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Your Office: Make It Pretty & Functional

Let’s talk about your home workspace for a moment, shall we? What does it look like? Is it accomplishing what you need it to? Are you proud of it or are you a blurred streak running to shut the door to contain the chaos whenever friends drop by? It doesn’t have to be the room of terror. Sometimes it only takes an afternoon of organizing and updating to give your room a ‘magazine’ touch that still feels human. Why not feel pride for the space you call your own? It doesn’t have to be perfect or even tidy, but it does have to inspire you and support your goals or else what’s the point of spending time in there, right!?

While I cannot visit you at home to help organize and decorate your office, I can at least encourage you to start by clearing unnecessary clutter and to gain control over the chaos. Take a good hard look at your chair, is it comfortable? Do you have a mood board that inspires you or have you not updated it in eight months? Is the paint color on the walls a good hue for working or could you try a fresh, new color? How about the lighting (most important after seating) – You can easily update your lighting on a budget by visiting your local IKEA or Target store.

When I help friends and clients update their office space, I question them pretty much to death and then take my handy clipboard along for a complete tour. I draw 3 columns on a page listing all of the things that I see that do not work and the things that do, along with a third column of what could be improved but isn’t absolutely needed right away. I also photograph the space and look at the photos on my home computer afterwards because I often find hidden flaws that I missed with my naked eye.

I encourage you to be your own decorator and inspect your space in a similar manner. You can even photograph it and share it on your blog or on Flickr, etc. to see what your online buddies have to say. Your goal is to make your home office completely work for you, you shouldn’t dread opening the door each morning and you certainly shouldn’t have to hide it from visitors!

This is a little ‘quick makeover’ tip I do at home myself — I’ve talked about it here on decor8 before… I have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of my desk and each month I change the theme by switching out the fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper that I place between the desktop and the glass. It’s a really inexpensive way to spruce up your space (once the initial glass top is purchased).

Of course, I cannot simply talk about pretty offices. I must show you a few of my favorites from a site I like to look at for inspiration called House to Home. I’ve already showed you a few above, more will follow below. If you are as visual as I am, you’ll walk away feeling like ripping apart your office and transforming it into your personal paradise. Here in Germany I’m about to carve out a little workspace for myself so when I finish it, I’ll show you my work spot here. Give me a week or two though, I still haven’t located a desk and a proper chair, but I did find an amazing vintage 1950′s mirror to go over it, just you wait because I know you’ll LOVE it when I show you…

A simple shutter from a home store or a flea market can make a nice memo/inspiration board for the desk.

Style your inspiration board in a way that not only stimulates your imagination, but provides a nice focal point for the room. A bright lampshade on a simple lamp base perks up a desk.

My love of maps and vintage charts as decor runs deep (see this post for more inspiration), so of course this office caught my eye. You can also use maps as wallpaper and paste them on an entire wall, something that’s been a bit of a trend over the past year or so.

A unique rug in a floral shape paired with a bold print over the desk (adhere your favorite fabric over foam core for example) and you have a few places for the eye to travel, avoiding the clutter on your desktop! Globes as decor are still a pretty hot trend, esp. vintage ones.

This office is a little to sterile for my tastes, but I appreciate the layout and love the picture ledges shown. Simple ledges or a shelf from IKEA can transform a space dramatically. Best part, you do not have to constantly hammer new holes in the wall when you want to rearrange your art work, just lean them on the wall using a shelf with a ‘lip’ or ledge and you can arrange them in a new way whenever the mood strikes you.

For some work areas, clutter is part of life because one may need many materials to perform their job (such as a seamstress or painter) and cannot bother with being overly neat. We all work differently, there is no right or wrong way to arrange your work space (with the exception of ergonomics, one must always give consideration to how they are working so please educate yourself about this to avoid potential health problems). However if you are feeling less productive in your space lately, or discouraged by its arrangement, no worries… A simple day set aside to access and organize your room can work magic. Ask a friend who has an office you envy to give you some advice or better yet, see if she’ll stop over to give you some hands-on advice. In exchange, you can bake her your best cookies or offer to babysit for an evening so she can have an evening to herself. When it comes to where you dream, imagine, connect, create… You should like the spot you’ve carved out so you can do your best work.

