Sneak Peek: Mieke Verbijlen


Mieke Verbijlen is a photographer based in Antwerp, Belgium. Six years ago, she moved into the second floor of this old house along a tree-lined street with nice galleries nearby. As a collector of beautiful things with a love of second-hand pieces, Mieke’s style just fell into place. She’d love to have a couch, but her home is too small for that, and she’d rather have the space open than make it feel too full. Thankfully, the wooden floors and nice windows make up for the less-than-perfect bathroom and kitchen, and the price is right. All the great light helps keep her plants happy (her good care helps, too). You can find more of Mieke’s work on her blog, which she shares with Veronik Willems. Mieke also started shooting her friends’ apartments about a year ago, a project typically done on film in order to capture the atmosphere of each place. She feels that shooting her own place is the hardest, so Sophie Schellekens kindly helped with some of these shots, as well. Thanks, Mieke and Sophie! — Anne

Image above: I bought this cupboard when I first moved here. One of the glass windows broke when friends tried to get it upstairs, and I never repaired it. I initially I bought it for the kitchen, and for a long time my cups and plates were in it. I used to have shelves on the wall for the books, but I like changing things around, so later I decided to bring the cupboard into the living room for the books. Not all of them fit, so there are piles on the ground, but I don’t mind. I think a place can never have enough books.

Image above: This table by the window in the living room is the spot where I am all the time when I work at home, but also for computer stuff, eating, visitors and so on. The tablecloth is from Fog Linen Work and is my all-time favorite. The pillow on the chair is made by my friend Renilde from At swim-two-birds. The drawing on the wall is by my friend Charlotte Koopman, who is my favorite illustrator in the whole world.

More inside Mieke’s Antwerp home after the jump . . .

Image above: My bed next to the stairs. I used to sleep in the front room for the first four years, but this spot is much better, although it’s a bit strange perhaps because it’s the room where you enter [the apartment]. The curtain used to be my grandmother’s, but as you can see, her windows were not that big, so my mother stitched them together to make it long enough for my window.

Image above: I painted the stairs with a color from Farrow and Ball six years ago. I’m not sure if I would still choose that color at this moment, but somehow I still like it. I found the shelf in that color, and it’s almost the same.  The mobile is from Flensted. From here, you can see the kitchen windows, which I really like.

Image above: I don’t like the tiles or the brown work top, but it’s a practical kitchen!

Image above: I don’t sit at the kitchen table very often but sometimes in summer. I use it more when I’m cooking. In winter, it can get very cold! The two white cabinets are from my brother. He found them in the basement of the house he bought and wanted to get rid of them. The two fig trees and a huge sparmania are making this corner very green. The Pinocchio on the wall is a funnel and must be the only Alessi item that I like.

Image above: Plants and Charlotte’s drawing again.

Image above: The stacks of books I mentioned in the caption above. The plant is pilea peperomioides. This was my first one, but I have many of them around the house, and new babies keep growing. Now all my friends have ones that I grew here!

Image above: The bathroom I don’t like with the same tiles as the kitchen. I really wonder who thought of a blue bathtub! But yeah, I can live with it. After checking out new apartments, I’ve seen worse, and besides, the tiles and the bath are quite cozy in my opinion. The wardrobe was in the first room where I lived as a student, and when I left, I asked the landlord if I could take it with me (I gave an Ikea wardrobe in return). The little cabinet is a very old one that used to be my grandmother’s.

Image above: Another fig tree in the morning light. The leaves are about to fall off, but I’m sure there will be new ones soon.

  1. Kiti says:

    Simple and beautiful, love it! thanks for share!

  2. So lovely, one of the best!
    I love the bed and stitched together curtain.

  3. Aline says:

    “there are piles on the ground, but I don’t mind. I think a place can never have enough books.” You got me with that, Mieke!
    But then I saw your plants and I definetly felt in love with your lovely charming home! It’s so cozy and real that makes me feel at home too! I’m a big fan of the scandinavian homes.. and I noticed that in it’s very usual to have green spaces in those homes! So beautiful…

    I live in a small apartment and every time I buy a plant it dies – it’s so sad because I love plants! The only plant who actually survived was a small cactus. What’s your secret?

  4. Rigel says:

    Calm and uncluttered with lots of clever touches. Lovely plant life in every room. Looks effortless, but I know better. Love those yellow stairs too.

