COLLECTION_ Let’s play house

Let's play house - Joni Vandewalle - Hannelore Veelaert

Toys and kids rooms are often missing from house tours, but lifestyle journalist and young mother Joni Vandewalle was determined to prove they deserve the spotlight too.  She collected twenty playful interiors from all over the world in the book Let’s play house.  In these homes clutter creates atmosphere,  toys and design are interchangeable and creative storage solutions are key.  The book Let’s play house is a must have for parents and parents-to-be and a very early Christmas gift idea from me to you!

It’s no secret I love a good interior book, so you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to contribute to one!  Joni and I met when I asked her to be part of my Insights series.  Back then, she was living in a rental apartment around the corner of the home she was renovating.  We chatted about her love for vintage, color and flowers and we’ve been collaborating regularly ever since.  Our most exciting collaboration is definitely this book, for which I shot all of the Belgian homes!

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COLLECTION_ interior & architecture books

interior architecture books

The end of the year is approaching and thus it’s about time I shared some gift ideas with you.  Up first, nine books that will make your fellow (interior) architecture lovers swoon. From monographs on renowned architects to collections of inspiring interiors, there’s something for everyone with a heart for design in here.

  1. “Ricardo Bofill, visions of architecture”, a monograph on the iconic Spanish architect known for surreal and poetic spaces and one of my personal favorites! Buy it here.
  2. “Think Radical Vintage” is another book in the inspiring “Think…” series, this time featuring interiors that combine vintage design in the most interesting ways.   Get it here. (By the way, you can already get a sneak peek of that cover interior on the blog!)
  3. “Vincent Van Duysen, works 2009-2018” is already the second book of one of Belgium’s most renowned architects.  With pictures by Hélène Binet, one my favorite photographers, this one is an absolute gem.  Order it here.
  4. “Vincenzo de Cotiis, works” features the Milanese architect and artist who is always exploring the ambient tension between crumbling antiquity and futuristic minimalism.  Find it here.
  5. Gio Ponti is considered as one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and a great source of inspiration for Vincenzo de Cotiis, so his monograph “Gio Ponti, archi-designer” had to be included on the list. From architecture and furniture to installations for private homes or public buildings, this book is brimming with inspiration.  Click it home here.
  6. In “Axel Vervoordt, interieurportretten”, you’ll find 17 projects by the Belgian art collector and interior designer.  FYI: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are already fans… Buy it here.
  7. “Wild at heart” is the second hook of the duo behind Coffeeklatch, this time focusing on beautiful homes that are shared with pets. For sale here.
  8. Vincenzo de Cotiis’s other architectural hero couldn’t be excluded from this list either.  “Carlo Scarpa, architecture and design”, covers all 58 of his structures. Get your hands on it here.
  9. Norm architects and Kinfolk joined forces for “The touch: spaces designed for the senses”.   The book features beautiful homes, hotels, museums, and retail stores— from contemporary designers by Ilse Crawford and Bijoy Jain to classic cases by Arne Jacobsen. Discover it here.


collection_ books - au pays des merveilles

Written by women I admire and fellow bloggers, and covering topics such as architecture, inspiring people, photography, interior and food, there’s no doubt I’d be happy to come home from my new job and relax with one of these inspiring books.

  1. Friends of friends by Freunden von Freunde, get it here.
  2. L’amateur by Murielle Scherre, get your hands on it here.
  3. Thursday dinners by Louise De Brabandere, buy it here.
  4. Not that kind of girl by Lena Dunham, available here.
  5. De helden van het echte eten by Johanna Goyvaerts,Barbara Serulus and Mayken Craenen from Alle Dagen Honger, for sale here.
  6. The New Nomads by Robert Klanten, find it here.
  7. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, get your hands on it here.
  8.  The first bad man by Miranda July, buy it here.
  9. Ugly Belgian Houses by Hannes Coudenys, get it here.


pretty books via au pays des merveilles

  1. I don’t know a lot about painters, but I do know I love Gerhard Richter‘s work and that every time I came across one of his paintings in a museum, it made a big impression on me.  ‘November ‘contains 54 works in ink and for what I’ve seen, they are absolutely stunning.  (source)
  2. Designer Thomas Billas is the man behind ‘How to make it without ikea’, a zine that shows us how to transform everyday objects into useful tools.  Volume three comes out soon, volume I and II can be found on line here and here. (source)
  3. As far as my german skills tell me, ‘wenn ich mal gross bin, werde ich designer’ is a student project and a pretty cool one at that.  This masterpiece contains beautiful illustrations, both hand drawn and on computer, and even some pop-up mechanisms.  Take a look here.
  4. Quite good houses‘ shows us ordinary European houses, which might surprise us upon taking a closer look at them, but honestly, the title alone already does it for me.
  5. Like every self respecting person of my generation, I have a collection of tote bags.  However, the author of this book, which is conveniently named ‘The tote Bag‘, has gathered a much bigger collection that is well worth taking a look at if you love design and illustration.  (By the way, author Jitesh Patel also has a blog dedicated to the subject.)
  6. ‘A history of graphic design for rainy days’ gives you what its title promises, all explained with beautiful illustrations and even some exercises to keep you focused.
  7. Don’t eat the yellow snow‘ gives us advice in the form of 250 of the best pop songs from the last 50 years, in all possible genres.
  8. The flamingos on the cover are what got me interested in ‘Mémoire universelle‘, and the fact that it’s available at Hunting & Collecting (one of Brussels’ finest shops) was very promising as well. Stylist and curator Benoît Bethume started a series of nine ‘bookazines’ of which this one is the first, devoted to love.  It’s available with four different covers and shows us a collection of articles and shoots, presented as an encyclopedia of personal memories.

