Ramblings

Be Present In Your Creativity

June 28, 2016

Hello friends, how are you today? I’m sitting alone by the window, sunlight on my face, reflecting on my recent journey to Gotland, Sweden. What was only to be a photography and styling retreat (at least in my mind) turned out to be one of the greatest, most personal journeys of my life that took me far beyond my work – quite unexpected! I learned that the magic of styling and photography goes much more deeply than our personal taste, our placement of objects, the lighting or angles… Styling and photography comes alive when YOU are present in the work.

Be Present In Your Creativity

In order to get to that place of presence, you have to allow yourself to be seen and for your deepest expressions to come to the surface. It was such an awakening for me, I always saw myself as so open and very honest with everyone about who I really am. In my eyes, I was. As we explored some deep topics in this workshop, I learned that I’m just scratching the surface and for me to be able to marry my photography and styling with words, I need to peel back many layers, and then see how much my work evolves.

It makes me think about how we are quick to say we are in a creative rut at certain points in our process. I finally know what this means. We are emotionally blocked. We need to pull out the emotion and then the creativity can flow again. It’s really that simple. Work on the emotion and the creativity will return.

Our retreat was beautiful. Our teacher/guide Dietlind Wolf was transporting at times, uplifting during others, a real light, magical, sensitive, caring, altogether a beautiful human being. I was more or less away from the modern world for 5 nights and it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. I was allowed, and even encouraged, to be raw, open, freely myself. It took courage! It was hard! I cried!

It’s amazing how so many of us just put our heads down and go through the day-to-day with the goal to get what we need done and not much more, isn’t it? Or, some of us pride ourselves on being so free, courageous, strong or open and we are not fully any of those things – we want to believe we are, but at our core, we’re not. And this is what we need to see, admit and work out. Then our art, craft, design work or whatever else we pursue becomes SO MUCH STRONGER. And better. More meaningful too.

I won’t write much about the retreat, to protect the feelings of the others involved, and also to preserve the time capsule my teacher so lovingly handed to me that I want to store away for now… But I will tell you this. If you sense anything about yourself that needs work, begin that journey. Please. Find the right people to guide you. Some good friends. Save the money you need to get the best care that you can. Our life is so precious and meaningful, we each have gifts, explore what yours is and have the courage to make your gift known to the world. Don’t wait.

I have nothing else to blog about today. I’m still so caught up in the magic of my retreat in Sweden. I need the fairy dust to settle a bit so I can get back into writing in this space again… I am sitting with so many feelings right now, stirring and swirling in my mind down to my core and back up again… So much to process and more than that, so much to DO! Because knowing and doing are two separate things.

See you tomorrow. xo

Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker)






Home Tours

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

June 22, 2016

Hello everyone, ready to take another home tour? Today it’s a pretty pastel abode located in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. I came across this home on Instagram and quickly reached out to owner Mariët van der Kooij as I just knew you guys would love it. Sweet faded hues with vintage and DIY elements make this home one to pin, for sure!

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Having fallen for a similar home the same week Mariët and her husband Tim viewed this one that sold before they had a chance to jump on it, they didn’t waste any time in sealing the deal on what is now a spacious home for their growing family. “It wasn’t exactly love at first sight – a lot had to happen before we could feel at home,” admits Mariët. “One thing we did love about this house was the large, light living space with sliding doors to the garden, and the spacious kitchen at the front. Upstairs, we were taken by the exposed beams. We haven’t looked back since! We spent six weeks renovating and were able to transform the interior into a space that really reflects us and who we are.”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Dated floor tiling and old fashioned wooden panelling was swiftly removed, walls were freshly plastered and painted and a brand new kitchen was put in place where a tired old kitchen once stood. The goal was a light, fresh interior, which the couple achieved in six weeks, filling their finished home with characteristic furniture, each piece with a story. “I love collecting pieces that come with a story.”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

A new home also meant a fresh new style for Mariët, who favored a more monochrome palette that relied on basic black and white. “At a certain point, I was bored of that style and found my home to be a little cold, and plus I needed a creative outlet and a monochrome home wasn’t allowing that.” Slowly, she began infusing her new home with color, mainly her favorite color pink, adding also more warm wood tones too to add texture and cosiness. “I like it when colors return throughout the interior – I would never have just one random color that doesn’t return elsewhere,” says Mariët. “This might be less exciting, but I seek balance in my interior. If I am styling with one particular color, I will often use varying shades of that color to keep things from being boring.”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

