Friday, November 27, 2009

Win 'Axel Vervoordt:Timeless Interiors'


Today begins Axel Vervoordt's annual Winter Exhibition, or open house,  which runs Friday through Sunday, this weekend and next.  This is the first in a series of posts related to Axel Vervoordt that I will publish over the next ten days of the Winter Exhibition. I am giving readers and bloggers the chance to win a copy of 'Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors' by Armelle Baron (Author) and Christian Sarramon (photographer). Contest details appear at the end of this post. A description of the open house (below) comes from
The castle of ‘s-Gravenwezel, the private home of Axel and May Vervoordt, is like a permanently changing exhibition of wonderful furniture and objets d’art, from various periods and styles. During these two weekends, it is possible to visit all of the 50 rooms from the castle and its outbuildings, each of them different in ambiance and character. The post-industrial “Kanaal” with its 19th century red-brick brew houses and 20th century concrete silos display the pieces from the Axel Vervoordt Home Collection together with contemporary photography, unique archaeological pieces and some rare 20th century design furniture. Castle and Kanaal: Friday-Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. till 7 p.m. Entrance at the castle: 10 euro Free entrance at “Kanaal”
While living in Belgium on a temporary assignment, I attended the open house at the castle two weekends in a row in 2007.  I had never been to the Antwerp area,  and it seemed as though my GPS was not exactly sure how to reach the castle. After righting a couple of wrong turns I passed a sign for the village of -s-Gravenwezel and found myself on a narrow road through a forest. I soon came upon a clearing that revealed the shapes and colors and spires that I already knew from the well worn pages of my favorite books at home, 'Axel Vervoordt: Story of a Style' and 'Axel Vevoordt: Timeless Interiors'. 

Driving slowly up the tree-lined drive, I was directed to park in a field that seem to have a high concentration of Ranger Rovers. As I walked back from my car toward the castle entrance, I noticed small barn or run-in shed for horses near the back of the parking field, and recalled reading that Axel said rides every morning. Moments later, as I walked past the towering gates I could hear water flowing through the moat that encircles the castle. Looking across and seeing the castle in full view, I recalled the first time I saw a reference to it in the magazine article that introduced me to Axel Vervoordt some years before, and prepared to take in what I was about to behold.

I stepped onto a cobblestone drive that led through a small corridor where I was directed to the entrance in the outer building. The first room contained a simple  desk, with several AV staffers standing behind it chatting with each other and some visitors. One of them gave me a ticket in exchange for the ten euros admission, and I took the few steps down to the reception area (above) where I felt the warmth of a slow burning oak fire. The room felt eerily familiar, as I had seen it in photographs a hundred times. I slowly made my way through the first series of rooms, pausing to take in every detail.

This work room (above) had many "manquettes", some on the bookshelf and table top, others hanging on the walls. These miniature models of various components of buildings, mostly roof lines and spiral staircases, have for centuries been made by apprentice carpenters as a sort of final exam. Books, blueprints, and other paper artifacts from Axel Vervoordt were for sale in this room, and I purchased my copy of 'Artempo', the catalog from his first Venice exhibition, here.


The majority of the rooms had fireplaces, and every one of them glowed with the warmth and aroma of burning wood. Each room was staffed by at least one Axel Vervoordt employee who kept an eye on the fire and answered questions about any of the objets d'art or furnishings in the room. Much of each room's content was for sale, the castle serving the dual role of home and showroom for the Vervoordts. With her inventory clipboard in hand, the staffer in this pine room (above) was happy to discuss the details of the room's construction, revealing for me its hidden compartments and doors.

This kitchen (above), which normally serves as a staff lunch room, was set up with cider, coffee and wine to wash down scones or cookies arranged on silver trays.

I sat on a long bench in the Orangerie having a glass of wine before walking out into the courtyard of the U-shaped outer building to follow the wide cobblestone path to main house, its windows aglow in the dim light of this Belgian winter afternoon.

Photo: here
I will post recollections of touring the main house in subsequent posts over the course of the open house dates. In the meantime, you can let Mr. Vervoordt himself show you around a room or two in this video from Belgian television (below), the last of the two part series that began in this post on Monday, courtesy of


Win 'Timeless Interiors' Contest
I created this blog a year ago with almost no experience as blog reader, much less, blogger,  and gave up after two posts. At the time of this writing, the Garvinweasel blog has only been re-activated for about ten days and  I have already met so many great people here. It really started  up again with the Velvet & Linen  Brickmaker's Table contest. I have discovered many new sources of information and inspiration, and I'm making new friends in the process. To celebrate the re-birth of the Garvinweasel blog, and to say 'thank you' to everyone following or linking to it, I will give away a copy of 'Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors" from Here's how to enter:

- If you have a blog, just add a link to Garvinweasel on your blog list. If you'd like to do a post to help promote the contest, even better, but not required for entry.

- If you are a reader, just sign up to follow Garvinweasel using Google FriendConnect

After doing one of the above, leave a comment here letting me know and you will have become a contestant. If you are already following, or already have a link to Garvinweasel on your blog, please leave a comment here along with my new friends so that I have a complete list for of all entrants in one place. The contest entry period will close at 6:00 PM Central Standard Time next Sunday evening, December 5, 2009. Later that night I will put all verified entries into a large hurricane glass (with candle removed) and ask Ms. XVI to shuffle them around and draw one name. I plan to take pictures for the post announcing the winner on Monday morning, December 6.

