Lately I’ve been getting back into what once was my one and only passion; photography.
Photography and me, we’re a strange pair. It’s somewhat of a love-hate relationship we have. There are times when I want to crash my computer screen, because my film did not turn out the way I thought it would at all. And there are times when I feel adventurous and courageous enough to pick up the heavy thing, get back in the saddle and try to aim a bit closer to what I want the result to look like. A bit closer than last time.
As I said, lately I’m in one of my ‘up’phases , thanks to the newly found inspiration induced by Kandice Breinholt. Kandice is an amazing wedding photographer who lives in Utah, in the US. The path of my eyes and her photographs first crossed during one of my hour long ‘obsessively-scouring-the-web’ sessions, in search for a photographer for our wedding. I was instantly blown away by the tender and unapologetically raw quality of her images. Kandice photographs couples in an intimate setting, preferably outdoors in forests or mountainous habitats. She uses a lot of toned down whites in her images, which give her photos a triste, melancholic quality. This in combination with mother nature’s textures, leaf filtered sunlight and a stunning couple impeccably dressed for the most important day of their lives equals…. pure bliss!
As a tribute to Kandice I decided to scrape the courage from the soles of an old pair of shoes I hadn’t worn in a while and opened a photo folder on my computer. I finally got to have a proper look at the images I took during our 2015 trip to Scandinavia. On Instagram I discovered a few clues as to the type of presets Kandice might use to get that beautifully sombre colour palette. Inspired by Kandice’s style, here are the images I feel comfortable enough to share on my little corner of the internet.
Life has these mysterious ways of making its road lead you in directions that you had never previously thought you would follow.
This is a sad post. It’s sad because it’s about letting go, sacrifice, saying goodbye.
I am one of the worst when it comes to letting go, but even me, a neurotic keepsakes clenching hoarder, even I know that in order to let the new in, the old must go out..
I fell ill, moved country, I fell in love, we commuted between countries, him and me built a camper van… And now, because we want to take our love to the next level we have to sell our precious project we worked so hard on. We have to sell her way before her time. So many holidays we could have still enjoyed, so many road trips we should have made still. Unfortunately there’s no way we can keep her as my boyfriend needs to migrate in order to be with me and importing the van isn’t an option.
So here’s a little photographic hommage to the run down London florist van we turned into a very special camper van. Tallulah, our labour of love.
driving through Scandinavia last spring.
Coffee and magazines are your no 1 necessities whilst campervanning.
Tallulah’s toes in the sand…
Tha back window as a frame to a perfect sunset.
My home made upholstered sun visors!
In Denmark we found this amazing wide beach which was completely accessible to camper vans, it was amazing.
The view in Sweden.
Let’s go travelling…
Our rabbit passenger
sniffle sniffle, travelling Parker rabbit style!
Birthdays, camper van style!
Coffee and magazines…necessities for camper vanning!
What better way to lighten up these grey, drabby and dark days, than by receiving a (de)lightful package in the post….?
Today I received a package containing something beautiful, something handmade, an object skillfully made by someone living aaaaall the way on the other side of the world… Even just that thought alone puts a smile upon on my face…
Starting an Etsy shop so far has actually costed me more money than it has given me! It’s not my fault though; I keep finding these amazing things made by equally amazing and passionate people! Today’s purchase is a beautiful handmade wooden light that travelled all the way from the workshop of Ken Read from Mequon, WI, America, to my living room here in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
The product was very carefully packed and accompanied by a little handwritten note on top, isn’t that cute? Actually, Ken’s handwriting reminds me of the handwriting of my nan, she used to write me lovely notes when she was still alive. So without even having unwrapped the contents, Ken’s package has already had an instant melt effect on me. I’m such a fondue kit..
Very carefully wrapped up in a box with popcorn foams, the package contained a handmade wooden light with dimmer, a chord with american plug and an Edison lightbulb.
Beautifully plashed and varnished red toned cedar wood. And look.. as a true artist Ken even signed his handmade lamp. What a dude!
my chord and electrical bits collection…
I knew the plug was going to be an American one because I asked the seller about that in advance, but luckily I love making lights too, so I have the supplies to easily replace the plug with a European one.
I love that handmade wooden dimmer. I find retro filament bulbs don’t really make sense if you use them on full power, I always add a dimmer to them myself.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, me and furniture designer James have done a subtle (though very effective) overhaul of his one bedroom flat in Kent which doubles as an AirBnB let. This flat is very special to the both of us, as during the last year and a half every time James came to visit me in the Netherlands he has been renting the flat out through airBnB. This has allowed us to cover the extra costs that come with having a bi-national-living-in-two-separate-countries-and-still-trying-to-make-it-work-relationship.
