My true colours.

Long before anybody talked about those wonderfully bleary colours from Farrow & Ball, there were those by Primrose Bordier, the colourist-in-chief of Descamps. If Descamps ever was regarded as a great brand, it was her doing, in a time when everything was brutally colourful, she did mauves, greys and beiges. In towels! Her bedlinens were of blurry non-colours, striped indistinction, never bright, always suavely elegant. My family’s obsession with Primrose Bordier started in the late 1970s in Luxembourg where a wonderful department store on Grand’ Rue, run by Mr Cohen and named Maison Moderne, had a beautiful home department offering Descamps’ entire range, it was also among the very first stores to present Giorgio Armani, when the black label was the master’s only label, but that’s another story, anyway, my mother went nuts with these towels in these amazing colours, all these washed out browns, khakis and even the maroon my mother chose was the mistiest maroon there had ever been, Männerfarben, men’s colours, thus called by a friend of my mother’s who hated everything overly feminine, flower prints especially, as you can guess she hated everything by Porthault, anyway, years and years ago in Hamburg, I bought this duvet cover and pillowcases by Descamps, one of the last before the company changed their identity completely, a greyish, mauve pattern showcasing an indifferent attempt to look like something colourful, a Shelley poem dedicated to a misty heathland morning in the moors…

An ode to my kitchen.

My favourite room has always been the kitchen, it’s not only the place where you always meet a member of your family and one or two of the cats, always starved to death, of course, but most importantly it’s the place where all the good things are, except for the wine, the wine’s in the wine cellar, but still, there’s the coffee machine and the espresso machine, there’s the toaster and the bread, the marmalade, the cookies, the chocolate, the honey, the apples and bananas, strawberries and artichokes, organic and terrific, the olives, black and green, the pasta, the spices, cinnamon and chillies, basil, rosemary, and paprika, there’s the tea canisters you’ve imported from Paris, all those fancy Mariage Frères and Kusmi boxes, then there’s the fridge, of course, filled with salami and cheese, buffalo mozzarella and Crottin de Chavignol, yoghurt and lemonade, the milk for the coffee and the tea, milk in first, by the way, always, there’s your china, the Spode and the Royal Copenhagen, the inherited cutlery with some dead guy’s initials on them, the oven, the oven that I shamefully haven’t mentioned before, the oven to make some yummy cake in, or a soufflé, or whatever, the hissing sound of lit gas alone is heavenly, it tells you stories of great menus in the offing, or the roistering one when the water for your tea comes to a boil, the minutes you wait for the brew, five minutes to do nothing at all, just counting down the seconds while looking out of the window and listen to some blackbird’s ramblings on… oh, that place we call the kitchen, it would be the same by any other name, of course, but why not call it heaven?

Howards End revisited.

At the beginning of James Ivory’s wonderful film Howards End, a perfect adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, Vanessa Redgrave walks through a beautiful cottage garden, it’s hers, no doubt, she’s so very much at ease, she’s contemplating everything with such devotion as if she wanted to soak it all in, as if these flowers, trees, and the mere grass she’s walking on were as essential as the oxygen in the very air she’s breathing in, she’s completely in her element, utterly invigorated—this scene is of no particular importance to the film, at first glance she might appear just as another elderly Victorian lady from another English period drama, her role is just a supporting one anyway, but to me, this scene is everything, to me, it’s the best scene of the entire film, however more significant the rest of the content is, it’s just so true a moment, there’s nothing better than to take a walk through your garden, paying a visit to all these plants you’ve known for years and years, watch them grow and bloom, branches, boughs, and trunks, leaves and blossoms, they all have your complete attention, every single one of them, and this attention is what takes away your every problem, some kind of gentlemen’s agreement, you care for us, we care for you—pacta sunt servanda, and on goes the hose.

Covered with ivy and confusion.

Why that is, I couldn’t tell you. Hence my confusion. I think, it all started with some ivy planted to cover some ground where nothing else would grow, the ivy, however, spread, beautifully even, and thankful as we are, we allowed it to spread further, and farther, it then started to climb up trees, our very old apple tree at first, then the cherry, then the plum, giving it an allure of a French country garden’s forgotten but very romantic corner, then, flattered by that French allure all that ivy was so beautifully insinuating, we couldn’t wait for the ivy reaching the pine, the catalpa, the maple, the other cherry tree, the walls, too, of course, the house, the, well, everything, so we started to grow our own ivy, which is actually easily done, just cut some, water it and wait for some roots to sprout, and now, die ich rief, die Geister, werd’ ich nun nicht los, luckily Goethe has a quotation at hand for any kind of situation, the spirits I had conjured up, now, they won’t let go of me, so, once again, I have to leave you with the awful truth of my life’s trials and tribulations, as our garden has been devoured by ivy, our house has semi-disappeared, some delivery people have difficulties finding it, that’s a true story, we actually helped DHL find an excuse, I hope you enjoy some schadenfreude every now and then…

Healthy decorating.

Last weekend, I made some minor interior decorating changes, and some major ones. As for the minor ones, my DVD player is now placed on my Hermès magazines, collected for some many a year, decades even, now finally they have a purpose, and I spare the money for the matching Marcel Breuer Bauhaus table on which the TV set is placed a floor above, so to speak. Then I hall chaired a corner in the living room, scented it with Diptyque’s Benjoin, benzoin, by the way, is the best of scents, and turquoised it with a tiny tray, wooden and lacquered, made in Vietnam, it’s from Hermès in Zurich, achat spontané, and finally, here comes the major change in style: I put apples in a bowl that has been empty ever since I bought it when spending two weeks on the Maldives in 2006. Have more apples, organic of course, that’s my new motto. Healthwise and decorwise.

