Monthly Archives

February 2009

Decorating Tips

How Much For This Room?

February 6, 2009

Hello and happy Friday! I love Fridays and for the next three weeks and possibly beyond, I’m going to give you another reason to love Fridays with How Much For This Room? — a fun new series on decor8 that will take you into a room and break down each item listing price and source along with a grand total for the entire space. Yay!

For the first three weeks Calgary-based interior decorator, artist, and photographer Lori Andrews, aka the 10-Cent Designer, will walk us through some client spaces starting with her own living room shown below. Lori and her husband Ken are just starting their fifth year in a charming 100-year-old 1,100 square foot home in a vibrant neighborhood in Calgary. They love their home and enjoy completing a new renovation project each year and love to mix in a few more “permanent” furniture items, too. Living close downtown, Ken is able to walk to work and Lori is minutes away from the shops she does business with for her Interior Design projects. They have no plans to move on to something bigger or to a fancier neighborhood, “it feels good to buck the environmentally disastrous trend of over scaled houses and suburban acreages”. Their neighborhood is full of young families and an eclectic mix of people and cultures. You can view Lori’s entire home here on Flickr.

Lori’s living room.

When we lust for rooms in Elle Decor or Dwell we can easily forget that costs can go into the thousands for such spaces, some into the ten and hundred thousand dollar range for a single room. Oh yes. Lori and I both agree that television shows and magazines can often mislead when it comes to how much rooms really cost to design. You see a space, try to recreate it according to your budget, and sometimes fall flat wondering why your living room doesn’t look like the one that inspired you from the magazine. On the flipside, lots of us watch shows that miraculously pull together a dream room under $1000 and while it can be done if you have a hunky carpenter at your disposal building custom furniture at no charge and a seamstress doing all the window coverings and upholstery work for free, that’s not real world design. It’s also important to note that most shows play with the numbers so the rooms you see aren’t always “under budget”. Lori and I discussed these points just this week so I have to credit her for the idea to try out this new column.

One thing of many that I respect about Lori is that she shops local for the most part, “I prefer to spend my dollars in my own city. I have built good relationships with my suppliers and while I often am not assured of getting the “cheapest” price, I am confident in their customer service and in the fact that part of my money stays local.” Lori is also a lover of handmade and prefers quality over quantity, “I prefer to buy Canadian artisans and design whenever possible”. I am also happy to buy “antiques and retro items” online. Lori’s furnishings are a mix of mid range pricing and quality and entry level IKEA, seconds and Pottery Barn) quality and pricing.  Her signature pieces are heading into the luxury range and the art that her and her husband purchase is by mid career artists.

What you’re seeing:

1. Sofa from Montauk wood frame custom 6 foot size $6000. 2. Painting, Margaux Williamson bought at Skew Gallery Calgary $3000. 3. Floor Lamp Gerald Thurston Three Leg lamp for Lightolier purchased through from Fat Chance $1000. 4. Pillows Judy Ross cushions purchased from Kit Interior Objects $200 each (2). 5. Plastic cow head purchased from Home Sense $35. 6. Side table, Saarinen marble purchased from Kit Interior objects $650. 7. Stool, recycled teak purchased years ago for $350. 8. Leather cowhide purchased from Buckskin Leather $290. 9. Silk chevron cushion purchased in SF at Krimsa $500. 10. White Credenza, IKEA Bonde $400. 11. Trevor Mahovsky drawing $500 (market price). 12. Mirror orange filagree $260 at Steeling Home. 13. Bowl large handmade natural bowl by artist Chris Faulkner purchased at Kit Interior Objects $300. 14. Vase small handmade white artist Tyler Fritz purchased from Kit Interior Objects $140. 15. Noguchi Table Lamp Model 1A purchased from Kit Interior Objects $100. 16. small Gold vase Jonathan Adler $65. 17. Wall Sconces from Robinson lighting and Bath originally by Tech lighting no longer available but some just like it are available here at Jesco lighting $300. 18. Artifort Orange chair from Kit Interior Objects $3000. 19. Desk from Pottery barn bedford modular desk components $1000. 20. Lamp on desk by Jielde $500. 21. Computer 24″ iMac $2000. 22. Gold vase made by artist Tyler Fritz $140 purchased at Kit Interior Objects. 23. Vase and Plant $100 from Sunnyside Home & Garden. 24. Small wooden vessel $65 from Country Furniture. 25. Saarinen tulip chair $1000 from Kit Interior Objects. 26. Painted storage chest from Pier 1 Imports $300. 27. Magnetic board IKEA $10. 28. Mohair Jonathan Adler Bench approximately $2,350. 29. Small blue polished stone coasters $20. 30. Custom gray boxed cushion $300. 31. Blue Asian silk cushion$120. 32. Flooring Kahrs Ash floors installed by contractor with new subfloor $4333. for this area of living space, 33. World map desk pad $16.95 from Map Town. 34. Blue leather/brass tack footstool $800 from Soho + Nada. 35. Sheepskin $89 from Buckskin Leather.

