Decorating Ruts: Stuck In One?

October 26, 2010

I hope it’s okay that I make a confession, me the decorating queen, because I’m a bit embarrassed to say it but I’ve always been a very open person so why not? Plus, I think blogs lose their zest when they become too perfect so I’m about to reveal a great, big issue in my life currently. I Am Stuck.

Decorating Ruts: Stuck In One?

(Working on the floor with a friend, sorting through piles of fabrics, as I decide which to use for the bags that I designed for my students in Morocco.)

I feel creative, ready to execute on all of my work-related projects, empowered to kick start some fresh ideas, and launch a few new treats for your enjoyment next year. When it comes to my job and what I do, I’m pumped and love my life. I couldn’t be happier or more ready to get moving on decor8-related initiatives.

But when it comes to decorating… lately… I don’t know. I feel stuck. I’m not sure why exactly. I moved into this gorgeous, massive flat with all of the most beautiful details and in the eyes of most, I live the dream life in my swank new digs. But sitting here, on the inside of my world, the perspective is different. I feel like I can’t get started. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know where to shop even, I got so pampered and babied in the states with all of my resources and friends and connections there… and now I’m starting from absolute zero with hardly any furniture, no place to store everything in my boxes which are laying all over the freaking place… And I feel frustrated and sorta overwhelmed.

I’m going to work on my house slowly but I cannot work as slowly as would feel the most natural to me as I have a huge magazine that wants to shoot here in January and I don’t even know where to begin to prepare for that. I just want to collect over time, be true to myself, put into action all of the things that I have taught so many of you throughout the years… But I need a giant kick in the butt to just DO IT and I have no real time to do it so I have to throw it together within a few months in order to make the magazine’s deadline. Oh my.

What I plan to do is this —  start working on mood boards and rent a car and see where I can find things for my home. I have a big entry room, living room, dining room, kitchen, office, massive hallway with a nook, two bathrooms, two wintergartens, a balcony, a bedroom, a guest bedroom and my husband has an office (which he is nearly finished decorating and it looks so lovely!). I have 2,200 square feet of HOME to decorate in two months. I think that is what has me frozen – the sheer thought of it. When I go to Istanbul next week, I’m going to bring back treasures for the floors — large, gorgeous rugs — because a good rug is such a great start to decorating a room from scratch.

I have SO many great ideas, so much to accomplish in just a few months (my book publishes in the UK in March and in the U.S. in May!!!) and so many reasons to get this place whipped into shape and so I will march onward, get this place together, and work a little Holly magic. But wow, I sure could use a few of my “safe zones” to shop at over here. I feel really lost but I also feel like I need to pull from within — tap in to my ideas and get my home together already!

And so… I’ve confessed this publicly before the masses to say that well, I’m REAL and I get stuck sometimes too. I can’t wait to share with you how my project here on the homefront turns out. It was hard to sell everything that I spent YEARS collecting to move to a new country realizing that things are not only much more expensive here but a lot harder to source and without a car, I’ve been a bit up a creek. I know, excuses, excuses. We always have plenty of them when we are not doing what we are meant to be doing, don’t we!?

How do you get out of decorating ruts? If you are an expat, how did you build your new home from scratch without resorting to IKEA for everything or mail order (I’m trying to avoid mail order finds because the few things I have ordered via catalogs have been a disappointment). I’ve been shopping local boutiques, but spending hundreds on things that normally would have cost me $30 in a states. Which is another consideration — I need to find great things on somewhat of a budget. Every single sofa I find is in the thousands and I’d like to ideally not go over 2,000 Euros for one. I want to have FUN with this great process of decorating a home in a new country, but without a car and limited time (my schedule has been nuts), I fear boxes will go unpacked for a very long time and I’ll continue to sit on the floor working on my projects as you can see in the image above!

Any advice to share? Any encouragement to lend? Some virtual hugs would be lovely — anyone who settles into life living abroad faces similar challenges and so I know that I am not alone. Even those who have never left their homeland find decorating projects surely induce much stress and often discomfort whether it is budget-related, limited resources, time constraints, etc. I’d love to know how you grin and bear it.

I’m having company this evening so I need to go sort through some boxes and clean up a bit to make my beautiful home presentable. I’m going to light a new candle from L’Occitane that I picked up at a home fair this past Sunday in Hannover, it’s called Candied Fruits and is a scent that one of my first decorating clients tipped me off to back in 2004… Whenever I feel in a decorating rut, I always try to find this candle because it reminds me of Julia and how I transformed her Boston condo into a lovely home during a time when I was so new to design and so anxious to get started. The scent brings me back to her apartment, I always smelled it the moment I entered her home, and for some reason I feel empowered and ready to do stuff whenever I smell it – the pressure just rolls off my back and I get into my Holly zone. Do you have a scent that does that? If not, get one. It’s crazy helpful.

You know, just putting my feelings out there — unedited — felt really great. I already want to get decorating — and go forth with some of my ideas. And so there is the result of a natural, no-BS post — I feel encouraged, no doubt you feel like someone gets you as I’m guessing you’ve been “there” before, and now we’ll all feel a bit more invigorated to stop whining and start making our magic at home. I so love you guys.:*

(image: holly becker for decor8)


  • Reply Emma MT October 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I think you are being really hard on yourself and you shouldn’t be. Two months is a long time and you can accomplish loads in that time. Just start is what I would say. Break up the whole project into bite size pieces and get going. You know you can do it. AND (that’s a BIG and!) if you don’t like what you end up with then you can always re-style, re-decorate and re-organise until you do. You’re whole world has just changed continents. Give yourself a chance to shine!

  • Reply Tamara October 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Some of my favourite interior items were bought on the spur of the moment at an auction house estate sale. They have character (that is, they are not new), weren’t expensive, and I didn’t over-analyse whether they would ‘fit in’ to my decor because they oozed the style I was aiming for. Some auction houses have great online catalogues so you can get an idea whether the items they will auction are to your taste and worth attending in person.
    Of course your major challenge is not just to decorate a house, but to create a ‘home’, and I don’t think that process can be rushed. Good luck with your search.

  • Reply picciolo October 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Holly, I hope you become unstuck very soon! Maybe if you try and put the photo shoot at the back of your mind it might take some of the pressure off – I’m guessing you will be aiming to make your home right for the two of you first and foremost. Your new place looks amazing!
    : )

  • Reply Melissa Buchanan October 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Decorating advice (for you) I don’t have. Virtual hugs – got them a-plenty. :)
    Oh – and have you been for a walk today (weather and time permitting)? I’m always amazed at how even a quick walk can clear my thinking.
    *hugs* (again)

  • Reply sidsel October 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    All is well Holly. Maybe you just need some more time in your new home before you can decorate it. Time to feel the rooms – getting to know the light and sounds etc. Seems like you had a busy schedule lately – so just relax a little – and hopefully someone local will share some secret second hand places with you for furniture and stuff. Moodboards sound like a great plan too. It will be lovely – enjoy the ride and relax!

  • Reply karina October 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I am not an ex pat but here in Buenos Aires we do not have Ikea and it is very difficult to get medium quality pieces at good prices,there are very nice things but very expensive or horrible quality not so cheap things.
    We moved past week, the home is huge (7000 square feet) and almost empty.
    I bought a few expensive things, I am having other things made,and I am visiting flea markets,but I think I would finish in 6 month.
    Today I have an appointment with a carpenter (wish me luck) and while I wait for him I will was the table I got at the flea market last week.
    I have to admit I pray for a Ikea store in Buenos Aires almost everyday.

  • Reply Wil October 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I totally understand how you feel, Holly, but just know what you have the eye, talent and conviction in your design-related decisions to make your new place shine. I say: imbrace your ‘decoration rut’ full on and enjoy the surprises it might bring to the decor of your new place.

    P.S. A big virtual hug from the UK! xo

    • Reply decor8 October 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm

      @will – love ya, man. you bring such magic. xo

  • Reply Janina Lear October 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Hey Holly
    Here is a big massive cyber hug from Australia.
    You know what they say, break it down to smaller pieces, think of one room at a time. I am moving in 3 weeks to a bigger place and really want to change my style to the new and improved me so have a lot whirring around my head. I am sure we will both get there.

  • Reply Leanne Ambrogio October 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Holly – I know exactly that feeling – we moved into our new home exactly one year ago and I still am not finished with the decorating – I was determined this time to not just buy everything quickly but to take it slow and work one room at a time – I am getting there and feel so much more comfortable with what I have purchased as it was not done too quickly – I would not worry too much about the magazine as you know how clever they are at making the most of what is there – some great rugs from Istanbul and carefully placed favorite pieces you have already collected – take that pressure off and think of your magazine article as the first of a work in progress and you will be surprised at what you will find when you least expect it – no doubt the magazine will be back and it will be exciting that you will have something new to show. Leanne x

  • Reply Ellen McHale October 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Holly – Do I ever know how you feel. When we moved to London from the States – I felt exactly the same. I lost my confidence about decorating, entertaining and cooking – the metric system alone is enough to throw you off! I did learn to make a list each day and complete each task. Portobello Road became my destination for decor and before I knew it I was hosting great dinners again. The real kicker came when we moved back to the States – ugggh I had to re-learn everything all over again. You’ll be great and your flat will be gorgeous because you have a deadline and we all need deadlines!
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Reply laura trevey October 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    We have all been there many times… Take a break from it and re-charge your energy!

  • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode October 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Is it possible to find some “thrift” stores or do they not exist there? Becuase surely then you could find fabulous pieces and have them recovered to your specs, without spending a fortune . . . but maybe things don’t work that way in Germany.

  • Reply Frau Mayer October 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I wish I could really understand what you’re talking about, Holly. You have so many people around you who are into decorating, know all kinds of secret locations and so on. There are even readers eager to share their (especially cheap) contractors with you ;) There’s eBay, we have awesome flea markets, any catalog disappointment can immediately be sent back and a box phase only takes so long…
    I guess it’s about getting started, then. I’d start with the kitchen.

    p.s. Hope you got yourself some rug in Morocco, they’re freaking expensive in Turkey and somehow completely different, Moroccan ones just seem to be much nicer – but that’s a subjective impression, of course.

  • Reply petallica October 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    I understand the problem, being an expat in germany I often feel that there is a lot missing in the middle of the market for fresh furniture. There’s Ikea and then there is a jump to designer goods. In the middle, well,… boring and overpriced.
    The flea market, ebay and second hand shops are a good start because big spaces need objects with character (that don’t cost a million euros).
    We’ve had some luck with furniture from the showroom floor, the look with a more reasonable price, some shops even specialise in this.
    I’d start with the lounge. It makes a big difference when you can relax with friends in a room you love. Think Advent Sundays…

    Here’s one you probably know, but is always good when you can stretch the budget a little: http://www.magazin.com/home.html

    I’m sure when you unpack there”ll be some great inspiration in those boxes…

    Good luck!

  • Reply Anke October 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I think it makes sense that you’re stuck! It’s a huge project, there are big choices to make, and of course you want it to be perfect (as in be happy with all your choices).
    Is there a way to use all the furniture from your old flat and furnish it temporarily and then just slowly go from there? I know your bedroom already looked amazing.
    If the magazine is stressing you out, maybe they can agree to postpone the shooting? On the other hand – they could shoot your flat as it is then and come back later again when it’s finished?
    There’s no point in stressing over this, it should be fun and a somewhat natural process. In the meantime, it doesn’t have to be perfect! x

  • Reply Abigail Percy@abigail*ryan October 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I know how you feel Holly!

    However, instead of having a huge home to fill – I recently moved to a new city (and new country, really!) and we have been trying to fit two already full homes into one house…! And it’s HARD! We are so overflowing…

    It’s an endless saga of assessing what you don’t want, can’t fit in, what you don’t like (christ, if the other person loves it, ak!?) and a million things in between… not to mention budget, if you’re on one (we are!)…

    Something that’s left me very stuck is lack of antiques centres here – no places I have found yet to source vintage gems and because I am Northern Ireland now, and not on the mainland UK, shipping is a nightmare! Oh how it pains me… ;(

    However, I have just tried to stay calm about the whole thing… it will all come together, and evolve naturally… and a lick of paint can work wonders!

    I know you’re in a rush but if you try and stay in that mindset – and, I think, focus on one place at a time… knowing what the rug is as you say, then working from there and finding perfect cushions, throws, furniture from there and wallcoverings/colours, it’s maybe best to keep that focus and work through one room at a time so you feel a sense of achievement rather than a huge backlog of not finished…

    If all else fails – minimalism rocks… ;) So take comfort in that!

    I know you’ll do great! *virtual hug from me*


  • Reply Suze October 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Dear Holly,
    what a wonderful post. If even you, the author of Decor8, sometimes feel that way too, this somehow makes me feel better on a bad day that is a bad one partly also because I feel definitely overwhelmed myself too by the task of furnishing and decorating our new home. We were hoping to move in next weekend (and sleep on the sofa-bed, as we don’t have the mattress yet, just to give you the idea…) but we’ll need to pospone of at least 1 week I’m afraid…
    What helps me to try and avoid negativity these days about the new home is (sorry for being probably not very original) SMILE and put things in perspective and try not to forget that if the color of the walls in the bathroom is a little bit too pale it’s not a tragedy after all and that I can be perfectly happy (well, for a while at least…) also with a so-so wardrobe, that I truly value more a happy smile on the face of my man for that particular (horrible) piece of furniture he chose than being free of choosing a fabulous one myself alone…

    I also try to persuade myself that sometimes TRYING TOO HARD IS NOT THE BEST WAY (specially if you’re not an interior styling professional…). Sometimes the objects I end up loving the most and I find the most unique are things we buy by impulse or that arrive to our home for random reasons or that anyway apparently have nothing to do with the rest to start with but found their place somehow… I find the idea refreshing when I feel stuck or not sure I made the right decision…

    I understand that in your case it’s very different because decorating your new home is so much connected with your career, but still I think it will be YOU and your loved ones and friends inside the home that will make the real athmosphere, living in it day by day – I really believe it. Don’t you think so? I think we influence our spaces so deeply although it’s subtle, like a scent (and of course viceversa we are influenced by spaces in return). So I guess the best way to have a home I’ll love is BEING A HAPPY PERSON AND INVITE MANY GOOD FRIENDS, isn’t it?

    Finally, when in doubt, my mantra is: choose WHITE and it will be just fine! ;)

    A big hug Holly, and I know, I know you’ll create a beautiful home (and you’ll have a lot of fun in the process too!)

    Ciao from Italy!
    PS: ehi, I still have that little package for you, whenever you want! :)

  • Reply Larissa October 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Holly

    I am Australian and traveled to Norway for a 6 week holiday (3 years ago) with my Norwegian boyfriend (who had lived 8 years in Australia) and we never went home. We bought a 3 bedroom house here a year ago and we literally had only clothes and food items after living in fully furnished apartments.
    We have IKEA here, but I see it as a place for smaller extras, not an entire look and everything here is 10-15 times more expensive than home (not an exaggeration), and reasonably priced, larger stores simply don’t exist. My suggestions:

    Walk: Just like Melissa said, but walk around your town. I find Europe generally has smaller stores and they never look too much from the outside, and they are never conveniently grouped in a mall or single street, and they don’t even tend to have a single focused category of goods, but you will be surprised what you can find on the bottom shelf near the back. The only place I found white contact paper (the adhesive stuff) was actually in a paint store.

    Read: Research home decor blogs from your city. They will be there and definately in English as well if your German isn’t that great, but they will mention great resources and stores that might be a bit out-of-the-way, or somewhere you have never thought to try. I even emailed a blogger from my city to ask her where she bought the drum shade I saw in her dining room, because I couldn’t find a regular shade (the likes of which you can buy anywhere for $10 in Australia). No one ever minds, and they are always willing to help you fit into their world.

    Ask friends and family members. If you see something in a house you like, always ask where it is from. Even if you aren’t going to buy that particular side table now, it might give you a resource for later. Ask with specifics in mind: remeber for locals, all stores are just normal, they will assume you know what they do, so ask specifics: where can i go to a sewing store that will sell interfacing? and ask peoples hobbies and then use that as a guide to get information: You like mosaics? Which tile stores do you frequent, who has the best range? carry a tiny notebook around, it’s amazing what you learn at the pub!

    Second hand… well thrift stores are super expensive in Norway and not worth it, but family hand downs that can be reworked are often great. I believe I read once that your partner is German? Can you chat to family /friends, and see if they have extra shelving, mirrors, desks that can be pimped? Often getting one piece will inspire me for the whole room. I just dug an old glass brewing bottle (about 60cm tall) out of the dirt behind my MIL’s shed… It’s changed my whole idea for the guest room. Another resource which is much bigger than thrift stores here is church and school sales on saturday mornings – ask around the neighbourhood and check out the notice boards in grocery stores.

    Find out the German equivalent of craigslist. Amazon has a .de division and Debenhams in London deliever to europe at reasonable prices. If you visit a great quality store somewhere else, check to see if they have online ordering so you can ditch the hit ‘n’ miss mail orders.

    Empty suitcases… When travelling pack only hand luggage and buy everything you love when you travel. If it is a bigger item, always ask about freight home, most stores will do it in Europe and you might just get an amazing sofa at an ok price, instead of an it-will-do sofa at a high price at home. Take measurements with you – curtains, sofa, tables, rugs..etc.

    And finally, remember that you just aren’t at ‘home’ anymore and it will take time and it actually takes a mind-shift to properly get into your new country. Australia (and sounds like America too) makes it so easy to decorate cheaply and quickly, but Europe is not on the same page. If there is one thing I learnt in these two years, it is that you just have to accept that it is different and slow down.

    This topic is very close to my heart and adapting to a new country isn’t easy at all. When I arrived in Norway, I had never even heard two people speak the language and I had no idea what was waiting for me. Sometimes it is fabulous, but it’s ok to accept that it won’t be all the time, and sometimes it’s just downright annoying, and you just want to skip all the cutesie only-4-lamps-to-choose-from boutiques and go to Target.

    Sending you cyber hugs from someone who knows how hard it can be! Here’s hoping some of my advice hopes you find a new resource to get you inspired! Cheers!

  • Reply caro October 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Holly, I understand how you feel. I often feel the same at work. There is so much stuff in my brain and I cannot find a beginning … When I feel like this, I often try to do something just for me. And if it’s just to drive around in my car, hear my favorite musik as loud as I could and sing like it’s the last time I could do that.
    And here are some german shops (most of it online) – maybe this will help you …
    http://www.luv-hamburg.com/LUV.html (no online-shop, but maybe you’ll visit Hamburg …)

    Holly, I know you are such a creative and talentet person, I know you will do it!

  • Reply Mary October 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I totally know what you’re feeling. I’ve been living in Japan for about 7 years and it was really tough in the beginning. Good stuff here is really expensive! But I’ve found a couple of recycle shops (that’s what they call shops here dealing in secondhand goods) that I visit regularly and I’ve picked up some amazing bargains. Another place to buy great stuff here is the garbage recycling center.They sell the stuff that is too good to burn. You might think that sounds awful but Japanese people throw away the most unbelievable things and many people here are not keen on secondhand stuff, so it’s great for a scavenger like me! I don’t know how you feel about wallpaper(or whether it’s possible in a rental) but one papered wall can be a great point of interest in an otherwise spartan room. Stunning wallpaper is easily ordered online and a quickly doable DIY.
    I have no doubt though that whatever you come up with will be stunning!