So to give a little love and happiness back to the people staying in James’ little haven, we decided to do this make over and we wanted to make it extra homely, with lots of little handmade touches to make everyone feel welcome and at ease.
Project manager of the day was our traveling fluffball house rabbit Parker (no, he’s not a cuddly toy, he actually is alive)
When we bring Parker to work he always watches us like some sort of fluffy type of hawk, making sure we keep at it!
Here’s the before situation with some of my initial plan of action notes
The space was very ‘British’ to start off with: lots of beiges, lots of carpet… the living room floor really summed it all up: carpet in a slight pinkish shade of beige.Ah.. the Brits and their carpets… Don’t even get me started. The British and their carpets! God knows when that ever started. But I thoroughly believe that whomever was the first person to even consider using carpet in a bathroom should get a proper psychological check-up.
Honestly: carpet + water + toilet+ after shower dripping feet= not a very hygienic combination, now is it? Yuk.
Anyway, I am drifting off subject.
To be honest, it wasn’t actually that bad as the amount of carpet in the flat was limited to the sitting room and bedroom loft space, apart from an overload of separate rugs scattered around, it was quite modern and almost scandinavian, which is the style both me and James happen to like. The kitchen, toilet and hallway were fitted with a beautiful rustic shade of wooden flooring which made for a perfect starting point for this natural make-over.
The walls had some really big framed pieces of art on them, most of them not really in keeping with theme and colour scheme. So the first thing we decided to do was to take them down and assess if the walls needed a fresh coat of paint.
The wallpaint was in excellent condition, obviously the Air BnB guests had honoured James’ no smoking request! A wet cloth and some Fairy liquid did the job.
The surroundings looked bigger already, it’s amazing how dominant big dark artworks can be in a small space.
Space around television
The television corner area was instantly transformed when we replaced the very dated black IKEA tv-stand with our own custom made and space saving alternative.
Here’s the before situation:
And this is what it looked like afterwards: We custom built an angular TV unit, to make optimal use of the space. And obviously we went for a lighter colour, since that big black TV screen is enough darkness for one space anyway.
In a small space it’s so important to maximise the use of every square inch available. By replacing the square tv stand with an angular shaped one we managed to do just that. Also, by changing to a lighter colour scheme the space now looks optically bigger.
Space around the sofa
The sofa, doubling as extra sleeping space (by the way, good tip for any airBnB owner) had a good size and colour. All we really had to do was to make the styling a bit more current and trendy by adding some colour, pattern and texture. We replaced the covers of the sad and deflated cushions with some new ones. Both cost and waste saving, we re-used the old flattened cushions by inserting them in pairs in the new cushion covers.
Plump cushions… check.
This is an artwork by Anna Allworthy (James’ sister), she paints amazing cityscapes using a mixed media and collage technique. We commissioned her to do a piece especially for the flat but she didn’t manage to finish it in time. So in the meanti
me we used one of her paintings we had at home. Luckily we’ll only have to miss it for a short while because it looks so good in our own house! The colours of this painting do clash a tiny bit with the colours in the LOCI GENIUS table but it doesn’t bother me too much.
The sofa hasn’t got the biggest of bum-sit-spaces, so I infused some extra comfort into it by adding a little soft stool. Amazingly I found this one on sale for 15€, I kid you not. The legs were black though, which I didn’t like, so I gave them a lick of turquoise paint.
LOCI GENIUS customised coffeetable
We made one of our brand LOCI GENIUS coffee table especially customised for the flat. For any of you who don’t know about LOCI GENIUS; it’s a furniture brand I founded last year together with James. We make customised coffee tables with elements of reclaimed wood in which we incorporate locations by printing parts of maps onto the wood. We top it off with really cool handmade midcentury hairpin legs and a sleek shiny glasslike transparant resin surface.
For the coffee table in the flat I incorporated Canterbury and Blean, the birthplace of James, into the surface and went for other greenish toned Canterbury surroundings because their natural feel went so well with the rest of the new interior.
Some close-up photos of the result:
Space around the table
We wanted to use the wall space above the dinner table-writing desk in a clever way. Now that we removed the artwork, it all looked very sterile. We decided to go for a multifunctional alternative in keeping with the colour/material scheme; a hanging wooden wall feature. Not only does it look does it look good to use a blind shelve instead of a dark artwork, it’s also a way to save yourself the hassle of having to change artworks every time you’re bored with a look. Having a wall shelving feature means you can combine, experiment and change styles to your hearts content. Scatter little plants around, display postcards, photo frames, or paint the wall (even easier: place a piece of patterned wallpaper) behind one of the compartments to make more of a bold colour statement.
wall ornament floating shelve with retro filament light bulb
I found these cute little concrete square planters last minute in a pound shop.
Serious love for the filament lightbulb.
We had to include a bike in the display, come on, I am Dutch!
