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Belinda Graham: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Belinda Graham

Hey guys! I’m Belinda Graham from The Happy Home blog based in Australia and I’m here to share a few snippets of my home with you while Holly is settling back into life in Germany. I’m a freelance writing, mother of two, would-be decorator and constant redecorator. Several years ago, my husband and I bought the worst house in one of the best streets metres from a beautiful waterfront reserve on the central coast of NSW – an hour and a half north of Sydney, Australia. We’ve been renovating on and off since (we like to take our time) and seeing as Holly’s request for a guest post coincided with another major work, here are a few corners of my home not covered in dust or the contents of the junk room, and that just happen to contain a few of my favourite things…

Belinda Graham

My hallstand – I call this the “love spot” as it’s filled with items that we love or that represent love! It’s essentially our hallstand as we don’t have a foyer (our front door opens into the living room) but I didn’t want the usual coat hook and shoe rack as it’s part of the living room so I made the practical (my handbags fit inside my market bag and a tray holds my keys and sunnies) blend with the pretty and the meaningful as much as I could. The table is a sewing machine table that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, the lantern was a gift from my hubby, the Welsh wooden love spoon was a wedding gift and of course the LOVE letters say it loud and clear. All together, it creates a feel-good space for me and one that I’m constantly changing – the recessed shelves call out for latest purchases to be displayed, so it does get revamped quite often!

Belinda Graham

My kids room – The day I started painting the outline for this silhouette was the day we decided to create two bedrooms out of one so my son Zak, two and a half, and daughter Layla, 13 months, could have a room each. But, determined to put my original plan for this room into action, I finished decorating it – just in time for them to move out (which they will next week!) The neighbourhood skyline was inspired by a picture from VT Wonen – I used chalkboard paint though because it’s the best black colour and I like how the yellow chair pops against it. I love this room because we have so much fun in it and because both bubs contributed to the decorating. I painted stars on their ceiling while Zak “held” the ladder, he helped me glue the bunting papers together and the leaves on the tree and Layla helped me paint the wall by smudging the black paint with the arm of her sleeve. They also have their own art displayed on the other side – they drew all over little wooden birdhouses. So it was a joint effort. And I love hearing Zak tell me stories about who lives in each house and which one is his “favourite”, which changes every time!

Belinda Graham

My deck – This is possibly my favourite place to be. Our deck runs the length of our L-shaped house and is essentially a playroom for the kids. It gets the sun all day and because our front yard is contained and all useable (we live on a battleaxe block), it’s private, peaceful and the perfect chill-out zone. And I live in that chair – soo comfy. Combine that with the tinkling of the shell chimes, the kookaburras singing in the tree and a good magazine and I’m in heaven.

Belinda Graham

My bookshelf – This is a recent addition – I’m still deciding whether or not to paint it white. But I love bookshelves – stashes of books give a house a real homey feel and give a little insight to the personality of the owners and their interests and passions. It’s also so easy to make them look good – a few knick knacks here and there creates a little interest. What I love most about this is I now have a place for Steve’s old encyclopedias. Our son Zak is such a bookworm and is much more interested in these books than he is his own. He knows so much about the world already just by having these within his reach and is often found sitting here thumbing through one, waiting for someone to walk past so he can demand they read him a page or two! Layla is also a big book fan so I dedicated the bottom shelf to kids reading material.

Belinda Graham

My bedroom dresser –  I’ve got a big passion for craft and sewing at the moment and this space reflects that, especially seeing as my grandmother’s dressmaker mannequin sits to the left of it covered in my jewellery. This space started with my pinning a loose button that fell of my husband’s shirt onto the pinboard as a reminder to sew it back on. Then I liked the look, so my little jar of loose buttons was raided for similar colours and I built it from there (and, um, still haven’t sewn the button on his shirt!). I’m not great with colour in my home – I’m a brown, white and black kind of girl – but I decided to indulge my favourite colour combo I’ve loved since a kid: purple and yellow. It’s also a safe home to one of my most prized possessions: the little green book is a lyric birthday book passed down from my great, great grandmother. It’s got a song lyric for every birthday and I love seeing the old calligraphy from my ancestors. It’s so old and is falling apart and I need it away from tiny little hands that want to read it…