“My own style can be described as a combination of budget and DIY pieces with vintage here and there, a primarily white base layered with light and soft pastels,” she says. Much of Mariët’s inspiration is found on Instagram. “I love seeing how others style their homes. I also follow interior boutiques and magazines and get a lot of inspiration from their feeds too.”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Styling and decorating at home is a hobby that brings Mariët – whose day time occupation is working with young children – immense joy. “I regularly shift things around the house, styling and restyling vignettes with new accessories and different combinations. Every now and then I find something I have stored away and it feels like new again!”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

A favorite piece is the couple’s vintage pharmacy cabinet from the 1950s. “It’s a unique piece that you aren’t likely to see anywhere else, and I love that about it.” The decorating enthusiast clearly has a soft spot for vintage cabinets, because another favorite is the old ‘biedermeier’ wardrobe in the couple’s baby room. “It gives so much more character to the space than a modern wardrobe would have done.”

Downstairs, the couple enjoy a spacious living area that relies on a white basis, with characteristic half-painted pale green walls a pretty addition to the room. The dining area boasts a whimsical mix of materials and styles, both old and new.

The chairs around the table are all replica design pieces. “I don’t ever really by the ‘real thing’ but rather go for the less expensive option, which gives me the freedom to swap and change things around without feeling the heavy price tag,” Mariët admits. Both the wire chairs as well as replica Eames chairs were found at VintageLab15.nl. The Panton chair was a Maarktplaats (a Dutch secondhand online marketplace) score, while the table was custom made by Woodville out of a slab of solid oak with a white airbrushed metal base. The collage behind the table is by IXXI and is called ‘Sweet Poetry’.

“I have a thing for chairs – I can never have enough! I often repaint my replica Eames chairs in colors I am loving at the moment, which I did more recently with my army green chair – it was ocher yellow before that. Spray painting is a great solution for those who love change!”

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

In the living room, a large and functional grey sofa contrasts with pastel colored pillows (House Doctor, By Mölle) and a black and white graphic rug. On a round, army hued magnet board, Mariët displays favorite cards and artworks – a personal and low budget focal point for an otherwise empty wall behind the sofa. A String ‘pocket’ shelf on the adjacent wall displays favorite objects, artifacts and a hanging plant.

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Upstairs, the master bedroom is a fresh and tranquil space which features a DIY wooden headboard, crisp white linens, a hint of purple and a playful lamp from Kitsch Kitchen

With a well frequented Dutch interior blog, Mariët is always on the lookout for new interior ideas and regularly changing things up in her home as a way to stay current, unique and surprising. “I like trying out new trends at home, but always try to give it my own spin,” she says.

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home Tour: Whimsical Pastels + Family

Home for Mariët, Tim and their new son Peppe is all about family and enjoying time together. “We enjoy our home immensely as a family, with the recent addition of our new son. It is a spacious home that allows us each to have our own space while being cosy and inviting at the same time.”

So guys, what do you think? Do you love Mariët and Tim’s pretty pastel interior? What were some of your favorite elements? Mine is the hint of army green – it adds some contrast and shakes things up little bit! See you here next month for another fab interior – Holly M.

(Styling, Photography, Text: Holly Marder)






Designers + Stylists

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

June 21, 2016

I have big news! I have to tell you guys where I’m flying this morning… I’m heading up north to a Swedish island called Gotland. Have you heard of it? I mentioned recently that I was going but left out WHY… Well my friends, I’m taking a masterclass with Creative Director and Stylist Dietlind Wolf.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Dietlind is a leading stylist for 25 years in Germany, styling stories for magazines globally, but mostly German and Dutch publications. She also is a self-taught photographer and for the past several years has coupled her styling work WITH her own photos. Dietlind is also a columnist for Sweet Paul magazine. She designs and makes a line of heartbreakingly poetic and beautiful ceramics that sell in New York City’s own ABC Carpet + Home too, all produced in Hamburg by her own hands, with her own paint, infused with her unique point of view.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Dietlind also does some beautiful collaborative efforts with talented people since she is more than a stylist, she makes so many of the props she uses, she is a true artist. She is the first stylist in Germany that ever caught my eye whom I’ve followed for years. When I moved here in 2009, I saw her work more and more in magazines and really took a liking to it. Her style just speaks to me. I am hard to impress when it comes to styling these days. I’ve seen it all… And most of the work I see doesn’t stand out as a signature look or even as special. I feel like some work doesn’t tell a real story and stylists are just showing what everyone else shows in almost the same way because it “works”. I am sure this is largely driven by their clients or the magazine they work for. It’s not that they are copying, it’s just how they were trained. I fall into this at times too. No one is to blame! But some stylists are just fantastic, they definitely tell a story and awaken the senses bringing objects to life.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

