Before and After: Updating the Living room’s fireplace

We moved exactly five months ago to Madrid so I thought it was time to start sharing the updates I have been making to our new home. It’s been a busy time and those things really tend to take way much time than anticipated. Despite the undeniable progress I still have many points to cross off my to-do list. Styling and taking pictures takes me sometimes as much time as painting an entire room (hey who wants to see all the baby stuff lying around on the ground?).

A few days ago I finally finished painting our living room. The walls were white like in the entire house but still had holes from where furniture had been fixed earlier. It wasn’t that bad but I just wanted to create something with a more polished look which for me simply doesn’t cut it with white walls.

Emerald Green Interiors Before & After Fireplace

I hate to share pictures that are not pretty but what’s a “Before and After” blog post without the before pictures? Here is the picture of the fireplace area taken when we visited the house a second time after deciding that this would be the one. You can see bits of the terrible floor tiles that had probably been there since the early seventies when the house was built. And don’t you love the lovely (not!) radiator set in the middle of the wall?

Emerald Green Interiors Before & After Fireplace1

Below is a picture taken the day before we moved in. You can get a better sense of the space without furniture and the new wooden oak laminate certainly creates a more neutral backdrop. Sorry the picture is grainy. You can see that there is a weird wooden vertical plinth on one wall corner. We have those all over the house. There are supposed to protect the corners and seem to be a quite popular practice in Spain. Needless to say that I hated them form day one as they were breaking up the space visually. Do you notice that the recomposed stone used for the base and for the sides of the chimney is of two different colors?

Emerald Green Interiors Before & After Fireplace4

So here is the after: I painted the walls, the awkward vertical plinth and the two colored fake stone parts of the fireplace. Thanks to a little paint the plinth disappears and the fireplace goes from pseudo traditional to modern. Luckily the wooden beam of the lintel has survived forty years without being varnished glossy dark brown, like all the woodwork in the house, and has a lovely worn raw wood color. I hung this fabulous colorful print over the fireplace. I found it in Brussels before our move and just sprayed white paint over the ivory mat. The plant collection is the indirect result of my participating in the Urban Jungle Blogger column. Add a few natural fibers baskets and our Iranian carpet, et Voilà!

Emerald Green Interiors Before & After Fireplace

The transformation is quite impressive but the means used were actually quite minimal. Never underestimate the power of a good paint job. It can correct and hide many flaws. How do you like my first “Before and After”? Do you want to see more? Have a lovely day!

* Photography by Corinne Kowal

Oh yes! Definitely want to see more…

And I love those gorgeous wood floors! What a transformation; very nice…

Dear Libby, I hate to disappoint. Those floors, despite being a huge improvement from the terrible floor tiles we had, are actually not as gorgeous as what you think. There are laminate floors which is a cheap alternative to real wooden floors. Their look s decent but having lived in flats with real wooden parquet I can tell you that there is a real difference.

2 Flower Girls – Carnations

The theme of the week is flower and plants it seems. After introducing my new column Room and Flower on Monday, I am super happy to be able to join once more the 2 Flower Girls, Inga and Elodie. This month’s edition is dedicated to carnations. Although it is actually not a flower I am very much in love with, it is one that is easy to find here in Madrid and the beautiful flower shop I discovered past week had a beautiful selection in soft colors. I chose some pink and peach ones and paired them with those green flowers, whose name I can’t seem to remember as I am writing this post. I had purchased a few crespedia stems for a different purpose but ended up adding them into the bouquet because I loved the additional pop of color and their quirky round shape. I chose a simple antic milk jug my mother had purchased and given me a few years ago to host them, and set the bouquet on the fireplace mantel. I think that I might be changing my mind about carnations already.

Emerald Green Interiors Carnations 1Emerald Green Interiors Carnations 2Emerald Green Interiors Carnations 3Emerald Green Interiors Carnations 4

A few days earlier I had already purchased a bunch of small carnations which didn’t hold very well. So I ended up cutting the ones that were still looking good very short, tied them together with some raffia, and set them in a recently purchased white geometric vase from Natuzzi. Here is my mini bouquet set between a few of my cacti as a bonus picture.

Emerald Green Interiors Carnations 6

I look forward to the next edition of 2 Flower Girls and wish you a lovely day.