I’m inspired by…
Many things and many people, which makes it hard to narrow it down. I think at this stage of my life, I’m inspired by the past. I’m exhausted by the pace of the world and want to slow it down a little and live a simpler life. But it’s hard – especially with hourly distractions like blogs and twitter! I blogged about this a while back … Recently, I had a mini freak out about what skills I’d pass down to my children. Aside from crash courses in the basics every now and then, I wasn’t taught how to sew, knit or crochet, to garden or make bread. We’re just not taught the same things our grandparents and parents were – we have to want to learn them now. I want my kids to dip their selves into two eras – be of today’s technological world but with sound knowledge of the old one where people were self-sufficient. This means spending as much time with them as possible teaching them our skills and learning new ones together, creating and reading and exploring and discovering in our yard and around the world. Having less toys and TV and more library trips and loungeroom danceathons. I think that’s why I’m drawn to the women behind Inchmark and Katie Did – they seem like the coolest, funnest (is that a word) women and mums who have managed to bring aspects of the past into the now in a modern, cool way. I aspire to be like them in my crafting, my sewing and my home life.

My best advice…
Trust your heart, your gut, yourself. In every way, from work choices to parenting to decorating, I try and abide by this. I’ve tried following the so-called “rule books” for all these things, but in the end, if I know what I like, what I want and what I think is best, why shouldn’t I go with that? I’m not saying ignore other signals or advice, but we get these feelings for a reason and I think we need to trust and believe in ourselves more.

Many thanks for having me as a guest Holly – enjoy the fun and games that come with moving house and most of all, enjoy a little break! And thank you decor8 readers for, well, reading! –Belinda x

(images: belinda graham)

Posted in uncategorized on August 11, 2009

Lisa Congdon: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Lisa Congdon

Hello! My name is Lisa Congdon. I am an artist who lives and works in San Francisco. I also co-own a design shop in San Francisco called Rare Device. I write a little blog with my puppy Wilfredo called The Adventures of Lisa and Wilfredo. I’m super excited to chat with you today about my apartment while Holly is moving as part of her  guest series, “A few of my favorite things.” Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things in my apartment!

Lisa Congdon

I collect vintage Japanese and Scandinavian kitchenware. I love how colorful it is. This shelf sits next to a window in my kitchen, and I love the way the light makes everything on the shelf so bright. It cheers me up every time I walk into my kitchen!

Lisa Congdon

Recently my partner and I redecorated the apartment, and we decided to put shelves in the kitchen to store bulk food in jars. It’s a really great system, because now many of the items we use on a regular basis are labeled and we can see how much of everything we have on hand at a glance. The shelves sit under my plate wall, which is another really bold and cheerful spot in my kitchen.

Lisa Congdon

One of the rooms we changed completely was the bedroom. We painted it blue (it was most recently dark brown!) and have created a really defined color scheme of blue, orange, green, white and black. We really love the light blue background with the bursts of color. It’s bright but also very calming. I think the bedroom is our new favorite room!

Lisa Congdon

I love this little vignette in the bedroom. It features work by some of my favorite artists: Caitlin Keegan, Something’s Hiding in Here and Lorena Siminovich.

Lisa Congdon

This is the top of my dresser in the bedroom. It is an assemblage of some of my favorite things by more of my favorite artists: Something’s Hiding in Here (again!), Diana Fayt, Sara Paloma, Marina Luz, Chris Bettig and my sister Stephanie Congdon Barnes. It also includes my favorite photo of my partner and me, taken on my birthday this past January. I think it’s important to have peaceful things by your bedside.

I draw most of my inspiration for decorating from observing and working with color. My artwork is also very colorful, so it’s obviously an element that captivates me. Our apartment has very little natural light, since we are on the first floor of the building and are sandwiched between two other apartment buildings. As a result, I’ve had to create the illusion of a light, airy space with color choices. It’s been a really fantastic challenge.

I really enjoy creating vignettes in my apartment with objects and art. I think I have been doing this since I was a kid (I remember arranging and rearranging my room almost monthly as a little girl). I remember reading somewhere years ago that it is important to cluster like objects together when creating vignettes on shelves or other surfaces so that they look cohesive. For example, you choose one likeness: like in form, like in color(s), like in concept, etc, and then make your arrangement, varying items by height.

