Living With Kids: Felicitas Von Richthofen

January 28, 2014

By Gabrielle.

This home makes my heart jump a little. There’s a garden that reminds me of La Cressonnière, and stone walls and gorgeous beams that sweep me straight back to France. Boy, I miss that place. But Felicitas’ home is the perfect antidote for Europe-sickness! It’s a wonderfully balanced mix of old and new, austere and cozy. A place that lives in her childhood memories, but will also take center stage in her own daughters’ memories, too.

Probably, that red garden door will, too. Friends, please welcome the Von Richthofens and enjoy the tour of their haus!

Q: Please tell us all about the family who makes this house a home!

A: Our little family is made up of me, Felicitas, and my husband, Raphael. We are both 33 years old and have two children: Viola is three years old, and Elenor is one. We live in a small village called Sondermuehlen in Germany. Raphael and I have been together since we met at school.

I am an art historian working for the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. Raphael is director of the family enterprise, Stock Mode, which specializes in fashion. We own four stores in our town and neighborhood.

I love being outside in the countryside with my two girls. We live door to door to my parents who are madly in love with their granddaughters, and vice versa. My personal guilty pleasures during my baby break from work are interior design, Jane Austen books and films as well as any adaptions, and following several Internet blogs of interesting women and mothers.

Q: How did this house become yours?

A: The oldest part of our house dates back to the 14th Century. It belongs to the estate of my parents who live very close to us. It had been a total ruin until my parents renovated it in 2006. During that time I finished my exams at university and was looking for a job around in order to be able to live together with Raphael. I was lucky to find the job as assistant curator at Kunsthalle Bielefeld.

When we decided to move in, we started with just our stuff from our student digs. I always knew I wanted to stay at home, and this was the perfect solution for us all.

Q: What makes you love where you live?

A: I love to live here in this old building! There’s so much charisma because everywhere you look there is history. It is actually my childhood home and I am blessed to be able to inherit it.

I love to live here because we are here in the deepest countryside but also close to the cities around for a little escape once in a while. I love the autumn in this part of Germany with its golden light and wuthering winds. I love the sound of shouting ducks in autumn, and cracking ice around the house in winter when the moat is frozen while I’m sitting in front of the fireplace.

Q: How would you describe your style? Has your house made it easy to reflect your aesthetic, or more difficult?

A: Our style is not static. We have both inherited several antique pieces of furniture and pictures from our families that we cherish. Those pieces fit very well in this old building, but it is sometimes hard to place pictures because of the stonework and woodwork in the house.

There is indeed a whole lot of stonework and woodwork that we had to work around. We ultimately decided to combine the antique style with modern aspects. Like my favorite Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen in my study.

I love the light and minimal style of the Scandinavian designers. My favorite brand at the moment is HAY from Denmark.

Q: What rooms work the best for your family? What details have you added that make your life better, more fun, and happier?

A: When Viola began to crawl, we spend most of the time with her in our smaller living room. It is very cozy and has a very smooth carpet from Hay. When Elenor was born, we began to spend more time in the dining room next to the kitchen. The big Scandinavian stove was built and we moved a sofa to the room. It has become more of a living room for us now. As the rooms of the two girls are upstairs, we arranged a corner of the room with a carpet and big cushions for crawling and playing. Viola has a little table where she can draw and play picnic with her teddies and dolls. In the kitchen we have also a little doll kitchen that the girls love to take apart.

Every night I am crawling around the rooms to put things in order again. The destiny of moms, I suppose. Once a very good friend of mine sent me an email with this nice quote saying “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” I always try to remember this quote when I’m tired of cleaning and tidying up.

A typical day with our two girls begins with a little singing while waking both one after another up. Some reading and playing follows, and then the battle of getting dressed. Breakfast for all and then I get the kitchen in order. We then go outside regardless how the weather is unless it pours cats and dogs. Elenor takes a nap in the stroller and Viola plays in her sandpit or we take a little walk with the trainer bike around the house.

We often visit a little dwarf that lives in a big stump in the woods or go to the neighbor farmer who has many cows and calfs. Often, Grandpa or Grandma join us with their dog Finley. After lunch both girls take a nap. This is my precious time where I have a moment for myself. In the afternoon we spent time outside or visit girlfriends with children. We go to music class or the kindergarten or do our weekly shopping. After dinner Viola watches a little television series called The Sandman. We play and read books together and when Raphael comes home in time, we go bathing with the two muddy girls and then bring them both to bed by 8.00 pm. Not every day is the same…and of course not always happy, for sure!

Q: Do you decorate with an emphasis on your daughters’ needs?