Here’s the message.
I love the greyish colour of the repurposed wood
To save space on the multifunctional reclaimed wooden table (some guests might want to only use it as a writing desk, since most visitors go out for dinner anyway) we got rid of the table lamp and integrated a light element into the shelving feature. I bought all the parts online and assembled it myself, really easy to do. I used:
a retro filament bulb,
a porcelain light fixture,
a transparent dimmer,
and some very awesome coloured fabric covered cord.
I wrapped the excess chord around the radiator pipes in a very loosely and nonchalant manner, I don’t think it’s the kind of chord you need to hide.
And again, in case along the line you might get bored of the look this light element creates, when you decide to remove it, all you’re left with is a tiny hole the size of the cable’s circumference in the top. Not too invasive.
Space next to the tv
OK, and then there was that very present wicker plant stool next to the television oozing with 80’s appeal…
I thought long and hard but didn’t manage to find a way to re-use that stool, I really just didn’t like its vibe. We did want to allocate that space to a plant again though, so we decided to buy a new, smaller stool and customised it by painting the top the same colour as parts of the television unit.
new stool, with painted top.
Replacing the wall light with a customised version
Right, so the space around the stairwell is a real eyecatcher, mainly because of the beautiful custommade reclaimed wooden cupboards in its base but also because it leads up to the cosiest sleep loft you’ll ever see!
On the wall by the stairs there was a simple wall light, one of those plaster half bowl shapes lampshades. I figured it would be quite easy to come up with a more creative alternative light cover without too much hassle. So I used some of the bits and test scraps of the LOCI GENIUS table and asked James to saw them into little strips. I then stuck them, together with painted and stained bits of scrap wood, onto a base I made out of MDF. Finished the back of with some metal hanging slots and Bob’s your uncle: new customised light. One little downside to the result: by replacing the lampshade with this new version, the light shines in two directions, not just up but also downwards. We didn’t quite take into consideration that the plastered walls of the flat aren’t that smooth… The drop shadows of this new lighting really accentuate the flaws! oops. But to replaster the walls wasn’t really an option looking at our budget. Oh well, after all, Canterbury is a very old city so hopefully the guests will consider imperfect and old accents merely as added character
recycled/upcycled bits I made
Why spend if you can re-use? Here’s what I managed to repurpose.
the plant pots
I swapped some plants around, as I found the prickly palm didn’t really go where it was and I wanted the softer, rounder plant on the new coffee table. I never realised how difficult it is to find a nice plant pot! Honestly, I went to so many shops and perhaps it was because it wasn’t summer, but I couldn’t find any nice neutral coloured ones. I only managed to find glossy, very tacky or dark ones. Therefore I decided to paint two of the existing pots light grey, again to infuse a bit of lightness into the space.
the wooden lamp support
The lamp shade and shape of the light were beautiful, but as it is often the case with any sort of pine, the colour had over the years turned into a horrible shade of orange. Easy solution: I repainted it in a bright shade of turquoise, which just happens to be the complimentary colour contrast of orange, isn’t it?
Newly coloured lamp in its natural habitat.
the ceiling lamp shade
After The lamp shade didn’t really fit in anymore with its brown, orange and yellow creamish tones. It was still in really good knick though, so I decided to paint over the stripes in grey, white and turquoise tones. I have to add that this job wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, in the end I had to apply two layers of primer and three (!) layers of paint because the material absorbed like crazy.Teacup planter:
I re-used a teacup by transforming it into a succulent planter (I mean, you NEED a teacup in a British BnB, am I right?)
I framed an H&M HOME collection coaster.
I also re-used some old IKEA photoframes I had lying around and made some little arty bits in keeping with the home theme, using stamps, string, ink, bits of leftover paint and a coaster.
Upstairs didn’t really need any work as it is such a beautiful loft sleeping space, we get so many compliments on it. I decided to add a little plant to the wooden ledge since there wasn’t any green. I also added a little home made framed artwork (I had fun with some letter stamps) and we replaced the carpet with a nice contemporary patterned one I found in the H&M HOME collection. The two brown cushions I took off of the sofa downstairs now have a new place on the bed, they look so much better there.
So, that was my report on the make over. What do you guys think?
I hope you like the results.
Parker definitely thought it took too long though…
I really enjoyed doing this make over so much! I just love this space, it’s so special to me because of what being able to rent it out has meant to my life. I hope the guests staying in the flat will experience equally special times…
A few months after our make over this is what it (still) looks like… We only decided to hang back a painting on the right, I’m not too happy about it though. Need to look for something nicer, perhaps a cool black and white photograph. Also, James’ parents have removed the floor cushions, I don’t know if they understood their function.
This is the photo I have used on the Air BnB listing, hence the text on the tv. 😉