Grand total- $30,433.95 (not including track lights, speakers, back up drive, paint or window coverings).

In addition to Lori’s help on this column over the next three weeks, I want to recruit fellow bloggers, designers, and readers who have a space that they would like to break down here on decor8. Budget spaces are welcome, high end, mid range, a variety is good. If you want to participate, please send me one clear image of your room shot in daylight to holly AT for consideration.

Any questions for Lori? Please comment below!

(photography by lori andrews)


Excellent Furniture Deals @ Shabby Chic

February 6, 2009

This rustic solid elm coffee table is gorgeous. I wrote about it today along with some other gorgeous deals over at Real Simple because I’ve had my eye on this particular table for a year now and nearly died when Shabby Chic slashed the price yesterday from $695 to $199. Problem is, I have since purchased another table so I have to pass on this beauty.

I love large coffee tables like this one because I enjoy sitting on cushions dining by candlelight or serving snacks to my friends – we’re big on fondue and sushi parties but also serve a lot of cheese, wine, bread, and olives around here and so a large surface is extremely helpful. I just slide over my decorative items and stacks of interiors books and there’s plenty of room to get down to business and eat!

I currently have a large wood table like this in Germany and I love it, it’s a prized piece in my flat because it’s not only a beautiful chunk of natural wood (adds great warmth near my crisp snow white slipcovered sofa), but it is highly functional because I use it daily for everything from eating to entertaining, card games, board games, even crafting and painting while I watch television. Don’t miss the other huge savings over at Shabby Chic online! Get them before they are gone for good! I’m hoping the Ella Bench goes on sale because it would be perfect for my home office.

(image by shabby chic)


Creativity Series: Just Do It! {4}

February 5, 2009

I’m so pleased to be sitting here with all of you today to discuss creativity and how to better tap into it. I love writing the Creativity Series, I feel like all of us are really connecting through the comments and because I read each one, I’m clicking on your links and learning about your blogs, what you do for a living, and many of the things that are important to you. Thank you so much for your participation in this series thus far!

For those just catching up, the first week we discussed the benefits of tapping into childhood and how mind mapping as a good way to do that. Our second week was all about exercise, and week three focused on the benefits of keeping a journal. So what will we talk about today? I’ve invited Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday to visit us and share her personal experiences, which she does after my thoughts below, so let’s get started. I also can’t wait to see what you have to say on this topic, Marisa and I will be reading your comments and answering any questions you may have.

Develop a positive support system.

I know, easier said than done since friendships grow and change on a daily basis, often by no conscious choice due to relocation, pregnancy, marriage, and changes in employment. With so many friends on the go, it’s often challenging to schedule a 10-minute coffee break so most of us get little quality face time with our friends. How does one form a support system?

Here are a few ideas that I’ve tapped into. You can reach out to your local community by joining a group with similar interests through a website like You can also take advantage of the many social networking websites to stay in touch, try Twitter (my current obsession), Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Another idea, join a book reading club or form a knitting circle. (And if you think a knitting group may be boring read Unravelled by Robyn Harding!) I’ve done this in the past, host a clothes swap or decorating swap! I made up the decorating swap idea, it’s where I invite over friends and we trade stuff from our homes, trading a Jonathan Adler ceramic for a design book for instance,that kind of thing.