Dusting Frenzy.

Years and years ago, I saw a film with Goldie Hawn, she played some rich girl who, for some reason or another, had a complete blackout, total amnesia, and for some other reason, also unknown to me, partial amnesia on my side here, she winds up on Kurt Russell‘s houseboat, he’s poor of course, for contrast, and I think they fall in love, doesn‘t come as a surprise, does it, anyway, from this film, I remember but one scene, the one where she’s cleaning that houseboat, devotedly, thoroughly, deeply, leaving-out-nothingly, and then, as everything‘s finally spotless, she sits down on a couch – and bursts out into tears, total nervous breakdown. I can relate to that. Especially today. Today, the sun came out, out of nowhere, or the blue, but wherever it came from, it started shining ruthlessly, quite unforgivingly it focused on the dust that has been hiding completely undetected during these months of greyish skies, we‘re talking massive amounts of dust, but now, suddenly, it was out in the open for everyone to see, and thus confronted me, laughingly, feeling ever so secure, that dust knows all about my sloth, so, what are you going to do, it seemed to ask. But, ha! The joke‘s on you, as for once, I set procrastination aside and started hoovering immediately, and dusting, and tidying, and cleaning, even airing my duvet, only those windows still have to wait, just a little, as I haven‘t stopped crying yet.

Late summer, indoors.

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We’ve enjoyed two days of late summer, this early autumn in Berlin. Everybody was frolicking through town, through parks and streets, trying to forget about those grey, rainy days ahead of us, soaking up the sunshine before its deficiency sets in and makes us miserable and eat tons of cookies, double chocolate chipped, I am pretty sure without all this extra chocolate intake during the holidays, peaking on Christmas Eve, we’d all be among the suicides in the morgues, no way we could survive this period of leafless trees, grey skies and endless colds without it, anyway, as much as I wanted to join my compassionates, I for one stayed at home, soaking up the impact these last sunny days had on my interior decoration, everything looked so splendid, the sun was bringing out everything at its very best, I just had to. And now I have to go out, I do need some fresh air.

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Family dinner.

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For family dinners, I’m always in charge of dessert. Today, it’s going to be raspberries with cream. It’s easily prepared, I open the fridge for the cream and the freezer for the raspberries, and I’m done. And then, all while sipping Chardonnay, I witness the rest of the meal being prepared, artichokes are being cooked, a vinaigrette is being composed, lots of French mustard and Italian olive oil form a beautiful entente cordiale, parsley from the garden is being “haché-menu”-ed, ever so fresh chanterelles are being cut, not from the garden but from the grocer, the table is being set, by whom actually, my father, I suppose, gee, that Chardonnay is really drinkable, and all of a sudden, I’m the last one missing at the table, I better join them, hey, they’re are having red wine, okay, fine with me, bon appétit.

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Think pink. Think Camilla.

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Think pink. That’s what we learned from Funny Face’s Quality magazine’s editor-in-chief Maggie Prescott – Hollywood’s version of Diana Vreeland. Think pink. That’s what I learned from my mother. My life is quite unthinkable without her Pink Camilla china service, designed by Spode in the late 1700s. I grew up with it, took parts of it to my very first apartment, bought additional pieces myself, smashed dozens of cups and plates, some teapots, too, replaced it all, well, not all, only the pieces I smashed after making my own living, after turning 27, so to speak, I still have tea from a broken bouillon cup, its handle broke years and years ago, my doing of course, never anybody else’s, why that is I don’t know, I’m not that clumsy, believe you me, anyway, I had my cornflakes in it right before school and vichyssoise, game and charlotte russe on Christmas eve, lamb was served on it at Easter and strawberry extravaganzas on my birthday, it witnessed tears and laughter, the entertaining of dear friends and social obligation dinners, small talk and passed on top secret information, all over breakfast, lunch and dinner, over coffee, tea, wine and champagne, in summer and winter, in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the garden, in a nutshell, this china is part of my life, and however much I love my own Royal Copenhagen, Pink Camilla will always represent my home, my parents, my background. God bless her.

So, here’s a potpourri of pictures I took over my years on Instagram.

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Moving & Decorating Frenzy.

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So, I moved to Berlin. As a consequence, I found myself living with misplaced pieces of furniture and boxes, boxes, and boxes. Big boxes, small boxes, boxes containing other boxes, heavy boxes, really heavy boxes, and light boxes, boxes filled with books, lots of books, all of them to be alphabetised, I warn you, there are more authors with M than you might think, which you only realise when you’ve just successfully decorated the space between N and O, Neruda and O’Casey, and then you’re handed a box with more Mann, you had forgotten all about Thomas Mann’s letters, all of them, three big volumes, and hey, there is Golo Mann and Heinrich Mann and Klaus Mann, too, what did this family ever do besides writing, and if this wasn’t enough, all kinds of wrapped stuff was hindering my way to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the front door, to the bedroom, to the washing machine, to the balcony and off the balcony, I was going mad. Really. It took a lot of soothing Niederegger Marzipan and Lenôtre cakes from KaDeWe, Berlin’s fanciest department store, to survive it. You see, little did I know that unpacking these boxes would cause even more chaos. What to do with all this stuff you strangely acquired over the years? Where to put it? And why do you have to dust things you’ve just unpacked? And why is there always more of it? More things, more dust. But somehow I managed. My kitchen cabinets were very welcoming. But mostly because my 75-year old mother helped me. She’s a great organiser. She would have made it big in the military, she would have been made general in a week or so. Now, she’s gone home, advising her gardeners on how to garden her garden. And I am living in an apartment that almost looks like one. Thanks, Mummy!

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