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Best Last-Minute Holiday Getaways

In the midst of the stress of the holidays, from choosing the perfect gifts to baking endless cookies and hosting family events, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. As magical as this time of year is, the bustling energy can feel overwhelming. Why not consider spending Christmas abroad instead?  

We love the idea of embracing new traditions, so we’ve gathered together a list of our favorite luxury European vacation spots to celebrate the holidays. Your dream getaway is only a click away, and when it comes time to choose between overcrowded shopping centers and strolls along cobblestone streets, we’ve got a feeling you’ll opt for the latter.


ROTHENBURG, GERMANY

Cities with traditional German Christmas markets are as quintessentially European as it gets, and Rothenburg is one of the most iconic locales, hands down. A beautiful medieval city located in the southern half of the country, it is a must see – especially since it boasts the original Käthe Wolfhart shop filled with stunning Christmas ornaments and gifts galore. Stay at the 15th century Hotel Eisenhut for a historic experience, and rest assured that you’ll be residing right in the heart of the city – perfect for those evening strolls with a mug of Glühwein in hand.

  Rothenburg  at Christmas is a cozy and inviting scene.

Rothenburg at Christmas is a cozy and inviting scene.

 A  Christmas market in Rothenburg  attracts visitors.

A Christmas market in Rothenburg attracts visitors.

  Hotel Eisenhut  fits perfectly into the historic architecture of Rothenburg.

Hotel Eisenhut fits perfectly into the historic architecture of Rothenburg.

 A historic room at  Hotel Eisenhut  showcases a classic color palette.

A historic room at Hotel Eisenhut showcases a classic color palette.


STRASBOURG, FRANCE

Nestled in northeastern France, Strasbourg is a stunning Christmas destination. Not only does it have the oldest Christmas market in the country, but it also is home to a gorgeous lighting display that immediately brings out that feeling of warm holiday cheer. We recommend staying at Du Côte de Chez Anne, an old mansion that has been transformed into a luxury and intimate hotel. With only five rooms available, you’ll want to book this in advance, but the mix of contemporary and historic elements is unbeatable and worth every penny.

 Christmas in  Strasbourg  is a magical experience.

Christmas in Strasbourg is a magical experience.

  Du Côte de Chez Anne  sits majestically in Strasbourg.

Du Côte de Chez Anne sits majestically in Strasbourg.

 A luxurious suite brings contemporary style to the historic  Du Côte de Chez Anne .

A luxurious suite brings contemporary style to the historic Du Côte de Chez Anne.


COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

Copenhagen is an excellent choice for a last-minute getaway. It’s filled with holiday spirit on every corner, with bright lights and the famous Tivoli Gardens’ Christmas market beckoning visitors to embrace all things warm and delicious. For lodging, there’s nothing quite like the Hotel d’Angleterre. Its balcony views are incredible, and its elegant rooms will make you feel more relaxed on your holiday than you have in years – we guarantee.

 Christmas at the  Tivoli Gardens  in Copenhagen is a must-see attraction.

Christmas at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is a must-see attraction.

 The front view of the  Hotel d’Angleterre  in Copenhagen is a beautiful and arresting sight.

The front view of the Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen is a beautiful and arresting sight.

 A beautiful room at the  Hotel d’Angleterre  opens onto a spacious balcony with a view of the city.

A beautiful room at the Hotel d’Angleterre opens onto a spacious balcony with a view of the city.


PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

One of the most beloved cities in all of Europe, Prague is a wonderful Christmas destination. Its incredible history means you’ll have endless spots to explore each day, and its Christmas market is a festive treasure. Sample classic Prague dishes like Pražská Šunka (ham) and Langoš (flatbread), and wash it all down with some Medovina (honey wine mead) and you’ve got the buffet of a lifetime. We recommend staying at the Four Seasons for its decadent décor and perfect location.

 Prague’s Christmas market is a one-of-a-kind holiday experience.

Prague’s Christmas market is a one-of-a-kind holiday experience.

 The  Four Seasons  overlooks the river with sweeping city views.

The Four Seasons overlooks the river with sweeping city views.

 Decadent decor fills this historic room at the  Four Seasons  in Prague.

Decadent decor fills this historic room at the Four Seasons in Prague.


Whatever your last-minute destination, Europe is home to some of the most well-loved Christmas markets in the world. Beyond that, with the array of luxurious hotels to warm up in at the end of each day, you’re sure to find that getting away for the holidays is sometimes the best way to recapture that holiday cheer (and that’s the kind of magic that makes Christmas come to life).

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson
Biophilic Design and Wellness: An Introduction

If you’ve never heard the term “biophilic design,” you’re not alone. But while its name isn’t commonplace knowledge for everyone, its effects and benefits certainly are. This week, we’re introducing you to the concept on a broad level, and in future posts, we’ll take a deeper look at each element and why it is so critical to creating a space that promotes both health and sensory exploration.