Another way to form connections with others is to seek those online that you feel a connection to through blog reading. That is how decor8 was born. Comment on the blogs that you love regularly so their authors can get to know you. Find out if they are using the same social networking sites that you do and request to become their friend and follow their work. I’ve had lots of decor8 readers send me cards through snail mail along with their business card, I keep every single one and refer to them often.

Looking for good blogs? For those of you new to the blogworld, you can locate thousands organized by genre at There are blogs written on nearly every topic imaginable, the topics span from crafting to interior design, architecture, creative writing, DIY, IKEA hacks and beyond. There is even a magazine devoted to artsy blogs called Artful Blogging and it’s a beautiful, informative publication where I have been introduced to many lovely new faces online.

Once you start reading blogs, you may feel inspired to author your own as yet another way to build a supportive network. You can attract many like-minded individuals once you put yourself out there as either a blogger, a regular commenter on blogs, or both.

A Little Bliss by Marisa Haedike.

For those of you who already read blogs or author your own, how do you take it to the next level and form a friendship?

I’ve invited Marisa Haedike from Creative Thursday to share from her personal experience as an artist and blogger. Take it away, Marisa!

“Just the other day I had lunch with a new friend and the main topic of our conversation was the importance of human connection. And while this particular lunch was in person, my first introduction to her was via the internet.

It is now becoming the norm for me that many of my closest friends here in Los Angeles are actually friends I initially “met” by coming to know them through their blogs. This is when you realize just how powerful the internet is in opening our possibilities to connect in such meaningful ways, becoming a community of support to one another.

It seems obvious that human connection is vital, especially in person. But now we are all fortunate to be part of a time where you realize that human connection has the potential to extend across the continents on a daily basis.

And that is key in building your community online, recognizing that there really is no difference between connecting online and making friends in person.

Which brings me to my first and most important recommendation in building your community of support online. Choose to be yourself. Start connecting from who you truly are, and this way you will build that kind of community that will be the most genuine. The beauty of connecting online is that now more than ever you have the chance to meet so many wonderful people.

Just say hello. It all begins with willingness to say hello to the people you want to “meet”, reaching out to the people who inspire you. Also be willing to offer your support to those who inspire you and do so unconditionally. When you do reach out, or offer support, you may hear back from some and not from others. Remember, if for some reason you don’t hear back from someone, not take it personally, just trust that the community that will resonate the most with you will find you, and you will find them.

And when you do find them, be a friend. Friendships are an exchange between people and it’s the same online. You have to be willing to open up. Of course, I don’t mean revealing parts of yourself that you choose to keep private, but you have to be willing to share who you are.

This is where I can’t say enough about blogging. I don’t think the importance of having a blog or a web presence that you can update regularly, like facebook or flickr can be stressed enough in terms of building your community. A web presence where people can leave comments is especially good. Having a place that you call “home” online is the only way the friends that you are wanting to connect with will have a chance to “meet” you and over time come to “know” you just as you would with an in person relationship. Even if all you have is an about page attached to your blog ~ that’s something, it’s a start.

And you may be wondering why I’m focusing so much on friendships and less on the business connections, because going back to the conversation I had over lunch with my friend, we both realized how business connections are built from human connection, which starts with the willingness to be a genuine friend to someone.” – Marisa.


Building friendships, having a support system with others who ‘get’ you, this builds creativity. Exchanging ideas, a process, a fear, a success.

Now it’s your turn readers. Do you have a support system? Online, real time, or? How did you build it? What is missing that you wish existed? How does a support system help you to feel inspired, to be more creative?

(photo by holly becker for decor8)


Win Wallpaper from Hygge & West

February 5, 2009

I promised a second giveaway this week, so are you ready? Hygge & West would love to give THREE lucky winners two rolls of JULIA ROTHMAN wallpaper valued at $250, winners choice! Isn’t this exciting? I knew you’d just love it. I wish I could win my own contest because this wallpaper is gorgeous. Time to stop procrastinating on that space that needs a pick-me-up, free wallpaper will motivate you!


