Although people's homes do not always look as perfect and polished as many interior design magazines may suggest, I'm sure that everybody has something that makes him or her love their place. It might be a special piece of furniture, the view, the morning light or just a little detail in the room that makes all the difference.
In my temporary atelier (still unfinished) it's the rustic clothes rail made of cut willow branches from the garden, the colour and texture of different fabrics and the natural smell of organic leather hides which make me feel happy and inspired.
The weather has turned quite cold lately. So what do you do on a dark and chilly Winter evening?
This is my favourite spot in the house for reading a good book next to the fireplace.Lots of plush pillows and warm blankets and throws are essential.
Books, old remnants and various little finds from the garden in another corner of the room.
The rustic stumps serve as coffee tables or occasional seating.
So here are my personal green & stylish tipsfor a cosy Winter evening : 1.Stay at home with a good book. Easy and fun - leave the car in the garage and pull out a great book instead. You will feel much more relaxed and inspired afterwards. 2.Do not overheat the room. If you have a fireplace in your house a cosy fire and a warm blanket are usually enough to keep you warm in the evening. It's also much better for your skin and the environment. 3.Turn offthe TV and all the extralights. Use a single reading lamp and some candles for creating the right peaceful atmosphere and saving on energy instead. 4.Simply enjoy. Make yourself a delicious cup of organic tea and just enjoy the little things in life. Sometimes it's just as simple.
I have a soft spot for commercial spaces infused withorganic details that create a more personal rather than a typical business atmosphere. The photos show the reception area that I designed for the office which is currently located in the orangery.
I particularly like the layering of the cosy sheepskins and plush silk cushions in warm shades of cream, gold and chocolate contrasting with the coolness of the aqua coloured glass desktops.
I also love using unusual handmade folders& stationary from natural materials which are always beautiful to look at.
This is another view of the boardroom featured in my previous post. Again, the antique oil painting with the gilded frame and the tree in the corner add a personal touch to the calmness of the otherwise neutrally decorated room.
Today, let's take a sneak view at the interior of the orangery of Schloss Kasel: Above I have taken a snap shot of the temporary boardroom. The wooden floors are painted pure white as are the walls providing a bright and airy canvas for the antique oil paintings and mainly contemporary office furniture. The cow rug an the fringed plant-dyed silk throws add warmth to the room especially during autumn and winter time. I think tasty organic fruits are a must-have in any office, both, from a decorative as well as from a health perspective. The apples on the table are the best ever - handpicked from the garden.
The old German sewing machine is from Singer with an antique painting from Spain hanging above it.
Another corner of the back entry which also serves as a boots room.
The brass door knocker on the back door is from Portobello Market in London.
Water can be such a great feature in any garden or park. This is an autumn view towards the pond in front of the orangery.
I have recently returned from a longer stay abroad and entering the park back home made me realize that summer is finally over...
In fact, I love the autumn season. For me, it's like a last powerful blossoming of colour and light before winter finally takes over. It's a season of change, when I can calm down and feel grateful for all the beauty and joy that surrounds me. Enjoying a cup of tea near the fireplace, watching the trees in front of my window slowly loosing their leafs while the sheep are peacefully grazing in the background. I love bringing out all the cosy cashmere sweaters, textured wools, the scent of leather and roasted apples in the house.
It's also the season when I like to dress-up a bit more than usual.The outfit above is one of my autumn favourites from my Silkwing range featuring nougat brown contrasted with a touch of muted green. The shirt is one of my signature silk shirts with its typical oversized cuffs and a double-sided tie which I sometimes wear as a belt. The high waisted trousers are also Silkwing made from a naturally pigmented baby alpaca Loden and finished with some horn buttons at the side.
I know that a lot of people think of The Ritz as the ultimate 5 star Paris hotel. And although there is no doubt that it is indeed very much the epitome of French elegance I actually have another extravagantly chic favorite. Its signature colour happens to be a wonderful shade of a muted pistachio green which is already quite a pretty starting point to being green and stylish. Now... have you guessed it?
Well, for me Le Meurice is simply the best luxury hotel in Paris. To start with, it's green because of its glorious garden views overlooking the beautiful JardindeTuileries and stylish because of its sublimely elegantdecor reinterpreted by Philippe Starck with a subtle contemporary twist. Check out theirrestaurant Le Dali and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
For aspecial treat make sure you book a room with a balcony from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in its full glory or just indulge in some freshly baked still warm croissants in the morning sun.
Another sympathetically green aspect is that the hotel is also very welcoming to petsso if you can't or don't want to be without your little friends just take them along to this special place - I'm sure even they will feel the Meurice difference.
