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When Italian expats Ilaria and Alberto relocated to the Netherlands, they brought their rich heritage with them. Combining warm rustic touches and a new-found love of Nordic style, they created ‘the Happy House’ with sons Enea (3) and Leo (1). Having an all-white base and a few key pieces of furniture means they can easily adapt the living room to their needs: ‘It’s designed as an open space that we can enjoy together, but at the same time have our “personal moments”,’ says Ilaria.

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Open and closed storage is inspired by each family member’s passions. Ilaria enjoys watching TV, but as the TV unit is not very beautiful to look at, it’s hidden behind the painted door of a wooden cabinet when not in use. Ilaria’s other passion is crochet, which she works on in her downtime. "I bought the FABRIKÖR display cabinet specifically to keep my yarns in. It used to live upstairs in my office, but I realised it was useless there. I only ever work on my crochet in the living room, where I feel truly relaxed," says Ilaria.

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"Even though we don’t have a separate dining room, making space for a big, family dining table is true to our roots. In Italy, everyone sits down and eats a good meal three times a day (sometimes more!) – it may seem chaotic, but it’s comforting to me," says Ilaria. "And as much as it’s an old-fashioned tradition, I love the look of a modern dining table."

When Ilaria’s family grew, the layout of her kitchen evolved from one side of the room to a galley kitchen. And with it came a solution to take the stress out of meal prep: "We added units and a small desk/breakfast corner, so that when I’m cooking, I can bring the kids into the kitchen where I can see them – Leo sits in his high chair and Enea keeps himself busy drawing or playing."

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Self-care can be found in the simplest of pleasures, and for Ilaria, that means a good night’s sleep. A coordinated colour scheme helps to set a restful mood and focus in on restoring energy. As summertime in the Netherlands is cooler than in Italy, Ilaria keeps throws on the bed for cosiness all year round. "To sleep well is to feel well," says Ilaria. "I need my eight hours, especially as a parent!"

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To keep distractions to a minimum in a sleep space, storage on wheels is there when you need it and easy to move when you don’t. Ilaria uses the RÅSKOG trolley as her bedside table: "I love it so much that I have three in the house! One for my bedside storage and two in the kids’ room – it’s especially great for all of Leo’s baby-care products," says Ilaria.

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