* Please note that in order to win, you must live in a country that or ships to directly. Delivery times are outside of my control, but if you are in the US or Canada you should have it in time for Christmas if you would like it for a gift to give. Outside the U.S or Canada, the winner would be responsible for any applicable duties and taxes. If other contest rules need to apply, I will post them as soon as I am aware of any need to revise. Best of luck!


  1. Hi James. I just added a garvinweasel link. Great Vervoordt post, and of course you know how much I love your hay bale coffee table! You would have had my vote (alright...I probably would have voted for my sister). I've always had a thing about the way different countries bale distinctively.It was emblematic of your "fixer" blog focus, and it's always exciting to view the process. Also love to hear about your time in Belgium. So thrown my name in to that hurricane! Merci, Trish

  2. Hi James,

    What a wonderful giveaway! I would love to win Axel Vervoordt's Timeless Interiors beautiful book! (I'm Amazon friendly as I live in Los Angeles.) You are so fortunate to have seen Axel Vervoordt's amazing place in person! I love your "walk through the book" story. I checked out their site and it is an incredible place with such beautiful antiques and treasures.

    I joined your blog after seeing your entry to win the table on Velvet and Linen and so appreciate that you joined my blog too. I really like reading your wonderful inspiring posts and hearing about the progress on your renovation. My place needs work too and your renovation posts are so helpful and inspiring. The table YOU JUST MADE is fabulous! I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and are enjoying your weekend.

    Bonnie at Love Your Place :)

  3. Lucky you - what a wonderful trip. And what a great series on Axel. (I love how you and your wife shared the tour via the book!)

  4. Hello James,

    Just wanted you to know that I am now following you and have added your blog to my list on my site Living It At Home. I also just started my blog and have no experience either. I am having fun with it and enjoy meeting new bloggers and reading their stories.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win Axel's interiors book.

  5. Enjoyed reading every word! You are already linked on my blog since I saw (and voted for) your room in Velvet & Linen contest.

  6. What a terrific giveaway. I guess I shouldn't be surprised but it's amazing to me that there's a moat too!

  7. HI JAMES!

    I have added a link on my blog. It is not a design blog, but I couldn't figure out how to find google friend connect. I am not a designer, but love the designer blogs, and am learning sooo much.

    I have wanted a copy of Timeless Interiors for a long time!

    thanks for the wonderful giveawy, and I look forward to your posts, and to reading your blog!!


  8. Hi James!!
    You were in my top five (were I a judge) to win the table, but alas not a judge nor a winner did I turnout to be. But I did feel like I won new friends! I count you as one. I have already linked to your blog since I saw your hay bale room, and I am looking forward to many more posts on your renovation and your travels. I think we will find we have lots in common!

    And I now "get" the name of your blog from reading this post! ;)

  9. James,

    Thanks for the tour. I look forward to the next one in this series.

    I didn't see your first attempt at a blog, but this try is perfection. I think most of us began our blog blindly and then counted on the learn-as-you-go method. It is such a wonderful way to connect with others of mutual interests. Virtual friendships are unique and interesting.

    I've added your link and now am an official follower.

  10. Ah ha! I wondered why there was a lack of posts! I've added you to my blog list (thanks Brooke) after seeing the clever room you entered. I'm looking forward to more about your creative renovations...loved the Thanksgiving table.

  11. James, as you know your blog has already become a favourite of mine...
    The Axel Vervoordt book is a great give away to celebrate the re-awakening of your blog and I can´t wait to see more of the creative transformation work taking place in your own house.

  12. James, I would love to win a copy of the book and have added myself as a follower of your blog.

    Merci beaucoup et a tres bientot,


  13. James-
    I added a link to your blog when you first visited mine! What a great giveaway! This book has been on my list for while-

  14. Hello James! Thanks for the kind words you left on my blog! I would love to be a winner of that lovely book! I will add you as a link to my blog and I will become a follower! Glad you decided to give blogging another try! Think you will have lots of fun!

  15. Hello James,
    What a wonderful spot you've made for yourself here on the web. I have loved visiting and will certainly be back again and again. You are now in my blog roll. Cheers and happy blogging!

  16. Hi James!

    Well you've been on my "roll" and I jumped on your follower bandwagon as soon as I saw that brilliant haybale. I'm loving this tour of the castle, his work is timeless yet modern and so quietly beautiful and distinct. I would be head over heels with glee to find this book in my collection. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity.

    And by the way, I have a contest going on as well over at Head Over Heels. I'd love for you to throw your name into the "hat" as well. You might walk away with a lovely pillow. Be sure to enter!

  17. Hello James,

    You have a lovely blog! I added your blog to my blog with the hopes of entering my name for the contest to win Timeless Interiors. Thank you for this lovely prize. Here's to hoping! Looking forward to many special reads...
    Erin Dunn

  18. By all means... include me in your book selection give-a-way! I'm a huge fan of Axel Vervoordt.