INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

A few months ago, when I was escaping the renovations in my studio until I could move into my new apartment, my friend Lies Mertens welcomed me with open arms into her two bedroom flat in a quiet neighborhood in Antwerp.  The apartment, part of a 1930s art deco building that used to house a cinema, has undergone quite a renovation process before it turned into the cosy home and atelier that it is now.  With every visit to Lies’ home it became more and more clear that her home was the perfect candidate for an INSIGHTS interview, and this sleepover was the perfect time to do so.  However, sometimes life gets in the way of these interviews to get finished.  That’s why I’m sharing this shoot only now, after Lies has already redecorated her apartment about a dozen times, but more on that later.

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

First let me introduce Lies Mertens to you.  You may or may not have encountered her on the blog before here, where she talked about her work as a graphic designer and newfound passion for designing bags.  Fast forward to today: she’s launching her first collection of leather goods during an expo with photographer Eline Ros and flower artist Blomster at Gallerij Martin Van Blerk in Antwerp.  (Make sure to stop by this weekend between 13h and 19h to see the bags for yourself and enjoy a 20% discount!)  Safe to say, her life is pretty hectic at the moment, but luckily she’s got a safe haven to come home to.

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

Lies’ apartment truly is the place where she finds peace and quiet and even the occasional bit of therapy. “Whenever I’m stressed, I move all my furniture around.  To others it sounds insane to spend time rearranging my home during stressful days, but to me it’s really therapeutic and calming!”

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

Luckily her apartment offers enough space and furniture to switch things up once in a while.  The place is a true gem, but getting it to this stage required a lot of work.  “The apartment is part of an interbellum building with quite a history.  It used to house a cinema on the ground floor, which was later transformed into a punk disco.  I immediately fell in love with its charm, authentic elements and wide view over the city.  The entire apartment was in need of a renovation but the potential was unmistakably there.”  Lies hired our friend Arnout Van Soom of Collectief Mars to help her with the process and enlisted all of her friends to demolish walls, place new windows, install new electricity, remodel the bathroom and kitchen, install a steel window and lay a new floor.  “I tried to preserve as many authentic elements as possible, from the original doors with brass handles and decorative molding on the ceilings, to the porcelain tiles in the kitchen and the hardwood floors in the bedrooms and living room.  Combined with my job it was quite an intense process, but I’m glad I can say everything turned out all right.  And I learned a lot for future renovation projects!”

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

Lies shares her apartment with everyone’s favorite cat Snor and the occasional Airbnb guest.  “Renting out my extra bedroom through Airbnb is a lovely way to meet new people and earn some money at the same time.  I want to give my guests an experience similar to a stay in a real bed and breakfast by treating them to a cup of coffee, breakfast or a glass of wine and sharing tips for Antwerp.  Sometimes I’ll wake up to the smell of pancakes in the morning.  It feels really rewarding when one of my guests feels that at home in my apartment!”

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

The kitchen is not only a favorite with her Airbnb guests, it’s also Lies’ favorite hangout. “Whenever I have friends over, we’ll chat around the kitchen island.  Sitting on a stool, you can enjoy the view over the city, or the living room and atelier.”

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

Lies used to rent a shared workspace, but ever since she bought her apartment, she works from home, designing handbags, constructing prototypes and working on the Lies Mertens brand in general.  “My cat Snor and my house chores regularly distract me from my work, but being able to spend my day in an environment that’s 100% my taste, makes my work day a whole lot more enjoyable.”

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

With Ricardo Boffil’s cement factory as her favorite interior, it’s no surprise that Lies has a soft spot for luscious plants and eclectic design pieces.  Unfortunately the former are often attacked by Snor and the latter don’t come cheap.  However, she’s got a knack for scoring vintage design at small prices, whether it’s wire bar stools by Harry Bertoia, found through Marktplaats.nl, or the glass and steel coffee table by Paolo Piva, which she bought from my former neighbor after she spotted it in his home when we stopped by for a chat.

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

INSIGHTS_ Lies Mertens by Hannelore Veelaert via au pays des merveilles

One by one, Lies is swapping her Ikea furniture and second hand bargains for design furniture.  If you follow her on Instagram, you may have noticed she has collected quite a few remarkable pieces since we did this photo shoot! “Right now I’m still waiting for my pink carpet and then I’m done redecorating…  I think!”  Knowing her, I highly doubt she’ll ever be done updating her interior, but one thing’s for sure: the result will be downright stunning and 100% Lies Mertens.

Bewaren

Lies Mertens - website - instagram - facebook

Bewaren

Bewaren

1 Comment

  1. Ineke / hush-e June 17, 2017

    Wat een prachtig huis!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *