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House Beautiful + Expat Thoughts On Decorating

There are some lovely rooms to be inspired by over at House Beautiful, do you visit them regularly online? Reading magazine websites really help to keep you plugged in to the world of design and decorating — no matter where I live I always feel like I know what’s going on in America which is great because that’s where I’m from.

House Beautiful

It’s a nice feeling to have such resources at our fingertips, don’t you think? I’m an expat and now more than ever before I see the value in reading magazines online that I once could find at the local newsstand. It has been a huge source of comfort at times when I wonder what’s happening or what’s new — I just go online to sites like House Beautiful and feel instantly plugged in.

If you are also an expat, you must find this super helpful to you, too. I often think about what it was like many years ago before planes and the internet when people left their homeland on a boat and traveled many miles over the sea to a new country — I can’t imagine what being a foreigner was like back during such times! Once you left your country back then, you were truly cut off and could only carry your home in your heart and then, try to recreate it a bit in your new surroundings. Even in the 80s and early 90s before the internet really took off — how did foreigners cope I wonder? I think it took a lot more gumption to make a success of yourself  as an expat back then – much more than now even – don’t you?

House Beautiful

Many of my friends in the states admire me for selling most of my belongings and moving to Europe, but I don’t think I’m that courageous at all – I have it easy with the internet, international shipping, i-Tunes (for TV shows), DVDs so I never miss the films I long to see, cheap flights, cheap long distance (or skype), fast snail mail (I get most letters from the states within 3 days – when I was dating my husband writing him letters by hand back in 1999 it took around 10 days for them to arrive in Germany from Boston), I personally don’t feel like moving took much courage at all. When my family came over on boats through Boston back in the day arriving from Europe, that took way more strength than my move to Germany.

House Beautiful

These photos are so nice to look at, aren’t they? One thing I notice since moving to northern Germany over a year ago is how very American things look to me suddenly! I never noticed or really thought about how American design looked to those in other parts of the world but living abroad has really given me an alternate view and that is something that I cherish immensely. When I see certain styles, whether it be in fashion, interiors, product packaging, trends… I immediately can tell whether or not it originated in the states. House Beautiful reminds me of the differences between decorating trends and styles in Europe and those sought after in the U.S. and it is quite fascinating to consider.

House Beautiful

If you are an expat, can you comment on what differences you see in design/decorating in your new country vs. your home country? I’d love to hear your thoughts, no matter where you live in the world – it’s a fascinating topic I think!

(images: house beautiful magazine)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on September 23, 2010

Mamau Illustrations

Sara Olmos is a graphic designer in Rome who is currently exploring illustration as an alternate means of communicating her vision of the world. She sells her sweet drawings in her etsy shop, Mamau, if you’d like to take a peek at her work today…


Her current series of illustrations, le petit monde, or Little World — is inhabited by characters who interact with objects that are drawn out of scale in order for them to explore new meanings and relationships with these everyday, ordinary things. Giant cupcakes, larger than life dandelions, an April shower from your very own showerhead up in the clouds… They would be lovely combined in a whimsical children’s book, don’t you agree? So imaginative!

(images: mamau)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on September 23, 2010

Soraam Pillows & Totes

Soojin Yum is a Korean designer who lives in Seattle where she makes silk-screened pillow covers and totes under the name Soraam (Korean for “Please have a look with a smile”). That is such a sweet shop name, don’t you think? I like the white bow pillows and totes…


“Pillow covers are 18″x18″ and silk screened on pre-washed cotton and have a zipper closure along the bottom edge or some with an envelope closure. Tote bags are made of pre-washed black canvas with kona cotton lining.”

Soojjin wrote such a delightful email to me saying that decor8 has, “So many beautiful designs featured — it has been the biggest source for my inspiration. Now I started my own design business, I’m hoping my work can motivate someone to just start creating something. Starting out was the hardest part.” I thought that was really sincere and so true. Often just getting started, taking that first step, can be terrifying! But I believe that if you have passion, talent and courage that success will follow.

Congratulations Soojin on your exciting new business!

(images: soraam)

Posted in Etsy Faves, Objects on September 23, 2010

Simple Flower Arrangements

I love casual flower arrangements. I don’t feel comfortable fussing with things too much. In fact, the more I fuss the worse things usually look anyway because then my original vision gets lost. I’ve learned to just go with my first instinct and to be happy with what comes the most natural to me. I tend to like flowers in a variety of containers and I enjoying mixing blooms so that there is plenty of texture and color, even if I’m using mostly pink flowers I find that the many tones give such depth and personality to an arrangement.

Constança Cabral

I also like white carnations and find that they get such a bad rap for no reason, a carnation is a feminine flower with lovely ruffled layers. I think the carnation is a tricky bloom though, it doesn’t play well with others and looks best when it’s paired with other carnations and in my opinion, looks best with others the exact color — a carnation can suddenly look so sophisticated bunched together. In addition to flowers, I also love flowering branches in my home and recently I’ve been getting more and more into plants like olive and rosemary topiary trees and succulents. What about you, do you like simple flower arrangements or do you tend to spend a lot of time putting yours together?

Constança Cabral

One lady in blogland, Constança Cabral, does such a nice job arranging casual bunches and displaying them in her home. She just may inspire you — her many lovely photos are shown above. She is from Lisbon but currently living in England where she has an apartment in the countryside with a small garden where she picks most of her lovely stems. Constança makes things by hand and sells them in her etsy shop and she also blogs quite frequently so if you like flowers you will love her blog.

(images: Constança Cabral)

Posted in Decorating Tips on September 22, 2010


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