  5. Gillianne says:

    Ahhh, a real home, not a big-budget decorator showpiece. Wonderful light and wonderful floors.

  6. What a lovely home, so cosy and beautiful in it’s simplicity. Loving the Fog table cloth : )

  7. Love! What a cozy, lived in space. So many great plants!

  8. Haley says:

    In love. Authentic honest living.

  9. love this space to pieces—every nook and cranny.

  10. ladyofletters says:

    I love M’s blog, and her pictures. This is by far one of the best peeks. There is something humble and authentic here.

  11. caitlin says:

    this is probably my favorite house y’all have showcased. simple, interesting & realistic.

  12. mieke has a lovely home !

  13. So lovely. She’s an inspiration.

  14. Amazing interview and such a wonderful home!

  15. June says:

    Love the plants, the floor ans the authenticity it all inspires.

  16. Sue says:

    I love the light too and the uncluttered look. I should take a hint I have too much in my tiny house. I like the color of the stairs and the way you have the bathroom with the blue tub. The beautiful cabinet makes the tub color seem insignificant.

  17. Rose Duggan says:

    I’m so glad your fig leaves are falling off too, you seem like an excellent plant mother (?) so I feel better about my sad fiddle leaf. I love this house so much.

  18. Alessandra says:

    Definitely one of my favourites home so far!

  19. Amy says:

    Thank you SO much, D*S, for showing a real home, not a designer showcase! Not all of us want or need tons of brand new or “mid-century modern” matching rooms that look like all the other houses in blogland! More real, authentic, thoughtful homes, please…!

  20. Valeria says:

    I just looove the sneak peeks but this one is (in my opninion) not as inspirational as all the others. I didn`t like anything, and that is rather difficult, since I always like at least something out of all the images.

  21. margarita says:

    This house shows that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a comfortable, simple and beautiful home, i love it!

  22. Elisabeth says:

    All great, a good feature :)!

  23. Deborah Beau says:

    A real home, cozy, beautiful, lived in. More please!

  24. Miss Heliotrope says:

    Fab & genuine. Thank you

  25. Lindsey says:

    To me, it’s just that I fall in love with European restraint! so different from how we decorate in America (by just going to west elm or pottery barn and buying a bunch of mass produced stuff). To me this feels so organic and simple. Imagine having your mother sew together remnants of fabric as opposed to just going to target. Inspirational.

  26. Tatiana says:

    Traded an Ikea for an old wardrobe? You are my hero! Thank you!

  27. Nadia says:

    I’ve never before felt the need to leave a comment but I absolutely LOVE this home!

  28. Lili says:

    So simple and so breathtaking! Lovely plants, beautiful place… Not a home to just contemplate but a home to live! Your sneak peaks made my day better and happier! Thank you for sharing your lovely home, Mieke.

  29. Valerie says:

    What I love about this house is the window!

  30. Michelle says:

    Ha ha, I’m with you Tatiana!

  31. rosanne says:

    this is a real home…love the windows too!!

  32. Orlando says:

    Love this kind of SP — looks like I’m not alone! Thoughtful but not over-thought; unpolished, offbeat… The kind of post where you have to scroll slowly and read every caption — so rewarding!

  33. e.b. says:

    Thank you for this refreshing Sneak Peak. This is what I used to come to DS for in its earlier days-real homes and real people with an honest, obtainable and simple style. I understand your audience has grown and the need to accomodate a larger body of readers. I understand how tastes change and trends come and go. But if it’s possible, please hear us out on this one (Grace, I know you do!) and feature more of the same!

  34. Alatheia says:

    How charming

  35. sunny says:

    charming, indeed! love this sneak peek. I love that she doesn’t sleep where it’s conventional to sleep but rather where she wants to. I had been trying to decide if I should move my bed from a big, boring bedroom to a cozy nook off my living room… and now…now I will do it!

  36. Bo says:

    So many different kinds of plants make your home comfortable. I like it.

  37. Lisa Schramek says:

    What first drew me to this blog was the posts about homes that looked like something I could assemble and live in- this posts is about a seriously simple home that is made gorgeous, not by expensive furnishngs, but by an eye for collection and the use of light. More please.

  38. lizz says:

    Oh, how i love the look of this Appartement.. I also love in antwerp and I have been looking for that Pilea Peperomioides plant allover the place. Is there a place in Antwerp where I can buy it? Thank you :-)


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