The wonderful playful loft of a furniture designer

Angelina's breezy Munich home (look out for the snoozing pup!)

On that note, I'm off to grab my towel (actually my bath robe - here by the sea where I live in Malmö, us locals wonder down to the waters edge in a robe over our swim gear and no-one bats an eyelid!). 

Have a wonderful start to the week friends, stay well, stay cool! 

Niki

Photography: @daves_home

PS I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was having computer problems (thank you for your commiserations, it really is infuriating!). The good news is that Apple managed to fix my laptop, the bad news is they had to wipe EVERYTHING - baaah! If you spot a few typos in the post it's because I haven't downloaded the Microsoft office (where I spell check my posts). It's on my to do list though, I promise!

PPS I'll be back with a new home tour on Wednesday! The crazies start school next week so I'll finally be back to posting daily again. Thanks so much for bearing with this mamma of two! 

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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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Before and After - My Swedish Home Makeover!

Last night I was clearing out a cupboard and came across the estate agent pamphlet for our house from when we bought it. I knew we'd made some changes over the 12 years but looking back at the pictures made me realise just how far we'd come! At the time, we were living in a small apartment just down the road and when the house came on the market, we knew it would be perfect for us, but it was over budget. And then we had a stroke of luck. No one wanted it!! Being a consistently 'hot' house market, this was incredibly unusual in Malmö, particularly in a popular area by the sea - where homes tend to sell within weeks, if not days. The estate agent explained that potential buyers had turned their noses up at it, saying it 'didn't have the right feeling'. 

When Per and I went to view the property, we understood what they meant. No one lived there (it was used as an occasional city bolthole by a businessman who had a permanent abode in the countryside) and the living space lacked soul. In addition, it featured some pretty questionable decor choices.... and the dark wood wall and floors made the entire space really dark. It felt gloomy and somewhat depressing - hardly a home to aspire to! The price dropped dramatically and became within reach (although still a stretch!). Despite the appearance, we could see its potential, and would be mainly cosmetic. Plus, it meant acquiring a house in the area we so loved! We jumped at it! 

I'll never forget finally getting the keys in our hands and our first night in the house. I simply couldn't believe it was ours! Twelve years, two children and multiple interior changes later, we're still just as happy in our home today.  

Here's how it has changed over time:

Kitchen / Dining  Before 

Kitchen / Dining After

The very first thing we did was give the entire house a lick of fresh white matt paint (with the help of parents Father and Stepmother!). It would serve as a blank canvas until we decided which way to go in terms of colour. Many of the walls remain white today, although we've added some deeper, earthy shades in some parts of the house. 

We also got someone in to sand down and whitewash the oak floors which immediately lightened up the entire living space. 

We loved the existing Marbodal kitchen units and backsplash - they've served us well over time. We kept them and instead focused our attention on installing better appliances such as an induction hob and new fridge and freezer. 


The kitchen lacked work surfaces, so we added a new kitchen island (there was one when we arrived but it was tiny - you can see a glimpse of it here). The unit is just from IKEA but one of those pieces that fell into place and felt like it had always been there!). It's become a popular gathering place (not only for people - but also the daily post, keys and even sports equipment as the kids fly in through the door - yes, it drives me insane!). But it DOES look lovely on the occasional times it's clear (or better still, has a G+T on it!).


Per has owned the wooden dining table for years. it's made of solid wood so can be sanded down and restored whenever the need arises. It's a really timeless piece and something I can imagine always having in our home. There's no marking on it sadly, so we're not sure of the brand. 

We transformed the corner into a reading nook, which has become one of the most popular places in the home - and means we can all relax in the same room, while doing our own thing! At Christmas the daybed is placed in the attic and replaced with a tree! Years back, we even had a bubble chair hanging in that corner

All the storage was in place when we moved in, and as a family of hoarders, we're still grateful for it. We're unsure what they had planned for the recess - maybe a TV? But it serves as a great, cosy dining seat nook today! 

Sitting Room Before





Sitting Room After


I'm not opposed to dark wood walls - they can look fab in a 50's style residence. But since the house is overshadowed by an apartment block, it can get really dark in the afternoons. Painting the wood white immediately lifted the entire living room area. 

For the first few years it looked like this - and then later we changed the sofa (the cover of which is constantly updated thanks to Bemz - you can check out the many transformations here and here) and added a gallery wall. 



 Open plan space on middle floor (before)

Open plan space on middle floor (after)

Confused?! As much as we'd loved to have had a second sitting room, we needed the extra bedroom. So, Per and a friend built a wall (on the opposite side of the wall from the pillow end of the bed are the stairs) - creating an extra bedroom for my teenage stepson. We removed the shelves to make room for the bed and painted the wall a cosy dark blue! See the complete make-over here

Second bedroom before

Second Bedroom After



Allie's bedroom has changed many times over the year - and will no doubt change countless times more as she grows! The original blue shade felt really cold in a North facing room. The first change we made was to paint them a fresh white (as seen here when the girls shared the room when they were small). We later painted the walls a more earthy, warm shade to add a cosy feel when Liv moved into her own room. I shared the DIY make-over here

Top floor sitting room before

That sofa! 

After

The top floor was originally a sitting room - and we kept it as such for the first few years. But slowly we realised no one was using it - which was a real waste as it's one of the most beautiful, light-filled rooms in the house. So, we transformed it into our master bedroom and home office. And never looked back! 

When we first moved up there the walls were white - as seen here

It's been various shades over the years. For now, we've settled on 'blushing peach' by Jotun Lady, which has a wonderful, calm and cosy feel.


We painted the wood floor 'strong white' by Farrow & Ball (which is actually more of a pale grey). Per designed and built the shelves using planks, wire and nuts and bolts from a local hardware store. 

I sometimes use the corner of the bedroom as my home office when I'm not at the studio (seen below). Today the wall is dark brown ('Norwegian Wood' by Jotun Lady) but it has also been white (you might recognise it from the front cover of interior book 'Everything In Its Place'!). 

We also transformed the nook (above) into a home office for Per during the pandemic - here's a glimpse

The entire room has become a real haven - and like a mini apartment within a house. We love it! 

I have to say, it's been so much fun to take this trip down memory lane, thank you for humouring me! 

When I have days when I wonder why the progress in our house is so slow (there's a reason I've never shown our bathrooms! - potential project for Autumn, perhaps? Don't tell Per just yet...!), I'll look back at these and see how far we've actually come! 

Our house buying decision also taught me an important lesson. At a viewing, take into account the basic bones of the property (the shape, the era etc.). Don't let the 'feeling' or 'soul' put you off. That's something you can add once you move in!   

If in doubt, check out the before and after archive, it's quite incredible how much you can change a property with a little vision, time, effort and money. And some homes, like mine - might just need a lick of paint! 

Don't believe me? Here are some of my favourite 'before and afters' of all time:


I'd love to hear the story about your home - how you found it, how it felt to finally get the keys in your hand (whether as a renter or homeowner), and any changes you've made! 

Niki

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