On the whole, the Meurice has themost attentive personnel I have ever come across making every guest feel like they have known you and all your charming little extravaganzas forever. I wouldn't suggest to push it as far as Mr. Salvador Dali though who once demanded a herd of sheep (!) to be brought to his room and, upon their arrival, startetshooting at them. Well, at least he was (animal)-friendly enough to shoot withblank bullets only - so weird!
And although I think there would obviously be still some room for improvement on the green aspects of this spectacular hotel you can hardly get any better than their breathtaking Grand Siecle style. So I hope next time I go there I will be surprised with some new organic introductions.
My green wishlistwould include:
crisp luxurious hemp linens and ultra-softorganic cotton towelsto cuddle in
gorgeous organic bath and beauty products to indulge in
an equally healthy and delicious organic breakfast to start a day in love with
With August usually being a holiday month I thought I'll show you some green and stylish DIYprojects that I've been working on lately. They are all environmentally correct and don't necessarily have to cost the earth. How about trying some of them yourself?
Wouldn't it be nice to have a little treasure box where one could keep memories and inspirations neatly tucked away and ready to bring out whenever you want to? Some time ago I was exploring the attic of the old orangery and came across a dusted wooden case. I have no idea how long it has been sitting there unnoticed but now it has finally found a new place and purpose: It has become my new treasure box.
So far I've done nothing to it except cleaning and the old faded colour of the painted wood goes perfectly with my favorite antique screen that I have placed right behind it. It's a great storage option to keep all my silk fabric swatches that I have collected over the years. Whenever I'm in need for some inspiration now I just open my new old treasure box...
::: PROJECT 2 - DECORATING WITH FABRIC :::
The orange and gold silk is an antique fabric remnant that I purchased in London a couple of years ago.
Since it had quite a narrow but long shape unsuitable for most decorating ideas I decided to simply turn it into some zen inspired wraps for my coffee table and leather bench.
Another thing I like doing is framing pieces of antique silks and hanging them onthe wall.
::: PROJECT 3 - GARDEN FURNITURE & DECOR :::
The giantroot of an old oak tree is something I found in a hidden corner of the park. I had it pulled out and cleaned and it will soon make a great statement as a contemporary wooden sculpture in the (unfortunately still unfinished) garden.
This tree trunk fell into our pond a few months ago during a heavy storm. The catloves it and has decided to turn it into an XXL "Kratzbaum". I suppose in English that must be called something like scratch tree (?) I'm sure you know what I mean. Its main purpose though is to serve as a sculptural garden bench formoreinformal gatherings. Well, the cat doesn't really care anyway...
::: PROJECT 4 - STRESS RELIEF :::
And now, don't laugh but I've also been knitting quite a lot lately. For me it's almost like a form of meditation having an extremely soothing effect on me. You know, some people take pills or do yoga or even more exotic stuff to relax - I either do somegardeningor I knit. It's definitely one of my favorite stress relieving techniques and I'm hugely grateful to my grandma (the ultimate knitting goddess) who made me start my knitting career at the tender age of 5. I made this top from some super soft organic baby alpaca yarn and added some freshwater pearls and horn details as pretty little embellishments.
When I was a little girl my mum was my unrivaled style icon. For me Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve were nothing compared to the glamorous aura I felt surrounded with when looking at my mother.
I remember the scent of her exquisite French perfumes, her elegant silk dresses, her amazing eye for art and design. I could just stand and watch her for hours.
One of the things I remember very vividly is that our home always looked very different to me compared to the homes of our friends. In fact, it was a relatively simple flat but stuffed with lots of amazing artwork. My mother could easily go for an IKEA table but would nevercompromiseon the artwork she chose. Even in my own room I was never allowed to have ordinaryposters on the walls (luckily, even as a teenager I never really had the desire to). Instead she would handpick and collect some beautiful oil paintings during her numerous travels to different corners of the world to let her little girl marvel at the beauty of light, shadow and colour in her small but inspiring room back home.
A few decades later my mum is still beautiful, sophisticated and, without doubt, the best cook in the world. There are many green and stylish things one can learn from her: How to create a glamorous and refined make-up, select the right painting, make a stunning flower arrangement or the best green pesto ever!
A lot of what I've grown up with has stayed with me over the years. Even today when I enter people's homes for the first time my initial instinct is to look at the walls, the second is to look at plants and flowers. Paintings & plants can tella lot about a person, don't you think? Ah, and the food, of course!
