Monday, 14 March 2011

Belgian Style: Make It Yours Part 1

I had a whale of a time on Friday. Did you enjoy yourself at the Inspiration Journey Link party, either as a linker or as a looker?

But, really, I think we were all lookers. So many beautiful dresses, I tell you. Goodness me, rarely have I seen so much loveliness in one place. You stunner, you. ;-)

I was going, and even started, to collate all my favourite images to show you in today's blog post but then I thought of all the prettification that I'd have to leave out.

Inspiration Journeys just seem too personal to pick and choose 'Best Of's, don't you agree? 

I hope that you got a huge dose of extra-curricular mojo-boosting activity on Friday, getting lots of inspiration from blogs you hadn't visited before, as well as haunting old favourites. I certainly did.

I said on Friday that I'd be looking in more detail at Belgian Style and breaking it down to make it more accessible for my home.

{While Belgian Style is totally my current Style Crush,
it's not a look I'd *actually* choose for my home.
Does that make sense?}

I love the feel of it, the mood it creates and the look of some of the images but I think my children, in particular, would find the look too austere and formal.

So I'll be doing a gorgeous series, which I can't wait to unfold for you, about how to take the very best of Belgian Style and add it, in little bits and pieces, in a way that works for YOU.

Not as a showcase for an
architect in Belgium,
but in your home and
in my home,
in our every day lives.

Today, I'm starting off with wood. It's on my list as one of the defining features of Belgian style.

Raw, untreated wood.

The lack of any paint or decoration draws attention to its natural beauty. The grain, the texture and the colour.

So, can we make this look work for you?

Is brass bold?

If you don't like the thought of bleaching and scrubbing then this isn't going to be your bag. But where there's a will there's a way, my friend. The question is: how?

Please meet your new best friends: wax, oil and matte varnish. These will give wood the look of seeming untreated but will protect your pieces from dirt and stains.

{In my case, little fingers covered with jam. Aaaargh.}

Just look at all the ideas there are here to add the warmth and tactility to your homes. Even small touches make a big difference.

chairs, trunks, shelves, worktops, floors, lamps, tables, mirrors, headboards, cupboards, baths....

You can weave untreated wood (or, at least, the impression of it) into so many looks. You don't need to limit this to Belgian Style.

In my next post, I'll be sharing how I've taken my love of untreated wood and made it work for me in my Modern Country home. I'd love to hear what you think.

Anne at Birdlike is hosting a fantastic mood board party. Fancy a peep?

Flamant, Kate Foreman, Lonny, House Beautiful, Homes & Gardens, Beautiful Kitchens, 25 Beautiful Homes, 46 Farmhouse, Anna Malin, Casaanversa, Cote De Texas, Drummonds, Living etc, House of Fraser, Homes & Gardenss, Ideal Home

I'm linking to my favourite parties listed in my sidebar.

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Donna@anangloinquébec said...

Love it, love it...and love it! I think I may have a bit of Belgian style going on in my home at present.. if I am getting this style...first I know of it. I love the look of matte, love wood, painted and not..oh this is going to be fun and educational. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
I love this look and would love to incorporate it more into my home. I don't know if I'd know where to start though...what a better teacher than you though! :) I like the more feminine side of it - gotta keep the floral and ruffles!

michele said...

thank you for your comment which means so much since you know i've been searching for a balance that feels right. preparing an inspiration post helped me clarify what moves me, what i pay attention to, and why. you are a treasure. really.

Belgian design is important to me. in my childhood home: belgian lace curtains i still adore. it's more than just scrubbed wood, linen, and casually relaxed rooms for me. they are contemplative spaces. quiet. not shouting for attention. i long for this so there are plenty of Belgian elements i can incorporate into my own mix.

thank you for such a thoughtful, inspiring blog, Sarah.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful images and blog Sarah!
Greetings and happy new week.

Pamela Gordon said...

I don't think I'm into the Belgian style of decor either but I really love that last picture. I look forward to seeing what you did for the look in your home. Have a lovely week. Pamela

On Crooked Creek said...

Lovely post! I do need more color. Must be all the colors of the prairie have been enbedded in my visionary mind. When you consider my favorite flower is the Sunflower (our State Flower) you can see where my love of hues comes from! I adore what you're showing on your blog! Keep the inspiration coming!

It's me said...

What a amzing pictures!!!......wowwww....i really like them...have a nice week love love

alison said...

Yes Sarah, that does make sense & I like that you are inspiring me (there's that word again) into thinking about what bits and pieces I love from particular 'styles' and making the work for me in my home. I think Michele's comment above sums the Belgian look up perfectly - 'not shouting for attention' - but at the same time oh-so-simple & chic. What a great combination.

Glad you liked taking a wander through Salzburg with me ; )

Alison xx

chris said...

Popping in and reading your blog is like diving into a favorite magazine. Thank you for bringing together so many beautiful ideas.

Erin said...

Love these inspiring pics Sarah, I would love to have the open kitchen in the light sagey green, oh how I'd love to have that!

Susan T said...

I have just discovered your blog and it is Bliss - I want to shout at everyone, just put a hold on life until I can re -decorate every inch of my home.

