• Interiors,  Travel

    Wanderlust: Copenhagen

    The story starts in a restaurant with a drawing of a greenhouse in its logo. Instantly smitten, right? I went to Väkst (Danish for ‘growth’) with my Danish friend Sussi to celebrate my birthday. I was not taking any chances. Only few hours after arriving in Copenhagen, I stood at the door right at the opening time, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and giddy with anticipation. Since we were so early, I was able to take photos before the place filled up.  But when the food started arriving, I put my camera down to enjoy the red sorrel until the last tiny leaf, and the sourdough bread until the last crumb…And that was just the beginning.

    Vakst Copenhagen | totallybydesign.com

    I “maximized” my time  in Copenhagen by booking the hotel in the same building, Hotel SP34. It was at the top of my list for a while now, I have seen countless photos on blogs and it did not disappoint. Comfy lobby with a daily wine hour, and a quiet room with great reading light and leather head rest (swoon!) and city views. I just kept recording the Danish bicycle rush hour for Carl on my iPhone!

    Hotel SP 34 | totallybydesign.comHotel SP34 | totallybydesign.comHotel SP34 | totallybydesign.comHotel SP34 | totallybydesign.comHotel SP34 | totallybydesign.com

    There was no time for jet lag. Mornings were spent at the bakery 5 minutes from the hotel, Sankt Peders Bageri.  A small cappuccino and a raisin brioche bun, with unlimited people watching (and photo taking!) made for great mornings. They also serve lunch sandwiches to go – salmon and cottage cheese was superb.

    St. Peders Bakery | totallybydesign.comSt. Peders Bakery | totallybydesign.comSt. Peders Bakery | totallybydesign.comSt. Peders Bakery | totallybydesign.com

    The neighborhood is great for exploring on foot. Churches with moody courtyards (Sankt Petri), the Copenhagen Cathedral with its restrained but beautiful ceiling, small cafes and then there is Christiansborg, which happens to be the setting for Borgen. Pardon my TV reference here, but this is the only series we ever nearly binge watched and which briefly made me consider learning Danish. Not to mention, I am still searching for the handbag like the one Birgitte Nyborg had in the last season.

    CPH Golden Key House | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.com

    Just few minutes walk from the hotel in the opposite direction is Torvehallerne Market, where flowers and coffee were unquestionable delight…

    Torvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne flowers | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne oysters | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne cheese | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne fish | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne coffee | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne coffee | totallybydesign.comTorvehallerne coffee | totallybydesign.com

    If you have your walking shoes on, head to Nørrebro. My favorite street was Jaegersborggade, filled with small stores, coffee shops, and plenty of space for an afternoon break among the loveliest of the green spaces filled with history – Assistens Cemetery – just around the corner.

    Copenhagen guide | totallybydesign.com

    Copenhagen guide | totallybydesign.com

    My Copenhagen story comes full circle and it ends, for now at least, where it started many years ago. As a child, growing up in Poland, I was given my own illustrated copy of H.C. Andersen’s fairytales.  3 tome collection,  which I read over and over. One story, with all consuming drama of a skull in a flower pot and a fragrant jasmine, stayed in my imagination, but I could not recall the title. Just after Copenhagen, I visited my family and my childhood home, and after re-reading several of the stories I came across the one I was searching for. The Rose Elf.

    Copenhagen guide | totallybydesign.comCopenhagen guide | totallybydesign.com


  • Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com
    Interiors,  Travel

    Wanderlust: cafes in Kraków

    2016 has brought me to places that I dreamed of since childhood, like English country (albeit no heather covered hills – yet), places I should have visited long time ago, like Rome, and (twice!) place that can pull strings I did not know existed. After all those years…It is all in one home away from home, and an adventure, and a mystery of medieval cellars, inner city courtyards, and yes, you guessed it: cafes. Here is my pick of those that speak to me most. Happy travels in 2017, everyone!

    Charlotte – plac Szczepański 2

    Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.comKraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.comKraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com

    Nowa Prowincja – Bracka 3-5

    Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.comKraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.comKraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com

    Camelot – Świętego Tomasza 17

    Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com

    Bunkier Cafe- pl. Szczepański 3a

    Krakow Cafes | totallybydesign.comKrakow Cafes | totallybydesign.com

    Singer – Estery 20

    Krakow Cafes | totallybydesign.comKrakow Cafes | totallybydesign.comKrakow Cafes | totallybydesign.com

    Dwa Okna – Józefa 40

    Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.comKraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com

    Mleczarnia – Beera Meiselsa 20

    Kraków cafes guide | totallybydesign.com


  • Rome guide | totallybydesign.com

    Wanderlust: Rome, off the beaten path

    Rome has been a complicated destination for me, for years. The complicated kind of love…I remember days when I was in high school and one summer my brother and I tried to convince my parents to drive to Italy from our southern Poland home. We took the map, drew somewhat straight line, taking the Alps thankfully into account, and pleaded with all our might to head south. The car, a Polish Fiat, would probably survive the trip, my parents’ pockets, not so much. It was the old Eastern block days, when no one could travel outside of Eastern block, unless proved a significant amount of funds in dollars (!) available for each day. So… we went to Hungary instead, which I consider just as delightful to this day. But Italy…