A: I have to admit that my view of the world changed drastically when I became a mother! Before that I never thought of any nursery stuff or children’s books. I could not understand that people got mad talking about their children. I told myself I would never be that mom who is constantly thinking about their children and also talking about them with friends and even strangers at dinner parties…But I actually became this kind of mother!

There is something happening with you when you become a mother. It changes your inner self drastically. In fact, your inner self is replaced and filled up by your children and their needs. Nowadays I start crying watching advertising where babies are on screen or when I see my younger daughter sleeping so peacefully in her stroller. I feel so touched when Viola is playing with little nothings, talking to her dolls and teddies, or when she comes running to me with no reason hugging and kissing me heartily. I never thought that such small people could already express such emotions and even touch my emotions.

So before I became a mother, I was interested in interior design for adults. When I was pregnant, I focused on children’s rooms and baby clothes. In Germany you call it a kind of nesting instinct that kicks in. Amazing. You cannot stop until everything is perfect.

I decorate mostly what I personally like and what fits to our house. We had to install several grilles in front of the stairs when our children started to get mobile. I removed all dangerous things from small hooks or tables. My children have their areas within the house, which are decorated with rugs, furs, books, and toys, but I do not rearrange my personal interior for their needs in particular. I think when they grow older and autonomous, their belongings will more and more move to their rooms upstairs.

Q: I see a studio! How do you incorporate art and crafts and design into your daily life? And how do you balance work and home life?

A: I have a little studio and my husband does, too, but we normally do not work from home. We just organize family life from here. I often spent hours when the girls are sleeping at my desk and checking emails, writing to friends, or just checking on my favorite blogs.

We arranged a big studio under the roof. I intend to spend there more time in the future and be creative there when the kids are older. At the moment, scissors, modeling clay, etc. are not used very often with a little baby around. When I start working again I will probably work from home, but not very often and only in the evening.

Q: What do you hope your girls remember most from this home? What traditions are you trying to build in their memories?

I hope they will remember a warm and cosy atmosphere where they will always love to come back to when they are grown up. We are living several traditions given to us by our families, and we will also create our own when the kids get older. For example, my whole family is still mad about searching for eggs in the garden on Easter. It is a funny sight to watch ten adults, a dog, and two little ones running around the garden shouting to announce what they have found!

I hope they will remember great summers outside with lots of time and freedom, and great winters with a lot of snow, sleighing, and ice-skating around the house. Rainy days spent inside playing with great childhood friends, baking cookies, or making popcorn for a cosy evening in front of the fireplace reading books or watching a film. I hope they will remember a carefree childhood with a lot of security and freedom giving them the basis to be able to develop and live their dreams independently. I hope that our girls will always appreciate the distinctiveness of their home and try to preserve it.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: I am very thankful that nobody told me that when you become a mother you will never be without fear and sorrow anymore. You’ve just been given something that would be the most terrible to lose. You will not be free anymore. You will have to say goodbye every day, to let go every second.

This is sad and also wonderful, because in return you will receive unconditional love and moments where your heart overflows.

–-

Yes, Felicitas, I am so glad no one told me that, either. It’s so true that the process of being a parent can be summed up like this: “You’ve just been given something that would be the most terrible to lose.” Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous home with us. I simply love the fact that your girls are outside every day, no matter the temperature. Fresh air – especially cold, fresh air – somehow keeps everyone in a good mood, don’t you think?

As someone who is now surrounded by lots of family – as opposed to friends who turned into family in France – I realize the luck of being close to relatives. Sometimes, I think that’s one of the most important considerations in settling down on a location. Do you see it like this, too? I’d love to know!

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Living With Kids: Felicitas Von Richthofen | Jerbelle Lau
January 28, 2014 at 11:59 am
monday: best of last week | The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly
February 3, 2014 at 6:05 am

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ariana {And Here We Are...} January 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Ooh, I really love this lovingly renovated old house! So much character, and the feeling inside is so warm and sweet. Thanks for sharing!

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2 Nikie January 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

This house is straight out of a fairy tale! Thank you for sharing.

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3 Lynne H January 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

This is some house! I think I am in love with the castle fireplace and the green clock! More than that, however, Felicitas pulled at my heartstrings with her quote about motherhood. It is so true, yet sad, but absolutely wonderful all at the same time.

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4 Emme January 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

This house and yard make me want to pick up and move to Europe! So much charm!

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5 Sherris January 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I just love this home! When my parents lived overseas, I always loved Germany. Just beautiful ….

