My name is Hester de Nijs Bik, I live in Haarlem, a place 15 minutes from Amsterdam, close to the shore.. I was born in Rotterdam, raised in Enschede, I went to university in Utrecht and I worked as a kindergarten teacher in Amsterdam where I also lived for a couple of years. I met my husband Ruben there, too. Our 2 daughters (who are now 7 and 10 years old) were born in Amsterdam.
Since 6 years we live in Haarlem. I have been a staying- at- home- mom since they were born. I have always been interested in vintage clothing, fabrics and beautiful pictures, and had been wanting to do 'something' with this for quite a while. I met my business partner Mariëlle Pieterse through a mutual friend. We found out that we share the same passion for vintage clothing and fabrics, baking, polkadots and we both have an eye for detail. After a period of brainstorming and try outs our webshop House of Dots was launched on the 21 st of June 2009.
What kind of house do you live in, are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you all terribly miss?
*We live in an old house, we don’t know how old, but it’s from before 1900. We live in a very nice quarter right in the centre of the town, with narrow streets filled with flowers. We fell in love with this house because it has this happy feeling about it, it’s light and high (though narrow).
It’s such a sweet house to come home to, especially when we’ve been away for the holidays we are very happy to be home again.
We have 2 sweet little rabbits in the garden, but we all would also like to have a dog. Unfortunately, our house is a little bit too small to have one, and there isn’t a lot of space in the neighbourhood for dogs to run.
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?*I love to be around the house, I’m a very homey person. Don’t ask me what I do all day, but I’m never bored! I have so many ideas that I still want to put into the house, I love decorating. I like to make displays of things I found at fleamarkets, things the children found or made. A pair of shoes, a vintage dress or a drawing of the children is as much art to me as a ‘real’ work of art. I don’t think you should take your home too seriously, humor is important to me when it comes to clothing and decorating. I’m not a very practical person, I prefer things to LOOK nice instead of being functional and usefull.
Where do you look for interior inspiration?
I’m always on the lookout for inspiration, I read a lot of magazines from all over the world. I love to go to second hand shops and fleamarkets, brocantes and fairs to look for inspiration.
What are your children’s favorite items in your house?*My childrens favorite items in the house are the vintage pram to put the dolls in and our bed on sunday-mornings to watch the tele with us. They also try almost every day to get to sleep in our bed…
What places in your neighbourhood do you like to go for shopping?
* We live in the center of Haarlem so it’s so easy for us to go shopping…There are a couple of nice second hand shops like ‘De Schalm’, but also big shops like ‘H&M’ and ‘Hema’. There’s also an Ikea in Haarlem, for basics we go there often.‘De Juffrouw zonder zorgen’ is also a very nice little warehouse, they sell things of ‘La Marelle’ and ‘Shinzi Kato’, the girls and I love it there! Very often I take the train to Amsterdam, where I go to shops like ‘Het Grote Avontuur’, ‘Wini’, ‘Laura Dols’, ‘Exota’ and ‘Lady Day’.
A friend of mine owns 2 shops: De Kinderfeestwinkel, with loads of fun stuff for children, and ‘Het is Liefde’ , for everything having to do with love! When the children were younger, we often went to 'Keet in Huis', a very nice children's store, always an inspiration!
I like sunday mornings in our bed, watching the tele with the 4 of us. After this we make a breakfast with fresh bread and croissants and orange juice. Then we go to a museum for a while, we all love museums, we like the atmosphere and the cafes. It's so much fun to go with your children and listen to what they have to say about things, I love the way they look at things. The best thing to do is to not stay there too long go and to see what your children would like to see in there.
On summer days I also like to go to the beach in the morning, when there's nobody around yet, and then leave early in the afternoon, when there are people everywhere you look. We go for a coffee almost every weekend, there are so many nice little cafes in Haarlem and Amsterdam, the girls go there since they were born.
Reading stories to them is also one of my favorites things to do.
What are all time favorite books for the children?We all love the books by Yvonne Jagtenberg, Catharina Valckx, The Tjong Khing. Lucy Cousins we still love, as well as Max Velthuijs.
What do you do with all the projects your children made at home or in school?Well, we have a nice changing display in the toilet room! I also put their projects in frames and hang them in our living-room or put them on display in the cupboard/cabinet. They are always so touching, it makes me so happy to see their puppets, animals and drawings of our family. They make me smile every time I see them!
I also have 2 big boxes where I keep their projects. I find it very hard to throw anything away, I keep postponing sorting them out. A friend of mine recommended making pictures of the drawings and artwork of the children and I now do that quite often. You never know...
Are you a cook or a food lover or both?
I love to bake things like apple-pie, scones and chocolate sausage. I'm not much of a cook lover, since late in the afternoon I'm often quite tired. Luckily my husband likes to cook! Because I AM a food lover! I love practically anything! And since our atelier is in Mariëlles house, I often get to taste her more then delicious cakes, too!
What kind of place do you like to go to on vacation with the children?We don't like to go to places where it's too hot to do anything. Brittany and Normandy are favorite parts of France. We love the islands of France and Great Britain, like Ile de Bréhat, Ile d'Ouessant, Belle Ile, Guernsey, Herm, the Isle of Wight. Last year we went to Sweden on the isle of Styrsö, the girls loved it there, too. Islands have a different vibe, you get the feeling that you live there, you often feel like going back in time. Plus the sea is never far away!
And we also go on city trips, with the girls, to Paris, Berlin, to the wonderful Hotel New York in Rotterdam, to Stockholm, Bordeaux.. And I also would like to HIGHLY recommend my friends chambre d'hote/gite in France, "La maison du Meunier", in Mortagne sur Gironde.
..House of Dots..