    Fast forward to my university days in Krakow and the first year exams in law school: the dreaded Roman Law. Widely regarded as the natural thinning process for first year students. I did pass, the second time around, but something wilted in me, I did not want to hear anything vaguely Roman…I mocked the innocent travelers to Italy mercilessly, despite having evidence to the contrary from my own brother and sister-in-law! Let’s just say, the ‘dolce vita’ was not doing it for me. Until this June. Sometime mid spring I saw photos from Sif Orellana’s and Signe Bay’s photography retreat which they held in Rome and I nearly wept. Soooo much beauty. So here I was, wide awake at 4 in the morning, signing up for their second retreat in June called “A Roman summer feast“.  Stay tuned for food styling and photography storytelling post, but now let’s explore Trastevere, Rome. Off the beaten path, of course.

    I adored Trastevere, from the moment I arrived. The trolleys, just like in Krakow, down to number 8, which goes along Viale di Trastevere. The piazzas, the churches, the flea markets…I chose to arrive early before my retreat and I stayed at the Villa della Fonte, just around the corner from Piazza di Santa Maria. Windows open, I soaked up the sounds of simple life celebrations.

    Rome guide | totallybydesign.comRome Guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.com

    In Trastevere, and later at the end of my trip in Monti, I have visited the most magnificent, spellbinding churches:

    • Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
    • Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere – with a gorgeous 12th century Last Judgement fresco by Cavallini (in nuns’ choir, very limited hours!)
    • Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi a Ripa – with Beata Ludovica Albertoni sculpture by Bernini above
    • Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli – with Michael Angelo “Moses” sculpture below
    • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Monti

    Rome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome guide | totallybydesign.comRome Guide | totallybydesign.comRome Guide | totallybydesign.com

    My last night in Rome I spent in Monti, sitting on a tiny balcony of The Blue Hostel room and looking over quiet courtyards, rolling clouds and cats playing on a rooftop of a neighboring building. Peroni from a can never tasted better…I watered the potted jasmine on the balcony and went to sleep thinking about the planned morning adventure at Panella. And adventure it was, I recommend you folks brush up on the coffee lingo before you order. Let’s just say ‘cortado’ met with a blank stare. I have desperately replaced my order with macchiato, which got an approving nod. That and a buttery, flaky cornetto ensured that I will return. Promise.

    Rome Guide | totallybydesign.com

  • London Guide | totallybydesign.com

    Wanderlust: London Guide

    My recent trip to England started with a whirlwind day and a half in London. From the moment I resurfaced from the tube station at Holborn coming from Heathrow Airport, the game was on. I was meeting my brother for a day (him en route to Scotland, me making my way to rural Dorset), the time was short. We bumped into each other outside the station, what are the odds. Our meeting place was carefully pre-arranged at the hotel cafe, with plan B and C of course, knowing me…We dropped the bags and instantly headed down the first street that looked interesting. We meandered through Soho, posed for touristy photos in West End, hid from the rain in the National Gallery (free!) and listened to a recital practice at St. Martin in the Fields church. And then, there was a lot of talk and catching up in the hole-in-a-wall Bradleys Spanish bar, which felt more Tangier than London. Follow along!

    London Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.com

    Stay: Hoxton hotel. Just to be super thorough, I stayed in both locations, Holborn and Shoreditch. Different vibe neighborhoods, but the same great service and decor!

    London Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.com

    Eat: Hoxton Grill (above) and Lyles, which I adore for interiors and coffee. I caused some raised eyebrows, walking from the street and insisting on purchasing bag of beans. As a souvenir. Without properly sampling the cuisine, that is. All worth it though, it ended up being one of the best coffees ever, according to Carl.  Now I will be forever searching Belleville Brûlerie Paris

    London Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.com

    Neighborhood pick: Shoreditch. In a nutshell,  Cambridge, MA meets Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a little more edge.

    London Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.comLondon Guide | totallybydesign.com

    Accessories: This trip was done with carry on luggage only, I brought two bags.  My shoulder bag is Jack Wolfskin Camden Town . Mine is gray, purchased 4 years ago and still in perfect shape (machine washed several times). It serves as my camera bag, since it fits perfectly my Nikon DSLR5100 with 24-70mm lens.  The other one is Everlane Twill Weekender bag purchased specially for this trip. Works for the city and the country. I really could not picture myself rolling my regular suitcase down the country lane in my wellies…

