Friday, 5 December 2014

Happy Holidays



I hope you have been enjoying the beginning of December. For me it hasn't exactly been ideal; I caught some bug that kept me in bed this week, whoopee! Actually, I had decided to sign off early in December, to give blogging a break until sometime in January. I have had some changes in mind for the blog and once they started to fall into place I was ready to give the online world a rest, to seek inspiration elsewhere and play with these ideas in my mind. Today I got a stack of books at the library that I'm looking forward to reading with my latte, among others, two biographies about artist Lucien Freud that have been on my reading list.

I wish you all happy and peaceful holidays with loved ones, and to fellow Icelanders I say gleðilega hátíð!

• Looking for inspiration for the holidays? Check out my Christmas | jól board on Pinterest

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Monday, 1 December 2014

brighter shade than pale 24

Welcome December, let the countdown begin! Anyone getting as excited about the holidays as I am? We used Friday and the weekend to finish most of the Christmas shopping and yesterday the kids started decorating the tree. Seeing the tree lit when I came downstairs this morning to enjoy my morning coffee felt very pleasant; a wonderful way to start this last month of the year. I hope it will be a good one for all of you!

• Looking for inspiration for the holidays? Check out my Christmas | jól board on Pinterest

photo credit:
1: Victoria Skoglund | 2: Pastry Affair | 3: Maria of Rusty Hinge via My Paradissi | 4: Jim Cumming (500 px) | 5: unknown source

Thursday, 27 November 2014

styling: a harvest table setting - Happy Thanksgiving!

First, Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! On this side of the Atlantic there is no Thanksgiving Day but how I wish I were sitting down today to enjoy a delicious turkey meal and pumpkin or pecan pie for dessert. (I will have to wait until the evening of Christmas Day.) Some people like to put a bit of an effort into decorating the table so I had to share a feature on harvest table setting that Molly Guy, the creative director of Stone Fox Bride, did for Vogue US. It was not just the table setting that fascinated me but the gorgeous Moroccan textiles included. Such a beautiful and tasteful bohemian vibe and a great mix of colours!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

chatting with Mr. Peacock at Walkers



How do you chat with a peacock? Yesterday I was at the Walkers Nurseries garden centre (those of you following on Instagram should be well familiar with that place by now). After enjoying a latte while reading a magazine, I grabbed my camera to walk among the plants. That's when I met this guy, Mr. Peacock, my new best friend in South Yorkshire.


He was just casually walking on the pavement towards me and I asked him what he was up to. He told me he was just chilling, and looking for a peahen, but perhaps something got lost in translation.


He wasn't exactly ready to stand still for a photo; he was more for walking rather fast straight towards the camera. Then he asked me to follow him so he could show me his bachelor pad.


That's Mr. Peacock in his home, inside Walkers Nurseries, showing off his beautiful feathers.


I snapped this photo when he told me to take a better look.


When I asked him how he spent his day, besides casually walking around in the hope of finding a peahen, he said he liked admiring himself in the mirror. Completely understandable!

Did you know that the average life span of peacocks is 20 years? I don't know how old Mr. Peacock is. I will remember to ask him next time.
photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt
- November day at Walkers Nurseries, Blaxton, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Monday, 24 November 2014

holiday decorations in a Swedish kitchen

Next Sunday marks the First Sunday of Advent. Keeping an advent wreath is a tradition that I'm brought up with and have continued since I left home. I haven't decided the look of this year's wreath - only that I want white candles - but the children have already started asking me about it so I'm collecting ideas. I have a crush on the one in the above photo. This black and white, and slightly rustic, kitchen is in Sweden and the owner uses an old copper pan to hold the candles, and decorates it with evergreens and wooden sticks or branches. So simple, yet perfect! I wish I could do something like that and keep it in the kitchen window, but we have two Persian cats that often entertain themselves by sitting on the windowsill, watching the birds. One of them has already made an attempt to burn its tail with a candle so I'm not taking any chances. I think I need smaller and wider candles in a glass container, something similar to the ones in the below photo. Do you make your own advent wreath or do you buy it?
• Looking for inspiration for the holidays? Check out my Christmas | jól board on Pinterest