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6 Maryanne January 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I loved this tour! The home and the interview were charming. I did an exchange in high school with a student from Brackweder Gymnasium in Bielefeld, so I feel like I can almost imagine the area around their home. Thanks to both of you for sharing.

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7 becky January 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

oh, how wonderful. this warms my heart and made me flash back to all my warm mellow afternoons in italy and france and germany…and dreaming of a time to come back with my children when they are older and share the history and pace of a life lived differently than their own. breathtaking with such a balance of playfulness and stark elegance. and living next door to my parents-in-law, we know of the same benefits the come from this arrangement and what a blessing it is for the children. thank you for the tour.

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8 jenny also January 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

How I enjoyed these pictures and words!

This is beautifully written, so honest, sweet, and totally relate-able. I have sticky floors, a (very) dirty oven, and (mostly) happy children.

I’m getting ready to remodel our kitchen and dreaming of white cabinets with wood/butcher block counters. Would love to know what kind of countertops these are and how it’s holding up.

There is nothing quite like extended family nearby (although I’m not sure I would enjoy next door)! My boys get so much out of being adored by a large throng of uncle, aunts, and cousins. And I am moved to tears seeing the love that has always sustained me freely flow to, and through, the next generation.

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9 Kevin Carter January 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I enjoy the “living with kids” segments but every time I read one it just seems like there is this giant hole in the post. A picture of the family. It’s great to see the house and all that goes with it but I want to see the people that live there. It is so important to be able to put those two together. It adds so much more to reading the post when I can picture the family in the house as I view all the pictures. I would love it if you would make that a mandatory part of the posts! Just my two cents. Thanks for everything you do, I enjoy your site immensely.

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10 Robyn January 28, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I second the motion!

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11 Jenny also January 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I often feel like it’s a glaring omission while reading but I also understand that many parents choose to guard their children’s privacy; especially online.

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12 Liliana January 29, 2014 at 7:37 am

I totally agree. I’d love to see the family who lives in these beautiful houses.

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13 Design Mom January 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I love this feedback! Thank you.

I too love seeing the families that live in these homes, and I’m never opposed to sharing a photo of the inhabitants. Sometimes we don’t share one because (as Jenny Also mentioned), the families would prefer to maintain a bit of privacy.

Other times we don’t include one because the family doesn’t have a photo to share. Prepping photos for these home tours is a big task for the home dwellers, so making time to create a family portrait, in addition to answering interview questions and shooting photos of the home, can feel like one task too many. No doubt you know the feeling!

But I will for sure be more mindful of including family photos whenever possible!

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14 Becca January 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I LOVED this post and the beautiful pictures of your home. Thank you for sharing. Would you be able to tell me about the chandelier in the dining room? I also love the leaf light fixtures, are they by the same designer?

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15 Feli February 2, 2014 at 6:45 am

Dear Becca,

thanks so much for your nice words. The chandelier ist from the brand Anthologie Quartett, which unfortunately does no longer exists. It comes in different seasons. We have autumn. Here a link to a version spring:
http://www.lights4life.de/xtc/de/Jahreszeiten-Sommer-Chandelier-90-by-anthologie-quartett.html?gclid=CIaj2rLJrbwCFQPmwgodS2wAXA
The leaf fixtures are a design by my mom. Nice isn’t it? best fell

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16 miryam January 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

thank you so much for sharing your enchanting home and your words of wisdom. can you please tell us about the chandelier with the leaves that is hanging over the dining room table?

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17 Feli February 2, 2014 at 6:47 am

Please see my post above for becca. Thanks so much for your kind words! I feel so honored!

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18 Catherine Hoskin January 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I can see the front door of your beautiful French cottage in the color red. My husband just cut out a heart from a piece of wood for the exterior of the front door. When I went to the paint store, I discovered there are way to many variations of red to choose from with wonderful names attached. I came home with Seattle Red by Kelly Moore. It’s a great shade for Valentines Day, and will hopefully bring a smile to the people who pass by daily.

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19 Carrie January 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Love it all – especially the garden! Also, can you provide information on the white/blue dishes in the pictures that’s displayed?

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20 sioux January 28, 2014 at 5:18 pm

so beautiful! i, too, would LOVE to know where those dishes are from. gorgeous!

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21 karen January 29, 2014 at 1:59 am

The dishes are a classic pattern by ROYAL COPENHAGEN. Very popular in northern Europe!

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22 Stacy February 1, 2014 at 1:59 am

Sûre looks like royal copenhagen to me….

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23 Pam January 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I’d love to know where I could buy the two childrens’ swings that hang from your gorgeous beams. What wonderful baby gifts!

