Author: Astrid Vonbrucken

Interior Design

Melon and Aubergine Palette

August 9, 2017

A trip to McGregor, the film 20th century women and delicious new colours in my kitchen

In my second blog, I describe how a weekend to McGregor with friends led to a colour explosion in my kitchen inspired by the style of the film 20th century women. It also made me realise how much I love my friends, that I’m middle-aged and, as I describe the film and my kitchen’s colours in fruit and vegetable metaphors imbued by misty weather and a daisy, that I might like to follow the whimsical dream of becoming someone who names colours for a paint manufacturer.

My inner child remains alive in the mid-century modern period that spans from the 1940s right through to the 1970s, when I was little. Taught by architects who were steeped in that era, this explains my affinity for modernist architecture and the post-war small-space aesthetic; my vocabulary of then and now.

While we currently only have Birkis, silk sleepwear and a crumbling home in common, when I’m 10 years older, I’d like to look like Annette Bening in 20th century women. I loved the film for its collage and moodboard structure, its aesthetic boldness, quirky warmth and candour.

It’s coming of age story of a 15-year-old boy; stages of womanhood are portrayed in killer performances. The relationships are complex. Three women collaboratively and clumsily in their humanness that doesn’t hide imperfections attempt to initiate young Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) into a deep understanding of women’s inner landscapes during the late 1970s.

Bening (centre below) leads a great cast. Her character, in her late fifties, owns a Victorian boardinghouse that is falling to pieces. As a boarder and possibly in exchange for rent, William (Billy Crudup) (left below) attempts to renovate it. Mostly he wears his daisy yellow beetle bonnet while he’s not renovating.

Part of the appeal of the dining room scene is its deliciously colourful composition. Thinly white veiled window panes reflect the dining room with people who are softly lit from a large white rice paper orb. We used to have those all over our home; now I can only find a small variety in Chinese shops. I wish we had Ikea, which sells them in all shapes and sizes.

Dark mist-grey walls contrast with an orange oil painting with Abbie (Greta Gerwig) (to the right of Bening), with her plum-coloured hair and wearing an ochre blouse. She provocatively asks each guest to pronounce the word ‘menstruation’.





Annette Bening (centre) leads a great cast in 20th century women


We watched the film in our cosy Airbnb cottage on the Saturday night, followed by breakfast at Flora’s Eating House & Gallery

The striking visual impressions and performances lingered as I spotted a beautiful botanical print of orange lantern melons in the restaurant gallery. Lisi, my creative and talented potter friend, recognised the dinner party scene, and my friends decided to gift me for my upcoming birthday.

Then I found a celadon-coloured teapot that Lisi also liked for its great spout (ever had one that spilled tea everywhere?) and lastly, a silk kimono-style gown that I could not resist.


Above: In my guest bedroom. I like using gift wrap as wallpaper.
Here printed with antique silk kimono patterns.


We arrived back at our cottage, tummies full, arms laden and ready for an afternoon nap. We retreated to our separate corners. I started a Pinterest board for my kitchen.

In the film, the kitchen wall’s surfaces are in crumbling white tile and aubergine – chocolate shade with daisy yellow cupboards accompanied by a wonderful turquoise stove. Deep colours are balanced by white curtains and lofty white ceilings.

I’ve lived with deep avocado walls (Kalamkari Y6-C1-2) and misty mint (Georgia on My Mind Y7-B2-2) cupboards in my kitchen for a few years and love this combination, which is balanced by white walls and sheer white cotton curtains in the lounge. My collections of celadon-coloured crockery and treasured teapot from McGregor are now friendly neighbours on newly painted shelves and a wall in Aubergine (Dark Antelope P7-E1-1) alongside dark grey walls.

I framed the lantern melon print in a vintage frame from Milnerton Market and paired it with a large antique mirror in a dull gilded frame. It leans against the grey wall below and reflects a jungle of indoor plants on Aubergine shelves.

On my birthday, we had dinner in my kitchen. The table lamp lent a gentle golden light to lively chatter, surrounded by rich deep colours, leaves and fronds.

This is me,
from when the photographer came to take pictures for my brand-spanking-new site


My Scandi-couch and white plantily living room



I love kitchens with tables.
Mine extends to squeeze 6 to 8 friends for kitchen dinner parties.
I use that as an excuse to host two birthday parties each year.
Interior Design

Nature takes on Nurture

July 7, 2017

The birth of a new therapy space for a client and friend

A psychologist friend asked for assistance in designing her new therapy space. This is what we came up with. We’re thrilled with the mood-board and our selection of furniture.

Therapists seldom get the benefit of a complete makeover, given that the consistency of the therapeutic space and objects are important for the therapy process. But moves cannot always be helped. So, we set out with the intention of turning the new space into one most people will look forward to and will find comfort in.

My friend chose two beautiful glazed clay bowls for their sentimental value, shape and colour. Personally, I think I’m a maximalist, since I like to cluster beautiful objects and to hang art in groups. I differ from a minimalist and I will differ about how many meaningful objects are allowed. She wanted us to not overwhelm her clients with visual stimuli. We wanted a fine balance between visual immersion and interest.

I already knew my client, and felt that her feminine and nature-connected qualities needed to find expression in her therapy space. I like to get to know every client in a way similar to how branding companies access core values and the ethos of a person or company. This means that the final expression is often on point. What motivates the client and what is required is unveiled. We imagined that the space could reflect aspects of life-cycles and binaries of change: waxing and waning, rising and falling, holding and flowing.

This brought us to questions of what qualities she brings to the therapy process, what kind of space this needs to be for her and her clients. Is it a cave, a nest, a fortress, a retreat, a space at the coast, a pharmacy, a library, a womb, a play-space or a temple, a pathway, a landscape, a mountaintop, or a hut by the lake?What kind of therapist do you consider yourself to be? A nurturer, a poet, a crone, an alchemist, a teacher, a good parent, a good mother, an earth mother, a mystic, a fellow traveller and/or a companion?

The core ideas for this space are contained in the elements and of finding comfort and nurturing through the senses. In the design task, we made colour, texture, scent, sound, form and surface choices in an embodied and sensual approach.

Touch – to rest on the ground. The soft, solid, rich pile of the Persian carpet underfoot. The firm woolen seat supports one’s bottom.


Smell – scent in the room drifts from a flameless cedarwood diffuser (Monocle), I love the Yoshino Hinoki diffuser!


Sight – the room’s colours range from sunset dusk on the wall behind the couch to the soft pink dawn dusting on two walls. The fourth wall reflects intricate patterns of ice printed on purpose-printed wallpaper from a free stock image. Visual memory of the elements is found in the wall colours and surfaces and miniature prints.




Hearing and speaking – mindful of the air rising and falling into and from the lungs and witnessed in awareness, voices are heard in a confidential space.

Taste – a glass of water with a fresh lemon.

The furniture –  Compact furniture with a Scandinavian bent for a small room. Some believe that the client and therapist sitting on identical chairs levels the power relationship. We chose identical armchairs, in different colours. The Sonia couch, a limited edition two-seater is finished in a beautiful two-toned covering. While its armrest shape matches the armchairs it rests on thin, elegant metal legs.
The desk and chair are slim, elegant companions in the small space.
The desk is from Less Is More and the chair from Weylandts.