Weekend Links: Soul Food

Stephanie Stamatis and Luisa Brimble via apartmentdiet.com

Hello lovely folks,

It’s been a big week for us, and perhaps for you too.

We’ve been out exploring interiors at the 1st or 2nd store, working with brave clients making space (in their closets, homes and lives) for more of the experiences they want and reflecting about death and loss in today’s fast paced world.

We’re also getting closer to what this blog-turned-business is. We want to share what we’ve learned the last 5 years working on our spaces and lives and the last 20 years in following (and not following) our own paths….the simple rules, processes and ideas we have learned that help us “cut through the noise & focus on what matters“, to “live lighter, and work better“.

Our hope is that in sharing our stories and lessons, you too can clear through the noise to focus on what matters to you, too.

And now for some links to keep you inspired over the weekend:

Moving On: When Someone Close To You Loses Someone Close To Them

harry araten fall

Death. That word we whisper and ignore.
And for the most part we can.
Until we get an sms or a phone call or catch a comment on facebook…
And yet, even then.
Our world demands that we move on FAST.

Often people come back to work, are told to get on with their lives.

The concept that grief persists weeks, months and years later seems strange in this fast-paced world of ‘moments’ and ‘messages’/’notifications’ strung together…that disappear into the whirlpool of feeds and phones.

Move on we’re told. Move to what’s next.

I have been relatively lucky (tfu tfu tfu as the Jewish & Greek grandmother’s hiss) that death and loss has touched me by the side. That is, over the years I have known a large number of people close to me who have dealt with large and powerful loss. The loss of a parent, the loss of a sibling, the loss of a partner, the loss of a child…

I cannot say anything directly about how they feel for I have always been the bystander or observer, but I have often been next to it. My personal experiences as an adult have seen the loss of grandparents, but, even though those are hard, a person who lived a full life has a different funeral and passing.

That said I do come from a family that grapples with loss in their shadowy back story of WWII. So perhaps my experiences with loss are the whispering ones I grew up with. Haunting tales never fully told that live in me.

But I digress.

This week, this Thursday, marks the day, exactly one year ago when I received one such phone call. And it shook me to my core. Again, I was by the wayside, far away from Australia. Close family friends of ours were in a car accident, and Hans, dear Hans, was somehow, confusingly dead.

Harry Aratan Love-Songs

My son was 5 weeks old and like most new mothers I was lost in that between space of sleep and sleeplessness, and hormones.

Perhaps because of this I had an experience. I have no other words for it and in some ways it doesn’t matter. Many of us have experiences and episodes, some we ignore and some journeys we would never care to share. What I can say is that I suddenly found myself there, on the shadowy side, for the first time…I was THERE, wherever there is, and I put out the call.

I don’t have other words to describe it because these shadow worlds are not places for eloquence. They are places for experience.

But I put out the call, and they, whatever they are, came. And Hans was held and moved on. And I was back HERE.

harry araten balancing the world

I know the place, because I am also a storyteller, and stories tell of it. In my story landscape it is the Well of Wyrd that sits below Ygdrassal, the world tree. In others it is the outer barren lands between. Or the journey to Pardes. Or behind the veil.

I know that there is a danger to journey there and I can only say that I thank Hans for taking me to the place and and giving me a final gift (of many)…that I returned safely to this one. I thank my newborn son and Mr. too, because it is exactly in life and grounding that we can return healthily. I don’t imagine I could have gone there had I not so recently moved phases and become a mother.

But what of all these stories I am sharing with you?
Why am I taking you to the lands between life and death?
Perhaps because I realise as I write, there is nothing to fear. Not there.

The fear is HERE.

The fear is here that we are not living the life we need. The one that taps us on the shoulder and whispers to us. The one that tries to stare back at us in the mirror while we cover ourselves with make up and armour, and our homes and closets with things.

OK, so that’s our fear.

But what is it is we fear when someone around us loses someone close?

From observation I have noticed it is two things:
1. That it will happen to us and we will have to change 2. That we will say the wrong thing.

We will come back to 1, because this is not about you right now….for 2 I will share something that I have learned.

There is little wrong that you can say if you are checking in on someone from a true place of love.

Do not be hurt if they don’t want to talk with you about it (one of my lessons).

For most people in mourning being asked regularly, after most people have forgotten to ask, “how are you doing?” and “do you want to go for a walk or drive (or dinner)?” is what they need.

Really. In general women will want to talk and men will want to move. Another gift clarified from knowing Hans is that men will often talk more comfortably, openly and freely while driving or walking.

Rainbow-Rain-harry araten

I have a close friend who lost her sister in a house fire when we were young. I can’t even imagine it. Not for one second. But we went for a walk every weekend for 2 years. One of the things I learned from her was that people at work expected her to be OK after a few weeks. They found it easier to ask the woman who worked next to her about her eating disorder.