I don’t find most of the styling I see in most magazines and especially in catalogs, that inspirational lately. Do you? Sometimes I believe if you’ve seen one issue you’ve seen them all. The styling doesn’t change and neither do the photography angles, nor do the portraits of people who look almost depressed sitting in their beautiful houses. I don’t find that beautiful or touching, a lot of times I walk away feeling empty. To see a home story with everything perfectly placed and people looking “too cool” to smile or at least show some emotion in their eyes… it’s almost like showing where ghosts live.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Why bother learning to become a better stylist if what is already out there works fine though? What has become popular, mainstream, or trendy, isn’t always inspirational, touching or magical. Lots of work can run very vanilla, generic, simplistic but in a negative way. It can sometimes look like everyone has the same muse and is just replicating. A home as a museum and a person as unfeeling doesn’t speak to my heart.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

On the flipside, there is still genuine magic out there being produced, it’s just not so common. But you can spot it and immediately you’ll know it’s special. Like some of these stories produced by leading Aussie stylists. Or some of the Americans, especially the New Yorkers… Or you look at the work of some of the Spanish or French stylists… Or those living in the UK, Denmark and Sweden… You can’t help but look at their work and feel fire in your belly and love again for interiors, home, food and family. When I stop to study a photo because the placement of objects are so interesting, then it’s no longer just a photo of stuff in a home or on a table, it’s a piece of art, and I love that.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

That’s why I admire the work of Dietlind as shown throughout this post. Storytelling through mini scenes, through objects, food, flowers, ceramics… inspires me to no end. I am excited that I will get to share nearly a week under her masterclass as a student, to soak in her wisdom and learn a new way. Starting in a few hours, I will land in Gotland and live in an old Swedish farmhouse with my friend Leslie Shewring, and we’ll be only a stone’s throw away from the beach, with a private greenhouse and an organic garden on the property. And we will travel to prop shops on the island and create scenes and take photographs. Dietlind will train us on how to develop all of our senses and bring them into our work more fully, making our styling more robust and magical. I simply cannot miss this experience to train under one of my favorite stylists. I’ve invested so much time and money into this trip, I want to make the most of it – I have a two-year-old boy so stepping out of my role as mommy for 5 nights is a big deal. I miss him already but I cannot think about that… This is fuel for my soul and good for my work, so off I go!

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

I’ve not spoken much about this course because it was something I wanted to keep in my back pocket until I felt ready to talk about it. But I’m thrilled and ready to be molded and shaped like a fresh piece of clay. I am stuck in a certain way of styling and I want to grow. I want to start styling the things my heart feels when I touch objects, I want to display them in a way that tells a story, that makes people think and feel something, I want to approach my work more artfully and create a certain intimacy but also improve my skill set. To me, creativity is an ongoing process of learning, feeling stuck, wiggling out, learning again, getting inspired, going into a hole, coming out, learning, working hard, again and again and again.

I want to learn how to put my own stamp on the work I style, because also take my own photos now and want to write, style and photograph my own book from beginning to end someday. In order to do that successfully, I must take on a new adventure, become a student, and allow myself to feel new light and breath fresh air. My 4th book, with Leslie Shewring, to publish in September, has many photos inside styled and photographed by me. But of course, not solely. I could never style and shoot an entire book at this point along with write it! Yet, this is my goal so to get to that point, I need to train hard. This is the first creative retreat I’ve ever been on in my life where I was the student, so I’m absolutely ready and excited for whatever comes my way and to see what results.