photo credit:
Sköna hem

Friday, 21 November 2014

space: Thomas O'Brien's country living room

Designer Thomas O'Brien has a country home in Long Island, called The Academy, built in 1833 as a school for boys. In the 1920s it was extended and turned into a residence. O'Brien bought the house in 2000 and renovated it. The living room, also a dining area, is the school's original classroom, a space all mismatched and disconnected when O'Brien bought the house. He has turned it into a beautiful living room, using a central table to divide it, and opening it into the front hallway. The house is featured in a book written by the designer, American Modern (one of the favourites on my coffee table), which shows many angles of this space and various details. The styling of the space is what interests me the most; the mixing of vintage modern furniture and arrangement of decorative objects. I like how O'Brien uses trays for both books and decorative objects. It's a detail you will often come across in his work and something that I have borrowed from him. If you think about it, usually dining tables have a bowl or some other piece in the centre. By using trays instead you can add more life to a dining table and the trays are easily removable when you need the table for entertaining.
What I also like about the space is the fact that the television is not a central piece, but nests in a built-in bookcase in one corner. If there is anything that makes my design heart ache nowadays, it's how most people seem to push a sofa as close up against a wall as possible with a TV on an opposite wall, as if their entire world evolves around the telly. I don't mean to offend anyone but if the television is the first piece you notice when you walk into your living room then I suggest you either rearrange it or throw the TV out. I'm just saying.

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Laura Resen for the book American Modern by Thomas O'Brien, published by Abrams

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Scicluna Deli, Doncaster

I just got back home and perhaps you have already seen these photos on Instagram but I just had to share them here as well. We had to run some errands in the city and my husband took a wrong turn, so we ended up in a different parking lot. He realised he didn't have enough coins so he went to get some change. It was then that he stumbled upon the Scicluna Delicatessen in the centre of Doncaster, just around the corner of Market Place, where the old restored Corn Exchange building stands (it houses the Doncaster Markets that have been there since the 1870s). I love buying nuts and grains in bulks so this shop was heaven-sent! And yes, they sell coffee too.
Just recently we have been looking for items in the grocery stores in the area that we need for certain oriental dishes that we like preparing. We had no luck and talked about the need to find an Indian or any oriental market in the area. We found it all in the Scicluna Deli this morning. My brain was actually too busy registering the variety of products in there and I couldn't remember half of the things we needed. There was a wall covered with bags of spices that had names that I haven't even seen before. What I'm trying to say here is that I love this deli. It's officially my favourite shop in the city and I'm returning soon … with a shopping list!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt (snapped with my tablet)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Christmas 2014 with Holmegaard



In case it escaped you, I'm getting into the holiday mood early this year. After lunch today I'm even attending my first Christmas Fair this season. I'm so excited! I'm not the type who stresses over the Christmas preparation; I think once you have established a holiday tradition it's just about getting the things you need in time (I'm not a fan of last-minute shopping). I also keep things minimal, as I don't like decorating excessively. Many people find it a dilemma to buy presents, especially for people who have everything, and they can end up spending hours going from shop to shop in search of simply anything. For me that's history and a waste of valuable time. When it comes to such presents I like the idea of establishing a tradition as well.

To give you an example, some time ago I started giving one important person in my life an item from the Holmegaard Christmas Collection. Holmegaard is a Danish company that has created beautiful glassware since 1825. I don't know which year they started their holiday range but every year they add new motifs. I'm always excited to see what they will offer and once they introduce it I take some time to let the pieces grow on me until I decide which one to get. In the process usually all the items end up on my wish list!


