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Home visit: a recipe for a happy house

What makes a happy home? Inside this house are busy parents and small children, but at its heart are different spaces where the whole family can find time to relax. Step inside…

A living room with pastel furniture and accessories.
A living room with pastel furniture and accessories.

When Italian expats Ilaria and Alberto relocated to the Netherlands, they brought their rich heritage with them. Combining warm rustic touches and a new-found love of Nordic style, they created ‘the Happy House’ with sons Enea (3) and Leo (1). Having an all-white base and a few key pieces of furniture means they can easily adapt the living room to their needs: “It’s designed as an open space that we can enjoy together, but at the same time have our ‘personal moments,’” says Ilaria.

Open and closed storage is inspired by each family member’s passions. Ilaria enjoys watching TV, but as the TV unit is not very beautiful to look at, it’s hidden behind the painted door of a wooden IVAR cabinet when not in use. Ilaria’s other passion is crochet, which she works on in her downtime. “I bought the FABRIKÖR display cabinet specifically to keep my yarns in. It used to live upstairs in my office, but I realised it was useless there. I only ever work on my crochet in the living room, where I feel truly relaxed,” says Ilaria.

“Even though we don’t have a separate dining room, making space for a big, family dining table is true to our roots. In Italy, everyone sits down and eats a good meal three times a day (sometimes more!) – it may seem chaotic, but it’s comforting to me,” says Ilaria. “And as much as it’s an old-fashioned tradition, I love the look of a modern dining table.”

Having built-in units doesn’t have to make your kitchen feel static. When Ilaria’s family grew, the layout of her kitchen evolved from one side of the room to a galley kitchen. And with it came a solution to take the stress out of meal prep: “We added units and a small desk/breakfast corner, so that when I’m cooking, I can bring the kids into the kitchen where I can see them – Leo sits in his high chair and Enea keeps himself busy drawing or playing.”

Our Italian heritage isn’t something you can necessarily see in our home, it’s more of a feeling – a sense of comfort.

Ilaria, Eindhoven

Self-care can be found in the simplest of pleasures, and for Ilaria, that means a good night’s sleep. A coordinated colour scheme helps to set a restful mood and focus in on restoring energy. As summertime in the Netherlands is cooler than in Italy, Ilaria keeps throws on the bed for cosiness all year round. “To sleep well is to feel well,” says Ilaria. “I need my eight hours, especially as a parent!”

To keep distractions to a minimum in a sleep space, storage on wheels is there when you need it and easy to move when you don’t. Ilaria uses the RÅSKOG trolley as her bedside table: “I love it so much that I have three in the house! One for my bedside storage and two in the kids’ room – it’s especially great for all of Leo’s baby-care products,” says Ilaria.

How did you end up here? “We grew up in Italy, in villages about 30 miles apart. We got together when we were 19, and a few years later, Alberto moved to Eindhoven for his PHD degree. I finished my studies and joined him in 2009,” says Ilaria.
What helped you settle into your home away from home? “It was so nice to finally build something of our own. At first, we took lots of trips back to Italy with empty suitcases, returning with blankets, cushions and little objects that we were used to seeing at our parents’ places,” says Ilaria.
How has your home changed with you?
“Shortly after we moved, I set up an interiors blog and used to work from home,” says Ilaria. “When Enea and Leo came along, I was finding it difficult to switch off, so I’ve recently moved to a studio in the city, which I hope to eventually turn into a co-working space.”

Ilaria’s family home is tucked away on a quiet residential street in the city. Their entryway leads to the open-plan living and dining area, which is followed by the kitchen and utility room. The second floor has the master bedroom, kids’ bedroom, bathroom and a small rooftop garden.

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Made by
Interior stylist: Sam Grigg
Photographer: Benjamin Edwards
Follow Ilaria on Instagram: @idainteriorlifestyle