If you want to follow my journey on Instagram, I'll be posting live from Gotland, Sweden from 21 June until 27 June so please enjoy my Swedish feed and leave comments as I go, I would love to read them. I'm @decor8 on Instagram.Click To Tweet

Wish me luck and see you on Instagram!

xo Holly

(Photography + Styling: Dietlind Wolf)






Flowers

DIY White Party Flower Arrangement

June 20, 2016

Hello and happy Monday everyone! My garden is in full bloom and also all of the meadows. Everywhere I go, there are flowers growing – foraging made easy! As a flower lover there is no way I could skip an arrangement with roses and peonies. Inspired by the outdoors, I wanted to create a fresh arrangement, and add flowers that represent my surroundings this time of the year. My friend is hosting a summer “white” party and this white bouquet is my contribution to her party! White flowers are the perfect gift for a summer white party from my point of view. If you are hosting one, you can make smaller arrangements and place them down the center of an old wooden table. Wouldn’t that be gorgeous?

DIY White Party Flower Arrangement

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and TibClick To Tweet

White roses are one of my favorite flowers of all time – they are elegant and light up every arrangement. They look good if they are in a vase alone and they look gorgeous in a bouquet with other flowers. I am so happy it is June and I can chose from all the different varieties! For my arrangement for you today, I collected gorgeous white roses, added white peonies and went foraging in the meadow to achieve the airy look that I was going for.

Flowers used for the arrangement:

* white roses
* white peonies
* wild chervil
* yarrow
* bedstraw

Because the arrangement contained wild foraged flowers I decided to go for a more formal look and made the arrangement round and simple. I learned that cold weather gives some roses a slight touch of pink, some nights are still pretty cold where I live, this is why I also picked white yarrow that was slightly turning into pink. After I cut all flowers to one length, I arranged the bouquet in my hands, turning the slowly growing bouquet, adding the flowers one after another.

DIY White Party Flower Arrangement

Having them in my hands instead of a vase helped me to ensure that the bouquet was not getting too big. The roses and peonies added enough white to the arrangement, so I tried to break it up a little with yarrow, wild chervil and bedstraw.

DIY White Party Flower Arrangement

After the bouquet was finished, I cut the stems to one final length, tied it all up and placed into my vase. Here is the finished arrangement below. This could be a beautiful wedding floral bouquet too, couldn’t it? Or on the table at a reception?

DIY White Party Flower Arrangement

The roses and the peonies are so soft, feminine and fragrant while the wild flowers looked like white lace. All in all a perfect combination for a summer white party.

This is my final column on decor8, I’ve enjoyed so much being here and sharing my floral ideas with all of you. Have a wonderful summer and make sure to keep up with me over on my blog and on Instagram, I’d love that. All the best, Anastasia.

(Photos, styling, text: Anastasia Benk0)






Contests

A Giveaway With Atelier Sukha (Updated)

June 18, 2016

I love to decorate, especially with natural fibers like wood, wool, leather and linen. As a lover of Bohemian Style, Botanical Style and the whole Simple Living / Kinfolk  movement, I find Atelier Sukha a beautiful blend of all three to create a distinct global, yet paired back look that feels closest to the way I’d love to live (add to it, a beachfront house!). Sukha is a famous shop known globally as a must-see destination by decor enthusiasts when visiting Amsterdam, yet I was surprised to learn that their online shop isn’t nearly as well known so I thought to team up with them to help them spread the word about their shop. The best way was for me to just open up a flash giveaway on my blog so some lucky person out there could have a chance at winning free beautiful things (your pick up to €150) from their online shop. Then you can bring this handmade, pure and simple style to your home too.

A Giveaway With Atelier Sukha (Updated)

A Giveaway With Atelier Sukha (Updated)To enter*, you need to do the following:

1. Comment below and tell us what you would like to have on the Sukha website.

2. Follow @decor8 and @ateliersukha on Instagram.

When a winner is selected, we will verify the above before announcing.

*This giveaway is open to readers located worldwide. €150 approximate $170 USD total value per winner. Do not leave your email or web address in the body of the comment, only in the allotted boxes. Our winner will be contacted by email and announced at the bottom of this post. Contest closes on Monday, June 20 at 5pm European Standard Time.

Good luck everyone!

Winner is: Julia/mammilade. Congratulations!

xo Holly






Blogging

The Best Instagram Online Class Ever!

June 17, 2016

Wow that’s a big statement, a very big claim! But this class is really going to be the best ever! But first, I want to know… Do you feel sad when you see your Instagram pics compared to those you follow? Do you feel like you can’t ever get anywhere with it? Do you wonder how people are creating such great photos? Do you wonder how to make money using Instagram? Have you ever considered turning your Instagram into a booklet that you can sell in an online shop? Are you just plain curious about how to make your Instagram experience better?