• Looking for inspiration for the holidays? Check out my Christmas | jól board on Pinterest

photo credit:
Holmegaard

Monday, 17 November 2014

outdoor living

Outdoor living is a series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating being outdoors all year round!
This morning when I opened our front door I was in awe of the autumn colours; I wish the leaves could stay this way until spring. It reminded me of the sunny autumnal mood in this photo, of a terrace in the Hamptons, NY. I certainly wouldn't mind enjoying a moment there with a book and a latte.

I hope your week is off to a good start. I'll be back on Wednesday.

photo credit:
Simon Watson for House & Garden, November 2005 via Architectural Digest

Friday, 14 November 2014

inspiration: library rooms

This post actually started as a space post but then it evolved into one about library rooms. I guess I got a little carried away with the books and decorative objects on the desk above and below. As someone who loves books, I find library rooms fascinating and it's interesting to see how homeowners style them. I have always wanted one where shelves filled with books reach from the floor to the ceiling, with a ladder to reach the top shelves (of these spaces, Nigella's comes close to this vision of mine). The first library room belongs to a home in Milan and is a Studio Peregalli design. It appears in the book The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture of Studio Peregalli by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli.
Nigella Lawson in her home library.
The above room isn't a home library but an office space that I wanted to include to show you a modern style. Designer Dieter Rams is the man behind the furniture company Vitsœ (founded by Niels Vitsœ (1913-1995) in 1959), which offers stylish shelving systems, here paired with Eero Saarinen tulip furniture. (See another angle of this same room.)
A library room in a Connecticut lakeside retreat.
The rustic shelves and floorboards above, and the traditional rugs are my idea of a library room style. The only thing missing in the photo is a beautifully decorated coffee table as in the room below by designer Alidad. A fireplace, fruit bowls, and books. You cannot go wrong with that. Add a cup of coffee and I'm sold.
Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
1-2: from the book The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture of Studio Peregalli by Laura Sartori Rimini + Roberto Peregalli, published by Rizzoli via Mark D. Sikes + Casa Vogue | 3: House & Garden via Books and Art | 4: NB Studio via Tumblr | 5: Oberto Gili for House & Garden, January 2007 via Architectural Digest | 6: Julie Garman Interiors | 7: Alidad

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

brighter shade than pale 23 - autumn

When you walk with a nine-year old to school every morning it gives you a different perspective of the world around you. You notice things in your surroundings that perhaps would go unnoticed. On this Armistice Day it was slightly different because my son was lost in space. There is this space project at his school that has kept him occupied and these days I'm dealing with Saturn and Uranus, and questions about their order of distance from the sun (thank you universe for morning coffee!). On my way back home I needed to come back to earth and that was when I truly noticed the orange berries of the firethorn (Pyracantha) against a fence in one garden. It made me realise that we are well into autumn and approaching winter. Having grown up in Iceland, where the four seasons aren't exactly clear (and there is no Armistice Day), I'm still grasping the seasonal details on this side of the Atlantic. That said, this is my ode to autumn with the help of talented stylists and photographers.
photo credit:
1: Victoria Skoglund | 2: Joseph De Leo for Gather Journal • styling by Maggie Ruggiero + Theo Vamvounakis | 3: Ngoc Minh Ngo, from the book Bringing Nature Home, published by Rizzoli via Sparks | 4: Ngoc Minh Ngo for Gather Journal | 5: Irving and Morrison Lookbook

Monday, 10 November 2014

Mette Duedahl ceramics

Ceramics never fail to inspire me and easily find their way to my wish list. Today I'm honoured to share with you the work of Danish ceramist and designer Mette Duedahl. She has a studio in Frederiksberg, one of my favourite districts of Copenhagen, where she creates her mugs, butter boxes and coffee jugs. The Scandinavian minimalist vibe is vivid in Duedahl's design and I find the neutral colours both chic and timeless.

