How to create a cool interior with mid-century furniture

“Oh my goodness, my mum had one just like that!”….
“It’s like walking into my auntie’s house”….
“I know folk who burnt a whole lot of these on the bonfire, that’s what they used to do”

Yep, that’s what I hear in my shop almost on a weekly basis! I sell old furniture that for some people is too much ‘like their childhood’, or is ‘too recent’ for others. But I love it. And this is why.

The wonderful Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona
http://www.themodernist.co.uk/2011/12/ludwieg-mies-van-der-rohe/
 —
Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen,
who made the famous ‘Ant’ chair

In Groningen, The Netherlands, where I am originally from, I studied Architecture History with the emphasis on the 20th century. Modernism was a big part of the course and that is most definitely where I got my passion for form and design. A lot of architects, such as Juhl, Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Jacobsen and Le Corbusier are not only responsible for revolutionary buildings, but created some of the most iconic pieces of furniture too. If you have ever visited Barcelona you might have come across the gorgeous pavillion by modernist Mies van der Rohe (pictured above). Would you believe this was built in 1929?

The Eames DSW chair

A lot of great chairs have been produced by these guys too. Who doesn’t know the famous ‘Eames chair’ from the 1950s, that is still being produced and more popular than ever? Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona chair’ is still in such high demand that there are now numerous companies around selling reproductions.

It is the attention to detail, the love for material and the belief that ‘form follows function’ rather than to adorn a piece of furniture – or building – with unnecessary decoration, that make these ‘vintage’ designs into timeless classics. Buildings are ‘light and open’ instead of dark and heavy and so are the chairs, tables and sideboards.

Danish architect Finn Juhl’s house in Copenhagen. http://www.finnjuhl.com/inspiration/inspiration-finn-juhls-house-copenhagen-2/
A Danish style sideboard combined with a Mies van der Rohe ‘Barcelona’ day bed and some bold artwork. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416041155470/

 

A 1960s tallboy that may have ended up on the bonfire if I hadn’t
rescued it, polished it up and painted the outside grey to cover
the stained top.

The key to a great looking interior with these vintage pieces though is to create a cool mix. Don’t buy a complete matching set of 1960s teak furniture or you will recreate your auntie’s house (especially if you get that orange Hornsea coffee pot out as well). Buy a good solid mid-century sideboard, hang a large bold painting or photograph above it, invest in a great new sofa from a designer shop (or get a budget one from Ikea 😉 and add old and new accessories you find on your travels to make the room truly your own. And keep it light and airy.

When you visit my little shop you will often find teak sideboards and chests of drawers, 1960s dining room sets and Scandinavian looking armchairs of at least 40 years old. Some pieces I paint when I think they look better in a different colour or are too damaged to sell as they are. Some chairs I recover to give them an updated look. But all items are chosen because I really liked them.

The word ‘vintage’ is terribly trendy at the moment and the word ‘retro’ always reminds me of brown and orange psychedelic wallpaper (and that matching Hornsea coffee set). When I select furniture for the shop I go for pieces that have a beautiful shape, are well made and would look just as good in a modern home as they did 50 or so years ago. While I can’t promise you that all pieces found at Nina’s Apartment are designed by famous architects and designers (but I do my best to hunt them down!), I do promise that they will be great examples of beautiful & classic design.

Is this 1960s dining set still reminding you of your auntie’s house?
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042566364/

 

A great looking dining room with some prime examples of mid-century modern design
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042407314/

Travel blog post: colours of Cyprus

I have just come back from Cyprus and had a great time. I wanted to share a few interesting photos of things that caught my eye while walking around in various places, especially of the rich colours and patterns on buildings and in textiles. Cyprus has a rich history of different cultures all putting their stamp on the island, and of course at present it is still divided in a Greek and a Turkish part. The Greek side is more modern and developed with many large hotels and plenty of activity along the many beaches, while the Turkish side is quieter with less of that going on and more strips of beach all to yourself, though there are lots of villas being built for foreigners wanting their own place in the sun. At times it can be hard to look through all the ugly building developments, noisy bars as well as rubbish left on beaches, which unfortunately you see, but if you venture away from the beaten track you’ll soon come across the real beauty and authenticity that Cyprus has to offer – both in the South and the North. A great island all around.

 

Beautiful colours in this carpet in  the Halan Sultan Tekke mosque, Larnaca, South Cyprus
Some true vintage furniture in Bellapais, Kyrenia, North Cyprus
Glorious bougainvillea growing in an old plastic barrel, Kyrenia, North Cyprus
Various street scenes in Nicosia
fantastic handmade lace in Lefkara, South Cyprus
Rich colours, blue paint and red geranium in Lefkara, South Cyprus
Lace shop in Lefkara, South Cyprus
Striking blue wall at the local museum of Lefkara, South Cyprus

 

Sunlight and shadows on a beautiful yellow door in Bellapais, North Cyprus
Great selection of carpets in the Halan Sultna Tekke mosque in Larnaca, South Cyprus
Blue, blue blue….in Lefkara, South Cyprus
Bright yellow flower and blue furniture on the beach in Larnaca

Tan leather sofas, my new found love.

Maybe it’s the Spring in the air, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sitting on the same boring black sofa for years now (my husband “bought it for life” when he was still a bachelor, so I said we could keep it for a bit longer…), but I fancy a change. Not a life change, a sofa change. Normally I would choose a fabric one, either wool or linen, but with two cats and a toddler I think leather is probably not a bad idea. So I’ve been browsing – yes you guessed it – Pinterest, and here’s some pictures of beauties I wanted to share with you today.

Tan leather seems to mix with quite a few colour schemes and styles, whether contemporary, retro or classic. I also love the mix of grey walls and tan leather, combined with some ethnic accent cushions. Natural wooden floors and kelim wool rugs combine well too.

Gorgeous vintage leather sofa and chair with great contemporary art and natural floor boards (http://pinterest.com/pin/486881409685166222/)
I love the graphic rug, ethnic cushions and metal side tables in this picture. A white backdrop is perfect to make the colours pop. http://pinterest.com/pin/486881409685166213/
Lovely retro sofa against a grey wall with art display. Great bog floor cushion too. http://pinterest.com/pin/486881409685166220/
Wonderful big artworks behind this beauty. Looks like a cosy sofa to snuggle up in with those cushions http://pinterest.com/pin/486881409685166217/
Beautiful simple shape, not too bulky and a adding great warmth to the deep grey back wall. http://pinterest.com/pin/486881409685104938/
Great retro room with this tan sofa, grey wall and purple accessories http://pinterest.com/pin/562105597210729702/

What inspired me this week: rich colours, natural wood and artwork in your interior

As always I browse Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Here are a few of the images I have pinned onto my Interior Inspiration board this week. I love the deep colours combined with natural wood in some of the rooms. I also included images of some artworks that made me smile. And of course I couldn’t resist including some colourful cushions… In these cold winter months I believe we need to surround ourselves with happy colours and the things we love. Stay warm! Enjoy!

(Images: http://www.roseandgrey.co.uk, http://noperfectdayforbananafish.tumblr.com/page/5, http://www.cavetocanvas.com, http://www.houzz.com)