  • Reply krySal October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    i’d love to be more of help to you, but ..i dont know how.
    i just want to let you know -you may have already heard/read this a thousand times, but i think its worth repeating .. that You Are an AMAZING blogger & inspiration to me.


  • Reply Mia October 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    If anyone can do it it’s you Holly! :) Virtual hugs from a Swede living in the UK in need of decorating her new home (and all the nice things are back in Sweden!)

  • Reply EJ October 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    When I moved to Manhattan from Europe I was exactly in the same state you are – well, we had no magazine coming in to shoot, but otherwise. No car, exhausted from all that was going on at the time, no idea where to go for furnishings, feeling a lack in the motivation department. Rest, time, and research helped me get our apartment in shape. You won’t have the luxury of time for the magazine shoot, but you have something better: MAD SKILLS! And you already have a battle plan! So I say just do it. You can always change it later, and make it even better. I can’t wait to see what you create!

  • Reply winter October 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I’m with Emma MT perhaps you are being a bit hard on yourself, maybe a little post morroco tired? I ordered a book from your blog one day, Vicente Wolf “Bringing the World Around you into Your home” I read the whole book- I love his process. I recalled one piece from that book that I think highlights your instinct to focus on the rug- one step at a time-from page 93- Form. “The single most important piece that gives the room its Champagne is a huge Kiman Rug, which also ties it all together…The colors change as you see it from different angles in different light. You sense that you are waling on a shallow green and blue pools of shimmering water” Focus on the rug Holly, you are in a terrific position to be in need of a rug and about to go to Istanbul! WOW! Good luck!

  • Reply Sarah October 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Holly, I know how you feel…I lived in the UK and had to do a similar thing, but my advice is to take it slowly, one day at a time instead of the big picture. Take it one room at a time as well…maybe devise a pattern…start with the rug and from there build up. I know its easier said than done, but I too fell stuck sometimes, as everyone does…I feel stuck for blog topics mostly!! But, hang in there, it will ALL get done! ONE DAY AT A TIME…that way you can tackle bits and pieces and check them off the list and feel like you are getting things done (which you are). Good luck!! :)) hope that helps…hugs…

  • Reply debra October 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    you will never loose your touch!

  • Reply Casandra Andrews October 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Holly, I am an artist,I have been there. my suggestions “Art is one’s mental path to ones’ destiny.” Casandra Andrews Art is not only found in a picture. It in style,it is in atmosphere,it is defined in who you are. Who are you? How do you want others to see you? What surroundings make you feel good? What atmosphere do you want to create? You are the creator for your destiny. Think inside the box.Maybe that’s whats happening. Maybe it has been there the whole time. Don’t pressure yourself. People like who you are. Be true to yourself. Put the boxes all in a station. You can’t see the canvas for the clutter. Start with your front door. Go outside, open your door, what do you want to see? How do you want to feel? What is your destiny? Casandra

  • Reply Victoria October 26, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    What a great yet daunting task. It’s always easier to organize and decorate someone else’s home because you don’t have all of the “mental clutter”. Do you have a professional friend you could tap for an afternoon of planning and layout? Sometimes it’s that combination of talking out loud, setting the budget on paper, committing to a time, and actually digging in that can get you going. Best of luck! I can’t wait to see your fabulous results.

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente October 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Oh, Holly….so sorry you are overwhelmed hun. I don’t know how you couldn’t be with all that is going on for you right now! So much great stuff but, also overwhelming for sure. I like will’s advice above….and your plan to start with some beautiful rugs. That & putting your feelings out there will no doubt kick start your process. It WILL get done, no worries hun. I believe in you & your lovely ways. :) A huge hug from New Jersey!

  • Reply Iris October 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Sometimes just a good night sleep can help; things can look pretty different the next day. So please do not worry, just start unpacking, grouping all the things you have stored for so long (even on the floors; you know how decorative several pictures or items leaning against a wall can look) and before you know it, you will have created (at least the beginning of) a home. It does not have to be perfect right away; you have a lifetime to change and make it even better. So….take it step by step and remember we will be right behind you.

  • Reply Nina Lamb October 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I have been following your wonderful blog for a long time and have no doubt you will work your magic on your new home.
    I also live in Germany at the moment and have found it incredibly hard to decorate our place. I have lived in New Zealand for many years and also spent a year in the US. Both countries have a much better range of affordable good second hand furniture (trademe & craigslist). I have yet to find a source for used furniture here in Germany that isn’t complete junk or costs a fortune.
    At the moment I have had to make do with quite a few IKEA pieces but then personalizing everything with unique soft furnishings, art and accessories.
    Best of luck and keep up the amazing work you do.

  • Reply Vanessa October 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    For the first time last year I bought a house and I wanted to be careful not to overload my home with stuff because I finally had a home to spread out in but this can be hard when you collect beautiful things over the years that you just can’t part with. I didn’t have the money to buy anything new so I had to be creative with what I had but I didn’t seem to be able to commit to anything either because it was a house and a big space to re-do if I didn’t like it. I wanted clean lines so I decided to treat my home a little like a museum that had different installments at different times and not committing to anything. I painted my floors white and all the bedrooms a color the kids chose for themselves and made installments that moved until my beautiful things and some new additions found a home and it’s coming along.

  • Reply Bess | English Muffin Shop October 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Holly!

    I just wanted to pop in and say I totally understand what you’re going through!! When my husband and I moved to Vienna Austria 3 1/2 years ago so that he could do his PhD, we had two suitcases each and were living on (at first) his PhD stipend! On top of turning our lives upside down we had to not only decorate but furnish our 1 bedroom apartment. I won’t lie, our place looked like an IKEA catalogue at the beginning, but over time we collected a few of vintage pieces and turned to nature as well for inspiration. We actually re-created a tall grass installation in our living room that we saw at a bookstore in Vienna.

    My only advice would be to embrace the style of your new environment. We lived without knick knacks because, like you said, everything in Europe is so much more expensive. We focused on how we wanted the place to feel and let the structure of our gorgeous turn of the century apartment shine through. Now that we’re back in Canada, I really miss the charm and openness of our flat in Wien…

    I have no doubt you’ll do an amazing job with your new space.
    All the best, xo Bess

  • Reply heidi October 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Your blog always gets me out of my rut and totally inpires me.
    I know what you mean though everyone has their own personal style and as much as you try to tweak it I always find me back in my comfort zone!
    Good luck.

  • Reply Sandra Kuwartowski October 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Here comes a biiiiig hug from Switzerland. I think Janina`s advice to think in small pieces helps. Besides I think Istanbul (this busy lively colourful city) will give you an energy injection. My husband and me bought some nice design furniture pieces for less money because they were on display on fares and reduced. Do you know how we found our sofa? It`s a Artanova sofa and belonged to an interior designer. He moved in with a much younger wife who brought 2 young boys into the family. She didn`t want that grey-white leather sofa anymore and made him sell it. So my husband and I carried out the sofa and my husband was whispering: “If I were him I would have kept the sofa and give that woman away” I had to laugh so hard – I nearly dropped the sofa…

  • Reply Jem October 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    It may sound like the most obvious thing in the world – but one of the great things about the UK is that while the cost of living is high there are so many places to pick up the odd bargain. I’ve found so many beautiful one offs at markets, in charity shops, antique shops, second hand furniture stores and on websites like eBay and Preloved that really haven’t cost me the earth. There is literally nothing like getting on a pair of relatively comfortable shoes and walking around the place in which you live – it’s the best way to find those little shops full of gems and also pick up inspiration on your travels.

    Very best of luck – I’m sure your new place will look fantastic!


  • Reply ilze October 26, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Holly – I hope you feel better already just by sharing your load and all the virtual hugs you got – here’s another one from Korea!
    Take a deep breath and smell that candle (or whatever else you want to smoke – just kiddin’ !) because we all know you will pull it together in the end…but sometimes that anxiety will push you to new limits !
    However – take some time before you rush out to buy… a new house and a new country takes time… the light is different, the way of entertaining in each community, your new routines etc etc..so FEEL the place first..sometimes the greatest ideas simply dont work with the new lifestyle. I just learnt that as I re-did 4 beautiful rooms that I decorated straight after moving in, but it did not suit the practical needs in the new country. In another month you will already know a LOT more and then I am sure your experience will kick in and you can do wonders in weeks !!
    For the magazine shoot – as you know it is impossible to shoot an entire house in one article…so maybe if you can sort of get one or two rooms entirely ready and for the rest just special focused interests where they can do a close-up of say your bathroom containers or your kitchen window or whatever, that would help by not taking the fun out of collecting over time.
    And just one last thing – I have LOADS of IKEA disguised between my other things ..and it is interesting how many people ask me where I got this or that…not ever guessing that it was IKEA. It does still help to just take the edge off of finding everything in tucked away corners of special shops or highly expensive designer items. YOU CAN DO IT !! Hope you got lots in Morocco that will help !!

  • Reply janis - pine cone camp October 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    When I moved to Australia, we lived in my husband’s sister’s home while she was traveling the world. Needless to say, we couldn’t really redecorate her space. When we moved back, it took a long time to get our place feeling like a home. We slowly collected vintage bits and added some new. I have to admit, there was definitely some ikea thrown in. One thing I had to do was stop looking at magazines for a bit. It all got too confusing. I shoot homes for magazines, and that can be difficult too – I always want to renovate after I shoot a really cool space! Good luck with your decorating! I have no doubt it will be fabulous!!!

  • Reply susan g. October 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Heyla Holly! Hugs from the states!
    Sorry to hear that you feel you’re in a rut. That’s always a depressing feeling. My advice is not to worry that much about the photo-shoot in January so much that you rush out to purchase things that you won’t care for later on. Take your time, start with the beautiful rugs that i’m sure you’re going to cart home from Morroco and build from there at your own pace. I’m sure by the time January rolls around and the photo crew invades your space, you’ll have enough backbone there that it’ll look lovely. (your style is extremely minimalist to me, i’m afraid i’m a curiosity cabinet style hoarder). It’ll look great i’m sure!