Do you want to save yourself TIME and FRUSTRATION by learning all you can about Instagram in TWO WEEKS that would otherwise take you a year or more on your own?Click To Tweet

The Best Instagram Online Class Ever!

YES. Of course!

We will answer those questions, save you tons of time and frustration and more, make Instagram FUN, in our BIG BOLD INSTAGRAM #Instapower e-course. Seriously, you will take it and say it was the best class you’ve taken online about IG, we really believe that.

The Best Instagram Online Class Ever!

First, meet your teachers. I’ll be involved in the class, naturally. But I’ve invited two shining stars who are professionals at what they do and can really help you. You will be studying under RACHEL KORINEK from TWO LOVES STUDIO. This Aussie photographer and stylist REALLY KNOWS HER STUFF. She also has been formally trained as a teacher, so her videos and written lessons will provide you with a ton of terrific knowledge. Rachel is awesome at teaching and explaining otherwise complicated subjects (like photography) and is one of the best food photographers I’ve seen, her light and bright images are just gorgeous – so clear and lovely.

The Best Instagram Online Class Ever!

Next, we have PAULINE EGGE, the author of PETIT PASSPORT and a series of gorgeous travel booklets that she’ll detail in class along with how she monetized her Instagram through the creation of those booklets… Pauline is a photographer and travel writer, a lover of all things pretty and trendy, which she sniffs out as she travels and shares the best of the best on her blog with photos she takes herself – hotels, boutiques, coffee shops… Nothing is out of reach if it brings her joy and is something she knows her readers must absolutely check out. I love Petit Passport, which is why I had to hire her to teach this class with us.

How it works:

For two weeks, during the weekdays, we will post lessons each day according to the outline below. Look at what you are going to learn in just two shorts weeks… It would take you at least a year on your own to learn this stuff and with guided learning, you can ask questions and get answers right away from teachers and other students who are genuinely interested in your progress.

What you will learn:

WEEK ONE – Pauline Egge + Holly Becker
July 8 – Intro to class, welcome video from Holly
July 11-14 Below
01: Welcome video from Pauline + Branding Yourself and/or Your Instagram
02: Community Building – Networking, Growing Followers, Gaining More Likes, Best Times To Post, etc.
03: Working With Brands + Monetization. Special focus on how to make and sell guides like the ones Pauline creates and sells on her website. Also information on working with brands for profit using Instagram, what to charge, etc.
04: How to shoot on the street, in cafes, shops, permissions needed, how to style and work with your natural environment, etc.
05: To Be Added

WEEK TWO – Rachel Korinek
July 18-22 below
06: Welcome video from Rachel. Using Your Smart Phone to Capture Images for Instagram: Taking photos using your phone, best practices, apps to use to edit and create.
07: Using Your Camera to Capture Images for Instagram: Taking photos using your camera, Best practices, How to get the shots onto your computer and then phone, Editing on computer/phone, sizing for optimization.
08: Photography Techniques to Get The Most Out of Your Shots. Lighting, angles, negative space, tips for shooting, shooting multiple angles, tips and tricks and problems you may encounter.
09: Styling Your Instagram Images: Styling and Styling Tips (with video how-to), How to find Everyday Items to Use, Importance of Backgrounds and what to use, Tips for Styling when you are out and about, Things you can take with you in your handbag to style when out.
10: Curating a Gorgeous Instagram Feed: Tools, apps to help you curate your feed, How to Stand out and Disrupt Your Feed, Case Studies.

+ BONUS CONTENT taught in our previous IG class.

NOTE: If you took our IG class last year, this is 100% NEW, DIFFERENT and FRESH. It’s not the same material pre-canned and spun out in a new way. It’s NEW. Everything we produce, podcast, video, lessons – all of it – NEW.

July 8-25. Beginner to Advanced, all are welcome!

For $119 you really can’t beat it. And if you want to sign up to be an affiliate, you can learn all about our program here (make money by referring your friends).

ENROLL TODAY

I’ll be back in a moment to post a lovely giveaway from one of my favorite shops in Amsterdam. Hold on tight!

(Photography: Rachel Korinek and Pauline Egge)






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