Combining functionality and style

The title is a bit controversial, for me anyway…. I don’t like functionality as much as I like style but – like everything in life – there are always exceptions.

I used to think home offices – for most of us at least – were boring spare bedrooms which were also serving the ‘study purpose’ because of the addition of a desk and some folders. As a result these rooms, more often than not, ended up being dull and uninteresting places. This needn’t be the case. If you have a whole room to devote to an office you can make it super cozy, with bookshelves, interesting wallpaper, brass lamps, a couch, cushions, rugs etc. – library or gentleman’s club like and super slick. But even if you don’t have a whole room to dedicate to an office space, a corner in your living room, dining room or hallway can equally work to create that functional (I am no fan of this word!) space. It can look great and integrated and although there may be no direct need for you to have an office space I am now of the opinion everyone needs one as it will make that dark corner come alive and add an interesting layer to the room where you will love to sit – I promise!
My husband was in need of an office space and we had decided – like so many of us – to give up part of the guest bedroom and create some shelving and get the right desk, cabinets etc. The search for the exact size desk – larger than I had hoped for! – took a bit of time so we just let that whole project fade away….for the moment. Meanwhile I realized I would like to have somewhere downstairs to just pull up a chair, open up a laptop to do some work without needing a lot of space or shelving. I decided to source a little desk that would fit in that useless corner in our dining room between the fireplace and a built-in cupboard. For once I found the desk quickly – an old industrial Tubax school table. Furthermore I bought a vintage Jielde lamp and dressed the desk with some accessories. Whilst the desk or space isn’t very big (like my husband wanted in the guest bedroom) and it doesn’t have appropriate shelving or storage space – it works a treat and I have to fight my husband to get to sit there myself!
In addition to it being a comfortable place to quickly check some e mails it’s a real cozy, stylish and almost welcoming space and adds a bit of an extra dimension to the room. I would highly recommend everyone devote a little part of the room to work space to put a desk and then dress it nicely with a good vintage lamp and interesting accessories.


In order for a work space to not look so ‘functional’ and almost act as a style feature in your room you need to integrate the space with the rest of your decor.

Integrate your home office by baring in mind the following:

  1. Desk
    Don’t necessarily go for a true desk, or at least conventional desk, but use a table that serves the desk purpose and also looks good!
    For instance go for a stylish design table or something different like a round table.
  2. Chair
    Same really goes for the chair, make sure it is comfortable to sit in but don’t go for traditional desk style chairs – if you can avoid it.
  3. Accessories and colour
    Accessorize like you would do if you were decorating a non functional table – make sure to leave work space though!
    Make the desk blend in by using same colour schemes.

Here are some great home office space ideas.
Small desk, in comparison to the scale of room and furniture. Great lamp, non conventional desk chair and great accessories; check out yellow skull!


In both pictures, the desks have non conventional shapes. First photograph: the position of the desk in room is very original. Photograph two; the colour scheme makes everything blend in beautifully.

Photography: Vogue
A round table makes for a welcoming and original work space.

A great example of how colour can help blend in the office space.


Both pictures: colour and accessories help bring the office space together.

Round and stylish!

Photography: Elle Decor
Antique desk combined with art work and different eclectic pieces make for an interesting & stylish work space!

A more traditional office space but because of the art work, lamp, use of colours, rug and Eames chair it makes for an eclectic room where I wouldn’t mind spending some time.

Excited yet about making that dull corner come alive?