Hygge is a Danish term for living well, living simply, living cozy. It’s about living in the small moments, appreciating what you have, creating warm, comfortable environments. Please comment below (one comment per person) and share a description that you’ve written, a poem, or a picture (please link to it using only or your entry will not qualify) from your home or office of what living cozy, living well, living in the moment, means to you. Your writing or photography only, please.

Hygge & West will follow all of your answers and three winners will announced on Wednesday, February 11th. Have fun and good luck!

Thank you Hygge & West for this fantastic giveaway!

(images from hygge & west)

Books + Magazines, Rooms

Attention Cooks: Jamie Magazine

February 5, 2009

The launch issue of Jamie Oliver’s food and lifestyle magazine, Jamie, is here and it’s gorgeous. If you love to cook, or simply to be inspired by beautifully designed restaurants, well set tables, and gorgeous travel destinations, head to your nearest bookseller to see if you can get your hands on a copy. Filled with amazing photography, you’ll love it, it’s like no foodie mag I’ve ever seen before. It’s beautiful right down to the thick pages and the Monte Carlo Script font featured throughout.

You can click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see a sneak peek of the issue. Though the images do it very little justice, in person it is much better.

I should add that this magazine is printed in England and at Barnes & Noble I paid $9.99 for it.

(image from holly becker for decor8)


Meet Interior Designer Robin Sillau

February 4, 2009

I’m excited to introduce you to former

Her 8′ x 6′ x 8′ bedroom is now a loft!

decor8: Tell us about your background and how did it lead to interior design?

Robin: I grew up in Queens and went to college for journalism to pursue a career as a newspaper writer. I’ve been passionate about writing since I was a teenager and thought that being a journalist would be a really fulfilling career for me. As I worked as writer in college and as a freelance writer after college, I did enjoy myself, but didn’t feel whole. My other passion, which only in my adult life did I realize could be parlayed into a career, is interior design. I grew up in a small apartment and my room was my haven. I rearranged my furniture for fun and was constantly redecorating, decoupaging, and making my space feel perfect. I continued to develop my style in each residence I inhabited in college as well. Since I’m so career driven, I pursued many internships during college. While working at the now-defunct Organic Style Magazine in the summer of 2005, I was placed in the home department. It was here that I really fell in love and decided that after my graduation, I would find a way to integrate writing and my love of design in the hopes of discovering which was the path for me.

(Robin Sillau blogging her design finds, photography: Lesley Unruh)

decor8: And that’s around the time you started working at Domino magazine… So tell us what did you do at Domino and why did you leave?

Robin: I was the assistant to the Creative Director, Sara Costello, and was also an assistant in the Market Department. I left because I knew I wanted to design homes and I wanted to make the next step in my career at a young age.

decor8: What did you learn working at the magazine?

Robin: Working in magazine land was very trying at times, but I would not change one experience because I learned something that is utterly invaluable and that is what I want to do with my life. I see my peers struggling with what step to take after their entry level jobs and many simply don’t know what they want to do in the long run, or how to figure it out. At domino I learned what I wanted to do with my life, and how important being happy in your home is. I also learned less ethereal, and more technical matters. I learned how to product a photo shoot, how to remain completely calm even under times of duress, how to transport 40 pieces of furniture to California from New York in, oh, about a week, and about what to look for when taking shots of interiors. I learned about the different styles of furniture design, about how to chose colors, textures and patterns that work together, and about the importance of scale in a room. Everyday at Domino was a learning experience and I could never have gotten to where I am now without those two priceless years of education from the most talented group of people I’ve ever met.

decor8: Why did you become a designer?

Robin: I decided to become a designer because I want to help other people feel obscenely happy in their homes. I grew up with only my mom (who is 1000% the best parent anyone could ever ask for) and we lived in a tiny space. Try as we did, with little money, it was hard to make our apartment a home. Two years ago my mom retired and moved to North Carolina to a beautiful, new home. Watching her develop her own style and furnish her home with items that made her happy was the catalyst to make me realize how much having a beautiful, well-designed home is integral to leading a whole and comfortable life. When I reached two years at working at domino, I took this into account and what I loved best about my job, which was decorating sets, I knew that I had to take a very big leap try my hand at being a designer. I can make a beautiful photo shoot happen, and I can make it disappear. I decided I would be happier taking my talents and applying them to design homes where families with whom I could develop relationships with could live for years and years.