We’re about to approach a long weekend soon (Labor Day in the states, first weekend of September), so why not spend that extra day off sprucing up your workspace? If you have a before and after photo, send it over… I just may show it here on decor8 as an example of what a little creativity and hard work can do. :)

(All images from House to Home, permission given by Claire Toms.)

Posted in workspace on August 29, 2008
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Meet Creature Comforts

Hello everyone! If you didn’t already catch this bit of news in my previous post, I’m officially back to blogging on a daily basis now. I’d like to thank each of my guest bloggers who filled in while I was taking some time off. I’ve been in Germany for 3 weeks and I’ve accomplished so much already that I cannot wait to see what happens between now and the time I leave in December.

Our vacation apartment is coming along very well… I’m not that patient when it comes to waiting for items I order to arrive though — But I’m trying to learn patience, chill a little, and enjoy the time I have here in a new culture. The weather has been very kind to us, Spring-like on some days, Autumn temps other days… It’s lovely really. There is so much to tell you!

But enough about me… This space is dedicated to my lovely Santa Margarita, California-based friend Ez (pronounced Ee-zee). I shall continue talking to you about what I’m up to here in Germany in later posts. Ez is the all star blogger behind Creature Comforts and e-shop owner of Wren & Chickadee. So without further ado, I’d like for you to sit in on our chat today so perhaps you can be inspired by this lovely, warm soul on the web with hopes that you’ll feel the same fondness for her that I do.

“The Taste of Summer” by Ez available on Etsy.

A little background, Ez is 29 years old, has a beautiful daughter, and is a single mother working hard to cover all the bases as a mum and as a creative type looking for fulfill her needs while earning an income that will support her and her daughter comfortably. So let’s get started and meet this lovely lady, shall we?

Holly: What do you like to do there (your city) to recharge yourself?

Ez: I live in a very tiny town (barely over 1000 people), with a post office, greasy spoon restaurant, gas station, feed supply, liquor store, and mercantile (it’s actually called that). Let’s just say that it is not the most conducive location to “recharge.” The one saving grace is that we are surrounded by a lot of nature which my daughter and I take walks in as frequently as possible. We also make a lot of trips to San Luis Obispo, which is an absolutely gorgeous town only a few miles from our home.

Holly: Can you define your personal style?

Ez: My personal taste and my actual style are two completely separate things. :) Taste wise I gravitate towards clothes with a distinctive European feeling or things that have a modern bohemian look. In actuality, I tend to wear straight legged jeans or lightweight pants, tank tops or t-shirts, and a sweatshirt with unique detailing (such as those by Mike & Chris), and flats. I’m pretty low maintenance really.

Ez is inspired by Etsy stores like the new A View To by i. Klee design.

Holly: Why did you become a blogger?

Ez: Several years ago I was going through a really dark time in my life. I discovered blogging quite by accident, and found that through the process of seeking out beauty and inspiration, I was finally able to see it again. Blogging and the blog community has been very good to me, and I feel so lucky for that!

Holly: What are some of the challenges of writing each day?

Ez: Well, the number one challenge is keeping a fresh and original perspective. There are so many blogs now, and so many talented people, it is hard sometimes to feel that you have a unique place in the blogging community… I just keep plugging along and hope that the things that inspire me make my readers happy too.

Holly: What do you hope to accomplish through blogging?

Ez: My number one hope is that my readers and visitors will come away from Creature Comforts feeling inspired. I don’t expect that my taste will be the same as everyone else’s, but I hope that I can encourage those who stop by to find the bits of beauty in their daily lives and live each day for themselves. If I make just one person’s day brighter or happier by blogging, then I have succeeded.

Holly: I feel the same Ez. I think all bloggers should pause for a moment (if you are a blogger reading this) and ask yourself the same question. What do you hope to accomplish through blogging? It’s a good question that I think we sometimes need to ask ourselves to avoid losing our focus and/or zeal for what we’re doing. Can you please tell us a little about your background and how do you think this lead to blogging?