Thank you for joining me in my kitchen and bedroom! I hope you have enjoyed your visit. – Lisa

(images: Lisa Congdon)

Posted in Home Tours on August 11, 2009

Hello Friends (and e-class info)

Hi everyone! Just checking in to let you know I’m still here — reading comments, publishing posts from guest writers, and of course enjoying the beautiful weather in green and sunny Germany! I am soooo in love with my new life here – everything feels so fresh and new to me now that I know I won’t be going back and forth living between here and America. Though that was fun for the last 5 years, I really want to “nest” a little by staying one place for a longer period of time so I can really learn about life and culture here instead of always feeling like I’m just passing through. I am finally able to do all of the little things I couldn’t before living a bi-continental lifestyle — like getting a normal handy contract (cell phone plan), joining a health spa, subscribing to my favorite magazines, little things like that. It feels good to be a bit more stable in a single location. Plus now, I can start racking up enough time so that I can eventually obtain dual citizenship – to be both an American citizen and European Union citizen is something I can actually do at some point now that I live here. Yay!

Catching up on mag reading

Oh and I want to also let some of you know, since I told you that I’d announce this on August 10th (I am a day late, my apologies), that I will be teaching another Blogging Your Way e-class! Yay! I’m so excited and look forward to the next class very much. It won’t be a Part 2 of the first one, rather a whole new “intro” class just like the April one with podcasts and a forum just as before. I was thinking of having it this Autumn, but given that it’s already August 11 and I have so much to do here over the next few months, I wouldn’t be able to do it until November and I fear that’s a bit too close to the holidays and I really want all of my students to feel like they can sit back and enjoy the class vs. rushing through it in order to prepare for the holidays. My vote is for January, a great way to begin the new year. Is this good for you? I’ll start the enrollment process on Tuesday, December 1st. You can visit decor8 on that date to find a link to the site where you can enroll and pay for class via Paypal. The class will begin in January and will run for six weeks, start date will be announced here on decor8 December 1st so stay tuned. I’m so excited to be teaching soon again, I LOVED my students in April — what an amazing bunch. :)

So… I’m signing off but my guests will be here all day to hang out with you — Etsy Take Five Tuesdays will be replaced with an alternate indie shop spotlight to mix things up a bit and I have some more Favorite Things to share with you from other lovely bloggers so stick around today — there’s lots in store. :)

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in uncategorized on August 11, 2009

Sandra Juto: My Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Sanda Juto

Hi, I’m Sandra and I’m visiting while Holly is moving as part of her guest series and these are a few of my favorite things in my apartment here in Sweden.

Sandra Juto

This is what I meet everytime I step into my home, the wall shows some things made by me and my husband and some things made by other artists. The T83 comes from old licence plates which we found in the forest and the T stands for the region my husband was born, 83 was the year. I like the colour of the walls, the rest of our home is painted white.

Sandra Juto

For a month we were wondering why we were sleeping so bad, it was because the legs of the bed has gotten weak, the bed wasn’t so stable anymore. We simply removed the legs and the crate made a perfect bedside table. The sailors are made by my husband Johan and they help us dream about great adventures.

Sandra Juto

At the moment we have fresh lemons from Crete at home, sent to me by a blog reader called Franzi who lives there. It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever got.

Sandra Juto

I love these owls from Gnip, they entertain me everyday in my studio and sometimes I think it’s them who make it so messy here, not me ;)

Sandra Juto

Our sofa is really really small and these two handsome men never want to share it with me, so it’s mostly them sitting there. Sometimes I tell them to leave and wrap myself in the blanket I’ve made of soft alpaca yarn. Makes me happy it is Autumn soon.

I find my biggest inspiration in stories, both in movies and books and especially from people I meet or eavesdropping on the tram, at cafés etc. I watch the whole Twin Peaks series about one time a year, it’s so filled with great moods, pictures and music.

When feeling uninspired I take out my camera for a walk, drink sparkling wine, daydream.

A favourite advice comes from my mother ‘Be mindful and don’t value’, I love it because it shows how much she cares and it has helped me to realize I can see things without searching for an opinion about them. This has helped me away from many of my negative thoughts and to appreciate the moment I’m in without hurrying to the next step.

Thank you Holly for including me in your “A few of my favourite things” series, wish you the best of luck moving! – Sandra

(photographs: Sandra Juto)

Posted in uncategorized on August 10, 2009


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