Making eclectic work

Tuesday again. Had planned to write something over the weekend or actually on Friday but the weekend started early and took over too quickly and here it is Tuesday….
I had also planned the post to be about home offices and how to make them work and shine but I will have to come back to you on that one. Clearly nothing turned out the way I had planned it… That’s actually what – I imagine – life is meant to be about; learning to adapt and letting go without losing sight of your long term goal. Life can throw you curve balls and make you wobble, it can give you highs and lows. And without the lows you don’t get to appreciate the highs. We have all heard it before. I am not trying to be clever or even pretend that I know or have been through it all but unless you are one of those cut-throat types that will pursue their dream by not let anything or anyone get in their way, you will know what I mean and understand the meaning of flexibility, change, adaptability. Sometimes things that weren’t planned end up being the most enjoyable & special moments, events, projects, or even human beings!!
Things that shouldn’t work sometimes do and vice versa. This is also true in design. It is – like in fashion – perfectly acceptable to combine vintage with flea market junk and contemporary or classic design as well as high street purchases. Why do we like to mix and match? At least I do. I think it’s exciting, makes a room more interesting and it has the best of both (read: all) worlds. But be ware… have to create eclectic interiors carefully. If not it can end up a real mess.
For me eclectic means: to mix different periods and styles…..
So to combine a vintage Herman Miller La Fonda chair (60’s) with an antique console, with a 50’s mirror and Hollywood Regency accessories for instance.
The formal definition of ‘ eclectic’ is:
Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
Synonyms: wide-ranging, broad-based, extensive, comprehensive, encyclopedic, varied, diverse, catholic, all-embracing, multifaceted, multifarious, heterogeneous, miscellaneous, assorted
So the definition provides a lot of scope for people to call anything they feel eclectic! If you have a look at pictures of eclectic interiors on the internet you find a lot of different things and some are great and some are not so….
I believe a good eclectic interior can be achieved if you bare below points in mind:
  1. Colour
    Although I am fan, you should restrain the colour palette. If you have one hue – or at least one family hue – you are able to pull off the different styles and periods much easier
  2. Scale and statement
    Again I love having some statement pieces in a room, that make people do a double-take. Or else large pieces, over-sized items of normal objects. If you want to pull off eclectic then don’t have too many statement items, it gets confusing and messy
  3.  Pattern, texture and fabric
    Pattern, texture and fabrics are great ways to finish off a look. Be mindful not to go overboard on the patterns. Generally well chosen rugs and cushions pull a theme together and enhance the eclectic look.

Here are some eclectic themes.

This picture has the combination of mirror, chairs and chaise longue – all from different periods. But if I am honest I was drawn by the beautiful hue on the walls and the pop of colour from the Jujuhat!

Photography TM Magazine
In below picture the colour palette – cushions, blue chair and lamp shade – are all in the same family hue so just about safe….the accessories and interesting statement pieces are bold and vibrant but limited so no mess. Have a look at the gun lamp and pink scull – fab.
Photography Vogue
In below picture the look – very sophisticated and classy- is achieved by the soft colour palette, beautiful statement pieces, combined with great artwork. The mirror and cabinet and coffee table nicely married together although they are from different periods.
The combination of all the different accessories, turtle, antlers, art work, rugs, leather couch etc with an industrial restrained colour palette pull off the eclectic look nicely.
Bricks Amsterdam – Garage Loft
 Below picture, blues and greens with touches of gold. A vintage Herman Miller La Fonda chair ( 60’s) is combined with art deco side tables and contemporary artwork.
IMG_0081.JPG wordt weergegeven
 Below picture has combined the great orange 50’s chairs with a restrained white colour palette, great lamps and different period tables.
Photography Elle Decor
Give it a go!

Come on over to the dark side

Come on over to the dark side

I think I must be going through “early” (I hope it’s early) midlife crisis. I am blessed with all the good things in life, kids, husband, health etc. but can’t stop thinking about those moments when it was too easy to just leave the house – alone – and walk into a Champagne bar, or Wine bar or any bar for that matter. Recently I have images in my head of myself sipping cocktails in some lush bar for no other reason than just the moment, enjoying myself, looking glam – and like I haven’t had 3 kids – and then just going home again to my great family. (Let it be clear I am very happy and I would be going to the bar to feel good about myself, nothing else, and just not to feel so “mumsy” all the time). I am sure to some I might sound ungrateful……I don’t think I am. I like to think I am not the only mum who feels this way. Those who deny this must have lost themselves somewhere along the way…How can you not get sick of running to school with peanut butter stains on track suit bottoms and make up smudges from trying to make sandwiches and slap on a bit of mascara – all at the same time? So just so we are all clear – I am not a yummy mummy. I don’t even know if I aspire to be one. I just want to be me!!