    On a side note, what is the chartruese polka-dot big cat fabric in the upper left corner of your piles of fabric photo? I Love It!

  • Reply michelle October 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I say you rent yourself a van, drive to Paris, and go on a flea market shopping binge but you’ll have to bring me along because that sounds like too much fun!

  • Reply Ashley Yazzie October 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I’m just climbing out of my inspiration rut myself. Here’s what I did:

    #1 Assess the key pieces you have. (Why do I love the textiles that I own? Or the pieces of furniture/paintings? What visceral reaction do I gain from them?)

    #2 Start looking for inspiration in your books/on line that evoke those same feelings/color palettes that you enjoy.

    #3 Be patient. This goes against our very instincts! But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Buckingham Palace. I remember an issue of Domino where a young man waited to buy amazing pieces that he was over the moon for, rather than assembling furniture right away. He couldn’t find a book case he wanted, so out of necessity he arranged his gobs of books smartly in stacks on the wall. And it looked rad.

    #4 I have had such luck with Craigslist, thrift stores, antique stores, and mingled in a few Ikea pieces.

    Good luck! I know you’ll find your design groove. Because I turn to this blog for my design inspiration!



  • Reply BODIE and FOU October 26, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Holly

    I’m going though the same process than you…A part of me wants to do the house quickly but I have to wait for the structural work in our lounge to be done because it’s gonna affect everything and then once it’s done, I’ll be able to change the doors of our wardrobe in the bedroom, take off the eye-sore carpet, fill in the cracks and paint the stairs in white, hang all my pics..etc Recently I got really stuck with our bedroom…My mum and I made .When my mum was around a few weeks ago, we made a gorgeous, contemporary headboard with grey linen and I really wanted to have a vintage French chandelier in the room to create a striking focus point – but I couldn’t find it in London at the price I would have found it in France should I have time to go there. So now I’m probably going to hang the gorgeous 4-cluster light from Kathleen Hills which you’ve already featured on Decor8.
    The way I slowly got out of my decoration block was to hang a lot of pics from the mags and post atmospheres and rooms I like on the blog…eventually the whole mood sinked in and although not finished, I have now an idea of how it’s gonna look when it’s finished but making it personal takes time. It’s easy to buy new things from Ikea and they have pretty things but it’s important to also our mood and creativity out to end up with a room that will really reflect our personalities rather than a look from a mag

  • Reply Marie October 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Don’t hurry just because some magazines want to shoot (it’s possible to say no) – it’s YOUR home, take the time you need, you have to be happy with what you do :).

  • Reply diana strinati baur October 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    totally embrace the rut. After that, a quick trip north or west of the border might be in order (amsterdam or copenhagen) (or Nice. Nice cures a design block in about three seconds). I have no doubt you will pull this out of the magical Holly hat.

  • Reply Sneeka October 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I love that you’re being honest – it does happen from time to time – the rut. I’m a writer and I find that when I get stuck, it doesn’t help to go over my work or re-think my thesis, etc. – what truly helps me is to get my head out of the problem and go for a walk or read or take a relaxing bath – for as many days as I need to until I get back on track. I return to the things that inspire me such as nature, art, food. Just go and sit in a cafe admiring the colors, sounds and images of the people and the city and it will come.
    Good Luck! :)

  • Reply Erin Foster October 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hi! I’ve been a lurker for a long time but this post made me want to comment. I feel the same way! I have an eclectic taste and I love the look of rooms that have tons of fun nick nacks and a hodgepodge of stuff from everywhere. I am having a housewarming party on Friday and I am feeling the same way as you. I want everything to be ready for the party and perfect but I’m running out of money and, of course, time. I got some words of encouragement from my boyfriend that you might find relevant. He told me to relax and take things slow. Not everything needs to be perfect right away and you can always add more and update later. I think you find stuff that speaks to you and you can’t always rush that. I think the idea of renting a car and looking is a great way to start. I lived in Scotland for a bit so I get where the whole expensive stuff comes from. It cost me like 30 dollars to buy a towel and a washcloth! So, here is my virtual hug and wishes for shopping karma. You obviously have a great eye for design and your house is going to be lovely. Hang in there and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • Reply Cloudy October 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I’m sure you become unstuck soon. Maybe you are just a bit out of focus because you do 100 things at the same time? At least it seems so…
    I’m often unstuck and then I sit still and do almost nothing – for one day. Sleeping, eating, maybe reading or cleaning. Breathing. I don’t think about things that I need to do.
    And suddenly creativity flows.

    Oh, and about this furniture dilemma! Maybe you should do a little diy work on old furniture and go hunting in these kind of stores:

    http://www.stilbruch.info/homepage/index.asp (example for hamburg)
    stores sometimes called “Sozialkaufhäuser”
    example for hannover: http://www.fairkauf-hannover.de/

  • Reply stepahnie October 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    awh, less is more. it will be good. hug- pat pat.

  • Reply melissa October 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    holly, i am in the exact same position. i’ve just moved to a new loft in toronto and i feel like my life is in chaos… well my home. i’ve been living out of boxes and trying to figure out where to start. so far, i’ve only been able to organize my kitchen cupboards.
    i’m working with a total of 770 sqft, and my studio is currently used as box storage. i think we are both just overwhelmed; and being designers i think it’s always hardest to actually design for yourself cause you get to see so much… it’s a fear of commitment :)

    hopefully it will pass soon, as you get a chance to settle down and actually start enjoying your home.
    good luck… keep us posted!

  • Reply Traveling Mama October 26, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I feel kind of like a comment hog because I’m always saying something here, but how can I not tell you that I understand? I mean, I REALLY understand! When our shipments arrived the first weekend of October I nearly panicked! The sheer volume of STUFF and for us, stuffing five people into a chic urban apartment went from sounding so cool to feeling like the boxes were literally sucking every shred of daylight out of the place!

    I had to unpack our boxes because they came smelling like dust, dirt, and pesticide and a few looked like a mouse might have made a visit. Oh, yeah! For the last three weeks I have survived off a small stash of diet dr. pepper, which I drank like chain smoker on a Saturday night!

    I realized after the first couple days that I had expectations that could never have met up with reality and while trying to get rid of stuff by the box load I was trying to figure out what to do with all the artwork we had since there are hardly any walls in our place!

    I know just what you mean about not having access to things. If it’s here then it’s so stinkin’ expensive! And I’m still trying to find simple little things like a lamp that is not a task light… while trying to resist the urge to hurry up and buy it all at IKEA just so it will be over or torture myself by looking at the Target ad and all the lamps for $14.99 or less! LOL!

    BUT I have had time to pull away and realize that I was taking myself way too seriously. Nothing is permanent and less is always fashionable! Our homes will always be evolving and it can all be changed! There is just no way that anything you do will be ugly! LOL!! So, I’m sending some understanding hugs your way! Take a look back at your style files that you have been saving up and enjoy the journey as you have time. It will get done and we will all have one big drool fest when you are ready to share! :-)
    Big hugs from Copenhagen!!

  • Reply Shanon October 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Hugs to you sweetie!
    I think all you need is to just allow yourself to “be.” As simple as it sounds. Things will unfold around you once you take the pressure off yourself. Maybe this is a moment when you are opening up to some style changes, and it will be really neat to see where you go.
    Drink some tea, wrap yourself in the comfort of your new place and it’s lovely emptiness (like a field of fresh snow), and smile.

  • Reply Elizabeth Toel October 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    To start I am new to your blog and enjoying it. I completely empathize with your rut and overwhelmed feeling…it’s a place every creative person visits now and then. I usually take a deep breath – or six – and tell myself that my best will be good enough! Remember you’ve pulled it off before, and you will do it again and be amazed with yourself.

  • Reply Ann October 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    remember…. whatever you do is not forever just for right now. You can change everything if you want. And once you open the door, get one room or one grouping up it will generate more…… what is the corny saying that a marathon begins with just one step… something like that…

  • Reply Cheryl October 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Holly, whatever you manage to accomplish in time will undoubtedly look lovely, but if you cannot manage to have everything “finished” in time, then consider mounds of pillows and lanterns on the floor on top of those lovely rugs you will bring home from your travels. Then, a “work in progress” will look luxurious instead of simply un-done. I have also been much more inspried by creative people being honest and showing their homes as they are, rather than scenes that have been carefully edited and styled for a photograph. I find that the most exciting interiors are the ones that look as though they are still in a process of evolution, slightly unfinished, and bearing the unmistakable mark of their creator. Be true to your gut instinct as you go through this process, and the end result will be just right. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing your journey every step of the way.

  • Reply marie October 26, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I totally second Ilze about the magazine shoot : maybe you don’t have to have your whole appartment finished for the photoshoot.

    I have had a couple of ideas as where to shop for furniture (although I have only been once in Germany, I must say).


    I hope it helps, even though I suppose you have already thought of these two.

  • Reply Dana @ House*Tweaking October 26, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Well, you and I both know that you can do it, so I’m not going to tell you that. {You can do it!} Whoops. I lied. But, seriously, what a great and honest post. Sometimes it’s very difficult to reveal our weaknesses/faults but doing just that is what usually helps us to get past them. I have a feeling you are already feeling clearer in your vision after posting this. Just acknowledging how you feel can be such a relief! So, do what you do best…make some lists and start crossing ’em off. Obviously, your home will probably change in many ways AFTER the magazine shoot so there’s really no need to make it feel ‘finished’ just for your big gig. And, so what?, if a room or two gets untouched? I thoroughly enjoyed your first pics of the new place over on Haus Maus! Good luck, girl.

