Zuider Zee Museum Enkhuizen

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A little more catching up from the Dutch trip a few weeks ago. The Zuiderzee Museum is somewhere I’d visited about 10 years ago and always wanted to go back to. I’d thought that really it would be easier to visit by car but in fact it is perfectly feasible with public transport as a day trip from Amsterdam. It’s worth setting off early enough in the morning though, because you will need plenty time to do the museum justice. The best way to approach the museum is to take the train to Enkhuizen and then look for the ferry that will take you over to the musuem. You can get there on foot but arriving by water adds to the atmosphere.

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(If you have a museum card you will get in free. And even if you are not resident in the Netherlands , if you are there for more than a couple of days and plan some intensive museum visiting, the card will pay for itself very quickly. All the big musuems are included – you can get one on the spot at most museums. ) One other tip – the whole museum is only open during the warmer half of the year, so save your visit until then.

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I didn’t realise that it was only established in the 60s – it feels much older than that. Houses have been brought here lock stock and barrel from various places around the Zuider Zee ,including from an island that became land locked once the Ijselmeer was completed. There are photos showing some of the complete houses being wheeled along on trucks or winched off ferrys. They are laid out in little clusters to represent an island community or a town centre around a church. The special charm is reinforced by the costumed characters who do a very good job of staying in their role even under quite thorough questioning.

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This time it was the interiors that struck me particulary. Probably as I was still in an interior design kind of mood after visiting the Woonbeurs/ Home Show. I noticed a lot of deep greens as well as the bright blues that pop up in many early decorating styles. I had a vague memory that the blue served a particular purpose and one of the costumed “locals” told me that the colour came from the addition of laundry blue and was considered mildly antibacterial. Also, with out our masses of modern “stuff” there is a simplicity to many of the interiors which is very calming. I know life was hard in that era and many of our modern possessions make life easier,but still, I think we can take a leaf out of their book in terms of simplicity and functionality.

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There were also a few locations within the museum where contemporary craftspeople and artists had been invited to create work. One example of this was a room that had been decorated entirely in the style of Delft tiles – the walls and even the radiator. This little side table also got the tile treatment – that would be a fun project to have a go at !

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Pepe Heykoop Paper Vase Cover

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This is another discovery from the Amsterdam trip. I saw these a few times in Amsterdam and then managed to pick one up during the Woonbeurs. Unlike some foldable vases this one is a bit more stable because it is not actually a vase, rather a paper cover that you can fold and adjust to suit the bottle or container that you put inside , holding the flowers.

The design is quite ingenious ( and it won a 2013 Interior innovation award ). The sleeve which is made of a tactile laminated card has been scored and prefolded numerous times allowing you to squeeze and adjust the shape. Once in place it creates a very striking mix of geometric patterns. I chose a green one but you can also get it in black , white or grey. It comes complete with an mailing envelope of similar card and a leaflet explaining how

What makes this item more special is the story behind it. Pepe has set up this project together with the Tiny Miracle Foundation, which his cousin founded. Their idea is to help a community of around 700 people who live on the streets in Mumbai to escape poverty by helping with healthcare,education and jobs. You can see a video of how the vase works and something about how they are made here. You can find out more about the Foundation here.

VTWONEN & Jurianne Matter Instagram Contest

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Another follow on from Meet The Blogger in Amsterdam – we were lucky enough to get rather lovely goodie bags at the end of the event. There were a lot of fun or useful items in there , but I was especially delighted to get one of Jurianne Matter’s new paper garlands. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time (and have written about her work before here ) – so this was a real treat.

In addition VTWonen decided to run an Instagram contest to see how this range could be photographed. Well, that was a challenge I couldn’t resist and I submitted the three images here. Lucky me, they chose the first picture as one of their five winners. Thank you VTwonen – you were already one of my favourite magazines – now I like you even more !

If you use Instagram you can find me at @rhiannonmc – you can also follow what VTwonen post at @vtwonen.

You can find out more about Jurianne at her website – and if you are in the UK then the amazing lighting shop Radiance is one place to find her work.

And today is the last day to take advantage of the free shipping on my new cushion range. There some already waiting to go to the post office.

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Amsterdam Woonbeurs 2013 – Meet the Blogger Part 2

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The Meet The Blogger event was deliberately timed to allow us to visit the Woonbeurs on the second day and I think that made the trip even more interesting for those of us who had travelled some distance. This big interior fair which is also open to the public is hosted by Sanoma media who are the publishers of most of the well loved Dutch interior magazines.

As a kind of "press" in the modern world the bloggers were allowed to attend the press launch and hear what the organiser of the fair had to say about current trends and the ways in which the consumer finds out about these things in this digital age.

After that we were off to the VTWonen space as they were one of the main sponsors of Meet The Blogger.

Regular readers of each magazine would have found it quite easy to identify which magazine had created which space inside the fair as they did stay quite true to their print personas.

Of all the magazines VTWonen had made the most ambitious use of their space, creating a huge shaker inspired barn – in only 4 days. It was not so much a liveable space as a hive of activity, with the kitchen area set up to make pizzas, the bath room area turned into an old fashioned barbershop and also an artisanal workshop area. I was very impressed with the girls who were casting ceramic items and even firing them in an onsite kiln. They really embraced the shaker custom of using a lot of pegs and hanging items.

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101 Woonideen had a very brightly coloured area with lots of little alcoves and details. As well as a huge table for some hands on cutting and pasting of moodboards.

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Ariadne at Home is a magazine I read less frequently as I find it just a tiny wee bit too pastel tinted for my taste -but I have to say that their house was a very calming and relaxed space. I could definitely imagine moving in there – so time to review some of my thoughts about interior colours.
Alongside these structures many of the well known Dutch brands had stands showing their latest designs or colours and it was good to get an impression of what is current in the Netherlands.

