Confession: I’m addicted to Creature Comforts, I don’t know, it’s like all of a sudden I’m hooked and can’t stop looking at this gorgeous blog. And though I heard the news of Blueprint folding several days ago over on Apartment Therapy NY, I didn’t think to bring it up here on decor8 until I noticed Creature Comforts posted her thoughts on the topic. And after a few readers wrote to me asking me to blog about this, I figured why not. Wanna dish?
Although I’m sad to see Blueprint fold, I’m happy Amy Butler’s home was recently featured, and I loved all the other homes they gave us a chance to peek into – each felt loved and lived in, and a bit crafty (minus the skulls and rhinestones), and I really liked that because this is a void that other glossies just don’t fill. Most cater to less of a DIY (do it yourself) crowd and more of a BIY (buy it yourself) crowd. Blueprint featured homes of those that run their own business, make lots of the things in their spaces, and they were real everyday people that just so happened to have a huge chunk of creative spirit and know-how.
We really need Blueprint and I’m sad to see them go. They should bring back MS Kids and merge it with Blueprint – in other words, take the “best of” from both magazines, dump the shoes and raincoats and makeup, keep the amazing typefaces, and offer this shiny new car to the new-nesters they want to target. The DINKS and the couples with young children. That would be ideal and I would support it for sure.
And let Sarah Humphreys take the lead because she is talented and down-to-earth, and I like that. How many editors-in-chief do you know would allow you to tour their tiny 1-bedroom NYC apartment decorated solely by their staff? That’s humility, that’s real, and I I liked her since the get-go based on her apt tour alone. She felt approachable, like if I met her at a party I wouldn’t get butterflies – I’d walk right over to her and have a human-to-human conversation. Sarah doesn’t strike me as some media celebrity. She feels real in her editor’s letters and though some of her staff come across a bit snobby, I’m thinking that if I worked at a company like MSLO, I may feel a little full of myself after awhile too. It’s a whole different world inside those offices vs. out here in the real world. They have test kitchens and craft labs and companies sending them cool stuff all day long, access to things you and I will never see or know about. It’s like the freaking Pentagon – only instead of being the headquarters of the American Dept of Defense, it’s more like the American craft headquarters or something. It’s too cool in there for me, I know that much.
I have to let you in on a little secret though… Their last issue is due out soon, it’s for Jan/Feb and I’m in it. Well, not my picture or anything, just some blurbs about my opinions on displaying photography in the home. Look for that, along with a little decor8 mention, in their final issue.
So, what are your thoughts on Blueprint folding?
Psst: Still looking for an ’08 calendar? If you love that gorgeous Blueprint font, here is a free little download.
(image from the wonderful creature comforts)
I saw this fabric over at Flowie and had to blog it since so many emails arrive asking me for leads on quality fabric that is modern, inexpensive, and not “for the trade only”. Flowie is a collection of products ranging from napkins to bags (love the patterns, don’t you?), but there’s also a section on the site where a small collection of hand screen printed fabrics is offered that you can purchased for $29 USD per yard. Yippie!
Thank you so much Sarah for sending me this link, reader Sarah found this on d*s today and sent me over to check it out. Flowie appears to be a brand new shop, so support small biz and view her wares here.
TIP: I’d love to use Gerrie (yellow) in a simple way, cut into a square or rectangle, hem 3 sides, sew a rod pocket on the top, and slip it onto a lovely slim tree branch collected from outside and mount on the wall over your bed. I think it would look great for under $30, adding both pattern and something from the natural world to your sleeping space. I’m a bit of a nature freak, but if you’re not into tree branches, you can use wire or simple pins for a more relaxed look.
Thanks Sarah for the tip, and best wishes on your new shop Yaling!
(images from flowie)
How sweet it is! I have to introduce you to Cupcake in Berlin, I hope that if you’re ever there you’ll seek it out and support this small business because though it may have nothing to do with shopping for interior products, cupcakes are quite delicious to eat and this shop makes a great resting place while you’re out and about. Plus Cupcake is darling inside and no one likes breaking in well designed places more than me. Okay, you too. :)
And Berlin isn’t America – a cupcake is a hard little delight to find in northern Germany, you just can’t find them dotted around there as you can here. They aren’t in bakeries, or grocery stores, and they don’t have dedicated little cupcake shops all over as some American cities do – until now. That’s what makes this shop in Berlin so very sweet – they’re truly unique as they are Berlin’s first! I asked the owners, American Dawn Nelson and her boyfriend Daniel Baderif (who runs his record label out of the office in the shop) if they could send over some photos for your enjoyment, so here’s a peek into a very tasty place. Cupcake is located in the heart of Friedrichshain, a short stroll away from the last remaining section of the Berlin Wall.
