Brussels apartment of design blog creators Matthieu & Bénédicte

View of Saint Gilles | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

CREATIVE DOMAIN: BRUSSELS

A visit to Matthieu and Bénédicte, the creators of the Belgian design blog Auguste&Claire

My next story on creatives features the young Franco-Belgian couple and authors of the french interior and design blog Auguste&Claire. The creative duo Matthieu and Bénédicte live in the vibrant district of Saint-Gilles. Early spring, I visited them in their beautifully renovated Belgium apartment, to learn more about their blog and about what keeps them occupied in the dynamic city of Brussels.

View of Saint Gilles | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Vintage meets modern | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comVintage meets modern | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Their home is a beautifully renovated multi-story structure with large windows and high ceilings. Matthieu – an independent architect at pl.rigaux – did a great job at renovating and restoring the space, with careful consideration of the historic character and sensitivity to the original features of the building.

Chicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Chicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comChicque and simple vintage meets modern dining room | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bénédicte and Matthieu sought items that would compliment the character of their new space. So they started revamping some ikea pieces and vintage or second-hand finds. Soon they moved on to designing and building pieces of their own. Their blog; Auguste&Claire followed as a means to share these creations. Here they could show others how possible it is to make your own quality, personalised furniture & decorative elements, that’s not only cost-effective but durable and timeless. The TARVA dresser hack is one of my favourites. These days the blog also includes their discoveries on design, photography, architecture as well as other daily inspirations.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

The couple, who met in Barcelona when Bénédicte was doing an internship and Matthieu an Erasmus exchange, makes a fine team. With his architectural understanding of both structure and shape as well as the integrity of raw materials, Matthieu manages to create DIY pieces that transcends your usual DIY feel. Bénédicte, who runs her own marketing & communications consultancy, translates Matthieu’s creations into beautifully styled and easy to follow content for the blog.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

As independent business owners I was curious about their approach to doing their own thing and about the obstacles they faced. Apart from the initial administrative barriers, financial security was their foremost concern although both were optimistic and not at all troubled by the notion. Bénédicte pointed to the importance of having a clear vision and sticking to your goal and to make sure that you build up a solid network of support and leads before you go solo.

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.comBright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright and sunny Brussels apartment | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

It’s apparent that these two aren’t ones to follow standard conventions. There’s a saying in Belgium; “de belg heeft een baksteen in de maag”. Meaning, all Belgians have a brick in their stomach. The maxim bears witness to the inexplicable need for every young Belgian to buy a piece of land and build their own house. It’s therefore rather unique for Bénédicte and Matthieu to have settled in the city. But walking down the lively streets of St Saint-Gilles, you get an instant sense of diversity and creativity of the place so it’s with little wonder why the two decided to live here.

All white kitchen | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Beautiful wall storage | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
 TARVA dresser hack

I asked Matthieu and Bénédicte what attracted them most about Brussels in general. They unanimously agreed to the city’s cultural diversity. When they’re not out exploring the many vintage and antique markets for forgotten treasures, the cosmopolitain community and it’s rich artistic and creative offerings keep them more than inspired and entertained.

All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
All white kitchen with a view| Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

You can read more about the pair and their favourite things to do in the city in the Top Five Tips sections below. This is a new feature to the blog so keep a look out for some cool city tips, advice and inspiration in my future creative domains blog posts. For more DIY, home and design stories, go check out their blog: Auguste&Claire

Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com
Bright, light & tranquil renovated bathroom | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

Top Five Tips

#1 One piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be their own boss:

To envision the life that he/she most want and write down how it would look like. It always helps to clarify our main goals and make them happen!

#2 Your favourite inspirational quote or motto:

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. (Einstein)

#3 If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

We would love to enjoy a coffee with Jacques Brel, Belgian singer and songwriter, and talk about his multiple passions and lifestyle.

#4 What is your ultimate travel destination? One place you’ve been to or would love to go explore?

We’re thinking about visiting Japan, probably the next on the list!

