Once an old hat factory in Berlin, now the essence of family energy ; it here, inside this extraordinary setting where Nadine and her husband Lars have chosen to live and raise their four children. The building, including its floor-plan and decor are more than suitable for the hyperactive older children, the pastel colours rub shoulders with flamboyant ottoman kilim pieces bought directly from Morocco. It’s flourishing springlike universe with natural materials such as wood, stone and wool heighten the feeling of freshness and vitality. Nadine put her design career on pause to care entirely for her children, a preference Nadine does not regret for anything. It’s an inspiration they fully represent. True artists themselves, their walls are decorated in the same prolific style as Lars’ black and white photography. They share with us their eclectic accumulation, echoing a functioning family life full to the brim of joy and spontaneity !
Nadine, could you present yourself ? What are you doing in your life ?
My name is Nadine and I am a Franco/British/Swiss mother of four living in Berlin. This is the place we have chosen to call home and where all our children were born. I am a designer currently on a break to delight in the chaos of motherhood ! No really, I decided to take a break from my design career as I was finding it increasingly difficult to find enough time to do everything. I was lucky enough to realise that I was spending too little time with my children and I put a stop to it. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever taken !
What was it that first attracted you to this apartment ?
We stumbled across our apartment on the internet – we had been searching for a while but not desperately so, we were just on the look out. When Lars and I came to visit this place it was pure love at first sight. We felt it in our bellies as we walked up the stairs to the roof (where our two floors were to be built) and decided without hesitation. This building is an old hat factory. I collect hats so it was a nice clin d’oeil as you say in French.
Where do you spend your time in the house ? Your favourite place ?
The most time is spent in the large kitchen/dining area and living room. The top floor is a very open space and this is where life happens! Where we laugh and dance and play and discuss and argue on a daily basis ! I would say it’s my favourite place in the apartment because it’s full of cosy spaces and blankets and cushions and forever changing depending on the season, our mood or the current games being played, huts and dens being built.
Did you do the decorating ?
The decoration is primarily my domain, yes, although I would call it a team effort. We often discuss where to hang a picture or how to rearrange the rooms. We involve the children a lot and do not really differentiate from an adult or child space. Most of the time we all end up in the kitchen/living area as we enjoy all being together. Whoever needs their space tends to go downstairs where the kids have two large rooms which they are free to use as they please. I love retreating to my bath and bedroom to read or take a bath.
Where did you get your inspiration ?
My inspiration comes from all around me. My kids are my number one inspiration without a doubt. Our walls are covered with their art work and photos of the many holidays and memories we have shared. I find inspiration in travelling, our home is full of treasures we have brought back from various places. I also find inspiration through books and within nature. I feel most comfortable surrounded by natural textures, wood, stone and wool – also plants hold a big place in our home too.
Did your husband join in and give his opinions ?
Lars is a photographer and took most of the photos hanging on our walls. He also designed the kitchen with me and we always discuss ways to change or rearrange.
How would you describe yourself in three words ?
Happy, spontaneous and creative !
How do you reconcile family life with attractive interior design ?
I believe its important to have certain design elements that satisfy an adults need for aesthetics but I find it just as important to let those elements live and be used. Of course I love a tidy home at the end of the day but that moment is brief. I can only appreciate it because of the chaos that reigned throughout the duration of the day ! I think true design must accommodate chaos. That is real design. The beautiful magazine spreads I often look at are inspiring but rarely represent life. I like the thought of my interior design changing as my life changes. At the moment, we share our home with four creative and curious children who have needs I want to satisfy above my need for clean design.
What would you regard as the worst kind of bad taste ? Or one to be avoided ?
Bad taste.. thats a good question. Does bad taste exist ? I have very strong opinions on taste but at the end of the day – it’s all relative. I like it when people don’t try too hard. I think the best results come when people are true to themselves and create an environment that reflects their personality. My favourite homes are real homes where you are not left wishing you had the same but rather feel touched by the experience of being in that place.
What is your current interior design must-have ?
My current interior design ‘must haves’ are succulent plants and lots of coloured linens. And our Moroccan poufs that we use constantly, I love the ethnic edge they add to any decor – be it in the living room or on the balcony.
2-3 restaurants you can recommend to us in Berlin ?
I can recommend our traditional restaurants : On Saturdays we have lunch at the Meirei. The best salads, scrambled eggs and coffee in town! It has a super friendly and warm atmosphere. For a takeout lunch or dinner we look to the best vegan Vietnamese in town ! Which incidentally we are lucky enough to have just two doors down from our home, it’s called Banh Xeo Saigon and it’s located on Greifswalder Str. On special occasions we love Chez Maurice. For the best raw salad lunch, I like Parker Bowles.
The best holidays with your family ?
The best holidays we ever had was when the six of us escaped for two months last winter to Thailand. We lived in a beautiful house right on the beach. Taking time out of our hectic routined lives, we believe, is the best gift to give our children and ourselves. Four years ago we travelled around New Zealand for eleven weeks in a camper van which was an equally incredible experience.
Photography & Text: Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily