French Shoemaker since 1934

  • Interior design

Béa Mombaers is both inspired and inspiring. Driven by her passion, she skilfully hunts down tasteful vintage pieces that share her timeless, elegant style. Her bed & breakfast is an oasis of calm, and her seaside home— where we shot the Heschung Spring/Summer 2016 collection — is an ode to relaxation. The place is full of the gentle charm exuded by the photos from the new campaign.

How did you become an interior decorator?
I didn’t study it. I actually trained to become a physical therapist, but only worked as one for a year and a half. My true passion—design—quickly caught up with me. When I was little, I collected all sorts of things, made collages, and regularly wanted to redo my bedroom. When I was a bit older, my then sister-in-law, an interior designer, hosted events and workshops in our family home. Not long after, I began selling pieces that I had unearthed at estate sales and flea markets. I even organized private sales in my parents’ home. They were so successful that I decided to open a store—20 years ago now. I love what I do. Design is part of who I am. All my dreams are about decorative objects and furniture.

Your style is instantly recognizable in the two spaces you’ve decorated, the B&B and your home. How would you describe it?
It’s hard for me to describe my style. I would say that I like neutral shades, white, wood, and natural materials. When I look at the pieces I have now, I realize that 20 years ago I was already selling similar things. If I had to choose a colour, it would be red, because it lends a modern touch. But I could never live in a space too full of colours; I tire of them quickly. Six years ago I had a gorgeous yellow linen couch with a black frame. It was really magnificent, but I sold it because I can’t keep pieces like that for too long—I can’t help it. Neutral hues and natural materials have a calming effect on me. Wood, stone, concrete, ceramic, leather, alpaca, linen, etc. I’m a bit like Heschung’s collections: I never stray too far from nature.

Bea B&B Knokke-le Zoute

How did you choose these two spaces?

The bed & breakfast first:

I do a lot on impulse and instinct, but you could also say that life put them in my path. As for the bed & breakfast, it all started seven years ago. The owner is none other than my client and friend, Lionel Jadot, who is himself an interior designer and film director. He and his wife, Astrid, who is an actress, regularly bought pieces from me. I decorated part of the spacious house when it was still their vacation home. Later they agreed to rent it to me so I could bring my plans for a unique kind of bed & breakfast—every last piece of furniture and all the decorations are for sale—to life. I like replacing the objects that have sold. I’m full of ideas.

And your seaside home:

In May 2015, a client called me to say, “We’re selling our house. Would you like to buy it?” I’m always on the lookout for signs, and I often think “Why not?” Two friends and I got together and bought it! I took charge of the decorating; I spend a lot of time there. Everything there is for sale, too.

What are your sources of inspiration?
I live alone: no husband, no kids, no dog. My job is my passion. I love buying things. As soon as I see a beautiful object I can already picture selling it. I travel a lot, too, and that’s an excellent source of inspiration. I’m always hoping to find something to purchase and resell (fabric, rugs, decorative objects, etc.) It’s part of who I am. When I like something, it inspires me.

What do you like about your career?
It’s so much fun! When people find and buy beautiful things, they’re happy. I like making people happy. And décor and furniture bring spaces to life with personal touches. A house without a rug is just sad. People often ask for my advice. I like sharing my ideas and my passion.

How do you approach your work? How do you strike the right balance between timeless and more geometrical, contemporary pieces?
It happens naturally. I don’t have a clearly defined method. I buy every object that speaks to me. And, of course, I know my clients well. Not long ago, I bought a heavy alpaca rug with broad stripes in Paris with a particular client’s vacation home in mind. It was a good decision; she bought it from me as soon as she saw it!

How and where do you do your shopping?
Anywhere and everywhere! Online, at flea markets, at people’s homes, in stores. I even have a few contacts that send me photos. I love the Design Flea Market (Puces du Design) in Paris, and go every time it takes place. I also do a lot of shopping in Germany, in Cologne and Düsseldorf, and in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam. It’s also an opportunity to go look for new inspiration.

How do you go about embodying the soul of a space that belongs to a client?
I know my clients well, and they trust me. I quickly come to understand their taste, their personality and—most importantly—the spirit of their homes. I always visit the space in person, to take it all in. When I walk into a room, I often have an instantaneous reaction; I think, “We’ll put this piece of furniture here, that lamp there, etc.”

How do you handle specific orders?
I work mostly on instinct. I almost never take notes. I walk into a room and immediately imagine what I can do with the space. If a person has hired me, it’s because he or she likes my style. We share ideas and opinions throughout the project.

Bea Mombaers - BB_Items-MasterBedroom

What is one sure to find in the spaces you’ve decorated?
A lot of wood. It’s a material that brings warmth and peace to a space. I also love working with alpaca, cotton and quality linen. My motto could be: white, wood and natural.

What’s your favourite piece?
I had a gorgeous textured white painting by Belgian artist Gilbert Swimberghe that—for once!—I didn’t want to sell. I have an interior decorator friend who sometimes comes over to my place to find things for his own work, even when I’m not home. One day, when I was away, he came and chose the painting for one of his clients! I couldn’t say anything, because we’ve always worked that way together. And once it was hanging at his client’s house, I couldn’t go take it back! Last summer I found a replacement for it: a black and white piece by painter Laurent da Sylva.

Do you have something in mind for your next acquisition?
Maybe a piece by Maarten Van Severen, whose work I admire. I don’t like everything he does, but I’m a real fan of some of his furniture. I have very modern taste. I’m very inspired by Brazil: exotic wood, Oscar Niemeyer’s work, furniture by Carlos Motta, etc.

I recently decided that I had to have some Rietveld wooden chairs. I’ve just purchased six of them for the house.

HESCHUNG SS16

How do you think your style will change over time?
I think it will always stay about the same. If I had to choose a school, I’d say I tend towards minimalism, but always with a few truly beautiful pieces thrown in, not just a table and a chair.

Are you thinking about investing in a new space?
I would love to have a third space to decorate. I’ve always loved changing, decorating and taking in new places. It’s a part of me; I like change. But it’s not an easy thing to find a place with enough character.

What do you think of the HESCHUNG Spring/Summer 2016 campaign photos?
They are subtle and exquisite! The spirit of the places and the brand’s identity are palpable in them.

How would you describe HESCHUNG?
It’s a solid brand underpinned by strong values, a brand I’m loyal to. I have lots of Heschung shoes! I love them. I have all the older models with laces, which are now back in style.

I love the new models for men and women, too. I instantly fell in love with the Cali Oxfords.

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