So as for a perfect little birthday celebration my homemade pistachio-berry cake and a selection of my mom's freshly baked organic cookies, which are in fact little pieces of art in their own right, served with a cup of fine green tea in her almost translucent Lomonosov bone china, a bunch of fresh seasonal flowers from the market nicely arranged in a crystal vase and her warm, glowing smile would definitely be my perfect idea of a happy green and stylish birthday tea party.
The cape above is another favorite piece from my Silkwing fashion range. It's a real allrounder. Whenever I struggle finding the right coat to go with almost any outfit this cape made from cream coloured baby alpaca loden with a pearl belt somehow always seems to work.
So here are 8 easy tips on how to build a green and stylish wardrobe yourself:
1.Buy only what you really love and what suits you. Don't be afraid to be rigorously selective and do not lower your standards just because of a seductive colour or price. If there is even a single but don't buy it. Always try to get everything right: Cut, colour, material and the overal quality. Take your time to define your unique personal style and find the best piece to complement that picture rather than merely following a short-lived trend.
2. Reinvent your existing pieces instead of throwing them away. With a bit of creativity you'll be surprised how much you can do with your old clothes. Be inventive and dare to think out of the box.
3. Don't be afraid to pay more if the quality is right and you can afford it. Well made clothes usually pay off in the end because you'll be able to enjoy them much longer.
4.Buy second hand and vintage. It's an affordable and probably one of the most stylish recycling options and will enable you to enjoy high quality clothes without breaking the bank.
5. Choose clothes made from natural fibres only. Hemp, silk and organic wools are some of the greenest and most stylish materials out there.
6. If you like colour try to make use of the natural pigmentation of the fibres. Wools come in some beautiful shades of black, grey, brown, cream and beige. The natural colour of cotton can range from off-white and yellowish to browns and greens.
7. Avoid conventional cotton whenever you can. If you have to buy cotton go for the organic one but keep in mind that cotton is an extremely thirsty plant requiring a lot of water to grow.
8. Try to substitute cotton with hemp whenever possible. Hemp is an extremely versatile and genuinely green material with some amazing properties. You will be surprised how beautiful high quality hemp can be. It has a linen-like look and feel and relaxed elegance to it. Mixed with silk it makes a very glamorous fabric even for evening and bridal wear. Jeans made from hemp denim look great and are virtually indestructible.
And one last tip on environmentally friendly fabrics:
Once you get undressed in the evening and sink into your bed, treat your skin to some finebedlinen made from hemp. They are an absolute (green & stylish) dream to sleep in! Once you've tried it, you'll never want to go back to anything else.
It's been a busy Friday, so just a very quick late post with another springtime shot of the garden. Never get tired of looking at the Magnolia trees. Right now a few of them are actually blossoming for the second time this year!?
Okay, I know, I need to explain this. I've got another soft spot to confess: Oldtimer cars. Not just the Mercedes, Porsche and Jags but also the more eccentric little ones like this Trabant P601, an authentic piece of DDR history (the more charming part of it, of course). The only drawback with oldtimers though is that from an environmental point of view I find it difficult to justify driving them round no matter how stylish they might be.
So here's the solution: My new little fun car will be converted to run on electricity rather than petrol. I will be able to go up to 150 km on one charge depending on how disciplined I drive which should be more than enough for visiting all the local grocery stores and markets or going on a funky shopping trip to the city.
I'm so excited and it's such great fun - chic, clean and silent. All you'll be able to smell is maybe my favorite L'Occitane Cherry Blossom fragrance and all you'll hear either Mr. Barber's Adagio for Strings at best or my own singing at worst. That's what I call green and stylish.
And as I had also promised some pictures of the park surrounding my home I thought I just try to be efficient and squeeze as many details as possible into the pictures so you kind of get the idea. The wild zebra car, the still naturally untrimmed garden and my 2 sweet little organic lawn mowers Lilly and Billy (alias Elizabeth and William once they've grown up) that I'm still struggling to tame. They are a very special sheep breed (beautiful but also quite wild at times) and so much nicer to look at than some noisy, conventional, unattractive mowing machinery. Well, still a lot of work for them to do though...
For those who were waiting to see the promised pictures of my yet-to-be-awakened garden: I have to admit I didn't quite make it to the garden today. With all those inspirational posts on black & whiteinteriors and accessories lately I just couldn't resist to paint an animal-friendly zebra pattern onto my new fun car instead (yes, that's right - zebra stripes on my car...). And now, don't think sounds a bit childish - it actually looks quite stylish ;)
What do you do when you actually love 2 completely different and in fact totally contradicting things? Organic forms & biodiversity on the one hand and symmetry & perfectly groomed elaborate planting arrangements on the other.
