i’ve only known kim daenen for a few years, but we often joke it feels like a lifetime. we met at a travel industry conference, where she represented her employer brussels airlines as its press representative. we hit it off professionally, and soon started collaborating on a number of cool projects. i saw her rise through the ranks and become spokeswoman for my favorite airline company, and meanwhile our coffee dates led to dinner dates, led to trips to geneva and kim attending our wedding… in short – i made a very good friend.

there’s another joke we often make, or at least – that i make – and that is some kind of comment on how kim is the most critical and exigent person in the world. yet instead of this quality making her insufferable, she balances it with equal parts compassion, kindness and empathy. kim is that person whose opinion i value on every subject, be it food (she’s the ultimate foodie, always knowledgeable about every new restaurant in town), travel (she’s seen much more of the world than i have, and has the most amazing stories to share about her travels) or interior design (she has a great eye, knows about every instagram trend before it even registered on my radar and – most importantly – she has designed a beautiful, lovely home).

the only weird thing about making kim my next (long-awaited) guest of my kick-ass women series, is the fact that it hasn’t happened sooner. so without further ado, i’d love to introduce this talented, whip smart lady who you’ll definitely hear of again. if you’re as in love with her decorating style as i am, you can furthermore hop over to ROOMIN.BE where i’ve shared the home tour she gave me, including all the tips and tricks that make her apartment such a warm and inviting place. and don’t forget to follow her on INSTAGRAM, to take a peek into her inspiring daily life. and now i’ll let you scroll down to read what little nuggets of life wisdom kim has to share!

name a challenge that you didn’t think you could overcome, but conquered anyway.

my first tv interview for brussels airlines was something that i was pretty nervous about. i sort of got thrown into the lion’s den without much preparation – obviously my boss believed in me, otherwise she would have never let me do it – but it was pretty scary, although apparently it didn’t show to the journalist. looking back at it now and thinking how confident i feel in my job today, really makes me smile. i still haven’t watched that first interview, though.

what is your biggest regret?

i don’t really have any regrets,i have always chosen my own path and i’ve learned to be critical of myself and others along the way, while respecting other people’s opinions. the only thing i feel i haven’t acted on yet, is doing something professionally with my love for interior design. but it is not so much as a regret, as i think i will someday turn this passion into something more, one way or another. it has always been a constant in my life that makes me very happy. be it storytelling, communication or interior, creativity has to be part of my life on a daily basis.

what is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life so far?

the most important thing i’ve learned is that you have to let go of perfection. there is always more to see, more to discover, more parts of the world to travel, and some people seem to do it all in one day in their instagram life and that can create false expectations for yourself. once you let go of all that wanting and you start enjoying the little moments that are happening now, that’s when real happiness sets in. i’m very happy that i’ve come to realize this.

what are you trying to teach yourself right now?

i’m trying to teach myself to be more structured. i have always been a messy type, trying to hide behind the creative mess excuse, but i’ve come to realize that structure gives me peace of mind. and as i get older, this becomes more important to me. the days when i could just keep going are over and i appreciate more rest now. i guess that’s the price i have to pay for spending the first 30 years of my life as a very hurried person.

what is your favorite memory? what does it say about you?

my favorite memory is actually the entire past 15 months of my life. after many years of hesitation i broke out of my comfort zone – and you can take that quite literally – and at the same time i also decided to move to antwerp, far from my best friends. there i met the man of my dreams and exactly one month ago he asked me to marry him, in the most romantic way. he never fails to surprise me, and with his proposal the surprise was in the simplicity. no big show in some romantic city, but in our home, where we love to be, during a scrumptious breakfast that he had prepared. what it says about me is, well, that i am now going bananas over wedding inspiration. my life has been turned upside down, but i could not be any happier with how it has turned out. this brings me to a very important life lesson, which is that life does really does start at the end of your comfort zone, that is, if that comfort zone does not make you happy. it has taught me to always follow my dreams.

what would you like to be remembered for?

i hope that my friends, colleagues and family would remember me for being a passionate and smiling person who always sees things positively. like everyone, i have many flaws, but my stronghold is that i always try to find a solution for problems that pop up along the way. i don’t give up easily, and this has helped me in my career as well as in my private life. i like to think that this is what my dearest friends love about me.

photos by STEPHANIE DUVAL // kim daenen on INSTAGRAM

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my name is stephanie duval, and i am a storyteller. this blog is where i share my favorite stories about design, travel, fashion and the nice things in life.

 

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