At Home with Irene Hoofs of Bloesem

by Grace Bonney

After a great week of guestblogging and sharing with you so many interior styling tips by interior designers I thought it might be nice to give you some more information about myself…and how I like to decorate my own home…. most of you probably know me from my own blog Bloesem, which I started about a year ago, before Bloesem I worked as a freelance graphic designer on projects ranging from web design to corporate identity (as well as knitting projects…), I studied political science and worked as a marketing executive for a bank for a few years which I didn’t like very much… I started to explore my own creativity while living in New York and have been self-employed ever since… a great city to pursue your dreams… I started to learn illustrating and to become a graphic designer…here are some images from my portfolio… (Cupcakes is the label I use for my knitting and embroidery projects..)

Together with my husband and son I now live in a very beautiful apartment in Damansara heights in Kuala Lumpur. We have a spectacular view of a very green neighborhood built on a slope of a hill, and looking at KL’s skyline from most of the rooms. This was the main reason why we chose this apartment. Due to our regular moving around the globe, we are light on furniture and most of our precious pieces are still in our apartment in Amsterdam, which we are currently renting to a wonderful lady from Barcelona.

Actually, when we got to a stage that our apartment in Amsterdam looked as we dreamed…we decided to move…but I still want to share some images of that apartment with you…the apartment is in a converted warehouse, a new apartment in a very old building exactly what we were looking for, so it still has some nice old features like wooden beams typical for Amsterdam canal houses.


What we didn’t like were the materials that were used by the contractor. Also the space was cut up into many rooms, too many walls and loss of precious space, we felt boxed in…. so we decided to ask our friends Xander Tervoort and Leon van Boxtel to help us to create an open space. They did a wonderful job! Using inexpensive materials, amazing color palettes, and they gave us many simple ideas, but with a huge impact… here are some tips they gave us…(unfortunately the only pictures I have are these which I keep on my computer… not the best ones but hopefully good enough…)

– use chip wood for your walls and paint them or just lacquer them. We used a dark green color, green is my favorite color!

– Use black mdf instead of heaving to paint your shelves black

– ‘blind’ drawers or doors or just a use circle hole to open your drawer.

– Create open spaces within your built-in-closet, it will give some air to your room and it’s very handy to use as shelves for books or precious accessories.

– On dark walls choose black sockets instead of white ones

– try to hide your TV as much as possible, we created a whole in the wall for the TV, also the electricity cables are hidden in the wall.

– I bought this lamp at a vintage market and replaced the old lampshade with a new white one.

-we loved our concrete floor and painted it white with a tiny bit of grey in it, to make it look less cold. If I have the change again I would immediately choose for this kind of flooring again and place some beautiful rugs on it.

{cabinets from Ahrend, vintage pieces}

– don’t automatically place your cabinets against a wall, sometimes they look better when you just give them space.

An idea my husband and I came up with was to cover this wall behind the dining table with teakwood and let it ‘flow’ outside to create a small balcony-like plateau to place some plants, candle lights and fresh herbs. My father and husband made it themselves and I’m very proud of the result. It gives a warm organic feeling inside and it is very functional for outside. (apologies for the poor quality images, they were taken during the renovation…)

This is the entrance of our apartment in Kuala Lumpur. You probably miss a coat hanger…no need for such a thing in a warm country like this… a bit strange though for a “Dutchy” like me… (we used to keep spare raincoats for visitors in Amsterdam…), also always take of your shoes before entering a home in Malaysia… a custom I have come to appreciate very much… and keeps your home clean… especially since many front doors of apartments and houses in KL lead straight into the living room.


I just want to show some details from our living room…


Since becoming a ‘mom’, a play area in the living room has become essential, but any play area would fit seamlessly with the rest of the house, so that’s why I decided to place my son’s toys in a special cabinet.. he is crazy about his wooden IKEA… his favorite spot for browsing through his books (or tearing out the pages…) and a midday snack (mostly dried raisins which he loves…). When he is a little older I’m planning to create a place I my studio perhaps where we can make things together (of course I am secretly hoping he will love crafts and take after his mom…), but will not push him of course, only a little perhaps…

This Lode’s bedroom, we kept his bedroom very simple, but I do like these little shelves with some precious items on it. The shelves are also from IKEA and cheap solution to casually showing greeting cards and other things you like.

My studio is full of materials for my ‘ongoing’ projects…I have so many plans but of course not enough time to finish all… The fabrics in the left upper corner I bought recently during my trip to Ho Chi Minh City. I find the patterns very beautiful, pure folklore… I’m planning to make some tea towels out of the fabrics, the wooden items are a present from my mother who was visiting Malaka yesterday. Currently I am completely in with embroidery, normally I always knit, but the hot weather makes it a bit counter intuitive and I like to do something less ‘winter’, but my drawer with my knitting gear will not be forgotten! The fabric on the right side in the middle was made by myself, I printed the images onto ironing paper and sewed it on a linen sheet, I still have to get it framed. And last but least… is this beautiful vintage wallpaper, which I bought in Toronto at Mima design, I think it is from Italy originally…not sure yet what I’ll do with it…any suggestions?

And here is the spot where I work on my handcraft projects…

Can you believe that only a few weeks ago I bought my first prints online… quite embarrassing for a design blogger I admit…. my excuse is that due to our constant moving around the globe I didn’t think it was a wise idea to buy such delicate items until we settled down… so now we’ve settled down I can embark on a legitimate shopping spree… there is so much great work out there. These prints are by Camilla Engman… I’m very happy with the linen frames… the frames have a white border, below you can see a close-up… they are normally used inside another frame to hold the actual painting, but I liked the material so much that I decided to use them as outside frames.

Here are two other important items I think are characteristic for our home…. a handmade embroidered fabric on 100% pure silk… truly amazing craftsmanship… we decided to hang it on a wall, I think it gives the wall a very warm touch…. and there is also the gorgeous handmade mobile by XandL… probably the item that must be handled with the utmost care… very light and fragile… so we keep it away from the airco that blows it against the wall, but I think it found a good place in our hall.


here are some other personal things I cherish…


And finally… our view… nothing beats sitting on our balcony looking at a sunrise with the petronas towers and the mountains in the background… we have fallen in love with Malaysia and we’re planning to explore this part of the world much more and hope to share with you my experiences on Bloesem or perhaps somewhere else… Thank you Grace for inviting me as your ‘guest’ I truly enjoyed this very inspiring week!

[Editor’s Note: It was truly an honor to have Irene on the site this week. Thank you for all of your incredible posts!]

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