It is not that I never get to go to bars (of any variety) anymore but everything is planned, scheduled and penciled in some sort of agenda. The planned aspect coupled with the fact that I don’t go to London for work any more and have moved out of Amsterdam to the ‘burbs’ make these little ‘I am definitely part of this exciting world’ moments very rare… The other day I saw a Micheal McIntyre (British stand-up comedian, thanks Nicole!) clip from one of his shows about parenting and the drama of just trying to leave the house with kids and the lack of spontaneity to do anything; that is the impossibility of just leaving the house alone (without kids) without advanced planning…….it made me smile and also remember my bygone bar times!

With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter I want to go to those dark and cozy bars, library types with candles and fire places and lush textures….. the overriding theme – I notice – is I always need those rooms to be dark…. I have already tried to convince you to come over to the dark side before – http://www.magpiehomes.wordpress/colourcoding – but know I haven’t succeeded yet. If you haven’t been convinced by my own pics – here are some other pics…..Hopefully they will convince you….

First let’s have a drink here ……

Or perhaps here?

Now for some dark feelings at home:



Photography                         my bedroom – I couldn’t resist!






My shop:

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day…

In itself it is bad enough to realize that things will, again, have to work in accordance with timetables, alarm clocks and lunch box rituals but today even more so as I’ve had to pack 3 bags instead of 2. My youngest has now gone to school for the first time today and I feel abandoned.. I realize that I am prone to some level of exaggeration but nevertheless it feels odd. Despite it being a first day in school for everyone, and you want to get that one day right, I messed up ever so slightly…However I am also pretty confident that whilst I am far from perfect and don’t dress my kids according to the weather forecast and mix up lunch boxes – like today – I am still considered a responsible mum. That is if you don’t  judge me the same way a mother recently got judged in the media. The mother had left her child to play with a little puppy in the back garden. Another child had entered the back garden taken the little puppy and drowned it. The child who had come and taken the little puppy had some sort of behavior disorder (if I am not mistaken) so he was not really to blame. The story is of course – in itself – very sad. However the story took a bit of a turn because of the backlash against the mother of the child who had left her child to play with her puppy in her back garden. It was felt that she should not have left her child unsupervised in the garden with the garden gate closed yet not locked. If judged that way, I too am in trouble. Is there any mother who doesn’t quickly walk in the house – leaving kids to play in the garden – to put on a quick washing or make a very brief phone call? Anyway fortunately there were more like-minded people to join the degenerate camp!

Following today’s great event, I have now got more time to focus on design and whilst I want to ease into the week nicely and not do too much today I am looking at my living room thinking about what my husband noticed the other day. He commented that I had recently added a bit of a gold theme to our room. Result. I had done this but wasn’t sure of it’s effect but it has obviously worked and it also got the OK. What I had done was try to – in a subtle way – add some gold/brass touches to my duck egg, teal and green room. I had done this by adding some gold coloured vintage palm floral lamps and accessories, such as a gold coloured bird cage, some mirrors and my favourite skull which moves around quite a bit –  I now realize that I am officially hooked on the gold theme ….

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I want to leave you with some great pics from Simon Bevan – – who has demonstrated how exciting the gold theme is.

I think all pictures confirm my beliefs on ‘going dark’……everything looks better against a dark hue…it just works. Oh and by the way that bathroom is going to be mine…..even if having a shower doesn’t seem practical

Still life

I have just been to the dentist and whilst the treatment wasn’t my worst nightmare – like last time – I am a bit sore and the anesthetic is starting to wear off. So I have moved over to self medication; a couple of paracetamols and – more importantly – a couple of glasses of Chardonnay – how can I go wrong? I realize I shouldn’t be writing right now but I am not going to ” publish” anything and in the morning I will review. If it is too embarrassing, riddled with mistakes or plain awful, I will delete it. If not I will probably move on with it. It’s interesting to see how my brain works after a couple of painkillers and some alcoholic beverages. I think I am doing fine…. but maybe I should ask a second opinion? My seven year old is on the I-pad, my girls are tucked up in bed and my husband is in Ireland. I think I am OK to give it a go.