In regards to the design of the shop, Dawn said that they started out with “All these ideas for the decor. first it was vintage 50′s funiture, then streamlined 70′s, and then finally this is what we came up with”. They wanted something minimal, clean and fresh with the focus on the cupcakes, so this is the result. I think it reminds me of a cupcake shop Audrey Hepburn would have rested her tired feet after a day of shopping at Tiffany’s. If Tiffany’s were in Stockholm. It really reminds me of a Swedish bakery for some reason with a touch of classic Hollywood. And the light fixtures are 2 Die 4, aren’t they?
If you’d like to know more about Dawn and her background, click here to read a great interview that I Heart Berlin had with her – it’s in English – and there’s a video as well. It was there that I learned Katie Holmes frequented Cupcake while she was with Tom Cruise in Berlin filming. Too cute.
(images from cupcake)
Feelin’ crafty? I just discovered a free pattern download that Stephanie Barnes of Little Birds and 3191 fame so graciously put on her blog like forever ago. After finding it on Monday, I grabbed a few pieces of fabric and after a few snips here and some stitching there, this my friends is my 1st little soft tree.
She’s a little imperfect, but still very cute. This is the easiest thing you’ll ever sew, so please give it a try. I made this while watching Project Runway last night (which by the way, this is such a great season, I totally see Christian, Rami, and Jillian in the final three).
But back to the tree, after looking at it for awhile, I decided to give this softie a little personality with some black thread. So now the tree is a she and I’ve named her Clara. Download your pattern here, and when you finish your little baum, please post it in Stephaine’s flickr group called soft trees so we can all ooo and aaaah over it.
(images from holly becker for decor8)
I was beyond thrilled when Rachell Ashwell, founder of the slipcovered empire that is Shabby Chic, agreed to meet with me to discuss her life, her company, and her inspirations. I met Rachel at a tent sale in L.A. a few years back, but was so star stuck that I didn’t get to ask her all the questions that this interview allowed me to do. I did walk away with a bag of poplin bedding and a book she signed for me that I have in my library. And since most of you know Shabby Chic, I assume not much of an intro here is needed, so let’s get right into the interview and meet the pioneer of muted California cottage bohemian, Rachel Ashwell.
decor8: Hi Rachel, it’s such an honor to talk to you today, especially since Shabby Chic has a huge future ahead and we’re about to see a lot of great things from you in ’08. Before we chat about the future, let’s discuss the past. Seems like around ’04 you vanished – very few magazine appearances, little mention of Shabby Chic, you quickly went from the it girl in design to, well, missing in action. Can you tell us what happened around that time?
Rachel: Sure. After filming my TV series, a total of 54 shows, writing five books over 10 years and launching The Simply Shabby Chic Line for Target, I felt it was a good time to redirect my focus. I have been busy expanding my infrastructure and focusing on design and product development to get ready for a major expansion of the Shabby Chic brand through new retail stores and an online store.
decor8: Makes sense now. Thank you for answering that as I know it may be a sensitive question to ask at the start of an interview, but I’m a cut to the chase kind of girl. You talk about the future of Shabby Chic, why did you decide to expand now?
Rachel: With both of my children in college I was excited to take on new challenges. I felt it was time to expand and maintain the integrity and authenticity of the brand, while keeping my personal touch on everything. 2009 will be the 20th anniversary and so I feel it’s the right time.
Rachel: Hmmm…Where do I start? We just opened our ninth store in Atlanta and are planning to have 50 stores across the country in the next few years. Our goal is to open ten or more new stores each year in cities across the country. We’re also introducing new bedding and furniture collections every season which will be distributed in our stores and wholesale accounts nation wide.
decor8: I recently visited your new store over at the Natick Collection in Boston, it was heavenly and I loved all the mercury glass candle holders and patchwork ethnic cubes. It’s great to see Shabby Chic here in New England. Anything planned for television?
