Irene Hoofs, founder of Studio Bloesem and KOEL Magazine, describes her interior decor style as a minimalist, vintage-inspired, curation of goods. Her Amsterdam apartment, where she and her family regularly escape to from Singapore, is a century-old converted warehouse in the heart of the city's canal area. It's also filled with tons of her own gorgeous handmade knit projects and crocheted decor!
This month, Apartment Therapy teamed up with a bunch of talented knitters — like KOEL Magazine and Flax & Twine — to give you a rich mix of informative posts about this useful and meditative craft, including resources and original patterns. If you've never picked up knitting needles before, this is a great time to start. See the entire knitting series right here.
The original features — wooden beams that support the walls and ceiling — give the apartment a robust feel with a touch of charm and culture so often lacking in modern minimalist interiors. Love for uncluttered spaces led Irene and her husband to hack down as many walls and doors as possible, allowing natural light to stream into the apartment, making it look bigger and brighter.
Irene believes in taking time to develop interior taste. She enjoys creating a home that best reflects her personality, yet still meets the ever changing needs of her family. A well-curated collection of vintage finds from around the world — scattered across the home — reveals the couple's common love for travel and design.
Irene makes yarn accessories in warm and soft tones, and then introduces them into her serene home. Be it a knitted throw draped across the bed, hanging woven art, or simply a few spools of yarn beautifully displayed on a shelf, these signature pieces create warmth and artistic character into the light-filled space. As the season slowly changes, Irene plays around with the color palette of her handmade yarn pieces. Flora and fauna tie everything together and bring a lovely pop of color!
We recently asked Irene to share what makes her tick, and how knitting has influenced her decor:
AT: Tell us about your background, and how your passion for yarns and knitting began.
IH: My grandmother taught me to knit my first sweater when I was 10 years old, and it has stuck with me since then. I find knitting to be a very mediative practice, a craft that I love to engage in during the weekends alone at home - be it creating my own yarn designs or making my own knitted throws and blankets for the home. I started Bloesem Design about ten years ago, as a way to filter through the daily interior inspiration I was being overloaded with online. I started documenting my love for travel, design and crafting. We grew into a full-service design studio when my husband, kids and I moved to Singapore about four years ago. Besides being a full time mom, graphic designer and self-taught photographer, my main job title these days is Editor-in-Chief of the recently launched KOEL Magazine, which celebrates crafting with yarns to create a stylish home. Having a deep passion for both interior decor and yarn crafting for as long as I can remember, it's been an amazing experience so far in this new publishing venture. Sharing my passions with yarn crafters globally through KOEL is a dream come true! I'll let you in on a little secret though - among all the yarn crafts, I enjoy knitting the most!
AT: How would you describe your knitting style, and what's your favorite fiber to work with?
IH: I prefer knitting in a free-flowing and experimental manner, making my own desired patterns through trial and error, and making mistakes along the way. It's absolutely fine to go off pattern. I enjoy the creative process and making my own knitting decisions, be it right or wrong, and then creating accidental artworks that I end up loving! Personally, I find it tough to keep to gauge and/or tension rules, and enjoy making home decor pieces more versus apparels, where tension is more important. Simple yet fun designs, and working with wools and chunky yarns are my current favorites!
AT: Can you give us a little glimpse into your creative process?
IH: Whenever I'm up for a new knitting project, I first gather all the beautiful yarns that are available around me at home and then start to brainstorm what I can make out of it. Be it for the home or for KOEL Magazine, my design process is more of a gut-instinct, free flow type process!
AT: Where do you get your inspiration?
IH: There are so many beautiful visuals on social media these days, particularly Instagram, so that's definitely my go-to every morning to keep me inspired for the day ahead. As for knitting, it's still an ever-learning journey that I find myself on and I'm really glad to find a wide range of knitting books available out there that I can always turn to for new techniques. I personally enjoy looking back through my mother's collection of vintage books to see how I can put a twist on things and stand out from the current trends.
I started KOEL Magazine because I couldn't find anything out there where interior decor and yarn crafting perfectly collide as one. I find myself constantly inspired by the content we are working on. We do many interviews and stories on fiber artists and yarn crafters for content, and we're lucky enough to have some incredibly talented contributors for the magazine. They all keep me motivated to keep honing my knitting craft!
AT: How does your love for yarn influence your home decorating style?
IH: I like serene and uncluttered spaces and describe my home decorating style as minimalistic and fresh. When decorating, I start with a very empty space first, then gradually introduce colors and textures to add warmth and character — especially using yarn accessories. Be it knitted pillows and throws, or weaving a wall hanging, I find yarn crafting very cost effective, and a fun way to transform interiors in any home. They are a functional and decorative piece of handmade art for your home too!
AT: Any advice you would like to give to our Apartment Therapy yarn and interior enthusiasts who are keen to join the thriving yarn movement?
IH: Just simply start doing it. Buy a yarn bundle or kit for your first project. Don't worry if you lack the tools to get started. You can find a lovely range of yarn crafting tools and supplies (at KOEL Shop online of course). And of course, practice and more practice.
AT: Finally, can you share with us a little about what we can expect to see in the coming Spring issue of KOEL Magazine?
IH: We love this Spring issue - expect to see a burst of bright colors, engaging fun yarn projects and, of course, inspiring interviews with makers worldwide that we hope will continue to inspire yarn crafters on their creative journey. Hope all you Apartment Therapy readers are looking forward to reading our new issue, out February 1st!