You have a great eye for colour and I share the Farrow and Ball fetish!

Keep it coming

Anonymous said...

This is such a thoughtful approach to blogging, Sharah. I really like this idea of deconstructing a design approach and then adapting what I already have. I actually have a lot of dark woods in my home and have been wondering about ways to lighten things up without painting everything white. I also have some very tall ceilings and have never even stopped to consider that adding beams might be an option. Hmmm. I love your creative approach! Thanks so much for leading this journey through inspiration! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Amazing rooms! I really don't know much about Belgian style but I'm fascinated by these pictures. Honestly! I'm excited to see more. Lock me in that loft room with the big table, white sofa and throw away the key :) Mmmmm Awesome round chopping block, by the prep sink, in the kitchen too. Love all the natural wood and juxtaposition between feminine and masculine. I could see adding some of this style to our own home.

Have a wonderful day, sugar plum!

Blondie's Journal said...

These are just gorgeous pictures, Sarah, and full of inspiration. I have a lot of unstained wood in my home, even thought the current trend is painted furniture...and I'm happy with it. The Belgian style is a bit formal...maybe it would work in a dining room or den.

Thanks for sharing these beautiful images!


Unknown said...

How many pretty pictures!
I can find some inspiration in these ...
Have a nice evening

Anne said...

Hi Sarah, love this Belgian style theme... the old wood,the natural elements -- gorgeous! Thanks for the shout out about my party, so sorry you lost your mood board... : -(

♥ Mary Janes TEAROOM said...

Beautifully inspiring as always, Sarah.
Looking forward to future posts,
Susan x

Boho Farm and Home said...

Just beautiful!! Looking forward to more. Have a great week!

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing all of these lovely rooms with us! The ones that featured pops of pink or cabbage rose prints really caught my eye...of course! And thank you for your visit to Girl in Pink and for your lovely comment on my bunny bunting! I adore your blog!
Have a lovely day!
Best Wishes and Blessings,

Cindy said...

Hello dear Sarah,
The party on Friday was tons of fun! Thanks so much!!!
I agree that trying to take the best of the best would be difficult, everybody had such gorgeous inspiration.
I love the Belgian style, I think you hit the nail on the head when you described it as being a bit too "formal". That is the only thing that I have against it. Otherwise it really is beautiful. I am looking forward to your series on it.
Have a really lovely day. I love the last image, btw, it looks very English to me.
Hugs, Cindy

WobiSobi said...

As always beautiful and so well executed. I always love to take what I love and make it work for me(us). A little of that or this then tweaking to make it fit just right. Superb!

Luciane at said...


I'm a BELGIAN LOVERRRRR! Bealgian style lover, that is... now, that's lame! Belgian lover sounds more exciting, don't you think? ;-)

Love the 2nd picture... love it! Love this whole post, actually... oh.. yeah.. so much LOVE for you, pretty lady! :-)

Have a blessed week, sweetie!


Luciane at

At The Picket Fence said...

Hello my lovely friend! I felt so badly that I was unable to make it to your fabulous party! I just couldn't find the right dress to wear. :-( But I am so enjoying all of the fantastic inspiration and also this great series you are doing!
Hope you have a wonderful week!

Leah - The Inside Story said...

Hi Sarah, You know how I love the Belgian Style, and I like to take bits and pieces of this look to create my own look. I agree you don't have to go full blown with this style, there are so many elements you can add to your own home which really just make for a classic style. Like you said, the untreated timber, neutral colours and statement pieces. Less is more, I think. Can't wait for your next instalment on this style. Leahxx

Luciane at said...


You're having a huge time-out! You just broke my heart!!! LOL


Luciane at

Le said...

just love it - you are soooo clever ! love the almost white kitchen with the wood - too fab for words !! I missed Friday - ugh !! away from home for most of last week and lost my usual routine !! not to worry - will go for a catch up read soon - le xox

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Great post! Can't wait to read the rest of the series!!

Deborah said...

I love the look and I love wood!
There is nothing quite like the warmness of wood.
I love the photo with the wooden beams and the chandelier
Just beautiful!!
Ill be checking in Sarah and thanks for dropping by today!

Deborah xo

Meera @ firstsense said...

Thank you for the party on Friday, you lovely darling, you are a great hostess and it was such fun seeing all that inspiration and discovering new blogs.

Did you manage the do the quiz again and get a result you wanted?? :)

Now, as I have been saying, this Belgian style has swept me off my feet and it comes so close to my ideal style but for a bit more colour and slightly less formality. I love the rustic look of wood you've shown. Looking forward to the next installment!

Meera xx

Jen said...

This really interests me--I like the way you are breaking it down. I am going to re-do our great room and want to move away from my usual COLORS and go neutral. The house is contemporary and in the woods and I am going to take a close look at Belgian Style.

michelle said...

I am loving these images my dear! You sure know how to pick some beautiful inspirations. I would LOVE wood like in my home. especially the beams on the ceiling! *sigh*
I can't wait for another wonderful series my sweets, and you sure know how to host a party, I loved everyones links!!

Barb@curlywillowdiy said...

