favourite shop: dille & kamille, brussels

When Mr. A and I visited Brussels recently we came across the loveliest shop. Dille & Kamille was just steps from our hotel and I was so happy to have found it.

Of course I knew immediately upon seeing the exterior that I had to go in. Love a black and white striped awning. At first I thought it was a garden or flower shop.

The displays of neatly arranged plants on either side of the entry created a warm welcome.

This cluster of heather and sedum was so simple yet so striking. Made a note to myself to get some heather when I got home. And I did.

Inside, we discovered Dille & Kamille is much more than a garden shop. It's kitchen, bath, gourmet, utility, linens, and books and so much more. All of the goods and displays have the aesthetic of simplicity and abundance, quality and utility. My favourite.

This mountain of gorgeous market baskets caught my eye first. I want to live in a world where all the food from the market is carried home in one or two of these on a bicycle, not in a tumble of black logo-emblazoned cotton totes shoved in the trunk...sigh.

There were more lovely plants inside and they made me fantasize for a moment that maybe I should really try to keep some alive at home once I got back. I am actually trying.

The wall o' brushes for everything you could ever want a brush for was also dreamy. Yes, I find a wall o' brushes dreamy. I swooned over just such a wall at the store Manufactum in Frankfurt last year and stocked up then, otherwise a few of these beauties would have def come home with me.

More amazing scrubbing things and oh my goodness look at the blocks of soap!

Any wooden cutting board or charcuterie board you could ever want. It's here.

Also, wall o' beautiful tea. Yum.

Wall o' cookbooks. Also -- some great apron action in the forground there.

Wall o' beautiful table linens. 

Turns out there are 25 locations of this fantastic home goods shop across Belgium and The Netherlands. If you will be in either of these regions and this is your thing, I highly recommend Dille & Kamille. It's just so truly lovely and a great spot to pickup gifts to bring home. Check them out at Dille & Kamille.

Hello #BlogTourCali

This is it. Today's the day. It has been 44 days since I last saw an ocean (Atlantic) and today I am Pacific-bound. No, I'm not running away to be a surfer. But a girl can dream...

Instead, this place above is first up on the itinerary for a packed junket called #BlogTourCali. Pictured is the airplane hangar that is home to the West Edge Design Fair. Should be cool. The trip is being organized by the good folks a Modenus. I'll be joining a group of designers and design bloggers from many far-flung locales. We'll take in the design show, then head up Hwy 1 all the way to San Fran. Check this link for a peek at the itinerary. We'll be stopping for a bit of spa-ing and wine-sipping along the way. I will be sure not to order the Merlot and I will try to refrain from quoting Sideways at every opportunity (I LOVE that movie -- except for the violent beating part). 

I'll be social-mediaing the heck out of this trip so please follow me over at Twitter and Insta and join me in a prayer that my data roaming package covers all my posts. (Who's the parton saint of data roaming? Googling that next.)

Meanwhile, here are a few items I'm keeping my eyes peeled for at the festival:

This thing, my friends, delivers the coffee beverage of your dreams with just a few touches to your smart device. Of course it does. Leave it to the Danes. It's the Scanomat Top Brewer.

Sexy lighting is pretty much a guarantee at a design fair. These look interesting, but will they pass the Margot's Lighting Must List. The list consists of one item: must actually emit a decent amount of light. You'd be surprised how much fancy modern lighting is actually rather useless in the function department. These look promising. They are Tripp Lights by Pelle.

It's like the love child of a Scandi safari chair and a normcore American plastic woven patio chair of days gone by. I want to give it the sit test. It's the Rod & Weave Chair by Eric Trine. I bet it makes that great creaky leather sound.

And yes, a toilet. But not just any toilet. This is the very handsome Fitzgerald from my friends at DXV, a new brand from American Standard. I met this collection at the Interior Design here in Toronto in January. At that time I didn't need a new toilet. But since moving into #AustinSuite I've been thinking the bathroom may be next on the makeover list. (after a suitable interval to receover from the stressy ickiness of our kitchen reno) Thing is, the existing toilet is perfectly excellent in function. It's just that it has the aestethic appeal of an orthopedic shoe. Also, how the lackadaisical clearner in me yearns for the ease of a skirted trapway. (PS, after you check out the DXV site, join me in a little chuckle over the fact that this company refers to its design collections as "movements". Tee hee: "Movements". Get it? I like to think that someone there has a cute sense of humour. But maybe I just need to grow up.)

And lastly, I'm playing this on repeat to power through my to do list before departure. It's "We Come Running" by Youngblood Hawke and The West Los Angeles Children's Choir. Please enjoy:



less, but better


Hello friends. Dropping by to tell you the big news. Some of you may have gleaned from some of my social media posts that change is afoot for the Austins. No, we aren't moving to Tweed or PEI, as some have asked, but yes, we are moving. We are very excited to be embarking on the new adventure of making a home for ourselves and our small dog in a condominium on the West side of the city in the Swansea neighbourhood. (I'm quite superstitious about numbers and names and love the sound and feel of Swansea. Hopefully the reality will measure up.)

After the questions about where and what the place is like (more on that in future posts), most leap right into Why? Today I quickly answered that question with "This winter." Shoveling, cleaning cars of snow, shepherding our home though a potentially damaging (though thankfully not) ice was a tough one. But the fact is, we've been talking about this for quite some time. Long before this winter. It's part midlife crisis, partly the realization of what really matters after having experienced health crises and loss, partly just time for a new property adventure.

We are in the thick of it now. Prepping a house for sale ain't an easy breezy reality show. It's hard work, and it's a rollercoaster of emotions. There is no magic crew of people that sweep in to tart things up and boost your selling price by thousands. It's the two of us and a helpful neighbour or friend pitching in here and there to make this pretty little jewel shine. I really really love this house. Leaving it will be difficult. But I'm very sure this is the right time and the right thing to do. I'm very excited about what lies ahead. Here's a fun fact: the new condo is actually larger in square footage than the main floor of our house. That said, the basement here doubles that livable space and, take my word for it -- it's FULL of stuff. Or at least it was until last weekend when we did our first push to declutter and sort and purge and edit and organize and pack. 

I can't wait to tell you more about the new place. I redesigned the entire kitchen and priced it out before we even put in our offer, since a complete overhaul was a must in my books. Another fun fact: I will be replicating the IKEA Applåd kitchen from this house for the new place with just a few tweaks that make it right for time and place. I'll fill you in on all the plans, but right now I'm obsessing about what type of faucet to go for. In the runing are: 

1. keep it simple, modern, low profile and in a timeless finish like chrome.

2. matte black. mmmmm, matte black. yum. but too trendy? 

3. something sexy in polished nickel -- all time fave finish. Forever. Always. (BTW, shared today at an industry lunch that brushed or satin nickel are on my NO NEVER list. Loathe those. Partly because normcore. Partly just, ewwww. No. Never. Ever. Not for me.)

4. an old salvaged faucet in copper or brass with heaps of patina. This is the only way I'd go into the warm metals for a faucet -- authentic, old, beat to hell. Could be very cool with an über modern kitchen. Husband is not convinced...

Meanwhile, to wrap up, here's a note about the title of this post:

I stole it from one of the people whose work I have been studying to help with this transition. "Weniger, aber besser" is a guiding principal of German designer Dieter Rams. Do you know is work? Yes you do. I didn't even know until I started researching it that I actually own some of it (and if you own any Apple device you own some of his aesthetic. It is widely agreed that Apple designers borrowed from his vision and it doesn't take a design genius to see the parallels.)

Here's our Dieter Rams original. We received a Braun Aromaster coffee maker as a wedding gift. Love it. 

In 1976 Dieter Rams made a speech in New York urging designers and consumers to take responsibilty for a world of finite resources. Here's the killer quote that I've been mulling over:

“I imagine our current situation will cause future generations to shudder at the thoughtlessness in the way in which we today fill our homes, our cities and our landscape with a chaos of assorted junk.”

You can download the whole speech in a pdf link on the Vitsoe site.

And if you need any more convincing of the enduring brilliance of Dieter Rams, here he is in his own home with his wife Ingeborg Kracht-Rams. I mean, come on. Could these two be any cooler?? No. They could not. See more of their house here. I may need to propose to Kevin that we henceforth clothe ourselves only in grey, white and black.

So, stay tuned for more news here, on the Twitter and Insta. And if you know anyone who's looking for a darling bungalow with the coziest real wood-burning fireplace, have them contact our lovely realtor, Peter Lamy.