  • Reply Vicki (simply hue) October 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Oh, how I can ever relate, Holly! We live in a 1918 Craftsman Bungalow and I’ve struggled for so long to get it to a place where it feels like “me”. My husband wants to keep it authentic with solid (massive!) would furniture and earthy colors…and thats so not my taste. I would love to visit our home in a mountain lodge but to live in it day by day can really grate on me after awhile. How’s that for being real? ha, ha. Anyways, I’m trying to bring in more feminine and whimsical touches through textiles, artwork, and photography. Also, I plan on painting the walls and trim white or offwhite and covering our solid wood chairs with white slipcovers. We will definitely have our own unique look! I’ll send you photos when and if we get done, Holly.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with, Holly! I can imagine the pressure you must feel with a magazine coming to photograph in January. If it wasn’t so stressful it would almost be laughable. ;)


  • Reply Fatou October 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Big virtual hugs coming your way. I have no doubt that your new home will be very you and fabulous….just don’t stress about it :-)

  • Reply hawthorne girl October 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    just treat it as if you were the client. i’ve had to do this before too. set deadlines and dates. i also prefer to address one room at a time or else i get too overwhelmed. when you can begin and complete something, it makes it so much easier to move on. good luck! can’t wait to see your new digs.

  • Reply Fiona October 26, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Holly :)

    I know how you feel :( Hugs :) Can I just say you have a great sense of style and I am amazed at how much you seem to do and achieve on an everyday level.

    Creative ruts are easy to get into especially when it becomes difficult to separate personal and professional creativity. I have found over the past few years that my own home environment and creative endeavours have suffered because I want the final thing done NOW! I seem frozen to even begin. I now realise that this comes from harsh deadlines and lack of creative processing time (the majority of the time) from my everyday work as a designer.

    Like Marie said – as great as it is that a magazine wants to shoot your home – I can guarantee they are not thinking about the pressure they are putting you under for you to make sure it’s right. This shoot is what is adding to the pressure – which is natural – you’ve done a book about interiors naturally you want yours to be just a wonderful if not better.

    PUT THE SHOOT OFF! It is possible to say no! Give yourself every opportunity to get it right FOR YOU not the magazine. Believe me they will still want to shoot your space – and you will be much more confident and comfortable knowing the space is a true reflection of you rather than a reflection of what you could get hold of in a short amount of time. (I personally do not think this will be the case – but we are our own worse critic, and this comment comes from how I would feel about the situation)
    Like everything you do – you need to be happy with it :)

    Do what is right for you. Whatever you decide it will be great! And it will be great because you did it!

    Be kind to yourself.
    Be happy. Have fun!
    Fi :x

  • Reply Nat October 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I’m in the same place, if you take out of the equation years of interior design experience and a magazine shoot deadline :P
    new house, HUGE, no furniture, fulltime job + 16 month old. And a BUDGET. And I live in Canada of all places, where there are NO PLACES TO SHOP :)
    I would say, set your priorities – which rooms are the most important, which functions are the most important, what to paint the walls (if you need to), what fabric to choose for curtains…. you see what I mean. Make a list, prioritize your spaces, take stock of what you already have. Make a mood board.
    But you already know all this :) just start doing SOMETHING, and the energy and enthusiasm will come.

  • Reply Diane October 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm


    I would recommend a few things:

    1) Give yourself a little time in the space so that you can start to “feel” what might fit/ work in there style wise

    2) Go back to your blogs, design magazines, books (if you have access) to get your ideas going..

    3) Is there any other expats who are leaving and need to unload their furniture etc? You might be able to get some bargain prices!

  • Reply Bobbi October 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I think it’s good to be real on your blog; it does make it more interesting. As far as your decorating goes, I’m thinking of the picture you posted recently of your new bedroom that you insisted you hadn’t begun to decorate yet. It already looked gorgeous to me, so I think you’ll do just fine on the rest of your house. I can imagine how overwhelming it would feel though. I really like the idea of a scent that connects you to a time when you felt empowered; I’m going to have to give that one some thought. Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply Bindi October 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    So now we know that Holly is a living, breathing, creative-being and not a robot who’s awesome at her job. :) Thank you for your honesty – because we don’t taste the success as acutely if we don’t have a few lows. I think the travel will be the best for you – new inspiration, outside of the expectations of the house.
    And then when you come home, just think about one room at a time (of course if you see things that are perfect for another one get it). That’s what I do as a mum and the endless renovations and cleaning.. just one thing at a time! Otherwise you get too overwhelmed.
    All the best Holly – you’ll get there (not so that we will be impressed, but that you will feel happy in your own home!)

  • Reply Thea S October 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Holly, I moved into a new place this year so can relate (although I’m no expert). You may not like what I suggest but personally, I think you should cancel the photo shoot. It’s creating too much pressure for you. I too, like to take my time to find just the right pieces and the deadline is probably just adding to your procrastination perhaps? Are you thinking of pleasing them or yourself? When you have the home that you have created with your flare, without pressure, you will have plenty of time and offers to show something you are proud of. Ok, I will shut up now…

  • Reply Wiebke October 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Dear Holly,

    maybe that’s the only negative aspect of being the decorating queen. Everyone else here knows what to do, when they just can’t find a single idea in their head: Visit decor8, scroll through the inspiring posts and soak up the inspiration from all the beautiful pictures. I really hope that you’re aware of how much your work and your blog inspires us – the creative people – every single day. (I have to admit, that i’m a decor8-addict for more than two years now and never wrote to you before. But this time I wanted to give something back to you. Especially when you need it this much.)
    So this is my advice for you: spend some time taking a tour through your own blog. Look proudly at what you already achieved. I bet you didn’t do this for a long time, did you? This surely will be as relaxing and mind-opening as a week of vacation. Try it – this will work!
    Love & hugs

  • Reply STYLIZIMO October 26, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I totally understand how you’re feeling, Holly! I moved from Norway to Los Angeles one year ago, and I’m still not familiar with the furniture stores around here. I still want to decorate in my own Scandinavian style, but the style here is so different. I don’t want an Ikea- home either, but if your not loaded with money that’s the only place around here where I can find things I like. I really miss all the stores in Norway – I always knew where to go.
    Flea markets and online stores helps me with the rest of the decoration so it doesn’t totally look like an Ikea home.

    I’m sure you will find great stores in Germany after you have rented a car. Isn’t there anybody local that can help you? Who knows your style well?

    I was so impressed over how talented, strong and creative you are after the BYW Course, so I know you will do this just fine. Just take one thing at a time:)


  • Reply Decor Girl October 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Holly, you aren’t alone. When I moved into my house I was stumped too. There is truth to being too close to something. Fortunately a couple of other designers came over and we tossed out ideas. A fresh perspective is often quite helpful.

    My only answer on the budget it the same one I give clients when they have the same amount of exasperation over what it all costs: rarely does anyone do it all at once. These day’s it isn’t realistic. Besides if you go too quick, you’ll spend $$ on what will turn out to be mistakes. Photo shoots are easy – borrow items for a couple of days.

    Good luck, I like the blog.

  • Reply nicole October 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Everyone feels this way sometimes….I fear the deadline of the magazine shoot has put the pressure on and you will feel the need for it all to be done..to be perfect..but you know what..you can stress that its a work in progress because you do have to be true to yourself. What ever you do will look great and they can go with the whole just moved countries angle…and I’m sure you will be featuring in lots of mags in the future and the place will evolve each time.
    We all know who you are so don’t be pressured to create what you think people will expect.

  • Reply Sarah October 27, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I’m still in a rut from only moving 2 suburbs! And that was 3 years ago! I think if you focus on the ‘you’ in style and decorate as opposed to the ‘you’ you want to seen printed in the magazine it would take a lot of the pressure away and you’ll be able to see clearer.

    Thank you for your honesty!

    Virtual hugs all the way!

  • Reply Tamar October 27, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Dearest Holly,
    As you can see from all the virtual hugs and emails we all love you and can really identify with what you are going through, I think that you need to live in a house a little before you start decorating, it took us a year to decorate our house and we are far from finished, as my business grows I am now able to slowly purchase nicer things and move away from furnishings I don’t love, It’s great being able to decorate slowly this time.
    I suggest you just start with one room, keep it simple and fresh as you know well how to do, don’t get overwhelmed, and maybe you can ask the major magazine to give you more time? from my experience that too might be causing a lot of pressure…
    big hug

  • Reply Peggy Louise October 27, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Don’t just stand there, do nothing! Take a deep breath; step back; relax. Then, let your focus be on slow design. You know this is the way to go, and you know that doing so will create the most wonderful inventive interior. Cancel the photo shoot, or change its general theme to something like living a gorgeous life amidst still-unpacked items. I think that once you remove pressure from yourself you may feel creative again. Even if you don’t feel fresh design ideas bubbling up between now and the shoot, it really doesn’t matter in the long run.

  • Reply Gillian October 27, 2010 at 1:40 am

    What’s the rush? Live with space.

    You’ll get going when you discover your new city. Decorating for decorating’s sake can be contrived. Do it when you feel like it. Otherwise you might end up with something that looks good but does not have your heart.

    Don’t panic, it will come. Really, look how good you are at it. Relax.

    : )

  • Reply petite capucine October 27, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Cancel the photo shoot! The photo shoot is the problem!

    But such a tempting challenge, too, I would be tempted too…

    You’re going to be a better pro than us, but personally, when we were faced with pulling our house together earlier this year, we put a moratorium on any deco sites or mags, gathered all our tear sheets into a single directory on Dropbox, and my man picked his favorites out of MY edited favorites. And then we could get down to nuts-and-bolts.

    1. Find corner couch with a white slipcover for less than $500.

    2. Find a Best-lite knockoff wall sconce.

    3. Etc….

    It sent me back out to the endless internet to find specific photo examples of, say, yellow in a living room, but it was a pointed search!

    Doing it on a budget is the slow part, in my opinion. And you can’t have all soul, fast, but you’ll have many beloved pieces already, right?

    If your style is evolving, you might have the moment to take a deep breath and buy that risky thing you’ve been attracted to. Or perhaps rushing it will divert you from being able to lie fallow a while and let the new direction develop…

    Anyway, I vote for canceling the shoot!