I really love the look but most of my furniture is painted. I wish a had more space in my home for more pieces of wood furniture. Great inspirational photos!
Barb said...

I love raw wood and love that look as well and I totally get what you mean by loving the Belgian look but not for your home. I think I'll take some of the inspiration but still make it mine, does that make sense?


I really like, Sarah, the way you have taken an idea that doesn't work exactly for your family, and still take bits and pieces of it. This is how I view all ideas.

Your blog is simply lovely.


Laurel@ChippingwithCharm said...

Wow, wow, wow...such inspiring pictures...can't wait to see how you incorporate it into your home..."jam fingers" and all :) Laurel

Anonymous said...

Sarah, you hit the nail on the head when you said Belgian is your current style crush, but not the actual look you'd choose for you home. I have element of beach, vintage, modern and rustic elements in my home that I keep working together in harmony. Love this post. I've looked at many rooms lately featuring raw wood and have been thinking I'd like a touch here and there, especially the greyed worn type. Your ideas are so helpful.

As you already know I totally enjoyed the inspiration party and visited most of the links. I have more I want to visit. It was brilliant.

I'm also continuing to blog, just with some strict guidelines in place. When I see sites like yours I know I can't stop. The inspiration and motivation is too strong.

Lisa xx

Julie said...

I have no idea what Belgian style is but I love the pictures! :) One day I will catch up with all the design lingo. Have a wonderful week!

Tricia said...

Gosh, I love this look. It is my style crush too, but I would like to have it in my home. It reminds me of the decorating at Restoration Hardware. Have you ever looked at their site? One word...LOVE.

Travel With Lulu said...

I particularly love the raw wood kitchen island. I would love to stroll in your photo file - it must be huge and beautiful! Who knew Belgium Design would be my new fav? XOL

bikim said...

love love love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it's ALL SO gorgeous!
happy day!

toves sammensurium said...

oh la la....that´s elegance my dear!!!!!!I´ll take any of these rooms!!!!!!!!!! Trés chic:)

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

The rose colored pendant caught my eye, love this pop of color! Janell

Unknown said...

This is definitely my style. I love the little desk with the floral boxes and the room with the chandelier. The last photo is pure "me" - I absolutely love it!

Amanda said...

Lovely pictures Sarah! I like the idea of a bathroom in this style xxx Amanda xxx

LindyLouMac said...

Great fans of wax, oil and matte varnish in our home, even with no sticky fingers, well not little ones anyway!

LindyLouMac said...

Great fans of wax, oil and matte varnish in our home, even with no sticky fingers, well not little ones anyway!

Robynne's Nest said...

Great post Sarah! I have a lot of catching up to do...will check out your link party posts. I have been away in Wales with Belgians...can you believe it! I love your photos of Belgian style...especially that white kitchen. It's always nice to extract elements from different looks as most times we either can't or don't want to totally reproduce that particular look. Although I must say if I was super rich I could do a French, coastal, industrial,'t that be fantastic! Robx

melissa said...

I love these images, Sarah. All that white airiness and that untreated wood! I totally 'get' your crush! xx

lisaroy said...

what an inspirational post! I'm loving the bare wood look and would love to get a nice big dining table in that "raw" finish. I love how it marries so well with anything and gives a space a lovely casual feel. :)

Pamma said...

I am so looking forward to this! Thank you.

Desire Empire said...

HI Sarah
The shots in your blog are so lovely. I adore blonde wood and the warmth of that Belgian style.

Thanks for visitng my blog on The Boat House. The flowers are really a sight to behold. Also thanks for your offer of help. It's lovely to know I can ask someone more experienced in the blogosphere if I need to.

Best wishes

Mary Bergfeld said...

These are gorgeous rooms. Thank you for putting all of this together for us to see. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Casa Très Chic said...

Oh, my God, you're certainly inspired today, the images are perfect.
Thanks for sharing.

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

Hi, Sarah! I love the look of untreated wood, and I can't wait to hear how you've made it work for you. Rustic barnboard is a big love of mine.

Privet and Holly said...

I would love to
have my American
cherry kitchen
cabinets sanded
to remove the shine,
but wonder, would
that be practical??
I've actually been
thinking of painting
some of the uppers,
to break up all of
that {natural-not
dark stained} cherry.
Great food for
thought, Sarah!
Great series.
xx Suzanne

Joyti said...

I really loved this post (and I'm a new visitor too)...such gorgeous spaces! I LOVE that kitchen, the one with the big rustic island in the middle...

Daydream Living said...

Sarah, I missed the party! But you will probably throw another one right? These images are truly inspiring, that velvet sofa!
Thanks for this! And I never heard of a Belgian style.... interesting to see, love the mix of materials.
Well, we have to chat more often honey, sorry for my absense lately, still have to read more of your older posts, but you know, real life comes in the way of blogging for hours, but when I can I will read up. Have a good day!

Jadyn said...

What gorgeous photos! I know what you mean by loving the style but wanting to take elements and incorporate it into your own life. Looking forward to seeing how you do this!

American in Bath said...

Thanks for your kind words. I've simply bee unwell and then snowed under and somehow I've managed not to do the things I enjoy. I'm back now! Wee hee.

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