* Photography by Corinne Kowal

I like your bouquet very much! The colours are so delicate! So happy you managed to join this time. Elodie

Room and Flower

It’s been again a busy week away from the blog but unless the previous ones this one has brought plenty of inspiration and ideas for the blog. If you have been following me here for a while you know that I love flowers and beautiful bouquets. I participated in quite a few editions of 2 Flower Girls and have also joined quite recently the Urban Jungle Bloggers followers. It has come as quite a frustration since moving to Madrid not to find the fresh cut flowers offering I was used to in Paris, Berlin or recently Brussels. The few flower shops I found in our neighborhood carry only a few variety of flowers (usually roses, carnations, lilies, alstroemeria and gerbera) but their main offering is plants and artificial flowers. It seems that there is no real culture of fresh cut flowers here, which might have to do with the harsh climate.

Last week I was in town for a meeting and stumbled upon one of the most exquisite flower shops I have seen in a very long time. Sally L. Hambleton has been running for the past ten years the flower shop she wasn’t able to find in Madrid and has turned into a successful business. Browsing through her shop and seeing the beautiful bouquet compositions was so refreshing and inspiring. I love composing bouquets and carefully choosing varieties to have them assembled into something unique. It is very similar to creating an interior; it’s about choosing colors, varying their proportions, adding texture, shapes, and elements of surprise. Since I haven’t grown my color inspiration column recently I thought that you would enjoy a new column showcasing a matching interior and flower composition. So here is to Room and Flower. I hope you’ll love it!

Emerald Green Interiors Room and Flower n1

I’ve finished quite some work in the house and am currently busy taking pictures to share them with you. Have a beautiful Spring week.

* Source: RoomFlower

Oh Corinne: I love it!!! Love the title, the images, and the idea of the column. Very nice. And this is just lovely. Glad you found such a great shop for flowers…yes, they are a total necessity in life!

[…] theme of the week is flower and plants it seems. After introducing my new column Room and Flower on Monday, I am super happy to be able to join once more the 2 Flower Girls, Inga and Elodie. This […]

Libby, thank you so much for your kind words. Can’t wait to share more with you.

What’s next for Emerald Green Interiors?

I’ve been quite absent around the blog. Fact is I have been busy working on a clients proposal for a complete flat renovation in the heart of Madrid. I don’t know yet if my offer will be chosen but I certainly worked hard on it to offer interesting ideas to optimize a small attic space that needs a lot of it. This project has already taken a particular meaning for me. Not only does it entail everything from reformatting completely a flat and managing contractors, which will be a new and challenging task for me, to furnishing and decorating it completely to have it rented to tourists. What makes it so special is that this project will potentially be my first in Madrid.

I launched Emerald Green Interiors in 2010 a year after the birth of my first son and had the immense opportunity to work on a large scale residential project in Saudi Arabia for one of my husband’s MBA co-student as he had pitched my business to his class. Saying that he was instrumental in the launch of my business is quite inaccurate. Over the years it took to launch my business and since then he has been my strongest supporter, boosting my self-esteem, challenging my actions and questioning the way I thought. A daunting task really with someone like me who always refused introspection. I owe him a lot.

When we moved to Brussels, Emerald Green Interiors survived mainly through the existence of the blog, while I was gaining hands-on experience working for nearly two years for Farrow & Ball both in the showroom and as the showroom’s in house color consultant.

We relocated a little over four months ago to Madrid and at this point I asked myself about what I would do. Even though I hadn’t worked on a huge amount of projects or with dozens of clients, Emerald Green Interiors had taken a very important place in my life and I just knew then that I wanted to take it a step further. So instead of looking for excuses to delay or to avoid taking steps for my business, I started to look for solutions and I found them. It might have or not to do with the fact that I am nearing forty. On February 1st, three months after our arrival in Madrid my status as a freelancer was formalized. So here I am, relaunching my business in a country whose language I barely speak yet, taking all the necessary steps to get known, to market my services and to find clients. It is a lot of work and very scary at times but the challenge is so worth it. I am the lucky mother of two wonderful boys and wife to a very special husband and it’s about time I show them what I can achieve. Because today I have the confidence to say that the question is not about whether I’ll achieve my goals but in what time frame I will. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so alive and empowered and it’s a great feeling.