I want to talk about creating beautiful still lifes. Every home can have the most fabulous furniture, rugs, colours on walls, but it will never truly come together as an intriguing, sexy and exciting home, without the creation of some perfectly styled still lifes.

Here is a traditional still life – a still life painting – one of my favourite artworks at home…which is part of the overall still life – do you get it?


I want to talk about those little still lifes in an interior, made from objects in your interior, that make you do a double take; those that make you feel intrigued by some of the objects, the colours, the way they are placed together and overall by what that display of objects is doing for you when you look at it.

The Definition of a still life is:

1. representation chiefly of inanimate objects, as a painting of a bowl of fruit.
2. the category of subject matter in which inanimate objects are represented, as in painting or photography.
OK so that’s the formal definition – I loosely translate this into: The need for a couple of ingredients:
  1. A table, console, desk, little shelf etc – basically a hard surface you can dress.
  2. Some vases or jugs with or without flowers, bottles, candlesticks etc you really like
  3. Books
  4. An interesting vintage lamp
  5. A couple of unusual trinkets /accessories – something unexpected, with a bit of humour and extravagance

Number 1 is essential, and then any combination of at least 2 items of the remaining 4. Furthermore the composition of the objects is also key to the success. Grouping things together, using books as a little table to prop other things up on. Don’t have everything the same height and don’t place things in a row. Break things up a bit….

Here are some great still lifes:

Photo number one, has it all the lamp, the flowers, the books, some art and that great wallpaper. I think that that’s why I chose this one – the wallpaper is just amazing.

Photo number two – is fun and quirky – the baby’s head combined with the letters are just fun and perhaps a bit creepy and trigger a reaction – with me anyway!


The next 4 photographs are by photographer Simon Bevan, I love his work.

Photo number one – I think the colour and texture of the wall covering combined with the plates make this a great still life
Photo number two – again the colour is key here. But for a different reason. All is white – a bit too white – white walls white mantelpiece, white accessories. The way the photograph is taken is just spectacular with the shadows on the wall and then to emphasize the white even more that one single orange rose…


Photo number 3 is lovely and colourful with different vases displayed casually (or so it seems!) and comes very close to the classic ‘old world’ painting still lifes but this is so vibrant and really pretty….

Photo number 4 – a very good example of a still life with the lamp, the trinkets in the same gold colour, the painting, the chair. A little bit too conservative for me perhaps but I absolutely love, love, love the lamp.


A few of my still lifes..

Photo number 1 is actually how my coffee table looks – it isn’t perfect and I wanted to re-style it but thought it was more ‘authentic’ if I left it for now….books, magazines, a crocodile’s head, vases, candles, a brass skull, a bronze deer statue and a starfish ….all plonked together…

Photo number 2 is a little still life with old pharmacy bottles, some art deco brass herons and some books

IMG_0063  IMG_0059       

 Below a still life with vintage lamp, gold and glam birdcage with palm trees, flowers, books, a mirror and a pink Juju hat.

Photo number 4 is a very traditional still life, with lemons and flowers, as styled for another post – A bit of summer.

IMG_0053     WP_20150521_002

So, whilst I am not going to repeat the ‘ self medication method’ too quickly – I didn’t have to delete that much…just goes to show….

My perfect trio

For those of you who actually noticed…..something went wrong earlier this week with this post….it got published without me really wanting to publish it…and no I hadn’t been self medicating!

I am going to retry today…

Sometimes things just turn out differently than you had thought they would. Sometimes for better sometimes  for worse.The grass always seems greener on the other side…. but is it really? You shouldn’t be afraid to change your mind and never ever stop dreaming…..

In the superficial world of design same rules apply. Whilst certain things may never happen, you can always dream…..

If I wouldn’t enjoy designing and styling as much as I do myself but nevertheless was asked to just pick one interior designer to style my room or house, I couldn’t give an answer.
I have been hugely influenced by earlier designers such as David Hicks and Verner Panton. And if I look at contemporary designers I am a big fan of Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler and Jean Louis Deniot. All 3 are amazing, and a combination of this trio would be the ultimate for me. All 3 have different design elements I admire.

Kelly Wearstler’s designs are described as ‘raw and refined’ and I feel they are glamourous, extravagant, with a great sense of humor too.

Jonathan Adler is king of colour and has a great feeling for scale  – ‘happy chic and playful decorating’

Jean Louis Deniot designs can be characterized by ‘low key luxury’ but always with that vintage twist.

Kelly Wearstler: Glam, with great attention to detail and love the bar in the second photo with bar, bar stools and cabinet matching. Would love to pull up a pew there and ‘hang with a few cocktails…..,


Photography by Architectural Digest and Pinterest

Jonathan Adler: Great feeling of drama and colour – loves combining vintage and is always in for a bit of Hollywood Regency glam. Photo number two shows his feeling for colour and scale (have a look at that tiny ship chandelier!)


Photography by Pinterest and Elle Decor

Jean Louis Deniot: I actually feel I should do a whole post on him – as he is probably not as well known as the two others – and he has this understated very French feeling for luxury, art and textures. He is a big fan of sourcing some of his unusual vintage furniture and accessories on 1stDibs but then who wouldn’t be…
That kitchen is the best kitchen I have ever seen – not for now with 3 young kids, perhaps one day…


Photography by Elle Decor, Agricultural Digest and Pinterest

Never ever give up dreaming……

Black and white

Things are never really black and white are they? A lot more grey I reckon….and hopefully a splash of colour here and there!! I have never made a secret of my love of colour but I don’t mean crazy colouring – I mean dark and moody with glam, gold and pops of colour. I rarely do black and white. But I have to admit in many areas black and white is actually fabulous and sophisticated and probably makes more of an impression than other colour combinations.

My personal black and white style icon is Coco Chanel.

” Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor coco chanel black and white dress

I can think of a couple of other black and white style icons and images prevalent in my world. Growing up they would mainly be ‘coloured’ by my mothers choice of films; she would make us watch black and white films on TV on Wednesday afternoons with the heating on full blast. We would be bribed to watch with tea and cream cakes. I have fond memories of those days but think the only reason we put up with the black and white films was because of the cream cakes. It is only now that I can appreciate them and realize what an impact they have had on our interiors and style today. Audrey Hepburn would be one of those style icons we would watch; her impact is noticeable in both fashion and interiors. Simple elegance….

Enough said, here are some pictures of the clever use of black and white in interiors. You have to watch out for boring and predictable tendencies and ensure they don’t creep in, but here are some good examples of black and white done well……

Below the first photograph combines furniture of different eras. Classic vintage chairs combined with the black and white Egg chair and floor which makes for an eclectic (rather than boring) and stylish interior .

The second photograph is slightly more conservative and simply combines black and white rugs and cushions with classic furniture but with the added mirrored wall – very spectacular. My favourite items in this room are the bamboo chairs – very Hollywood Regency  (Jonathan Adler does some nice ones).

The third photograph just casually combines black and white art with dark painted doors and shelves; very effective yet easy to achieve.

        And some of my own styling projects:

  1. Zebra rug, one of my favourite black and white style statements,  combined with black lampshade and black and white framed artwork
  2. Black leather Thonet chairs (used to belong to the Court of Justice in Amsterdam), with a white sheepskin and wooden floors spray painted with white lacquer
  3. Black mantlepiece and dark walls combined with black and white accessories (art deco white phase and lamp base and 60’s black bottle, combined with white shell)

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Rather than styling your furniture and accessories in black and white you can also go for a spectacular mural.

This one is by Milan-based Studio Pepe.

studio pepe

Rebel Walls make great murals, this one is the Bellewood Black Toile Mural from the Greenhouse Collection,  looks pretty spectacular here, I reckon!

Finally a glimpse of my black and white tiles in the hallway – I cheated as you can see….I’m sure you’ll forgive me


Glamming it up

Some nations draw the curtains at night some don’t. The Dutch tend to enjoy their evenings sitting in full view without anything shielding them from the outside world looking in (or from ‘Peeping Toms’ like myself). Walking down canals in Amsterdam glaring up at beautiful canal houses trying to catch a glimpse of some opulently decorated house used to be one of my favourite pastimes.  If you’re like me you love snooping around other people’s pads. Even, or perhaps especially,  if the pads are way out of our league. We can hope and dream and definitely get some inspiration. Sometimes it would be shocking to see how a beautiful facade of a house would have a hideous interior; pricy but tasteless. I would get as much pleasure from seeing the disasters as the dream homes. It is as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like. And it confirmed my belief that money can’t buy you style…..

The other day I overheard one of my daughters asking the other what her favourite colour was. To my shock the answer wasn’t the usual ‘pink or lilac’ or any variation of these colours but the unexpected: ” gold”. I was a bit happy hoping that we had passed the ” everything is OK as long as it’s pink” phase and my baby was growing up yet at the same time I was a bit sad as I have definitely made an impression on her – and maybe a bit too much! I am not averse to a bit of gold and glam and perhaps have been so overbearing in my beliefs that a 4 year old no longer loves pink but gold. I think, though, Kelly Wearstler would be proud of me – I hope. She is one of my all-time favourite interior designers.

Money can’t buy you style but it can buy you Kelly Wearstler and we are in love. This is what Cameron Diaz must have thought when she got Kelly Wearstler to design her New York Village pad. We get to have a look at her interior without the fear of being caught and embarrassed. It is OK – please stare unashamedly…..

All photography by Elle Decor

Some final thoughts.

Although perhaps not practical for all of our homes, enough inspiration can be taken from this beautifully styled glam interior…

The Living Room

The wall covering appears to be from De Gournay and whilst pink generally isn’t for me this is fabulous. The obviously quirky Kelly Wearstler accessories are funky and demonstrate a sense of humor – check out the red heals.

The Dining Room

My favourite room here.
I love the mirrored wall and sconces – lovely and Hollywood glam. This is something that can be created and I am definitely going to give that a go (still need to convince the home front)!


Have a look at the attention to detail – gold coloured ceiling in the bedroom. Wow. This confirms my earlier view: always paint your ceiling!


My favourite colours green and gold! Take a look at the brass/gold coloured splash back – who needs a kitchen to be practical when it looks like this?

Happy days….

So one of the goldfish didn’t make it. I feel terrible. We were asked to look after the two little fellas for two weeks and we didn’t manage to keep them alive. We did exactly as we were told and I know – from experience – that you can overfeed goldfish so I was very careful to give them the exact amount of food but it was not to be…..

I think I am more upset than anyone – in fact the kids are not aware! Imagine. The girls have been convinced that one of them is hiding under a rock (for the past few days, that is!) – they actually believe this story. My son hasn’t as much as looked at the fish and really has no idea whether there are one, two or none! And he was supposed to look after the fish for his little friend. I now need to figure out how to break the news to the young boy who I sense already finds me a bit intimidating. I think the cowardly way is probably best – I will buy a new fish and leave it up to the mother to decide whether the boy can cope with the idea of the fish breathing its last breath under our supervision or whether she can get away with not telling him at all – let’s hope I can find an exact copy. All not good.

I desperately need to change the mood of today. I will have to think of the things that put a smile on my face! I will spare you the obvious; my kids tucked up in bed and smiling in their sleep, a perfect night out with my husband, that special glass of red wine, crusty bread with salted butter (not allowed on my diet) etc.

For now, these things cheer me up:

1) That fabulous bunch of flowers recently given to me by my husband

2) Perfectly created still lifes…..

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3) That amazing wallpaper by Calico Wallpaper, New York – I am a fan! And am definitely going to use this wallpaper to upgrade one of my rooms.


4) Some new items in my Etsy shop –   my very cute heron birds, a fab Hollywood style – Maison Jansen palm tree lamp and that over-the-top but glam bird cage on:

Here is that Maison Jansen style Palm lamp.


Enough already?