Have you ever wondered how Little Otja fans live and what kind of home decor tips they might have? Look no further: we’re introducing the #mylittleotja series, where we’re going to be spending some time with interesting individuals, who just happen to enjoy the company of our bunny rabbit. We’re going to ask them a thing or two about creating the home of their dreams.
Sara is an inspiring person. A young mommy of two who works at the Institute for Vocational Education and Training, where she consults young people and organizes the Euroskills international competition for professional skills.
She has decorated her home in a contemporary minimalist style, in which she incorporates colourful little pieces of her roots. Sara was one of the first people to have bought an Otja poster, so we’ve decided to pay her a visit at her country house, which she had recently renovated with her partner, Boštjan. She greeted us with a warm hug and served us delicious black coffee on their picturesque terrace.
We lived in Ljubljana before moving to the countryside. As our city apartment started getting too crammed for a family of four, we began looking for a new home. I have to admit, moving from the city to the countryside was tough at first, but now we’ve gotten completely used to our new surroundings.
My mother is from Tunisia, so I’ve spent every summer there until I was twenty. This was was a special experience every time.
Today I nurture my Tunisian roots. That is why seven-year-old Lev Mahdi and four-year-old Sofija Essia both have Slovenian as well as Arabic names. And besides that, the kids are going to spend many summer holidays with their family in Tunisia–just like I did.
Where do you get your home decor inspiration?
My personal style of home decoration is influenced by the contact of two cultures. That’s why it is mixed, eclectic, extending from the Orient to Scandinavia. Our home is bright, open and simply decorated, making it ideal for including colourful elements from the Berber and Moor worlds. I combine greys, whites and warm wood tones with traditionally woven carpets, patterned ceramics and various textiles. I’d like our home to someday be full of such curious details.
We like to incorporate family heritage into our home. Such pieces are some of my favourites.
I look for inspiration in everyday life and everywhere, really. On the web I use Pinterest and Instagram. I really like following Instagram accounts such as @hudalukna, @thecraftyfox.uk and @apartmenttherapy.
Many objects in your home have special stories…
The vintage cabinet in our living room used to belong to Boštjan’s parents. It was in their bedroom since their wedding and is around 50 years old. We gave the other furniture from that bedroom away, but we kept the cabinet and included it into our living room.
P: Cabinet from grandparents’ old bedroom and Sara’s palm leaf koffes.
Our staircase has a wooden railing. At first we wanted to throw it away, but upon finding out that it had been made from the wood of our grandfather’s forest, we decided to freshen it up and incorporate it into our newly renovated home.
This Berber pattern rug also has an interesting story. I bought it in the wonderful Tunisian village of Takrouna. It was handmade by an old lady, who sells only a few of them every year. The village is far away from tourist destinations and by selling one rug she makes enough money to last her a whole month.
P: Unique Tunisian rug.
I adore baskets woven from palm tree leaves. They are called koffa and can be bought at the traditional Tunisian souk market, where they truly have a lot of them.
We have decorated our kitchen and bathroom with patterned oriental ceramics. These have been getting quite popular lately, so I didn’t have to go all the way to Tunisia to get my hands on them (laughs). I was worried that they might seem too bold, but they nicely liven up the spaces and add a certain something to them.
Another item that I have grown attached to is my mother-in-law’s set of plates, which had lain forgotten in her kitchen cabinet for years.
P: Vintage plates with colourful fish have gotten a fresh start.
Your favourite DIY project?
The conversion of Lev’s old bed. We used the wooden slats to make a clothes hanger for our entryway. I’ve also put up colourful homemade ceiling lights in our kids’ room and they look nice with all the little flags there.
Our home is still under development so I have plenty of ideas on how to make it look nicer. The project I’m most looking forward to is wall decoration. I want a monumental gallery of framed graphics and photographs in the hallway, vaguely reminiscent of the sales galleries of the great painters of the past. I support young artists, so I intend to buy more of their works in the future. My father is an excellent street photographer and I want to hang some of the portraits he’s taken. (Hint: you can see Sara’s father’s photos on Instagram: @vgosnak)
F: Sara with her grandmother’s robe and various prints.
There’s another thing I mustn’t forget. I saved a piece of the robe my late grandmother used to wear. The women from our village (Hammam Sousse) drape themselves into special red robes whenever they leave the house. They are called safsari. From this leftover fabric I want to make something new. Once I figure out what, it will be my favorite DIY project.
What kind of decor do you like besides pictures?
Flowers mean a great deal to me. I regularly get them at the Ljubljana market after work and I often pick some hydrangea from my garden. Plants really are the most beautiful decoration.
When does a house become a home?
When you’re happy to go home. When you come back from a holiday, enter your house and say: “Oh, I’m home…” That’s when it truly is home.
I think you need to spend some time in your house to figure out what your needs are, so that you can then adapt your home to them. A ready-made house, where you haven’t contributed to its creation, won’t become a home easily.
F: Kids’ room with colourful ceiling lights.
I needed quite some time before I felt at home in the renovated house, as long as a couple of months. Spending time in the living room wasn’t pleasant without the couch and the children’s room was missing flags, playful stickers and furniture. I put some flowers on the terrace not long ago. Only now has it become a place with it’s own heart and I really like sitting there. Now I want to take pictures of all our rooms, so I can be sure that this is it.
How do you spend time with your family?
Our family is very close. We love each other a lot and are always in each other’s company. We like to go on trips, but we enjoy spending our time together at home the most. That’s why it is important for us to feel good, comfortable and safe here. Since we moved and have plenty of space, all of our relatives come to visit and hang out at our place.
What do you miss when it comes to children’s products?
More quality illustrations, and more real-life stories, which would be understandable to children. Parents often have difficulty explaining in simple words how the economy works, why we need culture and why we need to respect our elders.
Sara is on instagram as @akassoube. Go and give her a follow.