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24 Claire February 2, 2014 at 12:43 am

The pirate boat one looked like Haba to me, and there’s a simple one similar to the other at Ikea. love the indoor swings + cradles in Germany and Scandinavia!

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25 Stoich91 January 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Best post of the series (besides the space one! kind of hard to top that! ;D)! Can I have your house please? And your kids? And your green-grass yard, clinically appropriate-sized trampoline, gardens and golden trees? To a kid who grew up moving from house to house military-style, I cannot fathom how wonderful it is to grow up in the same house as you raise your family in!! Wow! Seriously, bookmarking forever, much loved. Now I have to get to Germany! Eeesh! Except for the icy moat thing…not 100% there ;D

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26 lauren January 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Beautiful home! I’ve traveled a little bit in Germany and loved it. My husband and I would love to live in Germany for a year or two. I really like the picture with the tree/animals above the blue rocking chair in the bedroom. Could I find this print somewhere?

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27 caroline January 28, 2014 at 9:35 pm

This “living with kids” from all over the world is a very good idea and so much inspiring ! ♥

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28 Jessie January 29, 2014 at 8:25 am

Felicitas expressed the fear element of parenting so well. Those terrifying what-ifs that come to you (or, at least, me) in the middle of the night. But this story also reminded me of one of my life’s most unexpected pleasures: watching the love develop between your children and your parents. Although I hadn’t planned to, I ended up moving back to the town where I’d gone to high school and my parents still live. As a result, my children are growing up a few blocks from their grandparents. As with Felicitas’s family, there is an intense bond between the generations, and witnessing the joy that my children bring my parents and vice versa brings me so much happiness.

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29 Michele S. January 29, 2014 at 11:41 am

“Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” That would be me! Seeing that familiar IKEA play tent makes Germany feel not so far away from Costa Mesa, CA! (I like that bird above the lightswitch- going to paint that right now.) Thank you for sharing!

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30 Lauren January 29, 2014 at 11:50 am

Beautiful home! I enjoyed the interview so much, too. I was really charmed and touched by some of the things Felicitas said! And what a great name. Happiness.

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31 DeAnn January 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Favorite!

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32 Kristen von Finckenstein January 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Love this! Spent my uni years in Freiburg and my mother-in-law is from Bielefeld. My father-in-law insists all of his houses have a kachelofen and I can’t wait to put on in our summer house, will use this fireplace as inspiration.

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33 Bethany January 29, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I love this post series so much. What a beautiful home and idyllic-sounding life. What I love so much is reading about this life so different from my own, but when it comes to being a mom, it’s the same thing–that almost heart-wrenching love of your children that totally changes your world.

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34 Meredith January 29, 2014 at 11:19 pm

They have a moat! And a red door in a stone wall! And a sailing boat/rocker in the lounge room! I love this series and this would have to be one of my favourites. A far remove from Sydney, Australia for sure.

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35 Ceebee January 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

Magical, beautiful, charming, yet so liveable – just love everything about it. Thank you for sharing!!

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36 cath January 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I love love those posts, but after all these gorgeous pictures I feel like I live in a dump! Oh well, that doesn’t stop me from reading them!!:)

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37 Melissa Camara Wilkins January 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

What a lovely home! I might love the garden door best of all.

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38 Friederike Hammer February 2, 2014 at 6:54 am

Dear Feli, how wonderful, I am so pleased to be in touch again and you giving me a chance to see your home! I deeply enjoy your life style and will pass on this page to more mother-kid-friends…

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39 Katherine February 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I lived in Bielefeld in ’98 as an exchange student and spent a fair bit of time in the Kunsthalle. Made me home sick for a lovely place with lots of good memories.

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40 Felicitas von Richthofen February 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Dear Gabrielle, Dear All,
I feel so thankful an overwhelmed by all your positive feedback for my pics and words. It is such joy to be part of this series, which I really admire. There are so many gorgeous families and their homes, that I feel very honored to be a part of now! Thank you Gabrielle for taking me in!
Dear Gabrielle!
Yes, I am really happy to have my family around here. It is so nice to share everything with them during the days. My mother is so wonderful in being a great grandmother but also in being a friend for me, which I could talk about everything, that’s in my mind and heart.
But I also think even family far away comes so close nowadays, having this great platforms of facebook, whatsapp or skype. E.g. my sister lives now in Indonesia an we can virtually be part of her live everyday too!! That makes me so happy!

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41 Karin Katherine March 11, 2014 at 9:07 am

The garden, the stone wall, the clock, the wide plank wood floors, the wood beams—these are the things of true character. Houses like this are so few and far between where I live. Just beautiful.

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