It made sense to her but made her sad. She just wanted people to ask her if she was OK. How she was coping.

Araten, Harry The Art of Happiness

Yesterday I spoke with an old work colleague and he made me realise that some of Tip’s and my work here is to bring back some old truths. Of things that matter to humans.

This being human is a weird thing but no matter how many things we have and how much technology we use to cover it up and enrich us (and it DOES also do that – hey I can talk to you from the other side of the world! Through binary!)…but there are still things that humans need: love, connection and yes, rituals.

An understanding that we are part of larger cycles that go further and beyond what we can see. There IS comfort there.

And I think we want comfort. Especially around times of loss.

harry araten forest of pictures

Which brings me to rituals. Tip and I talk about habits but we also talk about creating rituals.

The finality of a loss takes a long time. Much longer than we sometimes expect. But many of us have lost the mourning rituals that help us on our way back. Most religions have mourning rituals lasting a year. And that first year is JUST to understand the person has moved on.

I often hear stories of people who’ve only begun to deal with the loss, or have the breakdown, 2 or 3 years on.

In the context of such rituals it makes sense. The finality doesn’t come in the instant. It comes much later. When you realise you want to talk to them about something. When a memory returns and you can’t share it with them. Or worse, when you realise that the memories are fading. That you DON’T remember anymore.

To those brave ones of you who are facing loss, I take my hat in my hands and offer you the comfort that you will get through this, in time.

To those friends dealing with loss around you I ask that that you offer your hands. Your ears. To let go of the fear that you will say or do something wrong. Or that it will happen to you. Or that you are glad it didn’t happen to you. There is no shame in these thoughts.

We are human and our way is complex and inherited are memories and thoughts and fears that have been passed down through the eons.

But our actions, the ones we perform right now, they are the ones that we have power over. Trust yourself that they are the right ones. And when you make mistakes, accept them.

Those seeking actions – here are some borrowed from rituals around death…parents, you’ll notice it’s a similar list to what you would do for friends who have just had a newborn:

  • Bring over a cooked meal
  • Go and look after the kids
  • Sit with them
  • Connect with them (by all means, use modern technology! Pick up the phone, send an email….)
  • Share stories that make you laugh and cry
  • Offer a hug
  • Go for a walk
  • Do some loads of washing and clean some dishes
  • Treat them to a massage


images: Harry Araten

Thank you, Hans. In loving memory.


Guest post – Bloggers lunch at the 1st or 2nd store

Elma Coetzee, a photographer & illustrator friend of mine documented our bloggers lunch adventure recently at the 1st or 2nd Design Choices store (brainchild of April & May Studio):


On a crisp autumn afternoon I joined the lovely Tip from Apartment Diet at a bloggers lunch held at the new First or Second Store in Alkmaar. The lunch was hosted by Sandra from Accessorize your home and catered by Femke & Eddy from Hééérlijk. The shop was opened in September 2014 and is a work in progress with the upper levels yet to be updated by the talented team from April & May Studio.


The outside of the store certainly gives nothing away about the inside. I was happily surprised when I walked through the door hit by the welcoming smell of cookies and beautiful design furniture. The store is tastefully decorated in a minimalistic scandinavian style. Imagine clean lines balanced with subtle soft furnishings.


After a delicious lunch we had the store all to ourselves and received a tour from Jantine & Vivian. I love the way they play with art accessories. Posters, little drawings, black and white prints or even just a postcard taped to the wall. I found the store to be original, inspiring and I had a lot of fun taking photos on the day.


* For those of you in the Netherlands interested in joining a bloggers lunch hosted by Sandra / Femke & Eddy, check out the website.


All images shot & edited & owned by Elma Coetzee.






Weekend Sparks & Clean Your Refridgerator Day

sweden samwell kitchen via sfgirlbybay apartmentdiet


Did you know it’s Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on Saturday?

Well, now you do!

I often laugh that there seems to be a billion different “days” every year. I also laughed when I realised that unless there’s a sexy smeg you will almost NEVER see a fridge in a kitchen pic in a glossy magazine or pinterest. (Yet another reason to enjoy the inspiration but love where you are). But this weekend I realised there was “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day” and I’m getting on the bandwagon. I’m even ignoring that it may have been started by some fridge co.

So folks, one of our first ever happy house rules was start with a corner – this weekend I challenge you to start with a particular corner – your fridge. Give it a loving clean out, wipe it down with some baking soda and water, and fill it up with some things that make you smile inside and out. Commit to adding things that make you smile and keep your body healthy. Heck, maybe go one step further and invite a friend round for something that’s in the fridge.

Challenge over, off you toddle to start!