Ez: I have always been interested in all things design, style, and art related. I’ve dabbled in many different artistic fields, and went to school for fashion design, but I think that it is my natural inability to stick to one thing forever that has helped me most of all (my Mom would roll her eyes here). Without this I could never keep coming back to Creature Comforts every day and continue to find things that inspire me. My taste is forever changing/evolving, and I think blogging is a fantastic way to foster a sense of wonder at all the world has to offer.

The rich colors shown in the portfolio of Polly Wreford represented by Sarah Kaye are a few of Ez’s favorite things right now.

Holly: In addition to writing, you do beautiful photo layouts and create handmade things for your etsy store. How did you learn all of these wonderful talents?

Ez: Thank you. I certainly can’t take credit for everything that I do. I think I was born to be artistic and to create things, and I love to learn and challenge myself… So much of what I currently know came from that. For example, I began to assemble photo layouts on my blog using Photoshop because I wanted to learn how to use the software. I still have so much to learn, but the process it a lot of fun. People are often shocked when I describe myself as technically inept, but techie things do not come naturally to me. Everything I know (computer-wise) I have intentionally pushed myself to learn. If I can do it, anyone can!

Ez loves jewelry, “These necklaces by Stone & Honey are the most wonderful creations I have seen in a very long time… They might actually be my favorite jewelry of all time.”

Holly: What challenges do you face writing Creature Comforts when their are now so many other blogs covering similar topics?

Ez: I’ve often thought that blogland holds a lot of similarities to high school. There can be a lot of negativity and competitiveness that swirls around, but I personally try not to think of blogging as a competition. I think that is the most important thing. Secondly, I really just try to stay true to myself, the things that I love and that inspire me. I think that if I felt that I was up against all the other blogs, then I’d never have the motivation to continue blogging. I strongly believe that what you give in life, is what you receive, so I hope to be a valuable part of the community, but for all the right things (like warmth, generosity, and inspiration). I’m only human, so I have a whole mess of faults, but I am trying.

Holly: So true! There are blogs that are very supportive and welcoming, and sadly a few that tend to feel very much like a popularity club where only certain people are invited. Some blogs go as far to write negative things about fellow bloggers or worse, they blackball bloggers that they feel pose a threat to them somehow. It’s pretty ridiculous. Sadly, with most design, art, fashion, and craft blogs being authored by females you have to deal with this from time to time. We’re an emotional species and let’s face it, women do not always play well together. This has been the case throughout the course of history. It’s easier online with the anonymity of it all to be overly critical, judgmental, and treat others poorly and that’s a sad fact. But when I look at the large number of women online blogging and hear the relatively small number of negative experiences out there, I feel inspired that overall we’re doing a good job getting along and supporting one another. Sure some don’t support me and I’m sure some disregard your good work as well, but in the end those who are like-minded find one another, form special bonds, and carve out a special place for themselves on the web just like we have. Just as in real life, we click with certain people and not to others. We cannot be expected to act differently online, we gravitate those who ‘get’ us and shy away from those who do not. And for the bloggers who try to start negative rumors or promote negativity, I feel strongly that what comes around goes around anyway so just keep doing the right thing, don’t let the negative experiences override all of the positives, and move forward always. Speaking of moving forward…Now for the next question! How do you keep your content fresh and unique?

Ez: Most of my posts start at one inspiration point (perhaps I’m inspired by a color or a particular piece of jewelry) and end as something completely different. I try to let the process happen organically and not to force too much. The hardest thing is when I have those days where nothing is clicking. That’s when I take a little look through my flickr favorites and find some inspiration again. I love flickr!

Ez also loves a good DIY craft project, this one as showcased by Purl Bee caught her eye recently.

Holly: Any tips for new bloggers that have helped you as a writer?

Ez: Be passionate. Blog about something that truly matters to you. Believe in yourself and be an active and friendly member of the blogging community. Oh, and have patience! It might take a while before anyone knows you exist, but keep at it and never be afraid to ask for help when it is needed.

Holly: Give me 5 words that best describes your personality.

Ez: Shy, Artistic, Silly, Compassionate, and Emotional.

Holly: What keeps you energized and focused?

Ez: My readers inspire me so much. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them, and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people caring about what I do. When I need a moment to regroup, I step away from my computer for a bit. Sometimes I go for a short walk and take photos, bake something tasty, or I rearrange a little corner of my house and give it a fresh look. Then I can come back with a fresh outlook and motivation to keep on keepin’ on.