If you’ve ever felt a pull or connection to nature – to heal, explore, or relax – then you’ve experienced the idea behind biophilic design directly.

 
  In this kitchen design, biophilic elements are widely present with unobstructed views of nature and potted plants indoors. / Design by    Vela Creative   , Photo by Spacecrafting

In this kitchen design, biophilic elements are widely present with unobstructed views of nature and potted plants indoors. / Design by Vela Creative, Photo by Spacecrafting

 

At its core, biophilic design is designing for people as biological organisms, respecting the mind-body systems as indicators of health and well-being in the context of what is locally appropriate and responsive. It has roots in a concept known as “biophilia,” which, according to E.O. Wilson, is “a concept that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature and natural systems, [and] that we are genetically predisposed to prefer nature and natural scenery.”

While this is an important concept, it’s even more timely when considering how the appeal of nature strengthens as more people choose to live in populated urban environments. Where there is a lack of an abundance of nature, we must work to create it in our spaces in order to access its innate benefits.

 
  A hidden bar opens up onto an indoor atrium that has intentionally-placed obscured indoor views with a highly textured brick wall. In this space, there is even room for a koi pond, though it is not currently in use. Because this home has many windows and skylights, cloud movements affect the room lighting, changing throughout the day and creating varying light patterns in the process. / Design by    Vela Creative   , Photo by Spacecrafting

A hidden bar opens up onto an indoor atrium that has intentionally-placed obscured indoor views with a highly textured brick wall. In this space, there is even room for a koi pond, though it is not currently in use. Because this home has many windows and skylights, cloud movements affect the room lighting, changing throughout the day and creating varying light patterns in the process. / Design by Vela Creative, Photo by Spacecrafting

 

 Designing with this in mind, we incorporate biophilic elements into our work using interior materials and forms that evoke nature in a space and give an aesthetic that doesn’t copy nature, but rather, reflects it indoors.  

The result is inspirational, restorative, healthy, and integrative. In fact, research has shown that biophilic design impacts cognitive functionality and performance, psychological health and well-being, and physiological health and well-being. These health benefits occur when perceived geometries remind us of natural forms and our surroundings remind us of living structures. In a sense, our bodies feel as if these spaces are alive, giving us a dose of invigoration. With results like that, it’s no wonder why we love to use it in our work.

  In this kitchen, potted herbs both offer easy access for cooking and provide natural smells that bring the concept of biophilic design to life. / Design by    Coco Lapine

In this kitchen, potted herbs both offer easy access for cooking and provide natural smells that bring the concept of biophilic design to life. / Design by Coco Lapine

So, as we dive deeper into this series, remember that living with biophilia in mind is about more than following current trends or choosing an eye-popping color. It’s about using our environments to access a higher level of function and fulfillment and experiencing wellness within our personal spaces.

With biophilic design, life is truly about living. And that is certainly an ideal worth pursuing.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson
Unexpected Statement Art

How to Effectively Incorporate Unique Pieces into Your Design 

While finishes are essential, and furniture is important, art is what brings life to a room. Yet, too often, we resort to what is typical and replicable in every other space. We crave individuality, so why not choose art that is unexpected? It’s the best way to bring your personality out and to keep your space feeling exactly as you like. From wall murals to multi-dimensional art, we’ve collected our favorite statement pieces to give you a starting point. Because nothing’s better than finding a piece that stops you in your tracks and makes you swoon.


Whole-Wall Murals

If you’re looking for a statement piece, a whole-wall mural is your perfect fit. Not only does it help to anchor the space visually, but it also provides a major opportunity to channel your creativity. Just remember that if you opt for a mural, it needs to be intentional and it should be the major focal point of the space. If you start adding other art around the room, it can detract from the impact of a large-scale piece and can cause the art to compete, making the space feel cluttered instead of unexpected.

 
 

Portraits

From classic to contemporary, portraits come in a range of styles and are absolutely stunning in a room. Art that features an individual can be so visually arresting that people can’t help but stop and admire it. You can opt for a single statement frame that takes center stage or mix a portrait with a collection of beautiful artworks for an eclectic gallery wall. With these pieces, the opportunities are endless, and your art will always feel timeless.


Abstract Patterns & Colorful Art

Are you more of a minimalist at heart? Then go for art that features abstract patterns or bold colorful blocking. The simplicity of pieces like these makes for an understated décor element that still manages to pop against a wall. Keep everything else around your piece pared down, too, to let the clean lines of your overall design shine through.