  • Reply Megam October 27, 2010 at 2:53 am

    I love your blog and find inspiration from it all the time! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share. I think it shows such a generous spirit since we will most likely never meet.

    I don’t know where you live so I can’t be of any specific help except that this magazine deadline seems so soon and so broad. Need it be your entire home? Could it be just a living room, bedroom? Office and kitchen?

    Warmly, Megan

  • Reply Brigitte October 27, 2010 at 3:13 am


  • Reply karina October 27, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Well, you just sounded like me. I use to live in a 2600 sq ft. ranch style house in Florida and then moved to Pittsburgh. Finally we bought a house (2700 sq ft) Victorian row house with three floors. I felt stuck the first month with lots of boxes and so many things from my previous home, that it was hard for me to get started. I know that feeling.
    Now, after 2 1/2 months, I think I am almost done. I am currently working on the third floor (my craft room).
    More than furniture, everything is in accesories and creating focal points in a room. For instance, my living room is quite small compared to the one in Florida. I only have a sofa, a chair and otoman as furniture with a queen ann coffee table and side tables. However, the focal point is the beautiful fireplace.
    I believe that you can make it. Your house will be ready for the January shooting. Just repeat to yourself, I can do this in two months, and you will!

  • Reply erin October 27, 2010 at 4:45 am

    Holly, I’m sure whatever you come up with will be great!

    I thought I had my place all planned out. Then I moved into it. I quickly realized that what I had planned did NOT fit in with how my house felt to me. Maybe you just need to live with in your new (beautiful!) home a little longer? I was really glad that I waited a month before doing anything in our house. I know you are up against time. But I still think you should wait a bit.

    And I think another problem is that when you are IN the biz, you feel like the bar is set so high and that everything needs to be perfect…which results in over thinking EVERYTHING! So I hope you don’t feel this way…it’s a hard rut to get out of.

    Most importantly- I really think you should sift through your inspiration files. There has to be a handful of photos that you are drawn to time and time again. What is it about them? If nothing else, at least you can get your style and color choices narrowed.

    Good luck!

  • Reply JEN RAMOS October 27, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Hey Holly….Im somewhat in a similar position…with boxes all over the place. But I managed to get my living room set up (for the most part) & my bedroom!
    Have all my lighting hung up (its the first thing we did)…huge difference.
    Having contractors over to build some shelving for my closet (shoes) & then for all my books and mags in my office space…

    Id say take it one room at a time…and it will get done… :)))
    Good luck!

  • Reply christine October 27, 2010 at 6:31 am

    small steps…
    * start with the rooms that have the “most character” (ie the rooms that you want to highlight)
    * rugs or artwork is a good starting place
    * sit with a cup of tea & ponder the contents of the boxes you have on your floor
    * don’t think about the function of an item but “where & how” you want to appreciate it, see it, use it
    thank you for letting us help you ponder your situation…. you will be able to pull together some amazing spaces!

  • Reply Peggy Louise October 27, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Don’t just stand there, do nothing! Take a deep breath; step back; relax. Let your new home evolve organically, thoughtfully, slowly. Intuitively you know this is the way to go, and you know that doing so will create the wonderful space perfect for you and your husband. Cancel the photo shoot, or change its general theme to something like living a gorgeous life amidst still-unpacked items! It’s ironic, but I think that once you remove pressure from yourself you may feel creative again. And if not, so what? Be fabulous anyway!

  • Reply Renay October 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Just before we decided to move (it was an all of a sudden thought and we did it 2 weeks later) I got my hands on an upholstry sample book. The samples were so pretty that I decided I wanted to make my first ever quilt with them and began the project (on the spot!) When I finished the quilt I decided to make it into a duvet for our futon….then we moved and I realized I needed to decorate a huge house….so I took all of my inspiration from that quilted duvet! The entire living room/entry of the house is now gorgeously decorated around that one quilt made from a sample book I just happened to be lucky enough to get. That’s usually how it happens with me though – spontanious triggers! Feel free to look if you like…I posted pictures of the living room today on my blog. Good luck!

  • Reply Marie October 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Holly I felt exactly the same when I moved to Sydney from the UK. Especially because it was only temporary. I felt torn between making the place feel like home and trying to be thrifty. In the end I just “made good” with eBay; junk shop and Ikea finds. I received some lovely comments about my apartment {and was overwhelmed when you featured it} but to me it never felt quite right. It’s only now that I’m doing the reverse, pulling it apart; selling off my furniture ready to pack up and head back to the Uk, that I realize how much like home it actually did feel and that half the fun of creating my new home was not having a clue where to shop, making do, transforming Ikea buys and discovering new stores. We all loose our styling mojo sometimes, especially when you’re “living your work” but it will come back and be even more sparkly than ever!
    (oh and don’t worry about the magazine shoot – there is a little bit of trickery that goes on behind every magazine shoot so if it isn’t quite finished – knowone will ever know!)

    • Reply decor8 October 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

      @Marie – Funny you say that, I attended a magazine shoot a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe all of the stuff that was brought in/moved around. It was pretty funny to observe!

  • Reply Susan October 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Hi! First of all, I understand. When we moved into our apartment in August, we didn’t have all of the furniture we needed for the space, and I felt so unsettled until we had everything. What made that feeling go on “forever” was that we were on a tight budget, so I kept on trolling online Craigslist-type sites for the things we needed. And honestly, they were a godsend. We got a GREAT table and chairs for a fraction of the price it would have cost new, and it’s in great shape. We also got a sofa that there’s no way we could have afforded new in the store – again, it was almost new. So is there a site you can look for couches? Even if you found a frame you like and got it recovered, I’m sure that would be less expensive than buying new.
    Also, another tip that helped – one thing at a time. One room at a time. When I was trying to focus on unpacking/funishing the living-room/dining room/bedrooms – I immediately got overwhelmed and did nothing, except curl into a ball in my bedroom : ).
    Good luck!

  • Reply Pam October 27, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Hi Holly,
    I’ve lurked for a while, but wanted to add my two cents. I’m an expat, too, in Italy. So I completely get your dilemma (though without the time crunch). Have you been to the big antique markets in Metz, France or Tongren, Belgium. I don’t know where in Germany you are, but I lived in Stuttgart for a few years and went to Metz several times. It’s a big endeavor, but if you can rent (or borrow!) a van and get there, you often can find great pieces for very reasonable prices — it’s been a while (10 years), but I’m guessing it’s still as big or bigger than when I went. Sometimes you can get a vendor to deliver . . . but that’s pricey. Some friends and I went in on it and had all our goods delivered once (due to last minute large purchases by three women). I believe it’s the first and third Saturdays of the month. Tongren is good, too. I’m making a trip to one of Italy’s big ones in Arezzo next month. I am also a devoted follower of the markets in my area. For sofas, I’m a big fan of thrift stores, followed by a trip to the upholsterer. I remember there being a really great Red Cross thrift store in Stuttgart. I’m sitting on one of a wonderful pair of Danish chairs we got there right now. Have you checked them out in your area?
    I think it’s important to do those mood boards in a portable binder or folder — take them with you when you do shopping outings. And remember to have all your measurements with you — height of window sills, width between doors, etc. Write all that down so you don’t have to wonder, “will that fit?” when you find the piece that you think is perfect.
    Viel Glück! Pam

  • Reply Gabi October 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Hi Holly,

    First of all, a very big hug from Munich!
    I also understand yor feelings.. Maybe it is because you waited soo long for this place and now you just want to make the best of it and get stuck with so many decisions to be taken… From Brazil to Ireland to Germany I totally share your frustration to get things you would get much cheaper at home. Or even get them at all.. There are so many things I could get in Brazil that are not even available here. But at the same time, there are many things I can get here I could never get in Brazil… so this is the way life is.
    We already have a bonus, that we could see and enjoy all these things and that they are a plus on our imagination and inspirations. So try not to be hard to yourself… you will make your home look great – for sure.
    Loads of people come here everyday to get your inspiration and your words so – no – you are not misunderstood, you are great. And human. And you need time like everyone else.
    6 Months ago you wouldn’t even have this apartment and now you just have the best place ever. So think about that.
    The question is, do you really need to get this done for this magazine? I have to say it is a very mean situation, because you should be enjoying it right now and not feeling pressure over your shoulders. Can’t you renegotiate the deadline? I think you need time on your place, it is hard to start when you have so many possibilities… If you can afford, take this time and not rush it. It will be worth it.
    Good luck!

  • Reply Solveig Grøvle October 27, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Oh – I DO know how you feel!

    Maybe it is because you feel a little pressure with the big magazine coming in?

    I just experienced the same problem, and desided to just go for it. When I started to act on my instincts – it all fell into place – and brought out the “real” decorator in me – not just the “i’ve seen this done, so I want it for myself”.

    You are a decorating GURU – I’m sending you some mo – jo!

  • Reply Monica October 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

    The photo shoot in January does sound a little ominous , but there is nothing like a little challenge. :) Personally, I work best with a deadline. I am sure with a few key pieces and what you already own you can work your magic. Happy shopping.

  • Reply Wendy Makebelieve October 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I completely identify with you… I have just moved into the most beautiful flat, that was built in 1938, and it is filled with character…and a whole lot more space than I am used to. I am stuck in a rutt with what to do in the bedroom, which has lots to do with decor disagreements between my partner and me. I also have the most wonderful sunroom, that is sitting empty until I can decide how to proceed…

    I know this phase will pass, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    All the best, look forward to seeing pictures x

  • Reply Petra :-) October 27, 2010 at 11:58 am

    …just start….it takes time to feel the home, the rooms…watching the daylight situation….and start with the furniture and things you have….piece by piece everything is coming together, for sure…I believe that the style of a home is growing with the years, I know people who making the entire interior for a home within a few days after moving in and it is finished….I am not able doing this…I am still living in a kind of creative construction place…since 10 years…

    I never had much money in the past for buying furniture or decorating my home…but my parents teached me since I was a little girl making the best with what I already have ;-) most of the furniture I own like my simple bed I have since I moved out of my familys home…and I still love it.

    everything I have, even if it is less…is inspiring me for something new….

    there are some words I really love:

    “I was worried because I had no silver rings…then I meet someone who had no fingers….”