(Dining room and bedroom designed by Robin for the Cheap Kit from Aug 08 Domino, shot in LA by Melanie Acevedo)

decor8: You also have a blog called Decorated Life. When did you start it and what is it about?

Robin: I started my blog, Decorated Life, in August 2008. It’s about trends that I find, rooms that inspire me, and essays about personal experiences. I help readers with decorating questions and also enjoy posting pictures of Homer, my best friend’s dog with whom I have developed an undying love for. I treat my blog as if I were the Editor-in-Chief my own magazine. I try to post original content about project I am working on, advice for readers, new sources I discover, and inexpensive ways to bring bits of light into your home. I also like to post personal stories that I think might be able to help anyone who comes across my blog. I suffer from an auto immune disease called Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, and writing about that has not only proven to be cathartic, but I hope it has helped others with rheumatological diseases, or anyone who has to deal with chronic illness.

decor8: What challenges do you face with clients and how do you handle them?

Robin: As a residential designer, my largest challenge has been transitioning from creating spaces that were born in my brain, to creating spaces that were born in someone else’s. At the magazine, I came up with a concept or a color palate and the shoots I worked on were my taste, to a tee. Yet to be a great designer, you can’t push your aesthetic onto your clients. You need to be the conduit for their creative vision to become even more beautiful, Learning that balance has been my biggest challenge. Not every client I work with wants a silver leather ottoman, a room entirely wallpapered in Osborne and Little’s large-scale chevron print, or a head board upholstered entirely in ironic toile. I’ve handled this challenge by having an open mind and listening to my clients and respecting and embracing their styles.

(this room is enclosed with fabric, bed on top, closet below.)

decor8: As a new designer, how do you market your business and what seems to work?

Robin: I currently work for a design firm, but I’d eventually like to start my own business, and I’m trying to market myself through my blog so this will one day be possible. I’ve found blogging to be my most effective marketing tool. I started by letting my friends and family know I was writing, and then branched out to posting updates on Facebook. This reconnected me with many old friends, who told their friends about my blog and so on. I try to stay true to the focus for my blog and I use my career as inspiration for posts.

decor8: How would you define your style?

Robin: Style is a hard thing to define! My decorating style is much more eclectic than what I wear on a daily basis. I LOVE PATTERN. I love mixing modern, iconic pieces with touches of floral, an antique wood, or a bit of tradition. I use graphic prints in conjunction with traditional shapes. I love glitz and glam, and think that punches of metallic fabrics can add a whole other dimension to a room. I love dark colors in small spaces and playing with scale. My style is everything I see, feel, experience, love and hate, filtered through brain and projected like a kaleidescope into the blank canvases I have to work with.

decor8: What 5 words best describe your personality?

Robin: Resilient, Complex, Funny, Loving and Curious.

decor8: What keeps you energized and focused?

My desire to please my clients and my desire to thrive as a designer.

decor8: How do you stay organized, do you have a specific system?

Robin: The process of ordering furniture at a magazine and ordering furniture as a designer is VERY different. I use Quick Books to keep my finances in order, and keep separate files for my invoices, organized by project, and purchase orders, organized by vendor. I also couldn’t live without writing myself notes. The notes feature on my iPhone has helped tremendously, as has importing my rolodex onto my computer and my phone. It’s annoying, but keeping my contacts always synched helps me to be able to work from anywhere. If I’m installing a project and need to call a vendor to ask “Where is my lamp?” it’s really easy to do so if I have all of my contacts in my phone and on my laptop. I also live for my Graphic Image planner, I use the daily journal and I love it. It’s the perfect size to carry with me all day, yet it has more than enough space to write my massive “to-do” lists. I loves.

decor8: What is an average day like for you?