For more pretty books, take a look at my pinterest board or my previous posts.

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  1. Understand rap: explanations of confusing rap lyrics you and your grandma can understand – no further explanation needed, right?
  2. Funny Food: 365 Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts gives you exactly what it promises!  Now all I need is to convince someone to prepare me one of those breakfasts every morning… (source)
  3. Every story needs a book, and that’s exactly what My Book by Dennis Guidone offers: a cover sheet, chapters, a table of contents and a blank body for you to fill.  (source)
  4. Ryan McGinley, one of my absolute heroes, selected his favorite photographs from his first decade of work and collected them in the book You and I.  My birthday’s in two months, just saying! (source)
  5. Urban knits by Simone Werle stuns you with images of the latest street art hype.
  6. Belgium’s best buildings shows a selection of 75 buildings completed after 1900, ranging from the Royal greenhouses of Laeken to the MAS museum in Antwerp.
  7. Bike Snob: systematically and mercilessly realigning the world of cycling should be a must-read for anyone who rides their bike on a daily basis.  I’m curious!
  8. Store front – the disappearing face of New York by James and Karla Murray captures New York City’s timeworn storefronts.  (source)
  9. Carpe Diem journal is a wonderfully illustrated diary for both your mini and major goals.
  10. Jonathan Safran Foer collaborated with graphic designer Sara De Bondt on his book ‘Tree of codes‘.  It’s a cropped version of the Polish story Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz – and you can take ‘cropped’ quite literally: Foer literally cut out words of the story and left the blank spaces as empty holes in the page.  If you click here, you can find videos of the making off and people’s reactions when they first open the book.


1.  I already own Muriel en Diane’s book about Belgian architects and their interior (which appeared in a previous ‘pretty things’ post about books), and I love love love that book.  So after seeing their newest book about Belgian designers and their interior, this is next on my wish list.

2.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I’m sure all of you know him from the movie ‘500 days of summer’) published a book under the motto: “The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories.”  Therefor he asked Americans to send in illustrations and super short stories, of which 60 made it into ‘The tiny book of tiny stories, volume 1‘, which is nothing more than a collection of inspiring mini stories, and that’s probably all it needs to be.  I haven’t read it, but I expect this to be a great gift for a loved one, and I wouldn’t mind getting one myself!

3.  If I were a man, this would be my bible.  ‘The moustache grower’s guide‘ helps every man to achieve his dream mustache, and since my love for mustaches is endless, my male friends can all expect this book as a birthday gift, until none of my friends is without a mustache.  Making the world a better place one mustache at a time!

4.  Stefaan Pauwels and Dominique Nzeyimana from knotoryus released a book (available at colette or as an ibook version), filled with inspirational photos, drawings and words.  Looks like a book I need on my coffee table.  (source)

5.  ‘Living in brussels‘ is a collection of 20 interiors in our Belgian capital.  As far as I can tell from the sneak peeks at I love Belgium, this is another book I’d love to get my hands on.

6.  Photography is unfortunately a very expensive hobby, but luckily you don’t need an expensive camera to make beautiful photos.  ‘Pin hole cameras, a do-it-yourself guide‘ shows how you can make pinhole cameras from objects which you can find in every household.

7.  ‘The guerrilla art kit‘ by Keri Smith (which I’m sure you all know from ‘wreck this journal’) gives you all the inspiration you need to start an arty revolution.  Let’s get crafty!

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1.  Antwerp Street Style by Jens Mollenvanger, a young photographer from – you guessed it – Antwerp.  (available here)

2.  Firework Studies by Pierre Le Hors: breathtakingly beautiful.  (source)

3.  Pulled, a catalog of screen printing.  I have two friends who’d be thrilled to have this book, since they’re screen printing their own t-shirts, but I’d be very pleased too.  (available here)

4.  Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey.  True fan here, no explanation needed! (available here)


5.  If you’re not familiar with the if you leave tumblr yet, check it out now.  If you are, you know you should check out their book too.  They describe it as “a collection of contemporary photography, snapshots of a journey made by wanderers who study the mysterious yet uncannily peaceful feeling of desolation and loneliness. it is more concerned with the impact of a single image, rather than a body of work by an individual photographer.”  Sounds promising, if you ask me.    (soon availble here)

6. Aberrant Necropolis by Ellen Rogers.  You can take a peek at some of her pictures here, prepare yourself for some amazing photographs.

PS.  Hungry for more books?  Take a look here, for a previous “PRETTY THINGS: books” post.

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1.  “Belgische architecten en hun huis”, or Belgian architects and their home.  Since I’ve been photographing the home of some architects for our magazine Unité, this a subject that interests me a lot.  In this book, several well known architects are portrayed, followed by a reportage about their home. Buy it here.

2.  This little book with photos of Tamara Lichtenstein.  Available for only 8 euros at pogobooks, where you can find many other affordable little books with beautiful photos.

3.  “The solitude of prime numbers“, by Paolo Giordano.  I’ve wanted to read this for so long and now I’ve finally bought it.  Now all I need to do is find some time to dive into the story.

4.  This little book with the first one hundred photos by Angels & Ghosts.  (I’ve blogged about them before.)  Unfortunately it’s sold out.

5. Hedi Slimane: Anthology of a Decade.  It’s a collection of his photographs of the last decade.  I’m a big fan of his work so this should be good!