When I was thinking about how this blog was changing – away from design to more personal posts about coastal living and some of our favourite places to explore and walk – I wasn’t sure how to integrate design into this format. Would it jar? Possibly. But some design led posts still feel like they fit here, and particularly when you combine contemporary architecture with a sustainable ethos and a striking coastal location, as with Majamaja, which is situated just outside Helsinki.
So hello again. It’s been a while. Of all the things that I imagined might draw me back here to blog again, a global pandemic wasn’t one of them. But look at how much our lives have changed in a few short weeks. Short weeks that feel so much longer. Two weekends back we were in Fife visiting Cambo Estate; having a bite of lunch in their café and walking in the walled garden; visiting the glasshouses before winding through the woodland with its carpet of snowdrops. We walked along Kingsbarns beach in the low, late afternoon light, enjoying the peace and emptiness of the scene. Two weeks ago, we couldn’t even have imagined the rules of social distancing; friends losing all their work and closing the doors to their businesses, unsure of when they might open again. A country in lockdown with all the restrictions this brings. A world in crisis.
If, like me, you’re already an admirer of the Copenhagen-based Norm Architects – the home of Norm’s co-founder Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen has been a favourite of mine since I first laid eyes on its restrained and elegant interior – then any new project from the practice is going to demand attention. And, as these photos show, the Gjøvik House in Norway is another beautiful example of Norm Architects’ understated approach.
Designer, author and photographer Claire Lloyd is passionate about light – as she writes on her website, ‘Light makes my spirit soar’ – and this is evident in Claire’s approach to each interior project, from her light-filled Greek island home, which was the subject of her 2012 book entitled My Greek Island Home, to this minimal mews house in London’s Notting Hill which Claire redesigned completely (she has since sold the property), photographed here by Nathalie Priem. From her early career working in art direction for magazines including Australian Vogue, to more recent work as an author of two books – her first, Sensual Living, was published in 1998 – Australian-born Claire’s eye for simplicity and refined detailing has resulted in interiors with a beautifully understated and quiet aesthetic.
Back in November I shared the first in a new series of blog posts with photographer Nathalie Priem, and I’m delighted to be sharing another – and another London home, this time in Stockwell, which was redesigned by architect Michela Bertolini. This property has evolved over the years as parts of the house were initially rented, and the owners have been working with Michela to reconfigure the spaces.
Michela Bertolini Design Studio describes the ethos of her practice as “timeless simplicity, combined with an attention to precise construction detailing. We are drawn to textures and materials, to natural light and the emotional link that forms between people and places.” I caught up with Michela towards the end of year to ask a few questions about this project, and how that timeless simplicity is reflected in this beautifully redesigned ground and garden apartment.
Every so often an email appears in my inbox that is simply too good to resist, and when I received the photos of this gorgeous kitchen by the Italian company Cesar I knew they had to be shared. I always seem to be drawn to kitchens first when I’m looking at an interior, and while it’s a bit of a cliché to say that a great kitchen can help sell a house or flat when it comes to market, it’s also true. The kitchen – particularly a dining-kitchen that you can basically live in – has shifted to become the focus in our homes.
And I’m always drawn to contrasts – in this case, a super-crisp and immaculately detailed kitchen within a period space.