And now for some prettiness to keep you inspired ’til next week (and lest you feel bad about your own spaces, remember most spaces below usually don’t like this, it’s only when stylists swoop in, stuff is removed and photographers do some nice cropping),

Natalie (+ Tip)

Fig-House-emily henderson

Happy Fridge Day – Happy Weekend!

PS If you take up our challenge, let us know! In fact, show us too: take a before and after and tag us on instagram @apartmentdiet

Featured: Natalie’s House Tour on The Interiors Addict!!!


Yes, its a triple exclamation mark title because I am just. so. excited!!!  So excited.

We’ve been sitting on a little secret, patiently waiting until the lovely Jen of The Interiors Addict posted the feature of Nat’s apartment reno on her blog … but the wait is no longer!  It’s up!!! (I’m still excited.) So head over here for the post and more pics of Nat’s gorgeous place and of the gorgeous Natalie herself (& her little cutie Luke).

What are you waiting for? Go!


Photography credits: Asaf Kliger / Alan Tzatzkin

Weekend Links: Joy is The New Happy

floral headpiece by Anna Korkobcova and Ivanka Matsuba

Hello lovely peeps,
How is it almost the weekend already? Today I’m thinking about JOY. We talk a lot about Happy over here and we’ve been noticing lately that JOY is the new word being used – have you noticed it too? So this weekend I’ll be focused on things that bring me joy. I find it’s usually experiences (like hanging with friends over brunch, the Mr making me a coffee when I wake up…). What are you up to?

Speaking of what brings us joy, Tip and I are excited to be facilitating a course on creating a calm joyous home (by decluttering, letting go and creating new habits that last). Spaces are limited and the course starts on November 17. If your home isn’t working for you, or you’d just like to give it a refresh, we’d love to guide you towards JOY and relaxed in 5 weeks. In time for a stress-free holiday season. Join us or spread the word!
More details here.

And now for some joyous links to take you into the weekend :)

Natalie (+ Tip)

  joy is the new black apartmentdiet.com quote

Lara’s Kitchen Refresh: Before and After

We love a good before and after…so here’s a cool mid-week boost!

lara hotz before after kitchen transformation diy apartmentdiet

We’ve loved Lara Hotz‘s work as a photographer for years now but what’s happening in her home is equally inspiring and we’re excited that we get to share it today.

Sometimes we want to make so many huge changes we get overwhelmed. But a lot can be achieved with small changes: a simple change of materials (or fixtures or colours) can make all the difference.

Lara Hotz’s gorgeous kitchen refresh is one fabulous example.

– full instructions below. What do you think?


Lara Hotz kitchen before


  • Step 1: Measure your kitchen cabinets and have doors cut to size (or cut them yourself)
  • Step 2: Remove old doors (get out that drill or bring a friend over who’s handy with one to come help out) and everything in the cabinets
  • Step 3: Replace with new wooden doors
  • Step 4: Accessorize: Add shelf and new accessories and…

Voila! What a difference 3 wooden doors and a wooden shelf make!


Lara Hotz kitchen after

We’re proud to feature Lara’s handy work. Her DIY is impressive and we hope it inspires you to refresh your space with a few small changes.

And if you don’t know where to start or decide – connect and we’ll kick start your project and get you refreshing your space in one session. Yes, really.


Declutter Your Home – in time for a stress-free holiday season!

Grab your calendars and mark this date: NOVEMBER 17th

Why? Because that is when we are running our next group course “Declutter Your Home – create the home & lifestyle you love”, which will literally have your home stress-free in time for you to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Registration opens today!


stress looks like mess declutter course apartmentdiet

Why should I do this course?

Imagine, being the host(ess) with the most(ess), welcoming your guests with open arms into your inviting, relaxing, fun, cozy, beautiful home … and the compliments that ensue. All your decorations are up (because you finally found the boxes they were in this year), the aromas of the meal you’ve cooked are wafting from your newly organised kitchen and you’re no longer on edge, worrying about what might happen should anyone open a cupboard or venture into a room that they shouldn’t…

Just imagine that. Feel it. See yourself laughing and experiencing a stress-free holiday season.

What’s the secret you ask? Well, for that you will have to join our interactive online course, where we show you exactly what to do, step-by-step, with simple exercises. Over 5 weeks.

BONUS: We’ll be facilitating the course and you’ll get access to a private forum.

Want to know more? Get more information and register here.

Friday Faves – Viaggio


How was your week? We’ve been busy behind the scenes with clients, visioning for 2015 and ecourse prep so it’s been quiet on the blog. But we haven’t forgotten about you!

Below are some links from our internet travels this week to inspire you over the weekend.

Happy weekend,

Nat + Tip

Perfect- French-Kitchen-Joseph-Dirand-via Remodelista- Apartmentdiet