California Vibes in belgium lands

NOÉMIE MEIJER - Interior designer

By: Aurélie ROUTHIER

In this post-pandemic era, there are people who are exiling themselves more and more to the South in search of a sunny life. And there are those who decide that the light is theirs to create, whatever the latitude.

Noémie belongs to this second category: the one who believes that we all have the power to "make the sun shine" in our lives, and above all in our homes.  When she opened the doors of her "Californian house" in the middle of the Belgian countryside, on a gray and humid day, we realized how much a well-designed interior can shine far beyond the walls!

At SAUDADE, we love designers and even more those who give second lives to things.  Your house is the best illustration of this, can you describe it to us?

The idea of renovating, of giving a second life, was very important to my husband and me from the beginning. When we visited this house, we were immediately touched by its history and the people who lived there. There was only one family for 45 years. This meant that in these walls emotions were transmitted, and that we could in turn transmit to our children, more than just stone, but a history, a memory.   

So we recycled the existing walls, accepting the restriction, to be even more creative. It is infinitely gratifying to create from something, an approach that I use in all the Do It Yourself projects I offer on my blog.

What catches the eye is the brightness of the place, which is in contrast with the outside. Does this mean that interior design can really take over the environment / geographical conditions?

We visited the house on an evening in late October. It was almost dark, the air was humid. There were only cold materials, raw stone. Most people would have seen the red flags, but we saw the potential, the volumes, the flowing and passing of the floors. It was certainly a challenge.

The goal was to have a very bright house with volumes that breathe. The inspiration is the Californian house of the 70's: horizontal lines, exterior and interior communication, warm materials, neutral tones, few objects, lots of mineral. We let ourselves get influenced by the house and yes, in a way we brought into it a permanent sun!

In his book Philosophy of the house, the philosopher Emanuele Coccia talks about "making house", is this what happened?

 I see it as a duty to invest in your own space, your home, to take the time to put your personality and character into it. When I work for my clients, I often ask them what they want to feel when they enter their home, and although some keywords come up regularly, others are very personal. One can want softness, calm, serenity, or rather joy, cheerfulness, energy. We will interpret this differently according to each project, each personality, so that everyone can feel at home. This is what it is about, " making home", doesn't it?

What does having taste mean to you?

First of all, it is very subjective! One person's taste will be very different from another's. The important thing, according to me, is to trust your instinct... or a professional to whom you would rely on for your decoration :). To develop your own taste, for me, it is rather a matter of marrying colors, materials, bringing in the light, coordinating all of that to obtain an atmosphere in which you feel good. Again, everyone has their own notion of "feeling good at home": for some, it will be to feel calm, reassured, peaceful, cozy, for others it will be to feel joyful, full of life, of inspiration. To me, having taste is above all knowing how to combine the elements to obtain a perfect " like home " in which one feels good.

Where did you put your SAUDADE rug? 

My SAUDADE rug is upstairs, in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. With its neutral colors, it appeases the space, doesn't overload it, dresses it softly; it was important for me to put a warm and cozy rug there, to introduce the comfort of the following rooms. With its well-chosen design, it visually extends the walls and expands the hallway: a perfect optical effect!

If your rug could talk, what would it tell us about its new family? 

That he sees us cross it every morning, looking rested and ready to start the day, with projects and to-do lists in our heads. 

That he sees us cross it again each evening, to go to bed looking tired but happy with our creative, inspiring, and fulfilling days. 

That he hears the sweet words of those who stop to look at the photos that decorate his hallway.

That he feels the small quick steps of our kitten who walks up and down it several times a day, sometimes playful, sometimes furious, sometimes asleep. 

That he sees our friends and family walk by along this hallway where we receive our closest friends and family to whom we open the doors of our Californian House.

At SAUDADE, we believe that everyone, object and human, has the right to a second life. In yours, what will you do?

Running a guesthouse, or building hammocks in the Philippines, or being a ceramist. But you can have several lives in one, right?  :) 

Saudade is a mixture between nostalgia and hope. What about your last Saudade feeling?

These last moments when we savor the landscapes, the perfumes, and the little rituals of my native Brittany, which I join for the vacations, hoping to find it again soon for the next ones, surrounded by my closest friends.        

Lady carpet or mother cushions?

Lady Carpet! I don't have a big enough house to put all my favorites in!

Finally, the Saudadian question: what object in your house would best incarnate the idea of the Saudade?

The two small crickets cages brought back from a trip by my father. Legend has it that they respectively contain the good and the evil of their owner. You have to be careful to leave the cage of the evil well closed, and the cage of the good slightly open, so that it can breathe positive energy to its owner. I have had them for years, it is a very sentimental object for me, and I find the symbolism inspiring. Something to meditate on...!

A house in Lisbon, like a summer dream.
A house in Lisbon, like a summer dream.
The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
The eye of the artist, the hand of the craftsman.
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
Materials to live by. Facing the Ocean
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