Time for another home story of conscious aesthetic living from the series in collaboration with Swedish ecological bedding brand Alva. Alva is a brand that designs and ecologically, fairly produces home textiles that are made to last. They are working directly with different weavers in India, making sure each step of the production is done organically and fairly, using natural dye, unlike the typical mass-producing cotton industry. As part of this series of home stories, I get the pleasure to style and photograph an Alva product in homes of aesthetically and consciously aware individuals.
Today, we are visiting the home of Rebecca Goddard in Berlin. She lives in an ‘Altbau’ building, built-in 1910.
“In this apartment, even if you take all the furniture away, you can feel the original soul of the building. The space has so much character, that you don’t have to add much to make it interesting,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca’s interior styling philosophy for her home is living with less, buying things that last, from companies that care about fair production and the people they are working with. As well as, reusing thrifted pieces and secondhand objects by giving them new life in the home she shares with her husband Sven. As Rebecca moved to Germany from the US a few years ago, she had to take with herself only the belongings she really cared about. This allowed her to get rid of the things we tend to just keep over time. This changed her way of living and buying things for the home.
“As we started to furnish our home in Germany, it was important that we only buy the items we truly love. I think in order to make intelligent buying choices for the home it’s important not to buy all right away, but rather wait and see what we really need for daily life. In the beginning, we lived in our first Berlin flat without almost any furniture. We could have been in a position to go to Ikea and buy all the pieces we needed at once so we could at least have all the basics covered. But nevertheless, I preferred to live without something a little longer rather than support the “throw-away” mentality. Rather, we waited for the right stuff to come to us, through secondhand finds or by saving for the pieces we knew we’d keep forever,” says Rebecca.
Rebbeca’s interior style shows us how to live aesthetically with less, at the same time adding warmth and personality to the home with details. Join our conversation about creating a warm minimalist home:
Designsetter: How important it is for you to choose conscious brands such as Alva for your home?
Rebecca Goddard: I think it is important to buy from companies that actually care about the people who they are working with and not just try to make products for the sake of a sale alone. For example, what I appreciate about Alva is that they go against the grain of the cotton industry. They are working directly with different weavers in India, using very natural dye. I like the whole concept of cutting out the middleman and knowing where the materials are coming from. In general, I try to find a healthy middle ground between buying things for the home I can afford and buying things that I can probably keep for a long time. We definitely don’t own many things, but things that have good quality and I hope they will last for a long time. As we find things that we love, I end up having less stuff at the end of the day and it’s such a liberating feeling.
Rebecca believes in living with less. A mix of the things she has around the house comes from a secondhand store or “free giveaway boxes” (which are popular on the sidewalks of Berlin, as people clear out their own belongings and offer it up for a new home to passers-by). “You couldn’t believe the nice things people leave on their doorsteps to be rehomed, like this handmade ceramic.” Rebecca is showing me a beautiful ceramic mug from which she is drinking her tea. “Our Hay dining chairs and Thonet-style dining chairs are pieces I bought on local eBay. And as for our little collection of marble cafe tables, these were found secondhand as well. I like buying secondhand not only for furniture but for everyday items too. For example, a lot of the dishware and utensils in our kitchen are secondhand. At the end of the day, it’s quite unnecessary to buy most of these items new since many of them are utility pieces and the used ones still work perfectly fine.”
Designsetter: What are your favorite pieces at home?
Rebecca Goddard: I think my favorite furniture piece that we have is this marble dining table. It’s actually too small to be a dining table, but I love it all the same. It’s an antique piece, and it’s the very first piece of furniture Sven and I bought when we moved to Germany. It reminds me of all the time we have spent in France. I like the “old world feeling” the stone and cast iron are conveying. I like mixing antique pieces with those we find during travel, and design pieces I know I will keep forever.
Designsetter: Would you consider your style as minimalist?
Rebecca Goddard: I’d certainly consider myself to be a minimalist, but it’s a path I found myself going down for very practical reasons. Even though I quite appreciate the aesthetics of minimalism, it’s the functional aspect that benefits me the most. I’m a busy-minded person by nature, and I need the space around me to support that by being the exact opposite — open, clear, and free of clutter. Living in a big city has also influenced this need, especially when the streets of Berlin tend to be majorly cluttered and chaotic. Right below our windows, there’s a lot of life and hecticness happening, so I’m glad we can create a retreat from this in our home. I’ve always been very sensitive to my surroundings, but it took me a bit of time to learn how I could use minimalism to my advantage to support my mental well-being. With time, I started to understand how the things around me pull at my energy because everything I bring into our home needs some of my attention, having to be used, organized, cleaned, etc. The more stuff I own, the more distracted I am. I always get extra amounts of happiness when I give away the things we don’t use.
Designsetter: How do you add warmth to a minimalist space?
Rebecca Goddard: I think a lot of people confuse minimalism (as a way of living) with the minimalistic design aesthetic that is oftentimes associated with all-white interiors, no colour, not a lot of details, etc. While I definitely appreciate some of these minimalistic aesthetic values, I find that spaces feel warmer and far less sterile when not every piece in the space falls into this design category, like our antique marble tables for example. The key is to not have too much stuff but to layer different pieces with warm characteristics in a simple and understated way. I think that some people gravitate to design pieces that follow a minimalistic style in terms of how the product is designed, but they end up with a lot of items that look minimalistic but don’t collectively create an atmosphere that feels minimalistic in the end. I feel like we’ve found a nice balance in our home — one that feels minimal but with warmth and softness thanks to the small details and interest in the individual pieces.
For the winter holiday times, Rebecca also likes to keep it simple, using bits of green wintery foliage and lots of candles to set the atmosphere. “We are going to put up a tree soon, especially because we are celebrating Christmas a bit differently this year. I’m in the mood for more holiday feelings at home since we’re not going out for the usual Christmas market strolls, hotel visits, or big family gatherings. But I’m sure we can make it very cozy and festive here,” she remarks. Even Though Rebecca’s colour choices are muted, earthy, and neutral, for Christmas time, she was glad to have me style the bedroom with Alva’s Misty Green shade of bedding. All is set for a warm minimalist Christmas time!
Here is the beautiful and cozy winter bedroom styling with Alva Bedding in Washed Bottle Green. It is beautiful colour match to wintery foliage – for those who like to keep the decor minimal during winter holidays.
Photography, Text, concept and Bedroom Styling by Valerie Schöneich. In collaboration with Alva.