Hi everyone! Today I have a fascinating home tour lined up for you! Menw is what she calls a ‘paperhugger’ because she loves and collects all things paper! Her interests are diverse though- from vintage stationery, stamps, wax seals, art, botanicals, pens, postcards, snail mail, and so much more. She is also a hoarder of stationery and art supplies, but let me tell you- this is the neatest and most amazingly complex yet organised craft hoarder I’ve seen! I honestly want a room like what she’s crafted- filled to the brim with beautiful things and what’s even better- everything has a memory and significance to it. She and her husband also rebuilt their own house practically from scratch- isn’t that amazing? Anyways, let’s hear it from Menw herself! –Aaria
A Creative Home with Paperhugger Menw from Maastricht, Netherlands
Hi there, I am Menw Hurkens and I live with my husband, our 4 sons, 4 cats and a dog in Maastricht, which is situated in the southernmost corner of the Netherlands. I am working as a project manager at the University of Maastricht and besides my love for paper I’m a true Francophile. I hope that one day I will be able to move to the countryside of Nièvre to become old there with my husband and a lot of animals around me.
Our house is an old townhouse (built in 1918) in a suburb of Maastricht, our street leads to farmers’ fields with behind the woods. We bought the house 6 years ago and there was only one water tab, not really a kitchen, bathroom, nor usable toilet. We stripped down the whole house, every floor, plasters from the walls, windows, rooftops etc. has been re-built or renovated. Most of the work is done by my husband and myself. I know now how to do brickwork, build an attic or place a floor! This also means that we had the change to create our home exactly as we wanted it to be and that we could use materials we loved, mostly vintage and recycled.
The layout of the house has remained authentic, and the only change is an extension at the back to connect the barn (now kitchen) to the living area. All the original features such as ensuite doors, wooden stairs, old stone floors and some frames of the fireplaces we were able to keep. The second floor which counts 3 bedrooms belongs to the boys (one is studying and is only at home during the weekends). The attic is a storage space for my French vintage stuff, as well as everything else that I just can’t throw away. I have had a vintage web shop and attended vintage markets for 5 years, I have recently decided to quite with gathering French vintage stuff to resell it. The trips to French are awesome but it’s all so time consuming.
The first floor is where my husband and I have our bedroom, bathroom and yes where my craftroom is situated. I still have to share my craftroom with our closets, but you won’t here me grumble about it, as more than 2/3 of the closets is filled with another of my hoarding issues!
That’s the short introduction of my home, and please be welcome on my house tour!
1/What makes your home a creative one?
Well, at first our own hands transferred our dreams and wishes into this gorgeous and warm home, it literally feels that our creativity is in every brick and beyond. Creativity comes from a long way back, and has developed throughout the years in an always present character trait. As a kid I was always busy collecting things, wooden boxes, postage stamps, poetry illustrations, books, paper, but also lady bugs or tadpoles.
As soon as I left my parent’s house and had to furnish my own place, I became a regular customer at second hand shops. In the early years I have collected the most beautiful pieces for just a dime. I am always seeking to combine the art of these items with the authentic elements of the house and today’s modern aspects that are also incorporated. A lot of the items in our house will not make any sense if you just put them side by side in the middle of the room. The art of creativity comes in by combining the items in such way that the image becomes whole and radiates comfort and warmth.
A great example of this is our kitchen, luckily I love to cook and with 5 men in the house that’s almost a requirement. I love to spend time in the Kitchen and the kitchen table is one of my favorite places to sit with friends and family, and many of my Instagram pictures are taken on this table.
Then there is the childhood history that brings us to my creativity in crafting, as a little kid I was fascinated by the desk of my father who is a retired architect, I couldn’t get enough of the pens you had to refill with ink, the enormous rulers and drawings with all these lines on it. It felt like a trip to wonderland when I went to my father’s office and I could take a glimpse at his desk. Now that I have my own desk, which is not nearly as neat as my father’s was, but I spend a lot of time here trying to send some of my creativity and love for paper into the world.
I have a large collection of stationery, including rubber stamps, washi tape, paper and vintage paper, pens, wax seal, stickers, envelopes, notebooks etc. Some of my favorite things to do is decorating envelopes, making flipbooks and collages and write letters. I seriously get happy by unpacking mail and discover a little bit of the world from the person behind it and the generosity is amazing amongst this community on Instagram!
I honestly can say the whole house, I can still come down the stairs or walk through our home and think, wow we made this (almost) ourselves and then immediately feel the urge to grab a piece of furniture and move it around or to go cook a big meal on my (big) stove. But a home like this also means that there is always something to repair, it needs more care than new houses.
3/How would you describe your home style?