    (tuareg poem)

    it makes me feeling happy with what I have and not worried about what I not have or wish to have… ;-)

  • Reply ana October 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I totally understand what you’re going through. For you it’s not just decorate your place is the responsability & the pressure of decorating “Holly’s house” the decorator guru from decor8.

    My suggestion would be to start to unpack those boxes & try to put some things in place, like kitchen utensils, dishes etc, because that is the easy part. After that the mood boards could be the best help you can get because I imagine that your head should be full of ideas.

    Finally I have the feelling that a house is an alive place that changes all the time. It’s a never ending project, right?

    all the luck & start doing it :-)


  • Reply anabanana October 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Dear Holly,
    When we don´t know what to do… we should stop, relax and enjoy this wonderfull moment of doubt :)
    Sweet stuck moments are not for all, but just for the brave ones!

  • Reply Imke October 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Dear Holly,

    I know how you feel. I moved to the States (San Francisco Bay Area) from Germany (Hamburg) in 2002 and back to Germany (Berlin) in 2009. It is always tough if you have to start over after you knew your way around before.
    I miss Crate & Barrel, CB2, Westelm, Restoration Hardware and Pottery barn A LOT here in Berlin. Although I must say, my taste has changed a lot during the last year here in Berlin. Berlin has been a big influence, is very hip, stylish, up and coming. Take a train to Berlin (it’s only 1,5 h from Hannover) then go shopping here. They have amazing fleamarkets (e.g. Mauerpark and Arkonaplatz on Sundays, Strasse des 17. Juni Sat. & Sun. http://www.berliner-troedelmarkt.de/). Then you just rent yourself a car here and bring your treasures back to Hannover.
    Good luck. One step at time…

    Ebay is a great source as well.

  • Reply Eva Ricci October 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Holly…so nice to know I’m not the only one who gets stuck with decor.
    You have such great advice from these lovely ladies and wonderful support, I’m sure you will do just fine.
    I love the white feel in your space, I would flow with that and the rest will come…you have such an eye for color and style that I’m sure once your ideas start to flow it will be done in a jiffy.
    One room at a time and one step at a time.


  • Reply Fresh Design Blog October 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    What an honest post! (it’s kind of reassuring to know even experienced decorators can get stuck in ruts!). I’m not surprised the January deadline is daunting, but do they need the whole house ready for then? If there’s any way you can concentrate on getting a couple of rooms perfect, then that would take the pressure off.

    Either way, I’d do it one room at a time – good luck, I’m sure you’ll achieve the look you want and you can always add extra personal touches at a later date.

  • Reply Tania October 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Holly-With so much on your plate I can see where finding the time might get a bit tricky. I did come across one of you old posts and I thought it was a bit fitting and a gentle reminder in your own words about not striving for perfection but for what feels right to you. I hope it helps. :)


    be well,

  • Reply Natalie October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Holly- I felt the same pressure- I am a designer and felt as if I needed to perform miracles on my first blank canvas un-rented home!
    After panicking a lot, once I started painting the whole house white- gradually my confidence has grown and the house… if I might say so myself, is looking pretty good! Colour palettes have grown from finding things I like such as curtains, sofas etc rather than forcing a trend.
    So after flicking through my years of collected interior mags, blog research etc etc, I just did my thing- I’m sure you will too and get it all spot on!
    Good Luck, it’ll look gorgeous!

  • Reply shereen October 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    A little trick that I use when I am stuck in a rut…

    Usually this happens for me with make-up (being a part-time make-up artist sometimes I find I do everyones face the same and mine too after a while). When this happens I book myself a little consult with one of my local make-up artists either at a MAC counter or Sephora and get inspired! I let them try all kinds of new looks on me, and when we are all done I am inspired, I’ve learned a new trick, and I feel refreshed! Not sure if this is something you’d want to do with a local decorator, but it’s how I get out of my ruts :)

  • Reply Douglas (Watkins) October 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    It sounds like you need a break

  • Reply claire October 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    hi holly, i don’t know how practical it is, but have you considered researching french or belgian or english flea markets? here is a super list of markets in england – http://www.iacf.co.uk and in particular http://www.iacf.co.uk/shepton-mallet/. i’m an expat living in london and am a week away from completed renovations and have had great success at flea markets.

    (ps you may overwhelmed from the saturation of material you go through? too many choices send me loopy!) if you ever need a place to stay in london, please don’t hesitate to call on me. best wishes, claire

  • Reply Maeve October 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    When I am stuck I like to find a piece of artwork, rug, wallpaper pattern, that I absolutely love, then use it as the inspiration for everything.
    Good luck!

  • Reply heavenwildfleur October 28, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Holly, you’re one of the most amazingly talented decorators out there and you’ve inspired so many of us to reach into our creative souls and find things that speak to us. I’m sure once you get started, you’ll be overwhelmed by a tsunami of inspiration and creativity! Guess the problem is how to start :) especially with so much possibilities and space. Sometimes too much choice can be daunting. When I first moved countries, I was thrilled but also overwhelmed as it was the first time I could actually decorate my own place! But slowly, I bought and collected stuff as I travelled and shopped (although I did get quite a few pieces from Ikea since it’s just a rental place) and now it’s beginning to resemble a home, and me! You just need to find a couple of headliners/centrepieces and after that, the tidal gates will flood open! Good luck *hugs*

  • Reply Monica Lee October 28, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Oh mi Holly! maybe you are just tired..of course bring tired and overwhelmed and make you stuck, right? When I stuck I call my mom. She was a military wife and has moved sooo many times. She told me, when I had a melt down after moving into my little dream cottage…”just live with it for awhile” You have to figure out your movements, where you like spending the most of your time etc. You know that was strange advice from a woman who would move into a home and have every picture hung within two weeks. It turned out to be good advice for me but then I didn’t have a magazine coming over to do a photo shoot….can you ask them to come in the Spring?

  • Reply julie October 28, 2010 at 12:49 am

    To start is the hardest thing, but once you find that core piece or furniture or fabric or inspiration it will all roll from there.

    The magazine shoot being so close is a little scary, but what a wonderful motivation to get started. I agree with Marie, your home doesn’t need to be completely finished or perfect – we all know the best homes evolve over time. Even those homes we all adore and admire are a work in progress. I can’t imagine the magazine will have the space to feature every single room in their magazine either. You have such a lovely big apartment!

    By the way, did you pick up some wonderful things in Morocco for your apartment? Your travel is enviable from a decorating point of view, what an opportunity! I wish you the best of luck and I know it will be amazing.

  • Reply Heather October 28, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Welcome to my world! We moved right before I had a baby, and I might as well have moved to Europe. Three years later, we still need end tables!

  • Reply Starlet October 28, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Hi Holly,

    This particular post is so lovely and it hits home hard for me, because:
    a. I am an expat
    b. I too have just moved to a new house!

    I still live in boxes and they’re EVERYWHERE!!

    Funny thing, I turn to your blog to get me in the creative zone and decorating mood. There are so many little things and pictures here that speak to me personally. So with that said, you should know and acknowledge (again) that you have that wonderful, strong talent in you and shouldn’t be too hard on yourself!

    I find myself feeling much better after throwing things away (donate, throw, or sell on eBay). Somehow it gives me more breathing space, clear my mind, and makes me feel much better.

    Oh, thanks for the “scent tip” – I can definitely see that working for me!!

    You have a long time to work on your place – I’m sure you can pull it off. As you can tell, we are all supporting you and *HUGS* for you!

  • Reply Sarah October 28, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Hi Holly,
    I’ve been where you are and it is so frustrating. The best advice I can give is to step back and stop forcing yourself to make any major decisions. I know this sounds obvious, but every time I get stuck when it comes to decorating I think – buy what you love. I can understand your desire to complete your house, but taking your time and picking things one at a time that make you comfortable and happy will make it less stressful.
    All the best!

  • Reply Karin A October 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us, so many of us can relate to these things. While some people see new spaces (empty flats, rooms etc) as a great inspiration – just ready to start doing whatever they have planned – the same thing freaks me out. I have no idea where to start…I guess that’s the reason why I always focus on the small things in my home (LOL).

    This would also be a reason to focus on decorating/re-making one room at time. What would the worst thing that would happen if you’re not finished in January? In magazines they seldom feature a whole house. So not everything needs to be in place or perfect. I hope Istanbul will give you a lot of inspiration (I’s love to go there myself!).

  • Reply sandra October 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Hey Holly! It must be so hard to write on a book, move to a new country and get a huge appartment with no time to unpack, but I’m sure you’ll get there, everything doesn’t have to be perfect right away!
    If you need furniture that isn’t Ikea, but not expensive either , maybe fleamarkets would be your answer, as you probably already considered. I don’t know any German fleamarkets, but a car could get you over the border to Denmark, where we have plenty -with great mid-century furuniture for a fair price. You can go to this page http://www.markedskalenderen.dk/marked/markedlist.asp?AmtsID=50 and see a calender for markets just across the border. It’s in Danish though, but maybe google translate can help?

  • Reply Rambles with Reese October 28, 2010 at 11:23 am

    This is a lovely post Holly and it’s great when bloggers can share their inspirations and their “ruts.” We all can learn from each other. I completely hear you about how it’s more expensive in other parts of the world compared to N.A. I live in Italy and I never buy on a whim or an impulse much like I was used to in Canada. Italy is just expensive for everything overall. There’s definitely pros and cons to it.

