Lake House Collective

February 21, 2017 • BabyCollabPhotography

after living in geneva for a couple of years, i became convinced that despite its international allure, it really was a tiny, boring town where nothing cool ever really happened, and i’d never find a community of likeminded and creative people there like i have back at home. then i moved twenty minutes away, higher up in the hills and closer to the lake, but for a city girl like me, i could just as well have moved deep into the country side and i basically said goodbye to any kind of social life in switzerland.

then the most wonderful thing happened thanks to this crazy little app called instagram, and i met the wonderful NIENKE MULLER and MARTA VILLACAMPA. i realize how rare it is to meet people that you have an instant connection with, but it sure happened to the three of us. so much did we have in common that halfway our first coffee date we had already made plans to found a little collective for creative projects. each of us felt like we were on an island doing our own thing – marta starting her photography business and blog, nienke launching her interior design career in switzerland and me blogging away whenever i had a spare moment.

the thing is, between having juliet and starting a business, there seemed to be fewer and fewer moments to spend on blogging, and i often lacked the motivation to get behind the camera, shoot and edit photos and then share the stories behind the scenes of my life and the things i love. what i needed was friends who would encourage me to get creative again, and who i could meet up with to create together – enter nienke and marta, and so the story of the lake house collective began.

i already shared A TINY BIT of the first session we had before the holidays, and i’m so happy to finally share the rest of the photos marta took of juliet and i that day. i can’t really put into words how much fun it is to be able to play and laugh with juliet while someone is making sure you’ll have beautiful memories of that time. my husband is the sweetest, and he’s a decent photographer, but i am always directing him, worrying about whether he’ll capture a certain moment in the exact right way. i guess it’s the burden of being married to a blogger-perfectionist (if you’re reading this, i’m sorry matti!) but with marta i was able to let go of that, enjoy juliet showing off her entertaining skills and favorite toys, and just be in the moment.

needless to say, i love how these photos turned out. this is who we really are, messy bum balm accident on the carpet included. but besides lovely memories of a few mother-daughter moments, these photos are also a really nice reminder that it’s possible to find your tribe anywhere in the world, if only you look close enough.

my black shirt by LIVTHELABEL • juliet’s first outfit is CKS + veja sneakers • juliet’s second outfit is a dress from ARSENE ET LES PIPELETTES, cardigan from AYMARA and socks from TOCOTO • my green sweater and grey shirt underneath are from CKS • juliet’s final outfit is from MARMAR my glasses used as props by juliet are from DE WOLF OPTICIENS • all photos by MARTA VILLACAMPA

Zalig Aan Zee

February 13, 2017 • CollabKnokkeTravel

two years ago, i first discovered ZALIG AAN ZEE when we booked their vacation home in the meerlaan in knokke. we spent such a lovely weekend there – four couples with our kids – that we vowed to rent one of their homes once a year. but then life happened and everyone was so busy that our brilliant idea went the way of most good intentions – it seemed impossible to get everyone together at the same time. until i got an email from the lovely kathleen cassiers, who runs zalig aan zee. it was as if she read my mind and she gave me the little push i needed to rally the troups – sans kids this time. my husband’s birthday was coming up and i knew he would love nothing better than to have his friends in one place to spend a lazy weekend together.

so in all secrecy i got everyone to cancel their plans, book their tickets to belgium and rent a car to take them to the belgian coast – because the wonderful house in the pannenstraat 120 in knokke-heist would be ours for the weekend. now all i had to do was find a way to get my husband to belgium, drop off juliet with her grandparents (which all involved a lot of white lies and awkward pauses before answering my husband’s questions) and drive him up to knokke without him getting suspicious. of course he knew something was up, but the look on his face when we arrived and he fully realized what was happening… well it’s something i’ll remember forever.

on to the house then! zalig aan zee has a very characteristic style – all of the houses feature a monochromatic color scheme, punctuated with lots of wood and other natural elements like leather and linen. all of them have been designed to be freakishly efficient. the homes really aren’t that big, but every room has been so carefully planned that everyone has ample wardrobe space and lots of places to put other stuff. the first year we brought everything with us to prepare some home cooked meals (the guys in our group are all more or less into cooking – we are lucky gals), but when we realized we needn’t have brought half of the stuff because the kitchen is so well-equipped, this year we just relied on the zalig aan zee amenities.

my favorite things about this particular house are the gas fire place in the living room and the swinging chair in front of it, the wood fire place in the cozy patio (which features a covered kind of outdoor living room – so cozy and ideal for fickle belgian weather) and the enormous attic which has no less than eight single beds. i love the design of that space – it’s any organization freak’s dream-come-true. every single inch of that space is put to good use, and i can just imagine the fun our kids will have in there when they’re all a little bit older. for our weekend, it was the perfect fifth bedroom to host two couples – even though it might not have been as romantic for them as for the four couples who had their own rooms…

as i was getting this post ready to publish, i noticed i hadn’t made a category yet for ‘knokke’, and that just won’t do. as a belgian from antwerp, my childhood summers were spent on its beaches – selling paper flowers for little shells. when i got a little older, i had some of the best nights of my life there – hanging out and partying with my friends who also spent a huge chunk of their summers there. knokke sometimes gets a bad rep because it can be kinda posh and snooty, but if you know where to go (and which places to avoid) it’s a fun place to go any time of the year. there are some seriously fun shops to discover – a peek into OBJET TROUVE is guaranteed to leave you inspired (and bankrupt). and it has some really great restaurants – CUINES33 has been one of my favorite foodie destinations for the past couple of years. but most importantly knokke is located right next to the beautiful natural park HET ZWIN, which is the perfect place to go for long walks and fresh air.

it’s only been two weeks, but i’m already starting to crave another visit…

all photos by stephanie duval • ZALIG AAN ZEE rental home at pannenstraat 120 in knokke • also, yes, i travel with three cosmetics pouches because i am high maintenance like that. in other news i have rekindled my love for KIEHL’S and i can now not longer live without their hydro-plumping retexturizing serum concentrate and super multi-corrective cream. insert all the heart eyes emoji’s for what this duo has done for my skin lately. #notsponsored #justareallybigfanoftheirstuff


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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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