Holly: How do you stay organized, do you have a specific system?

Ez: The desktop on my computer is crazy, but I try to organize it every day or else I’d never find anything. I also use Wishpot to keep most of my online files in one place. I don’t know how I lived before Wishpot! Afor the rest of my house… I’m definitely not a neat-nick! I need to see everything to feel inspired by my surroundings, so there are many little organized piles of various things from fabric, to current art projects, etc. around my home. Sometimes it gets out of hand, but I try to stay on top of it.

Holly: What is an average day like for you?
Ez: 6:30 am – The day starts with me getting my daughter up and ready for school. After I drop her off I try to head to the gym for a short workout (but I rarely go as often as I’d like). Once home I flip on my computer and read through my emails and blog comments while I eat my breakfast (I love this part of my day). Then it’s on to blogging (which is basically the rest of my day).Then it’s dinner and homework with my daughter, and maybe a walk or a game with her to unwind before I tuck her into bed. While she’s falling asleep I try to catch up on housework, sort through mail, etc. and once she’s out then I’m back to my computer again to wrap up details for posts going up on the following day. 12:30 am – Relax (read, play on my daughter’s Nintendo DS, draw, etc.) and at 2 am – Sleep!

Holly: What did you do before the blog?

Ez: Well, I was busy being a mom. I also worked at various fashion retail shops, went to school, and started sewing little softies (which is part of how I discovered blogging).

Holly: What’s next for you, future goals?

Ez: I’d love to see Creature Comforts continue to grow. I have some top secret ideas I’m working on for the (hopefully) near future, so that’s exciting!

Ez loves flowers! Ink & Peat is a shop that inspires her at the moment. Can you see why?! Wow!

Holly: What is your ultimate dream for yourself and your career?

Ez: Well I think that every artist dreams of being able to live off of their art, so I’d just love to be in that place (with my photography, blog, whatever). I’m not wealthy by any means, and financial stability would be the ultimate dream for me and my daughter. In twenty years (or less) I hope that I will have had the opportunity to work at a magazine or as a stylist or photographer for some major publications. That would be incredible!

Holly: You totally have the talent and ability to do that. In fact, I’m always looking at spreads in magazines and think, “God these people need Ez because this is all laid out so ‘typical’ and boring.” How do you get through a creative rut?

Ez: I think that creative ruts stem most frequently from self-doubt. When this happens I just try to be kind to myself and remember that I’ve been stuck before and I’ll get through it. Journaling helps too.

Holly: Let’s say you run into a competitive person who tries to copy your work or in other ways, wants to bring you down. How would you handle them?

Ez: This has happened before. There are basically two things that come to mind when/if this happens:
1. How sad. Sad that someone has so little belief in their own worth that they feel they need to copy or put someone down in order to have something valuable to offer. 2. I see imitation as a challenge to push myself harder to continue to create, evolve, and change. It’s not good to get too comfortable with sameness.

Holly: You need a new outfit, where do you shop? What are your favorite labels?

Ez: Well, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to update my wardrobe (my fashion budget is almost non-existent these days), but when I do shop I tend to rely upon J.Crew, and shops like Target and the Gap for basics. I like to pick up jewelry and accessories from indie designers on etsy and in local boutiques. I’m not a big label person. Fashion school kind of took that out of me.

Holly: What perfume do you wear?

Ez: If I feel like wearing a scent I just sprits on a little Coconut Lime Verbena body mist (sounds so middle-school) from the Bath & Body Works. It smells like a tropical sunset and I love it.

Holly: Your favorite designers?

Ez: My favorite fashion designers are John Galliano and Marc Jacobs, but I also adore Alexander McQueen for his incredible vision.

Holly: Describe your perfect getaway?

Ez: I’ve always wanted to travel to Paris. I’m teaching myself French currently. When I go I don’t only want to visit though… I’d need to live there for at least a year and fully immerse myself in the culture. I think that would be heaven!

Holly: Oh I agree! Three people you’d love to have lunch with and why?