Rachel: In January 08, we are releasing three DVD’s. Each will feature three of my shows that aired on the E! and Style Network. They will be available for purchase at book stores selling DVD’s, in Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic stores as well as online at shabbychic.com.
decor8: That’s great, I’ll be purchasing those for sure to replace my old VHS tapes from recording it back in the day. I don’t even have a VCR anymore so they’re pretty much useless. You mentioned something about shopping online…
Rachel: Oh yes! In Spring 08 we are launching our e-commerce site at shabbychic.com. This will provide an opportunity to reach an even broader market.
decor8: Yes, for sure. Let’s talk about your current collection. I can’t help but notice a Asian/Moroccan vibe going on, but using the soft color palette that Shabby Chic is known best for. Ethnic prints and patterns are a bit of a detour from your typical English coastal cottage look that you’re famous for. I mean Kilim rugs and huge leather poufs? What piqued your interest in ethnic design?
Rachel: To keep up with the growth, it was imperative that I speak to a larger audience. I spend a lot of time in Europe, Asia and India for inspiration and for sourcing product. While it may seem very different it really isn’t. I’ve introduced darker woods and vintage rugs but the woods are distressed, the colors are washed out but the styles are still comfortable and functional. I want to remain true to my customers and appeal to new ones as well.
decor8: One thing that always impressed me is your attention to detail. You always wrote about how you’d include precious things in your children’s lunch box, handwritten notes and little toys that held special meaning. Showing your children how to appreciate little things is important and I think you really do that so well. It must have influenced how they look at the world as young adults to have a mom like you.
Rachel: Yes it has. My son Jake is 18 and daughter Lily is now 20 and they both are studying creative fields in New York. Without even realizing it, they pay attention to detail in their everyday lives.
decor8: As a single mother with grown children living out of the house, what things does Rachel Ashwell do in her spare time?
Rachel: Work! Because I love my work it is a big part of my lifestyle and it is hard to separate the two. I love to be with my children. I like to knit, go to the movies and the ocean.
decor8: What inspires you lately anyway, what are you digging?
Rachel: I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with my British heritage. It has inspired me to introduce items like the Union Jack pillow. I like collecting vintage items like prom gowns too. Lately I have been inspired by the color and design layout of Balenciaga advertising, too.
Rachel: My designers and I are constantly open to ideas and inspiration. We brain storm in our design studio and from that point new patterns are created on CAD. Then in time these designs become new bedding collections or home accessories.
Rachel: Yes, of course, it is located near LAX Airport in California. The office encompasses many departments from wholesale, purchasing, accounting and warehousing vintage furniture. I also have a big whimsical design studio. There are six on staff including my creative director, buyers and designers.
decor8: It looks beautiful there, thank you for sharing. I could spend hours looking through all your things, especially those mood boards. And you mentioned vintage furniture, so you’re still hitting the fleas are you?
Rachel: Oh of course, I go about four times a year. My favorites are in Texas and on the East coast.
decor8: I’ve never been to a Texan flea, but I love Brimfield down in Massachusetts, it’s amazing. I can really spot trends when I visit them, I’m sure you do the same. What current trend would you like to see more of and what others would you like to bury?
Rachel: Even though fashion is ever changing, I like to think my aesthetic evolves but stays true to my values which are beauty, comfort and function. To me this has eternal life, it’s timeless, embracing the philosophy of recycling while creating heirlooms. For me minimalism is not so inviting and long lasting. I would not be sad to see that style go.
decor8: I have a love hate relationship with minimalism, so I understand what you mean. And finally, what ten things do you adore?
Rachel: 1. My children 2. Chrome Hearts diamond cross 3. Enya 4. Tresor perfume 5. Fresh cut garden roses 6. A vintage rose oil painting that hangs in my home 7. Marmite spread for toast 8. ?Forever To Keep? chest of drawers that contain old love letters, heirlooms items from my parents and handmade gifts from my kids 9. Shabby Chic white poplin bedding and a 10. Shabby Chic Plump chair.
Thank you so much for meeting with me today Rachel and for letting decor8 readers know about the exciting expansion of your company. We wish you the best of luck and happiness.
(images from shabby chic)