It seems other people have struggled with that conflict in the past as well. When the fashion for formal baroque gardens came to an end and the concept of the more natural landscape garden became the new must-have outdoor retreat, formality and artificiality gave room to a completely new more relaxed interpretation of the beauty of nature as an ideal landscape.
My own home was built during that period and is surrounded by such an English landscape garden which was laid out on these new principals at the time. There is some historic evidence however, that a formal baroque garden must have previously existed at the site and even though we don't know exactly where or how big it was, I would just love the current park to incorporate a little baroque garden somewhere.
All I need to do is to find that perfect spot to indulge into my secret passion for everything baroque, curvy and symmetrical...
So let's take a closer look at my garden tomorrow!
Photos: BorjanaEghbalian, Gardens at the Zwinger, Dresden, Germany
At times summer temperatures can get a bit annoying. 20km of cycling in burning sunlight instead of taking the car today made me wish it would be Spring again. A little breeze, pale green leaves and some lovely magnolia blossoms in front of my window...
It's Monday morning - time to get to work! As a little inspiration I wanted to show you an example of a green London office overlooking Hyde Park. Not just because of the many plants (including my favorite paradise bird) but due to the natural materials used throughout to create this crisp eco-chic working environment.
The floor is waxed American oak topped with cream coloured pure wool carpets. For the upholstery I used a naturally pigmented baby alpaca loden which was accentuated with zen inspired cushions and throws made from different types of plant-dyed silks.
The granite worktop in the kitchen is blue pearl. In the lavatories a simple yet elegant pale limestone from Italy was used.
The weekend is over but my extensive wardrobe project still in progress. I'm amazed how many clothes even a quite disciplined and selective fashion person like me can accumulate over the years.
So here is another cherished outfit from my collection. I've worn it at several Black Tie events in the past with only slight variations of the front draping and belt. And although it has a little touch of eccentricity to it I've always felt perfectly dressed for the occasion. It's extremely soft and fluid on the skin and has a subtle pearly shine to it. The entire dress was in fact made from one single piece of a hand-woven wild tussah silk with some fine fringe and black feather detailing and without any cutting of the fabric whatsoever.
My very first residential design project in London was my own little family apartment. We had purchased it from a charming old lady, a very sophisticated Belgian baroness, who used to live there for almost 30 years. When we moved in the place was still very much 70s and unfortunately completely stripped of its original plasterwork and ornaments. So since my husband and I were determined to reawaken the old interior splendour of this elegant stucco-fronted building we had to start almost from scratch.
Reinstating the ornate cornicing was one of the most visually significant steps. It immediately transformed the entire space and brought back the previously almost lost architectural grandness of the high-ceilinged rooms. As for the walls, ceilings and floors I envisaged them to be turned into an airy white canvas reflecting masses of natural light pouring in from outside and functioning as a neutral yet dramatically light backdrop for our collection of antiques and art.
Whenever I'm asked about eco-friendly furniture I keep reminding people that using antiques is in fact a very ecological way of creating green and stylish interiors. Good antiques were made to last (almost forever) and often passed down from generation to generation. It's a wonderful form of recycling and preserving lived-in history. Besides, the traditional methods of old-school craftmanship widely employed eco-friendly techniques mainly powered by hand and the use of natural materials as opposed to aggressive chemicals and artificial substances. A great antique is the opposite of a short-lived commodity and I would really like to encourage people to venture out into this wonderful old world and empower it for today's living.
In the bathroom and kitchen I chose Italian bianco statuario marble contrasted with elements of black nero marquina and nero assoluto granite for the worktop. My kitchen was quite small and had a curved shape which was initially a little bit of a challenge but worked out perfectly in the end. I had handpicked every single marble tile to make sure that the natural veining of the marble would match creating the illusion of bigger slabs with an uninterrupted flow of subtle pattern.
But one of the greatest aspects of this flat was the view! It's a pitty I didn't take any pictures of it at the time. Overlooking one of the most beautiful garden squares, which some London travel guides refer to as the jewel in the crown, this place has been my little retreat from the buzzing life of this inspiring city.
For those interested in more inspirations on flats, houses and interiors in Central London check out Foxtons website.
So what would your perfect London Pied A Terre have to look like?
I write about all things green and stylish that reflect my passion for timeless design and my love for nature. I have started this blog as a glimpse into all the stylish little things that inspire my daily life as well as my work as an environment conscious designer. Enjoy!
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