So wish me luck! I certainly hope that I will be able to realize this upcoming project. Below is a mood board I created after seeing the apartment which has a terrace overlooking the roofs of Madrid. I felt that the blue grey and the terracotta colors of the city would work wonderfully mixed with a lot of white and raw materials, to create a relaxing and elegant setting mixed with typical Spanish accents such as the encaustic tiles.

Emerald Green Interiors Madraid flat mood board

How do you feel about this combination? I hope I haven’t bored you today with my life story but what’s the point of a blog if it’s owner never shares any personal insight in its content. I wish you a wonderful week and look forward to coming back soon. Igor and Judith have a new #Urbanjunglebloggers styling exercise going on and I certainly want to participate even if I am behind schedule. I wish you a great day!

Hi Corrine, I just wanted to wish you all the best with your new venture. I’m so excited for you and I hope it all goes well with the client. The moodboard is wonderful. I loved reading about your story, I feel I know you a little better. xDoris

Dear Doris, thank you so much for your kind words!

Corinne: Not at all! I think the personal stories are what make a blog. I tend to pull back and be business like on the blog, until my “editor” aka daughter (!) says no, put more of yourself into it. As Holly says, if you write from the heart, it will speak for you.
I think your story is amazing! I can’t imagine doing what you have done with two small children plus a move. And yes, husbands can, in a sense, make or break a wife/woman’s business. I’ve seen those who give no support at all and it’s such a hardship on the wife and her business. My husband, like yours, catches me when I fall short and is always there for support.
Anyway…. you are doing an amazing job on all fronts and I admire you!

Hi Corinne

This are great news! I wish you all the best for your projects! I think we should take the opportunities life offers to us even if they need courage and more effort.

I like your blog very much. It’s so inspirational for me. Hope you will show more of your lovely work. I left my comfort zone (did I have one?;-) too last autumn. I’m nearly 42 and felt I had to change my professional life a bit. Now I’m studying Interior Design instead of working in my known field which was advertising.

All the best,

Hi Corinne,
I hope you will get the job. Your mood board is beautiful. I can imagine it is hard to be in a country where you don’t speak the language but with your visuals I’m sure you will thrive anyway and just take your time to learn the language. Before you know it, you will speak Spanish fluently

Dear Libby, Masha and Louise, thank you so much for your encouragements and support. Libby, sometimes I do feel I might not have chosen the easiest time, yet the time felt right so I guess this is all that counts. As for writing something more personal, this post has actually been the easiest to write in a very long time. Louise, speaking fluent French is certainly helping me a lot to get a grip on Spanish even though I think that the kids will master it before me. Thank you again and have a great weekend!

Super! Bonne chance Corinne! Tu parles déjà tellement de langues, je suis sure que tu vas te mettre très vite à l’espagnol.

This sounds so exciting, Corinne! I’m sure your enthusiasm, dedication and motivation will shine through in your presentations to potential clients. Show your 3 boys what you got! And Spanish will come naturally, with your knowledge of French & English you’ll master it in no time. bisous!

Corrine, what exciting times for you. I have to say that you sound so strong and empowered and a real example! I love how you said that it’s not about if, it’s about whether you’ll achieve your dreams but in what timeframe. I wish you the best of luck although I know you don’t need it. M xx

Simple Things

I’ve been busy like a bee spending a lot of time away from the blog. A pity and yet a choice, the choice to enjoy full-heartedly the time spent with my family. This Sunday morning we went for a walk in a historic park near our home. The almond trees are starting to bloom and they are not the only ones. Spring is around the corner and my heart rejoices at this symphony of pinks and yellows.

Emerald Green Interiors spring blooms 3Emerald Green Interiors spring blooms 4

The Mimosa isn’t blooming yet except for one or two isolated buds impatient to take a peek at the sun. But aren’t they lovely just like this?

Emerald Green Interiors spring blooms 2Emerald Green Interiors spring blooms 1

I hope that you had a lovely Sunday and that you enjoyed the presence of loved ones at your side.

* Photography by Corinne Kowal via Camera+ for Iphone

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Lovely! I always like a little flower inspiration!