European travel and lifestyle
Finding a home in Amsterdam is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Anything liveable at a decent price is snatched away within days – sometimes hours – of being put on the market. It’s a first come, first served system, and you could be playing the game for weeks on end.
That’s why we lucked out when we found ours. If you spot a flat that’s a good price, all inclusive and fully furnished, you should hold onto it for dear life. I have a 6-month contract for this one, and I can only hope my landlord feels generous enough to extend it.
Although the flat is already decked out with furniture, artwork and a very cool whiteboard, I still wanted to add a personal touch. So I headed to Kalverstraat, Amsterdam’s main shopping street, and made a beeline to one of the it’s five H&M stores (there may even be more). Along with a hunt around IKEA, I’ve collected a few bits that have made our main living area feel more homely.
VITTSJÖ table and STOCKHOLM cushion – IKEA
Thanks to Amsterdam’s penchant for steep staircases and narrow corridors, I’ve tried to limit my purchases to smaller items. This IKEA table is the only bit of furniture my boyfriend and I bought. Even the delivery man hesitated when bringing the box up. We had to meet him halfway and drag it up ourselves.
If you need to move larger furniture, canal houses have a cool feature that can help. There’s a special beam in the attic, originally used to hoist up valuable goods like spices or cotton. Nowadays it’s used to get items to higher floors, so make sure you take advantage of it after hauling your sofa across town.
Jacquard plaid throw (H&M home)
Jacquard cushion cover and knitted cushion cover (similar) – H&M Home
I went with a monochrome theme to ensure the accessories wouldn’t clash with the existing furniture. If you opt for a similar palette, try and mix it up with different patterns and textures. This will stop the design from falling flat.
Phenomena art print – Lily Padula
I have a bad habit of buying things before I have a place to put them. Even though I had trouble closing my suitcase, I still decided to buy a couple of prints in the UK to brighten up my future home in Amsterdam. Go figure.
I’ve steadily become uninspired by department store prints. Sunsets and motivational quotes don’t do it for me, so I’ve tried harder to look for interesting alternatives. Art and comic events, such as ELCAF or Safari Festival in London, are great places to buy independant pieces directly from artists themselves. Most are reasonably priced, and the artist will normally ship to different countries if you can’t buy items there and then. Most cities host similar events at least once a year, so do some research for dates in your hometown.
I picked up this waterfall print from an artist called Lily Padula. Along with the plants, it provides a nice touch of colour to our windowsill.
Prints – East London Comics and Art Festival (ELCAF)
Plants – Albert Heijn (instore)
If you’re in the market for some greenery, Dutch supermarkets have some fantastic deals. Albert Heijn had a 2-for-1 offer, so I didn’t have to hike halfway across the city to find something. They’re now dotted around the flat, and are still alive despite my forgetting to water them every day.
Ceramic candle holder – H&M Home; Yellow pineapple candle – Oliver Bonas
Perhaps I’ve watched one too many Youtuber hauls, but I can’t stop obsessing over pineapple-shaped accessories. It didn’t help when my friend Kate from A Few Notes On gave me this yellow candle from Oliver Bonas as a going away gift. The pineapple looked lonely, so I bought another H&M one to keep him company.
Leaf-shaped trivet – H&M Home
Our landlord was kind enough to provide lots of pots and cutlery, so there wasn’t much need to buy a lot for the kitchen. Aside from a few baking trays, I found this small trivet in H&M, which has taken up permanent residence on the island.
Glass vase – H&M Home; Candle tray – H&M Home; Glass candle holder – H&M Home
As a freelancer, I spend most of my day at the dining room table, and I wanted something nice to gaze at in-between emails. A somewhat random assortment of candle holders and vases, the gold accents work very well with the dark wood and monochrome table runner.
Table runner –H&M home (similar)
Do you want to know more about shopping or finding a home in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @sideroutes.
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