Interview: Marij Hessel on styling flea market finds

Portrait of Marij Hessel

Marij Hessel is an interior stylist with a taste for DIY, travel and thrifting. As you’ll see from her blog and web shop My Attic, she has an instinctive sense for colour and a unique talent for styling flea market finds. Based in the Netherlands, she tells us about her creative journey so far.

Tell us about your creative background and current work as a designer

I studied fashion and design in Amsterdam. After that, I started working as a designer for a Dutch multi-brand. Currently, I work for the Dutch fashion brand Costes where I design collections, travel for inspiration, translate trends and create mood boards. However, in one week I am actually leaving Costes, to focus on my career as a freelance interior and content stylist, web shop owner and blogger!

colourful and bright kitchen with white cat

Would you describe My Attic as a full time blog, hobby or something else?

It started as a hobby alongside my full time job because I felt the need to explore my creative side. My blog started growing slowly and I started to develop my personal style more and more. Now, I’m very happy to say that I know what I want and am working with cool brands, on nice projects. I want to spend more time on my web shop and blog and hope to have more exciting collaborations with inspiring brands. It’s all about taking a big step in following my passion and hope to make it a full time job!

vintage copper hanging plant pot

You are based in Alphen aan den Rijn. Where do you go looking for vintage finds?

I go to all kinds of places in Holland, most of them are thrift shops. In my home town there’s a pretty nice thrift shop, but it’s getting more expensive unfortunately. I also love going to flea markets in Belgium and France.

plants on shelves

In what ways do you refurbish old pieces?

I like to give my vintage finds a new look by painting them in fresh colours or upholster them with new modern fabrics. I’m still learning the upholstering process but it’s definitely true that you get better with practice! Some pieces don’t need upcycling at all – they are just beautiful the way they are!

blue vintage cabinet with ginger cat

What advice would you give to those who usually buy off-the-shelf products and are unsure about flea market shopping?

If you combine your new items with vintage or old furniture and accessories, you will get a much more unique and eclectic look. In a thrift shop or at a flea market, you find things that other people probably don’t have. That’s how you can create your own personal unique style and let your creativity run free. You do have to use your imagination sometimes when you see a lot of old things. Imagine them in your own modern home and think about giving them a new look. It’s really fun to look for treasures in between a lot of old stuff… You never know what you will find. Besides that, it’s a great thing to be reusing and recycling old furniture.

Dining table with pastel geo painting with vintage vases

Where do you go to for inspiration and are there any designers or blogs that you follow?

I find a lot of inspiration on social media, particularly Instagram and Pinterest, also in magazines, especially foreign ones. I really get inspired when I’m travelling, by all the patterns, colours and interiors that I see. Some of my favourite bloggers are Justina Blakeney, Oh Marie, Zilver Blauw, Binti Home Blog, Happy Interior Blog and Joelix.

vintage glass swan dish

Do you follow any particular design rules when mixing modern with vintage?

I don’t really follow any rules… I think I just go with my intuition. I do like to combine vintage pieces with a lot of fresh colours, white and green plants.

Mid-century chair and pink painted sideboard

What are the top three vintage pieces that you have in your home?

My top three vintage pieces are an Yngve Ekström Circle Chair, my pink sideboard that we found in Belgium and a mid-century wall unit that I use in my home office.

vintage pendant lamp with aqua blue cable

Do you keep an eye on interior design trends and are there any you particularly like at the moment?

Lately, I try not to be too focused on trends and instead try to do my own thing. But of course I like to see what the latest trends are and I do get influenced by them, especially colours. I love interiors created by people who have over time, collected pieces from all over the world and created their own unique style. But that’s probably also a little bit of a trend lately. I’m also inspired by all the new rich colours and materials like dark green and blue, ochre, velvet and gold. I think collecting fossils and souvenirs is soon going to be a thing!

Styling flea market finds with flowers

Check out more of Marij’s work at My Attic and see what she’s up to on Instagram!

Author: Antonia Edwards

Antonia is the founding editor of Upcyclist. Based in the UK, she is the author of two books: 'Upcyclist: Reclaimed and Remade Furniture, Lighting and Interiors' (Prestel 2015) and 'Renovate Innovate: Reclaimed and Upcycled Homes' (Prestel 2017).