Ez: 1. You (of course), 2. Melissa (my guest blogger and friend) and 3. Lauren (my best friend).
All three of you live on the East Coast and I’ve never met any of you (the internet is amazing that way). I think we’d have the most wonderful time laughing, talking, and otherwise inspiring one another. I hope it can really happen someday!

Holly: And finally… What trends do you love and which ones do you wish would go away?

Ez: Well something that has been building since I was younger is the trend towards individuality. I fully support that! It’s beautiful to be yourself! I hope that we see more acknowledgment of independent talent as well. I’d also love to see more public support of the people in our communities who are truly making a difference… and not pages and pages of celebrities who all look the same. Oh, and I could do without ever seeing another pair of Ugg boots ever again. :)

Would you like to see Ez and her world? Here are some lovely images of her home that will enjoy. It’s so exciting that she is sharing her space with us today.

Left: Ez’s desk (from ikea) and vintage school chair (picked up for $2). Right: Flowers are the best way to instantly perk up a space. Bottom: One of Ez’s inspiration boards created with wire and two nails – items are hung with clothespins. Displayed on it: a magazine tear, a giant letter E she cut out, “The Greatest Day” print by Corduroy, “Fungi” print from Groundwork, and “Doe Eyes” Print by Birdy & Me.


More views of her home office. Top: Storage drawers picked up for free topped with binders filled with magazine clippings and other inspirations, a vintage wire rack snagged for $1 and the first piece of home decor she ever purchased for herself (the lamp). Bottom: On the windowsill above her desk, fun little decorative things that make me smile: including a vintage deer figuring given to me by Melissa, and an original piece by Heather Smith Jones.


1. Another one of Ez’s inspiration boards where she has saved: a magazine tear, a drawing by her favorite teacher in college, and one of her softies. 2. A glimpse at the mini inspiration board on Ez’s desk. Artwork by Caitlin Shearer. 3. A stack of fabric ready for the next time inspiration strikes. 4. Ez’s rarely throws out a magazine, so this discarded metal magazine rack she picked up at a library comes in handy. 5. You can never have too much paint! 6. Balls of twine make beautiful sculptural objects and are useful too! 7. A collection of Ez’s magazines and books, as well as an owl figurine that she painted white (it was gold), and a treasured original painting found at a local antique shop.

Thank you Ez for visiting us today on decor8, for the two beautiful guest posts that you wrote while I was away, and for all of the wonderful artists and designers that you showcase on your blog each day that continually inspires us to reach high and keep on keepin’ on!

(images all from Creature Comforts)

Posted in blogs, interviews on August 28, 2008

Inspired by Whitney English

Today I’m inspired by Whitney English. I just had a peek over at the blog of this talented stationery designer and was blown away by the beauty I found there. Talk about inspirational work settings! She features office products, stationery, paper stores, and a few home offices along with interviews of those who work within such cute spaces. It appears as though “Desk” is a new series she is running that will showcase pretty offices and those who maintain them.

I am a huge fan of the Yvestown blog so I was pleasantly surprised to find her workspace featured on Whitney’s blog (photos above).

I like the art over this desk, especially the print that reads, “Don’t put off your happy life“. Good daily reminder to keep in front of you each day I think. :) Seeing all of her books and personal items makes me miss my massive collection of books back in America, all waiting for my return in December. I found out that Amazon.de stocks books in English now, so I’m placing an order today for books that I can store here in my German apartment. Life isn’t the same without books around you, is it!?

So yes, I’m back to blogging again here on decor8. So going forward, posts will once again by authored by me primarily with the occasional friend or two popping in from time to time. But it’s back to the regularly scheduled decor8 everyone! Thank you for giving such a warm welcome to each of my guest bloggers through your comments and link backs, it really made it nice for them and for me to know that they were well taken care of while I was away on vacation.

xo,
Holly

(images from yvestown)

Posted in blogs, stationery, workspace on August 28, 2008

Blog of the Week

New Blog of the Week: Simply Grove

Posted in uncategorized on August 28, 2008

Books:

Available now on Amazon

Further editions available include: Portuguese, Danish, Czech, Slovak, French

Courses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way for Beginners
e-course, April 17 – May 15, 2014
Find out more and sign up now.

Styling With Holly Becker
London, May 2014 (Date TBD)