Everyday for me starts with an unhealthy amount of coffee and about 10 shameful minutes spent on the Facebook. I’m constantly working on new projects while juggling the ordering and installation of projects that are ongoing. I joined my firm at an interesting time and have been able to install, make furniture plans, conceive palates for construction materials, and plan the homes of brand new clients. I spend a lot of time learning AutoCad, going to furniture showrooms, going to site-meetings to oversee construction, and a LOT of time trolling the Decoration and Design building for fabric samples.

decor8: What’s next for you, future goals?

Robin: I couldn’t have asked for a better job or a more nurturing learning environment to get me from magland to becoming an interior designer. Eventually, my ultimate dream for myself and my career is to start my own interior design firm. I’d like to work alone, or with an assistant for a while, but eventually be the principal of my own company. I’d love to eventually have my own line of fabrics and furniture, and although I’m sure it will be quite challenging, have all of my products be at reasonable price points

decor8: What do you think is missing in the design world?

Robin: Compassion and accessibility!! I see a lot of negativity and criticism in the world of design. You can’t have art without conflict and negotiation, but I’ve got butterfly skin when it comes to being privy to some to the nastiness going on in interior design blogland. I don’t believe is criticism without it being constructive. I put my stuff out there and totally expect not everyone to love it, but I get perturbed when blogs or comments completely rely on making fun of magazines, people, ideas, etc., without putting something positive into blogland as well. In the larger scope of design, I think accessibility to the masses is lacking. Furnishing your home will be one of the most expensive things you can embark on, and fabric, wallpaper and furniture can be INSANELY pricey. I think well-priced items that you don’t have to put together yourself and won’t fall apart on their own are heavily lacking from the market.

decor8: How do you get through a creative rut?

Robin: I take a break, eat a cupcake, and look through my inspiration binders.

decor8: 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?

Robin: I don’t let negativity permeate me. I’m really proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished. Any negativity I encounter I can spin and view as a good thing, because it means I’m getting my work and my words out into the public.

decor8: You need a new outfit, where do you shop and what are your favorite labels?

Robin: I’m a Lorick, Morphine Generation, and Marc by Marc Jacobs junkie. I also am a huge fan of Steven Alan’s button down shirts, and probably would be nude right now if not for American Apparel. When I need a classic dress for a party or an interview, I always go Diane Von Furstenburg. I get all of my skinny jeans from Urban Outfitters and love pairing my Chloe boots (which I got on MAJOR sale) with leggings, an oversized t-shirt from American Apparel, a blazer and my vintage Gucci messenger bag I got at the Hells Kitchen Flea Market. I love mixing sporty with labels, which I always try to get on sale.

decor8: What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

Robin: A point ballet dancer.

decor8: Favorite designers?

Tom Dixon, Miles Redd, Vincente Wolf, Ilse Crawford, Nina Campbell, Nick Olsen.

decor8: What do you do there to recharge yourself in Brooklyn?

Robin: When I’m feeling really stressed out, I like to work on projects that I’ve been thinking about but don’t make time for. I love going to flea markets and restoring pieces of furniture I find. I recently built a vanity to put on brackets and placed it on one of my bedroom walls. I love building and working with my hands. It allows me to zone out of my stresses and focus on something productive.

decor8: Three people (living) that you’d love to have lunch with and why?

Robin: Heather Armstrong (Dooce). I’ve briefly met her once and I love her style of writing. I think she’d be a blast. India Hicks, because I think she’s graceful and intelligent and I’d love to hear what her life growing up was like and Blake Lively, Serena, of Gossip Girl. Because…I mean…COME ON! She’s beautiful! And maybe, just maybe, if we had lunch, she’d realize we were meant to be best friends.

decor8: And finally… What trends do you love and what can you do without?

Robin: I love graphic prints, Lucite, Greek key patterns and white lacquer. I could do without shells and coral. BIG TIME!

(Living room designed by Robin for the Cheap Kit from Aug 08 Domino, shot in NY by Melanie Acevedo)

Thank you so much for chatting with me today on decor8, Robin. It’s so nice to meet you!

Readers: If you have any questions for Robin please ask her via the comments section below.

(images from robin sillau)

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