 
 

Color Pop Art

If you love to make bold design choices and aren’t afraid to step outside the box, then art with a pop of color is just your type. These unique styles pair portrait-style shots with electric color, taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. They’re the perfect blend between modern and historical, and opting for a piece like one of these guarantees that the next time you host a party, your art will without a doubt be a conversation starter.


Textured & Multi-Dimensional Art

Interested in a completely different look for your space? Then, why not try textured or multi-dimensional art? Often seen as a collection, this style takes everyday items and transforms them into visual splendor. From hand-woven yarn pieces to gallery walls of wood or baskets, multi-dimensional art adds depth to a space, giving onlookers new and interesting perspectives whichever way they look.


Finding pieces that bring us joy and excitement is something we always strive for when choosing art. It should bring you happiness, because at its core, art is a deeply personal thing. So, as you embark on your own journey to find a statement piece, be sure to let your uniqueness take the lead. Because no space is complete without a personal touch.

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson
Farrow & Ball's New Colors

Farrow & Ball just released nine new paint colors, and we are absolutely in love. So today, we’re taking you on a tour of each shade to give you an idea of which color works best in each room. And trust us when we say that you’ll want to paint every inch of your home in these colors – they’re simply gorgeous.

Color Card.png

Kitchen / Dining Room

The kitchen and dining room are spaces of gathering. They’re the essences of a home – where people eat, have meaningful discussions, and connect on a deeper level. So it’s no wonder why our favorite hues for these spaces are De Nimes, a timeless and stately blue, and Treron, a natural and soft green. Both bring a sense of serenity combined with richness to create an atmosphere that’s perfect for a group toast.

 De Nimes

De Nimes

 Treron

Treron


Living Room

While the kitchen and dining room are spaces for activity and ongoing interaction, the living room is all about enjoyment and introspection. It’s a space for a variety of interests – from entertaining guests to reading a favorite novel – so it deserves a color that evokes those feelings of coziness and warmth. We recommend either Preference Red (a deep and bold hue), Bancha (a dark and vibrant olive), or Jitney (a muted and soft taupe). Whether you want to make a statement or opt for a more traditional vibe, you can’t go wrong with these colors.

 Bancha

Bancha

 Jitney

Jitney

 Preference Red

Preference Red


Bedrooms

Rest and relaxation are key elements in a bedroom, so it’s ideal to opt for a color that is calming. Both Jitney and Sulking Room Pink are perfect options, and while Jitney is more of a neutral brown-based tone and Sulking Room Pink gives a subtle pop of color, they both add a softness to the space that is essential for recouping after a long day.

  

 Jitney

Jitney

 Sulking Room Pink

Sulking Room Pink


Offices

Our workspaces should spark creativity and thought, which means that the right color can go a long way towards making a space feel inspiring. The first, Rangwali, is a bright pink that brings about energy and vitality – it’s perfect for the individual who loves to think outside the box and experiment with new ideas. The second, School House White, is a soft and creamy white that helps to bring tranquility to an office – this shade is a great fit for the individual who prefers clean lines, balance, and organization.

 Rangwali

Rangwali

 School House White

School House White


Bathrooms

Finally, because the bathroom is often one of the smaller rooms in a home, it’s a wonderful space to experiment with color to add personality. We love the idea of incorporating Paean Black, a rich black hue with purple tones that adds a sense of luxury to a space. Or if you’d like to stay within a more traditional color scheme, we recommend De Nimes – its blue is classic and grounded, evoking clarity and peace of mind.

 De Nimes

De Nimes

 Paean Black

Paean Black


There’s no doubt that color can transform a space instantly. It shapes our environments and is a crucial aspect of how we feel. So, as you admire Farrow & Ball’s beautiful new collection this fall and contemplate a paint refresh, remember to pause and think about the feelings you want each room to evoke. If you put your lifestyle needs first, it’s sure to be a perfect match.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

 
Megan Johansson
Mixing Metals

If you’ve ever considered it a faux pas to mix metals within a space, you’re not alone. In years past, that was certainly common practice. But today mixing metals is something we encourage and love – and for good reason, too.  It’s applicable to both residential and commercial areas of practice and it gives a space an undeniable touch of character.

 This kitchen adds a touch of bronze and brass to create a beautiful, soft blend of mixed metals /  Source

This kitchen adds a touch of bronze and brass to create a beautiful, soft blend of mixed metals / Source

 
 Brass advances while chrome recedes in this midcentury kitchen /  Vela Creative

Brass advances while chrome recedes in this midcentury kitchen / Vela Creative

 
 This living room creates the perfect blend of texture by mixing metals together seamlessly /  Source

This living room creates the perfect blend of texture by mixing metals together seamlessly / Source

The fact is that we gravitate toward the unexpected, and mixing metals definitely fits that bill. It adds interest, elevating the aesthetic of a space and transforming it from something replicable to something unique and dimensional – a space that encourages creative thought and innovation.