#5 Name 5 of your favourite spots in Brussels for…

Breakfast/coffee

Eating ‘pasteis de nata’ at Forcado Pastelaria

Spending a hot summers day

In the pool of the JAM Hotel

Spending a cold winters day

Early tour at the flea market in Les Marolles and a coffee at PinPon, an old fire station converted into a restaurant

Finding inspiration

Looking at the budgies building strange nests at the Duden Park

A night out with friends

A glass of wine at the evening market in front of Saint-Gilles town hall (every Monday)

Matthieu & Bénédicte from Auguste & Claire | Brussel apartment visit | sitsitso.com

As always, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. Do like or share if you did! Till next time.

WEBSITE: AUGUST&CLAIRE | STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

The Round House

Livingroom of The Round House in pretoria

 

THE ROUND HOUSE

 

When I was little, my mom used to drive us to Rietondale for icy early morning hockey tournaments. Often, I’d ask her to take the steep drive up Eastwood, so we could pass by the round house on top of the hill. Every time, I marvelled at the unique architecture, and busied my mind with thoughts of the interesting people whom I was certain must live there. For one must surely be curious to live in such an unusual home.

 

Sitsitso's visit to Pretoria Artist's hilltop home

Pretoria artist's art-filled home | sitsitso.com
Artistic home in Pretoria

 

Many years later I drove with a friend up that very hill, on our way to visit her mum. And to my surprise and utmost delight, we stopped at the round house. My friend had grown up there. This was their house. Going inside, I felt like I’d received a gift. For not only was I able to explore a place of childhood fantasy, but my reveries of a marvellous interior, had been largely correct. This house was indeed extraordinary.

 

Pretoria artist's quirky home
Beautiful piece by Pretoria based artist Margaret Nel | sitsitso.com
Mid-century modern pieces | sitsitso home-visit
A visit to Margaret Nel's curious Pretoria home

 

The Le Corbusier inspired “Round House”, was designed by german architect May von Langenau, for my friend’s late father and her artist mother, Margaret Nel. An exemplar of the so called International Style of architecture, the house is noted for its spherical shape (quite a novelty at the time of construction in 1961) as well as the structure. Hoisted off the ground by supporting pilotis, the terrain extends under the house in true Le Corbusier fashion. With a radial layout instead of load bearing walls, the space provides spectacular views of the surrounding Magalies mountains.

 

Pretoria artist quirky bedroom

The quirky bedrooms of the round house in Pretoria
Pretoria-Artist's-eccentirc-home

 

But if the view or the structure does not amaze you, the interior will. Nel has done an incredible job at curating the space. Every detail has been carefully thought out, every piece telling its story. Old iron hospital beds, -trollies and -lockers add to an industrial theme that feels surprisingly warm and modern thanks to accompanying second-hand, mid-century pieces sourced at great length by Margaret.

M

Art filled home of Pretoria artist Margaret Nel | sitsitso
Curated artwork and details that tell a story | sitsitso

 

An interesting dialogue between the decor and artwork is evident throughout the interior. Among the works of esteemed artists like Claudette Schreuder and Diane Victor, peculiar artefacts like plastic dolls and dinasours, wooden sculptures and vintage mannequins, transform the house into an artwork itself.

The round house in Pretoria

Curios details of the round house in Pretoria
Artist's Margaret Nel's home is filled with beautiful pieces by the artist

 

The clever displays feel like a running commentary of artistic expression. It’s at the same time sensitive and quirky; a dualism of sorts, between a bright and colourful South African vernacular, and a muted European design sensibility. Nel’s own work is on display as well. Pieces from her “Best Before” series (oversized life-like renderings of meat and confectionary wrapped in plastic and styrofoam) continues the dualistic notions, in this instance, of preservation and decay. 

 

The round house in pretoria

 

The house itself feels, as it were, like a juxtaposition. It’s at once classic and modern, off-beat and stylish. And so in answer to my childhood daydreams, the round house is undoubtedly eccentric. An elegant expression of Margaret Nel’s keen design sensibility, her prowess as an artist and her fine sense of humour.

Pretoria artist's eccentric round house in Pretoria | sitsitso.com

Some of Margaret Nel's artwork from her home in Pretoria | sitsitso
Margaret Nel's round house in Pretoria

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