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All in all it was a very enjoyable day rounding off Meet The Blogger and a good way to get a taste of Dutch interior trends .

Day 29 – Book Review – “Happy Home” by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

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Day 29 ( with a little blip yesterday) but onwards and upwards. It has been an interesting experiment , this 30 days of blogging. And if nothing else it has helped me re-establish a blogging routine again.

At the moment, alongside the photography and other designing , my other focus is towards interiors projects. Tomorrow’s Friday DIY also fits into that category.

Last time I renovated a house was more than a decade ago, styles have changed ,new books have appeared on the scene. And the one I’m dipping into at the moment is “Happy Home”by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau , founder of the the Danish homewares brand Rice, which is known for its cheerfully coloured products.

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Her examples fit perfectly into the look that I am aiming for here. A largely white base with splashes of colour. She rings the changes with different rugs, cushions, or just repainting or repapering one wall. My year of living between two countries made me really aware of the small portable items that can completely change the mood of a room – and has largely been the inspiration for my current cushion project. ( They are not quite ready to launch, but hopefully it won’t be too long now).

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Decisions Decisions – Choosing Paint

Photos - Debi Treloar from "Decorate" by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

Photos - Debi Treloar from "Decorate" by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

I like bright colours. This seems to translate into  a wish for very pale colours in my house so that I can add or remove other colours as the mood strikes.

I’ve always liked painted floors and managed to negotiate doing a lovely slate blue grey one years ago. Now, after seeing all the white or light grey painted floorboards in Holly Beckers’ “Decorate” book I would really like to have a go at white floorboards. However , I am a tiny bit apprehensive about the state of the floorboards once the carpet is lifted.

In other news, my Studio newsletter went out today and I am doing a giveaway of a new Polaroid Painting print to one subscriber. If you’d still like to be in with a chance you can subscribe here .

Five on a Friday – Interior Inspirations

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With having been on my travels for a couple of weeks I don’t have a guest poster lined up for today’s Five on a Friday. So today  I’m going to indulge a new direction that I’m going in –  moving some of my designs towards interior design applications. I’ve hinted at this before , and been “cooking” the idea for a while, but fresh from the energy boost of the retreat I have moved this up my priorities. It was always there in the background whispering “my turn” and I was always too busy attending to some other element of my photographic work . But now I have made space in my timetable to develop a range.

I think it is partly inspired by moving house after renting for a while. I am quite particular and can often not  find  quite what I am looking for.  Anyway, selfishly starting off with the things that I would like myself, I’m starting to build a range – and hopefully some other people will like them too !

Although I don’t have any formal training in interior design is has been a “side interest” for a very long time. When we sold our first house the buyers asked if they could just buy the whole lot, they liked the mood of it so much. Then later ,doing up a crumbling old house, from the floorboards up, I learnt “on the job”. I studied the effects of paint on walls, learning how to make big rooms feel cosier. Now ,in let’s say, a more “bijoux” residence , I am exercising the other kind of skill – making small spaces bigger ! And it also demands more restraint in terms of how many items are in the house so I am increasingly ruthless, editing out things that no longer please my eye or are appropriate to the space. I will never be a minimalist but everything has to earn the right to be there.

Over time I’ve realised that the things that give me most pleasure are the things which have some kind of story attached. The little wooden plank that my Oma had in her house to keep her keys and purse on . The green ginger jar that one grandmother gave to the other. An unusal green painted blown egg I was given in Romania. The rather forbidding carved wooden figure I bought from an amazing sculptor in northern Romania. Of course, I buy things for colour or shape or function as well – but they never achieve quite the same level as the “story” items.

I’ve digressed a little  – my intended “Five” was  a round up of past and present interior inspirations.

1. Tricia Guild from Designer’s Guild.

Around the time I did up the first house she had just launched a range for Next. It was very pale and faded and stood out against the harsher colours or overly floral chintz elsewhere. From then on I’ve followed her career. Visiting her shop was always a treat if I was in London and her books a more accesible resource. Inspiration  is a favourite – especially if I’m  looking to jump start a new colour combination.

2. Jocasta Innes – The other designer who influenced me at the outset wrote a book called “Paint Magic” ( published 1982 – goodness !) and went on to develop a wonderful range of paints , which, I’ve been sad to discover are no longer in production. But maybe her books are still available. The  second book “The Thrifty Decorator” ( 1993 ) was also ahead of its time, in restoring old furniature and reviving old skills .

And then zapping along to more recent inspirations …

3. VT Wonen – This Dutch interor design magazine really appeals to my liking for “crisp and clean” styling. But with contemporary unfussy shapes or bold use of colour. I pick up a copy everytime I am in Holland and keep meaning to set up a subscription. In the meantime they have a great website ( which is in Dutch , but the images are great if you’ve not needed to master that language).

ETC by Sibella Court -I’ve written about this book before, but I keep returning to it. I love how she writes about colour palettes and suggests creating palettes of ten colours and then using them in various combinations as a way to unify the style of a house.

5. And a new discovery for me – who is suddenly appearing all over the place -Sania Pell.  She has written a book, The Homemade Home,  which I’ll make a point of peeking at next time I am in a bookshop, but for now I’ve enjoyed her new blog, site and interviews, amongst others the one on the Do What You Love  site. I am delighted to see that there is an Edinburgh connection as she has studied and taught at Edinburgh College of Art.

By the way , if you want to join in this round of the Do What you Love ecourse – I think today is the last day to sign up.

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I am planning a few changes with my Etsy shop and website in the next wee while – if you’d like to be “in the know” you can subscribe you my Studio Newsletter here. And if you’d like to contribute your “Five on a Friday ” just let me know.