From my childhood onwards I have had a weakness for old stuff, from my first own place to furnish I have trampled thrift shops and flea markets in search of (im)perfect items. Not only furniture was enthusiastically gathered along but also old paper, old crockery and porcelain tableware, books, office equipment, typewriters, old games and so on… the setting of our home is to mix and match the vintage items with natural materials and modern copper, white and wood. Is there a name for this style? Well, my husband does have a name for it..hoarding! But I do need to mention our home is seriously not stuffed, it sort of bright and minimalistic.
4/The biggest challenge you’ve faced so far regarding your home?
To be allowed to hammering a nail into the wall, after all plastered so tightly, this is seriously the biggest challenge between me and my husband! So as you will see we have still not figured out what to put on our walls. But if you look at a bigger picture, is of course the whole renovation the biggest challenge.
5/Something your house is full of?
Seriously, you are asking a girl with multiple hoarding issues…? Well, there is maybe something that I think the house is sometimes overloaded with. May I say that it’s literally filled with manhood, I am living with 5 men, and sometimes that’s just too much testosterone in the house!
6/If your house had to be named, what would you call it?
We have called our house Mirabelle, this is a little yellow French plum, and the little path next to our house is called the Mirabelle Path. As we are Francophiles this was a nice touch when we bought the house, and we have got a Mirabelle tree as a gift from our neighbors.
7/What do you think is your favourite aspect in your house?
The mix between the authentic elements and the modern choices like the kitchen and bathroom, as example we did go for a wooden parquet floor in our bathroom and kitchen but the kitchen and sanitary is modern design. We have plastered all the walls very smooth but have picked old cabinets and a gorgeous old clock to create a balance.
8/Biggest DIY you’ve ever attempted in the house?
I will highlight one, as you can imagine there are plenty with renovating a home, this one really shows the impact and makes me proud. The stairway to the first floor (to the second was the same work!) before and after… I totally destroyed my dumb joint on this job, but I still get a big smile when I enter my home and walk into a setting like this.
9/How many times do you thinking of changing up the decor and arrangements?
Daily basis, it never stops and we are still looking for several pieces, like wall decoration and a new table and couch for the TV room, which is big enough for all of us.
10/Do you think your creativity is linked to the way you live?
Yes, I am a bouncy person, quickly bored with routine and always looking for new things! I really have the urge to look beyond corners, to mingle, meeting new people and create friendships all over the world. There is so much generosity and great possibilities if you just dare to follow your heart. I really appreciate the crafting community on Instagram, it’s a wonderful key to so many friendships!
11/Something that you love about your house and wouldn’t change for the world?
I really couldn’t be happy in a totally new and newly furnished/decorated house, therefore I have to go for the whole setting of our home. The house radiates warmth and enjoyment, it’s just seems that the house is shouting out…live me and enjoy me that’s why I am here for!
Rapid Fire Round!
- What are your creative hobbies?
I have many creative outbursts, and some of them come and go with the time. But I will always keep collecting Vintage French stuff. If you can count pets as a hobby, I just want more pets to pamper!! All pets by the way are rescued animals, they all have a background story, sometimes that means that they are very cautious in their behavior, but give it some time and I just love them so much!! Crafting is of course an ongoing hobby as also cooking and baking.
- What’s your favourite color? Book? Movie? Flower?
My favourite colors are white, copper and mint;
Book: The Discovery of Heaven, from Harry Mulisch
Movie: Lots, but I have to go for Jackie Brown
Flower: Lavender and Hydrangea (Hortensia)
- If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it and why?
Just Menw, it’s such a weird name, it will just do the trick.
- What does your name mean?
Menw, son of Three-Cries (Middle Welsh: Menw fab Teirgwaedd), is a hero and shapeshifter in early Welsh and Keltic literature, an “Enchanted Knight” of King Arthur at his court at Celliwig. Even in Dutch my name is difficult to pronounce, it’s Meenoe. And according to a Dutch name calculator, I am the only one with this name.
Rippels, my username is called after my first cat who was more dead than alive when we found her at a high way. We took her home and named her RIP, but she became 18 years old!
- Which is heavier- a ton of feathers or a ton of steel?
Well I both like feathers and (industrial) steel, so if I take half a ton of both of them, I would still have a ton!
- Three words to describe yourself.
Loyal, caring and outgoing.
- When you were a child, what was your answer to the question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
I was totally captivated by the athlete Trine Hattestad (Norwegian), she was the world’s best javelin thrower for a long time. My dream ended when I suffered a huge back injury at my 16th, and I couldn’t become the second Trine Hattestad ☺
I hope you enjoyed my story. Thank you for reading and if you want to follow my creative journey I am looking forward to meet you via Instagram @rippels_paperlover, warm greetings from the south of the Netherlands, Menw Harkens.
Thanks for sharing, Menw! Connect with her on instagram @rippels_paperlover.
Connect with Surely Simple here:
For more updates, follow Surely Simple on Bloglovin’ to stay updated for freebies, tutorials and doodling etc.
connect with me:
(all artsy + books related by the way!)
PS- check more creative home features here.