Mette Duedahl, ceramist and designer | Studio: Maglekildevej 16 Kld. tv. | 1853 Frederiksberg C., Denmark
Tel: +45 24409646 | Email: mette@metteduedahl.dk

photo credit:
Mette Duedahl

Friday, 7 November 2014

lunch, cafe mocha + TV

The moment I waited for all morning. After running errands in the rain all I could think of was coming home to enjoy lunch: A grilled cheese sandwich with oregano, herb salt and black pepper, slices of avocado on the side, and a bowl of café mocha. Pure bliss! I just turned on the fireplace and I'm going to enjoy a quality moment until I pick up the kids from school. I have been revisiting The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich (I bet many of you read it at school at some point) and yesterday I got the December issue of Elle Decoration UK in the mail - think Christmas and cabins.

Do you have any plans this weekend? Tonight it's of course our Friday tradition: home-made pizza with red, followed by chocolate. Tomorrow I'm finally going to a make a soup that I have been meaning to do for years. Yes, years! You know, sometimes the moment just isn't right … until it is. I'm also going to watch some TV, first the latest episode of Nashville (I love that series; who knew I was a country music fan?), then a few episodes of The Wire (wondering if there is a gangster hidden deep inside as well). On Sunday it's the final episode of Downton Abbey in what I can only describe as the most boring season ever. If Julian Fellowes doesn't turn on some of that old magic then I think I give up. I don't know if I can endure more repeated plots - it's exhausting. In this season it's the ingenious acting of Maggie Smith (Dowager Countess) and Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) that has kept me watching. I love those two.

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Broste Copenhagen autumn/winter 2014

Hello again, I hope you have been well. I'm turning on the holiday mood around here, mainly to make up for last year's lack of it (take my word for it, relocating to another country shortly before Christmas isn't a good idea!). The kids are on board. We have already bought a few baubles and decorative objects and are thinking about decorating the tree the last weekend in November. Yes, we mean business! These days we are thinking about how we want to set the table. One idea is a red and white theme, with a patterned tablecloth that we have already found, and another is a natural look with a linen tablecloth in some neutral tone, a mood similar to what can be seen in these images from Broste Copenhagen.
photo credit:
Broste Copenhagen

Sunday, 26 October 2014

autumn break

It is time to step away from the computer and embrace the children's autumn break with walks in nature and relaxing moments at home. We have already stacked up on books from the library and we intend to try out a few autumnal recipes. I'm leaving you with these inspiring autumnal photos that show items from the autumn 2014 collection by the Lexington Company, discovered in the 'Will's Picks' feature in the latest Sweet Paul Magazine.

I will be back on Wednesday the 5th of November. Enjoy the days ahead!
photo credit:
Lexington Company/Pinterest (discovered via Sweet Paul Magazine Fall 2014 - 'Will's Picks' p. 37)

Friday, 24 October 2014

space: a sitting area with a hint of orange

Apart from the architecture of this South African lodge (the angular ceiling is made with locally harvested thatch and plantation-farmed pine beams), it was the orange-painted corner in this sitting area, with built-in shelves, that caught my attention. What a great way to add a touch of colour to a space, not to mention warmth. The ceremonial antelope masks on the wall were bought in Black Mamba, a bistro and an arts and crafts shop in Vaalwater in the north-east part of South Africa.

photo credit:
Victoria Sambunaris for House & Garden, August 2007 via Architectural Digest

Thursday, 23 October 2014

outdoor living

Outdoor living is a series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating being outdoors all year round!


I doubt it has escaped anyone that fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (b. 1932 in the Dominican Republic) said his final goodbye last Monday. In this week's 'outdoor living' post I would like to honour his memory by featuring parts of the lush garden surrounding his seaside home in Punta Cana. It gives me the chance to post one of my favourite photos of the designer, where he stands smiling with his dogs under a purple petrea in bloom.

The designer helped around the garden and so did his wife Annette. They both loved this place. I find the vegetation fascinating. The plants look so healthy. The fertiliser used is the Sargasso seaweed harvested from the beach at low tide. I'm also fascinated with all the garden paths and courtyards. I had to feature the limestone fountain below that was built by one of his handymen.
photo credit:
William Waldron for Architectural Digest