    Good luck with your place and I’m sure you’ll make it look fantastic in time for the magazine shoot. Wishing you all the best!

  • Reply ChristinaInAustralia October 28, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I LOVE hand-crafted things from here: http://de.dawanda.com/s/Wohnstile
    ESPECIALLY these gorgeous lamps: http://de.dawanda.com/shop/Halbeins
    AND then I reward myself here: http://de.dawanda.com/search/search?as=0&q=Honeyspy&fields=

    Before doing some more work here: http://www.impressionen.de
    Unfortunately, the latter has become ‘window shopping only’ — I now live in Australia!

    What I find most important here is the pictures I’ve brought: my family photos, 1920s etchings of my home-town and the place where I started my PhD instantly turn any place into the place where I live. I dream of ordering myself a large wall decal of a tree and turning that into a family tree with my photos. And I’m toying with the idea of blowing up a few favourite images on canvas. I also brought some Bassetti curtains that I’d made for my previous flat — very striking fabrics, and available pretty much anywhere in Germany.

  • Reply Sara October 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    If anyone can pull it together, you can :). Big hugs to you, especially because it seems especially sad to feel so stressed and overwhelmed and rushed about something you have been looking forward to for so long and would usually truly enjoy. This might sound crazy, but is there any way you could borrow a few pieces here and there from people you know locally, like Thorsten’s family or something, that you do like and would fit with what you’re going to do decorating-wise eventually, but really just be there for the photo shoot to eliminate some of the time-pressured stress you’re feeling? Of course, that would only work if they have things you really love and would feel proud including, but maybe?

    Also, I have no idea how magazines work, and I’m sure you don’t want to lose the fantastic opportunity of having your home featured…but is it worth looking into a possible delay of the photoshoot? I realize it might not be worth the risk of even asking, but how would you feel about casually investigating a bit to see if it would be a possibility…more time seems like it could make all the difference.

    But, like I said, even if neither of these ideas work, I know you’ve received and will continue to receive great info on sources from all of your loyal readers and colleagues…and, no matter, what, it will look amazing. Good luck and hugs!

  • Reply Rhea October 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I’m sure you’re gonna make it! Take your time for every room and just picture yourself after a working day in a couple of months. I’m sure you will displace some furniture but you will be happy in your new home, because: home is where the heart is!
    Looking forward to al the nice story’s en pictures you bring on to us!
    Love Rhea

  • Reply Gabriela October 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Holly!!

    I’ve been reading your blog -and Haus Maus- for a long time, and you’ve been a cure for dark mornings and bad days with your photos and your ideas…. I live in Spain, and I totally understand what you’re going through.
    I bought my first home last year -my dream home, antique building, hidraulic and wood floors, 11 foot ceilings…- before that I had shared an apartment -actually 2- with friends, lived with my parents, with a boyfriend, but never alone. So when the time of decorating my very own home came I was not excited. I was very much scared XD.

    In Spain, besides very modern and expensive, and very cheap and ugly, there is the tendency to go matchy matchy -dining table matches chairs, that match the tables in the living room that match the big library-slash-cabinet-slash TV set…. and so on….So I was lost….

    I didn’t do it all at the same time, but I made a list of things for each room under these criteria:
    Something expensive, one antique, something colorful, something modern, something loved.

    In my living room, my expensive thing was my red leather Natuzzi chester, the antique is an english cabinet, the colorful thing is a rug, and the loved thing is a painting by my grandmother….

    It also helped to choose a color, or a something -pillow, duvet, rug, painting, anything with a pattern or a color that you love- and place it in the room it is destined to… A quilt was hung in my bedroom for two months as inspiration and my daughter had a very big grey patch painted on one wall for more time I dare to say…..

    I’m sure that once you unpack everything you own ideas will start flowing….Choose colors, print your inspiration images -they are no use in your pc- scour flea markets, and E-BAY (it is great!!!)

    You are fantastic, I only send you virtual hugs because I want, but I’m sure you don’t need them!!!!

  • Reply Katie Truelove October 29, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you for your honesty- I’m sure it can be overwhemling to have such a blank canvas, especially since you have lots of great talent and ideas! When I lived in Japan I actually managed to find some really great little solutions at my local 100 Yen store (just like the dollar store but way, way better). Also, there was a bit of a stigma around second-hand stores when I was there so I was able to get some solid peices at a large discount. Of course my apartment was 30x30ft… I cannot wait to see what you find in Istanbul- it must be an inspiring place!

  • Reply lomagirl October 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    It sounds very daunting. I suggest you focus on a few rooms- the magazine can’t publish a picture of every room, right? Just work on the big ones- one wintergarten, one bedroom, the dining room, the living room, one bathroom, and the kitchen. (Oh dear, still sounds like a lot!)
    Is there anything like Craigslist or freecycle over there?

  • Reply Jodie November 1, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Wow. Good for you, to just put it out there. I am finally seeing the results of putting a long journey of discovering and perusing blogs to work. It started with Domino, then following a link to your blog. Then Domino folded, I panicked and realized the blogs worked just fine! I always go back to yours when I am in a resting place or in a transitional spot. So tonight, I sit going through your posts. I would say be true to you and postpone the magazine shoot. Go to Turkey, buy some absolute beauty, bring it home and stare at it for a long, long while and just drink it in. Make some new friends, network and begin to develop your new, safe, & reliable sources.

  • Reply Sharon November 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Hi being an expat from Scotland and having lived in Germany I can understand your frustration. In my first place in Germany I was ceiling to floor Ikea till I could build up other things that made my place more personal. In Germany you are very lucky to have Habitat, I did not have one in the city I lived in but used to make regular trips to stock up on their frames which I think are fantastic and their lighting and kitchen accessories. Also Muji in Germany is fantastic for all there glasswear, storage solutions and kitchen bits and bobs. When I left Germany 4 years later I had much less Ikea things than I started with… not very sustainable though. I also like the store DOM they have in some cities in Germany, they sometimes have nice pieces. After Germany I moved to Holland and picked up some other nice piece there, they have a store Lutz 5 which is great. I have just moved to Switzerland and having rented my place in Holland out furnished I am falling into the Ikea trap again! In Switzerland they have a store called Fly, fantastic looking in the catalogue, not so much in store. If anyone could recommend anywhere in Switzerland I would be most grateful! Good luck Holly, get to Habitat and Muji!

  • Reply Margarita Lorenzo November 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Hello Holly,
    I totally understand how you are feeling, first of all, you just moved into an impressive space, a lot of rooms to decorate in such a short period of time, as you well said, a good home is fill with things you have loved and collected over the years and not just in a rush. You have extra pressure for the magazine photo shoot happening soon, I would say go with your heart, i know you would like to have you home prefect for this occasion, who wouldn’t? But that doesn’t mean you are going to fill the house with just anything to be ready on time. Less is better than unwanted items at the end.
    I am sure you can get very good stuff in Germany, perhaps a trip over to Holland by car?? or France?? much cheaper and better. It must have been very difficult to leave all your loved things behind in the States, I may have to do the same when I go home to Spain one day, (hopefully I will take all my belongings with me), but this opportunity presents you with a new start and fresh approach to decorating, try new things, each space is different and yours is the perfect white canvas, I want it for me haha…

    I am sure that whatever you decide to do, it will look gorgeous, and would feel like a loved home, a lot of luck from London, sometimes is best not to look at more interior magazines or blogs and just get on with it.

    Kisses from a beautiful morning in London.

    PS: an idea, borrow some pieces your family or friends my already have for the photo shoot,

  • Reply Michelle November 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I am not a fan of modern furniture styles (or the often poor quality of the construction), so I find most of my furniture on Craigslist. It takes time, but I’ve been pleased with most of my pieces, even though I am on a VERY small budget. Here is the Craigslist for your area:

    Yesterday I found a website that allows one to search Craigslist with pictures (yaayyyy!). And you can search several nearby cities at once.

    I have a strong feeling that whatever you come up with by January will be lovely — and I’m sure that by this time next year, it will be even more wonderful.

  • Reply Jacqueline November 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Holly,
    Doesn’t all the best inspiration come from a rut? I think being in one is a sign that you need to let your ideas percolate…answers and ideas will present themselves from the mish-mash.

    I have never commented here before, but I feel your pain! I am on my 6th year as an expat in Tokyo – wishing desperately to update some of my decor (with no access to what i want) and wondering if I will always be living in a rental that I cannot change (or paint!!). On the other hand, we bought a small beach house back in the US last year and I furiously tried to get it “magazine shoot” ready (while hosting a constant stream of visitors all summer) in less than 8 weeks. It was only when I looked around and realized it wasn’t going to happen that I could start to make headway, grouping what I could and following small spaces to completion. I think that tactic can work for you and your upcoming shoot. Find a small bit of inspiration and make that corner work. Then do another, and another, and all of a sudden there is enough to photograph.

    And shove any boxes you don’t want to deal with in a small back room somewhere!!!

  • Reply James November 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I just found this post while looking for inspiration – glad to hear that I’m not the only one having trouble on that score! We moved in to our new home 6 weeks ago and don’t know where to start. I think it’s the weather and drawing-in evenings. They’re taking my energy. Might have to put of any major design decisions until the spring…

  • Reply Tanya November 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Holly,
    Try meditation (as a grad student with frequent writer’s block.. it was really helpful for me!). You are probably overwelmed right now and your mind is just blocked from thinking waaay too much! Pushing it hard to accomplish something is probably not really helpful. Just give yourself a 15 min daily time out, relax, de-stress, and clear your thoughts!
    Good luck and I love the blog :)

  • Reply Maggie @ Interior Design Ideas November 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I agree to Tanya, first thing first take a deep breath and relax.
    Ask some advices to your friends and relatives and enjoy your
    new home..:)

  • Reply Laura December 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Just move to Tahiti and buy two hammocks – then call it ‘done’!

    (Can you tell where my head is these dark cold days?)


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