  • LogCabinWindow | totallybydesign.com

    Visual storytelling part 2 – home

    The title says it all. Home – as in opposite of travel. We all have places that ground us. For me, it is an early 1900 log cabin style dwelling that belonged to my maternal great-grandparents. It is located in Poland, at the foothills of Carpathian Mountains. I grew up walking by it every day: to grammar school, high school, coming back from university on weekends. It left our family, then in came back to our family… I photograph it every time I visit my parents and my hometown. I have photos from all seasons, and memories from all seasons. The house is unoccupied now, waiting for an idea, that I am not sure will come soon enough to save it, but it is in my heart. On a recent trip back home I showed my Dad articles from Country Living (US) about examples of cabin restoration. This lead to a very spirited discussion…

    AntiqueKitchenTools | totallybydesign.comLogCabinWindow | totallybydesign.comLog cabin window | totallybydesign.comlog cabin table | totallybydesign.comlog cabin lace curtain | totallybydesign.comLog cabin and berries | totallybydesign.comLog cabin spring | totallybydesign.com

  • Rabaul trekking | totallybydesign

    Visual storytelling

    Ever wondered what that really means? I have dedicated 2016 to be my year of discovery, mindful travel, and observation. Last year’s 3 week trip to Papua New Guinea gave me an insight into conquering apprehension, hesitation, procrastination and…downright fear. I will always plan my trips meticulously, I will always give myself extra time to get from point A to point B, that is just my nature, but after that, I will let go.  Often you have to let things go, there is just no other option, like when you get stranded at the tiny airport, waiting for the engine parts to be flown in, or finding accommodation on an old boat that just had engine taken out for repair. Obviously, you are not going anywhere… And then the stories unveil themselves. You get curious, you get creative, you get immersed in a moment. The visual storytelling begins.

    Rabaul trekking | totallybydesignRabaul trekking | totallybydesignRabaul trekking | totallybydesign

    Small miracles can happen when you sit in one place for 30 minutes and observe. Local PNG markets, like this one in Rabaul, are great for people watching (after they stop watching YOU). Eventually life goes back to normal, tidying up produce, gossiping, laughter, occasional frustrated bargaining…Same story that binds us all together.

    Rabaul green market | totallybydesignRabaul green market | totallybydesignRabaul market | totallybydesignRabaul market | totallybydesignRabaul market | totallybydesignRabaul market | totallybydesign

    Happy 2016 travels, everyone.


  • country window box

    Country style living on a city block

    Welcome to the {new edition} of my blog. After months of soul searching it become very clear just today (as to why today, I am keeping it for another story) what I always wanted to write about, what I am most passionate about, where my most creative ideas are based – it is the country.  I have not lived in the countryside for many years now, but the memories and inspirations are still as strong. Annual trips to the countryside in Poland where I grew up, and weekend trips in New England where we live now keep me grounded in that sensibility. But I do not spend the days just waiting for those.  Looking around my city-dweller house I see reclaimed wood floors from an old barn, cast iron lamp posts imitating tree branches, wallpaper with tree trunks, and earthy colors walls.  The country style quietly permeated my every day, my house and my urban garden. This is my version of living country dream on a city block, where one can make a difference getting involved in urban agriculture, supporting farmers markets, choosing environmentally sound options while renovating and decorating.

    Keeping all options open though, should a cottage in rural England turn up to be in my cards one day (but has to be at least 200 years old), or better yet, managing gardens for a National Trust property. Ooops, that’s a different country, I better put my UK Country Living away now…

    country window box
    Country style summer window box
  • Travel

    Best of Krakow part 2 – in slow motion

    Cafe Zakatek
    Cafe Zakatek
    Courtyard by Cafe Zkatek
    Courtyard by Cafe Zakatek

    No one could tell that 50 ft away, this courtyard opens up out into the busiest place in the city, the Main Market Square. Here are some favorite hidden courtyards.

    Tile floor detail
    Tile floor detail

    Many days inevitably end in Kazimierz and recently also Podgorze, on the other side of Vistula river. Hailed as the new, and more authentic bohemian, is ready for exploring.

    Veranda in Podgorze
    Veranda in Podgorze
    Mleczrnia Cfe in Kazinierz, Krakow. Totally by Design
    Mleczarnia Cafe in Kazimierz, Krakow
    Podgorze, Krakow. Totally by Design
    Podgorze district, Krakow
    Podgorze, Krakow. Totally by Design
    Podgorze, Krakow
    Krakow. Totally by Design
    Foot bridge to Podgorze from Kazimierz
  • Travel

    Best of Krakow part 1 – Cafe culture

    It is not all about coffee, mind you. It is mostly about mood, conversation, people watching, desserts, and when the sun gets lower on the horizon, chilled beer and wine. We were lucky that the weather brought us instant summer temperatures all last week. Here is my very subjective “best of”…

    apple cake at Camelot
    apple cake at Camelot
    Cafe Camelot
    Cafe Camelot
    somewhere in Kazimierz district
    somewhere in Kazimierz district
    Somwhere na Ul. Tomasza
    Somwhere na Ul. Tomasza
    Courtyard from Schindler's List
    Courtyard from Schindler’s List
    przy Placu Szczepanskim
    przy Placu Szczepanskim
    na Kazimierzu
    na Kazimierzu