INSIGHTS_ Miguel & Lisa

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When I arrived at the front door of this Brussels based couple, Miguel en Lisa were still on their way home and I had to wait on their doorstep for a while.  Luckily the sun was shining and the duo had a good reason for being late: the plant and flowers they bought on the market turned out to be rather difficult to transport on their bikes.  The sunlit apartment they inhabit is a Walhalla for plant lovers, but these two always have room for another green friend.  With huge windows on both sides of the living room and their green fingers, it’s no surprise that plants thrive in here.

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Miguel and I met during the first year of our studies in architecture and we’ve been close friends ever since.  He divides his time between Antwerp, where he works as an architect, and Brussels, where he lives with his girlfriend Lisa and their cat Willy.  While Miguel travels by train between two Belgian cities, Lisa is a doctor in a hospital that’s only a bike ride away.  She often has to work on the weekends, but tries to get the most out of her spare time by reading, working out with her girlfriends or going out for a drink with Miguel and their friends.  “We also love discovering new neighborhoods in Brussels by bike or talking long walks in the Sonian forest.”  “And taking care of the plants of course!” Miguel adds.

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When he and his girlfriend moved into their first apartment in Brussels, long before I started this INSIGHTS series, I wondered why interiors like theirs, carefully selected with a small budget, perfect in their imperfection, were never featured in traditional interior media, and I decided that someday I would give them a place on my blog.  A few years and a relocation later, I asked Miguel and Lisa to share some insights into their beautiful home and they happily said yes.

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The couple moved to Brussels because of their jobs, but are huge fans of our Belgian capital.  “This is such an intriguing city”, Miguel says, “because it is unbelievably diverse in its neighborhoods and inhabitants.  Sometimes it feels like a village, other times it’s a metropole.  In some places I feel really anonymous, in others I recognize almost everyone.  I find this dual experience really fascinating.”  Lisa confirms these contrasts:  “It’s almost like a collage, in every corner there seems to be an opposition: ugly against beautiful, old next to new, rich contrasting with poor, colors clashing with gray, Dutch mixing with French and more exotic languages, plantains next to a four star restaurant, the European commission next to a mechanic, conservative next to alternative.  At work, I’m also confronted with these contrasts, particularly when it comes to patients and languages, which makes it more difficult but also much more interesting than a similar job in a smaller town.  In a weird and rather unique way, these contrasts tolerate and complete each other.  That beautiful chaos is typically Brussels!” “The city looks chaotic and it definitely is when it comes to its administration, but there is so much potential here.  The city is improving, however at a painfully slow pace.  With a lot of patience, Brussels will get there!” Miguel concludes.

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Before they found this “white castle”, as Miguel once described it, the couple inhabited a much smaller apartment.  “We moved to Brussels when Lisa was still a student and I just started working, so we had less money to spend.” Miguel explains, “We loved living there besides its many flaws, but after a while these flaws became too much.  We bumped into this space at the right time!”   The facades and some of the interiors of the building are protected as a monument and it’s hard not to be impressed with this former school.   When they first set foot in the apartment, the light flooding in from both sides through the ten (!) windows instantly convinced them to say yes. It is often said that location is everything when it comes to your home, and Lisa couldn’t agree more.  “This street is really quiet and we’re right in the city center.  We don’t have a terrace or an outside space, but as soon as the sun is shining, we head outside to one of the parks or squares nearby!”

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“My favorite part of the apartment is the window sill in the open kitchen.” Miguel explains.  “It’s a bit hidden from the rest of the living room, but you have an excellent overview of the apartment, and you can peek outside as well, so the view is always interesting.  Whenever we have friends over, this is always the coziest place!”

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Miguel describes their interior style as cluttered yet cozy. “We don’t like that typical stylized minimalism.  An interior is meant to be lived in and used, so we don’t want it to look like a showroom.  Of course we think about our interior and that’s why it’s always evolving.  The sofa, dining table and plants for instance have probably seen every corner of our living room!”

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For smaller objects, these two visit La Fabrika in the city center or Sacré Sucré in Elsene, while their bigger furniture are either hand-me-downs from family, thrift store and jumble sale treasure or bargains from Ikea.

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The dining table is another story: Miguel and Lisa made it themselves with Eiermann trestles and a table top that has been repainted a dozen times until they achieved the perfect color.

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This is only one example of the couple’s creativity, because that lamp over the dinner table was just another boring second-hand lamp, until they painted it a bright yellow.

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The coffee tables are affordable IKEA pieces that came with a plain white table top, which Miguel exchanged for a marble one.  No wonder this is Lisa’s favorite item in their home!  Although the espresso machine is a close second, as her boyfriend has developed barista-like skills and regularly treats Lisa to delicious coffees.

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Miguel on the other hand, has a soft spot for their marble pieces and the huge Philodendron Monstera.  These two plant lovers recommend the Midi Market and Groendecor for affordable greenery and Brut or Flower Attitude if you’ve got a bit more cash to spend.

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When I ask them what they need to feel at home, Miguel immediately responds “each other, the cat and the plants!” “And a decent couch!” Lisa adds.  That cat is the main reason why they want to change their current wardrobe, which consists of open shelving.  Willy loves cuddling up in their clothes, but the couple is not that fond of this habit.  A proper wardrobe is thus on their wishlist.  Looking much further into the future, they’re dreaming of owning a townhouse with a lot of character and a garden, but for now, their green interior will do.

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7 Comments

  1. withlovebyeva October 23, 2016

    Wat een mooie reportage en prachtige foto’s

    Reply
  2. Patricia October 23, 2016

    Oooooh, helemaal mijn ding :) Super leuk. Ik vind dat warme hout van de ramen heel erg mooi met al dat groen! Echt knap! En Willy ziet er een lieverd uit :)xx

    Reply
  3. aline October 23, 2016

    Supercool! go mickey en lisa!

    Reply
  4. Ineke / hush-e October 24, 2016

    Wauw, wat een droom!

    Reply
  5. Naomi October 24, 2016

    Waaauw! Dit heeft me echt heel erg geïnspireerd voor m’n aankomende verhuis, heb heel wat ideetjes opgedaan, prachtige foto’s echt!

    Reply
  6. Vanessa October 24, 2016

    su – per – mooi ! oh zo gezellig :)

    Reply
  7. Elisa October 28, 2016

    Prachtige foto’s! Zo’n mooi appartement, met al dat hout, groen, boeken en licht <3 En Willy is een schatje!

    Reply

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