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.

the grove cottages uk

The good people at The Grove Cottages UK began following me on Twitter recently, so I decided to have a click over to their web site for a look-see. And then I nearly fainted. What appeared before my eyes were a couple dozen of the most charming historic holiday properties in Suffolk and Essex. Aged wood beams, wood burning stoves, deep squishy sofas, four-posters, picket fences -- places made for writing a novel, drinking copious amounts of tea and wearing giant cashmere cardies and thick slipper socks. My favourite is Bromans Barn on Mersea Island.

I'm crazy for a barn conversion. This one has all the primitive charm of a barn but the intimate scale of a cottage - best of both worlds.

Utterly lovely kitchen. I think I'd be inspired to make sticky toffee pudding here. Perfect breakfast table for two. Sticky toffee pud and tea for breakfast! Oh, and the place has it's own organic veggie and herb gardens, so lots of healthy stuff at hand too, if you run out of pudding.

Just what's needed for a quiet evening, and not a spec more. Toile draperies, j'adore.

True romance. No fuss.

The Mersea Island coast. Reminds me of Prince Edward Island - no wonder I love it. They even have oysters.

I am currently imagining what I'd pack, what music I'd listen to, which poetry books I'd bring...

ps. while my Lulu would never be able to make the trip over, I appreciate any hospitality operation with a pet-friendly policy -- kindred spirits.

links: The Grove Cottages. Bromans Barn.



Well, I'm a joiner. Today -- in just the nic of time -- I decided to join the massive #Nateday (will hashtags start to creep out of Twitter and into other writing forums?) mob blogging event spearheaded by the Moggit Girls. It's not much of a challenge to sing the praises of someone so talented and famous and pretty as Nate Berkus. The challenge is in knowing so many people -- I think 77 at last count -- will be doing the exact same thing at the same time. Oh the pressure to be good and to be original -- I can barely stand it! I'm far too tired to be super super clever. This weekend has been work work work, prepping for a shoot on Tues. Body aches and stress level is up. So here's what I'm thinking -- a list: 10 Things I Have in Common with Nate Berkus.

1. We agree on the perfect formula for getting a home you love. 

It seems every designer has a book. But not all books are created equal. Nate's book is wonderful. It's not an ego-parade of beautiful rooms -- though there are plenty -- it's a guidebook and the friendly instructive text offers an excellent formula for getting rooms you love. I agree with every word and often recommend the book to those who need guidance and inspiration.

2. We both love a little bit of history.

I just adore the fact that he left the historic metal kitchen cabinets in his Chicago place intact and didn't feel the need to rip them out in favour of something shiny and new and showy. Nate and I both think sometimes old is good. And we also both love green, an interesting kitchen island and industrial chic.

3. We believe that a creamy room is a lovely thing.

I've been carrying this photo around for months as inspiration for my current project in Tweed. Love the creaminess. Love the centre table. Love the daybed. Love the giant seagrass carpet. Die for the ceiling height.

4. The character and heft of a limestone mantel cannot be denied.

I've been searching high and low for a mantel like this for the aforementioned Tweed project...want.

5. We like the cozy and chic idea of a daring dark den.

I'm planning to paint one room -- our small den (I like to call it the Snug) -- in a glossy dark colour. I was searching fan decks to find the right colour when the issue of ELLE Decor landed with this room on the cover. It's Farrow & Ball's Off Black. Hmmm, love it but still think I'll go for a deep blue instead. And just like Nate I'll hang plenty of pictures in the room to temper the darkness.

6. We both own a lovely leather Liberty animal footstool.

That little fella in the corner is from Liberty of London. The company is kind of famous for them. You can get pigs, hippos and many more animals. Hubs and I have had a vintage bulldog version since way before we had our live bulldog! He found it for less than $100 at an antique sale. They sell for $800! 

7. We believe that a simple striped carpet is almost always right.

Want. PS. also love the sawhorse-style desk base.

8. We believe in the importance of a layered vignette.

A manifestation of his lessons from Home Rules, Nate is a mix-master with so many eras, points of origin, styles and price points mingling to create a very personal story. 

9. He's a dog-lover...

Me too.

10. Kirsten Hollister.

Remember this issue of O At Home? Well, that's Kirsten Hollister. Through the miracle of the interwebs Kirsten found my blog here and e-mailed me to ask a question about a wallpaper. So, when I found her web site I clicked on the press section and flipped out when I saw this article. When the issue came out I was loving her place. I even tried to find the exact IKEA bench she was using for a banquette -- but sadly it had been discontinued. Anyhoo, how cool that she won this contest and how cool that she got in touch with me. We've been in touch a bit off and on. Kirsten recently got a dream job at Target (ok, when I read that back it makes me think of the Target lady on SNL -- it's not like that, I assure you). Congratulations Kirsten!

sources: 2, 4-9: ELLE Decor 

current obsession: rope

I braided hemp twine to make this tieback, then paired it with ready-made tassels.

For a shoot last week I borrowed one of those glass lamps that you can put things inside like this one. Love when an object offers you an option to take it to the next level with some styling. Anyhoo, I went to Lowe's and had a two-foot length of rope cut to put inside the lamp. The dude who cut it was completely baffled by my request: "What are you going to do with this?" My reply: "I'm going to put it inside a glass lamp. It also looks great coiled inside a vase." He looked at me like I had two heads! The rope cost $1.97. You can't beat that price for a little decorative oompf. I'd credit Kelly Hoppen for introducing me to the idea of a coil of rope as a decorative flourish. I find it both ridiculous and gorgeous. Clearly the dude at Lowe's thought only the former. Well, I'm here today to admit I am quite obsessed with rope and have been for a while.

It all started about 3 years ago when I became determined to install a rope stair rail in my place in Tweed. 

top 2 photos: donna griffith

The back stairs off the kitchen were a real deal-clincher when we bought this place, and from the beginning I was determined to make them a feature. Off came the beige carpet. On went 2 coats of Farrow & Ball Pointing floor paint. Then it was time for the rail. I went straight to boating supply places in Toronto to get the rope -- natural sisal and about 2in thick. I also went with boating hardware to hold the rail in place. The guys who helped me out with the products were fascinated by the idea of what I was doing and really helped me out. Sometimes design is like that -- a great adventure that you can take a few people along on. Love that. So when it came to installation time I knew exactly who to call -- my Dad. He was in the naval reserve as a young man. When I was little I used to play dress-up with the hat from his uniform. He learned to sew (repairing sails) and of course all the knots in the navy. And despite the years that have passed since, hasn't forgotten these skills. He's the one responsible for the very carefully lashed loop you see in the photo above. He's meticulous and I love him for it. The rope ends in a gorgeous coil on the upstairs landing. I'll definitely be getting a shot of it when we shoot the place for STYLE AT HOME in a few months. I have since found a site devoted entirely to stair ropes. It's called (of course). They have the MOST amazing stuff. Here's a selection.


6 photos above:

But rope rails aren't the only way to decorate with rope. There are so many more options. The key is restraint. Rope accessories are best handled like animal print ones -- a room can only handle one or two pieces. Any more and you get into gimiicky-themey territory and it all goes wrong. But how to choose...

sources: 1. rope chandleier, VandM. 2. cat's paw door stop, Ballard Designs (and a million other places). 3.rope-wrapped lamp, 4.vignette by steven gambrel. 5. room with rope candelier by steven gambrel. 6.& 7. neckalce and bracelet, anthropologie. 8.& 9. rope sconce and rope pouffe by christien meindertsma via thomas eyck. 10. long rope mirror, VandM. 11. round rope mirror, restoration hardware. 12. rope mat,

tweed decorating

The time has come. My pretty kitchen (I hope that doesn't sound boastful, I do love her) has been pleading with me to bring her neighbouring rooms up to snuff and I've decided to comply. I'm pulled in so many decorating directions -- occupational hazzard -- but for this project suitability will be my watchword. The home is a century old dowager in rural Ontario so no Domino razzle dazzle for her. Tweed House will be warm and inviting, she will be linen and wool, flax and cream. She will be fine antiques, she will be not-so-fine antiques. This is the beginning. There, it's official. Samples samples samples......

inside scoop: left side of this photo is blank because at photo shoot time I hadn't decided on what style stool I wanted. I borrowed this one by Magis --  but the store only had one. We took a second version of this shot with the stool on the left, then the Photoshop wizzes at the office knit them togther and voila, there were two, see:

btw: lest you think that I decorate with text, the words on the top right are display text from the STYLE AT HOME article. No stencil letters or peel and stick words for me thanks.

photos: donna griffith