Beyond that, it also helps to keep the design timeless. You don’t have to worry about relying on the trendiness of one particular metal, wondering when you’ll need to replace everything once it goes out of style. By mixing metals, your design remains ever-present in whatever style is popular, but beyond that, it retains a sense of class and cohesiveness that transcends years.

 A mixed metal bedroom strikes the perfect balance between modern and glam /  Source

A mixed metal bedroom strikes the perfect balance between modern and glam / Source

 
 A chrome coffee table provides the perfect contrast to the bronze side table and black iron-inspired details surrounding this commercial space (The Reading Room in St. Paul) /  Vela Creative

A chrome coffee table provides the perfect contrast to the bronze side table and black iron-inspired details surrounding this commercial space (The Reading Room in St. Paul) / Vela Creative

 
 Brass and chrome play together to create a stunning mixed metal kitchen /  Source

Brass and chrome play together to create a stunning mixed metal kitchen / Source

Metal can often be perceived as a neutral, too, so mixing a variety together with whatever style is at play in a space is visually pleasing. It has the same effect as layering a few hues of a color in a space – the result is a blend of texture and dimension that helps the space come alive. It doesn’t look messy or misplaced, but curated and intentional.

And that’s the key – making a design feel balanced. Because as designers, we break rules all the time. But unless rules are broken using a systematic approach, the result will lack cohesion. Instead, we strive to create rhythm and harmony in a space, tying everything back to a central concept. By doing so, a design is unified, allowing for flexibility while still maintaining its core aesthetic.

 Brass hardware and light fixtures pair with a matte black mirror frame and a chrome faucet in this bathroom /  Source

Brass hardware and light fixtures pair with a matte black mirror frame and a chrome faucet in this bathroom / Source

 Light fixtures in this office space vary from copper to white, and chrome chair legs and black metal detailing on the separating walls help to keep things curated /  Source

Light fixtures in this office space vary from copper to white, and chrome chair legs and black metal detailing on the separating walls help to keep things curated / Source

 Matte black hardware, fixtures, and faucet keep the colors in this kitchen feeling soft while the floating shelf uses brass brackets and brass tchotchkes to add warmth and a pop of character /  Source

Matte black hardware, fixtures, and faucet keep the colors in this kitchen feeling soft while the floating shelf uses brass brackets and brass tchotchkes to add warmth and a pop of character / Source

So, as you consider the concept of mixed metals in your own space, remember that as with any interior design element, it’s all about finding a few statement pieces that speak to you. Once you have those in place, you can then find balance, making your residential or commercial space timeless and unexpected. And that’s a perfect blend in our book.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

 
Megan Johansson
Vela Creative

Welcome to Our Blog

If you’ve been following our work, you know that for us, interior design isn’t about just making pretty spaces – it’s about enhancing the human experience. As an ASID Professional Member, our design philosophy centers on functional, safe, and universal design that refreshes and rejuvenates. And whether that’s in a business or a home environment, we know that a well-designed space helps you live the life you really want.

That’s why we’re embarking on a new adventure on our site – our blog. We’ve always prided ourselves on the personal connections we have with our clients, so this series is meant to dive a bit deeper into that realm. We’ll talk design trends, share what we’re inspired by, and introduce you to our favorite design products. Beyond that, you’ll see how we create experiences (both residential and commercial), understand on a deeper level what the power of interior design entails, and know how best to work with a designer for maximum benefit and impact.

Ultimately, we want to make sure every single design we do is personalized to you. That means helping you simplify and minimize by keeping only things that really matter. It means ensuring your home reflects your lifestyle and aspirations. It means having a well-designed and cohesive commercial environment to help you retain employees, gain clients, and promote health and well-being. And it means giving you the chance to connect more deeply with yourself and others through spaces infused with energy and soul.

 Photo Credit:  Ms Jazzy Fayee Creative

The bottom line is that we’re energized by how we can live better in our homes and workspaces, so hiring a professional designer is about more than high quality furnishings and fixtures. With Vela Creative, you get full service luxury interior design directly inspired by you. Starting with an artistic vision, we walk you through your new space in 3D, allowing you to see every angle and truly get a feel for what’s possible. Collaboration is key, and we’re here to help you understand your lifestyle and functional needs, and to take away your worries – you won’t have to lift a finger. Design is something we love – and we certainly hope you do, too.

So, stay tuned for our upcoming posts. We’re excited to share our ideas and what drives us to design. Because at the end of the day, it impacts our lives and our relationships more than we could ever know. Design is both subtle and overt, and our dedication to modern design with its combined form and function, simplicity, and clean lines, means that we’re committed to the kind of effortless living that allows you to live well in the unencumbered lifestyle you crave.

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

 
Megan Johansson