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Easy Porch Decorating

I usually post about my personal life and home on Haus Maus, but these photos capture what Sunday in the springtime means to me quite nicely so I want to share them with you in case you are doing a little weekend blog reading. You may also find it inspiring for your own porch or spare room at home.

Relaxing on my porch...

I recently put together my porch (as in two days ago, before photo here), it was empty a few days ago but my friend Tinna gave me a vintage French iron bed that I turned into a little place to sit using a thick piece of foam which I wrapped in white linen. Then I brought in some rugs and layered them and transformed a white rattan hamper that I wasn’t using into a table by topping it with a round tray that I have. The great part is that when you remove the tray, blankets and extra pillows are stored inside.

Relaxing on my porch...

I also brought in a few things from storage that I wasn’t using (like the step stool and folding plant stand from IKEA), and pulled together a little spot on my three season porch where I can relax on the weekends. The best part is, this balcony faces the forest so I have lots of green things to admire and listen to – birds sing all day in the trees outside so I find this resting spot a very peaceful space. Plus, there is sunlight all day from early morning until late afternoon. It’s wonderful!

Relaxing on my porch...

Relaxing on my porch...

I still have to decide what I will put on the walls, and I plan to install a vintage wall light as well, but for now this works perfectly for me. My husband will never use it — he’s not a “porch guy” unless there is a grill involved, so I could girl-it-up a bit. So far, nothing that you see was purchased for this room – just borrowed from other parts of my home or given to me by friends like the felted beads hanging across the window. Some things are from Morocco that I’d not been able to use yet, like the leather slippers and the bed covering. This porch is off of our bedroom which makes it a great nook to escape to to enjoy iced tea and some sunshine.

Relaxing on my porch...
Relaxing on my porch...

I have two porches and a balcony, so I am lucky to have many little places to runaway to when I need some fresh air and nature. Do you have a chill zone in your home where you go to unwind and relax? Where is it? What do you like to do there?

Have a nice Sunday, see you tomorrow!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Decorating Tips on May 08, 2011

Being Proud And Owning Who You Are

Oh yes, this is a long post and somewhat emotional so you’ll need a cup of tea and some time to read through it so hang in there. :) I’m hoping that by pouring out my heart that you’ll be encouraged somehow. And since I’m feeling a bit better (my cold is almost gone), I also feel chatty. I have a lot of work ahead of me between Monday and the end of July so this weekend I plan to be lazy and spend a lot of time in the sunshine since I have to get my energy up — I’m going on a book tour this summer! My next stop is Amsterdam on June 25 (info here) and then I’ll be back in London this summer and then over to my beautiful home country, the USA baby! I can’t wait to go home for a few weeks — I’ll definitely be in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco but the other 3-4 cities are yet to be confirmed. I love living in Europe but there’s no place like home and of course, shopping in the states is divine (and so cheap compared to prices here). I will get to see my family and friends, so I’m thrilled. I’ve not been over since last summer so I’m ready!

Pretty is as pretty does

How about you though, are you doing good? How was your week? You know, I was ill but also just exhausted. I have been working so much since the beginning of 2009 into 2010 and never really took time out to even get SICK never mind to rest. I’m not at all burnt out, I still have a lot of motivation and energy, but I definitely needed the pause that having a cold gave me – and an excuse to do nothing for 3 days. I loved doing nothing in particular but watching films and playing games on my iPhone in bed. I left the house once, yesterday, to go to the farmers’ market where I found the beautiful lilacs that you see above. Having fresh flowers around when you are down feels so cozy somehow, don’t you think?

Which brings me to thinking that when you’re sick you somehow need flowers around. They are a requirement. Chicken soup, water, tea, vitamins, cozy pajamas, a soft pillow and flowers. I remember falling once when I was a kid while rollerskating in the street and I broke my leg which kept me in bed for three months straight. It was such a hard time for a bouncy young girl like me! I hated being bedridden for so long. I remember though that my father sent me flowers several times when he left for work and each time my eyes were glued to the arrangement there on my bedside table because they made me feel so special, so loved, and being that I didn’t have a close relationship with him I held on to all of the attention from daddy that I could get. In fact, any small dose felt like a huge showering of affection and I took it, appreciated every drop, and I kept everything my father gave me until they had absolutely nothing left of them — including flower arrangements.

To this day, when I am sick, either I’ll buy myself flowers or my husband will pick them up for me and I associate them with feeling special, receiving love, and though physically I may be ill and flowers can’t help change that, they do lift me emotionally because I have such fond memories associated with bouquets of them growing up. Either my father would give them to me or my mother, I’d pick them on my grandparents’ farm, I’d watch my mother (a trained florist) arrange them for hours, or I’d help her landscape the yard (her passion).

I think that as I get older and more sure of myself that I feel at ease visiting my childhood and extracting the positive things so that my memories are layered, because when I was younger I often saw only the bad parts of growing up and I ignored the good. What about you, do you think about this at times? When you get to be of parenting age and think about how your own parents were your age once, and how you thought 30 or 35 was SOOOO OLLLLDDDD back then, you get a bit of a wake up call that they really were young and inexperienced just as you are today — don’t you think?

I remember my father coming home when I was a toddler and how I would jump up and down trying to leap over the child gate dividing my bedroom from the living room – seeing him excited me so much. I remember him standing there in his bright yellow hard hat with a big smile, coming towards me to lift me up and over the gate for a hug. He’d always look down at me there in my diaper say, “Let me see that Holly smile!” and I’d grin wide and big, exposing the huge gap between my front teeth that, combined with my chipmunk cheeks and massive dimples, was quite sweet though became the source of painful teasing once in school. When I would smile, he would smile and that is how I learned from an early age that being happy made me happy but also made others around me feel joy. I’ve not stopped smiling since. Now when I consider how old he was then, 29, I can’t believe it. He was so old and wise to me back then, my tall (6’3″), slim, handsome papa was so “perfect” and could do no wrong but he was a mere 29-years-old! Hello, right?!

If you’ll notice on my blog today, I’m talking a lot about my childhood. It mostly has to do with some diaries I came across on Tuesday that I’d long forgotten and hadn’t read for over twenty years. In one, I spoke of how I want to someday live in a city, travel around Europe, be a writer and have a book that becomes a best seller. I was 10-years-old. This completely flipped me out because two days after reading that entry, an entry I don’t even recall writing, my book became a Wall Street Journal bestseller (#2!). Also in the journal I saw all of the little floor plans that I remembered drawing as a little kid but didn’t realize I also had them in my diary. I read through years of my own history and it made me really love that once little girl who wrote them with her “big dreams” even more. I also felt the diaries that I kept in my teens and twenties. Whoa. What was that all about?!

Afterwards I felt this shift inside, a reconnection to my self in a sense, and I’ve been thinking about my entire life from the beginning until now and for the first time I really feel like I can be proud of myself. It’s hard to admit this publicly, I know so many people expect me to be “perfect” but no one is perfect and if you think they are then you are right – they are perfect in some way — they are perfect in putting on a grand show of what they want you to believe about them. Deep inside we all have our hang ups, don’t we? Do you know anyone who doesn’t? But I finally, for the first time in my entire life, feel absolutely 100% proud of myself, the life I’ve created, the ways in which I’ve changed or adapted throughout the years to become more true to self, and I am absolutely proud of ME.

I wonder if you are proud of yourself? I mean, truly proud?

I now wonder what is next. I’ve been waiting my entire life to feel this good about myself. I’ve been waiting to wake up one day and look in the mirror and say, “Holly, you have so much to be proud of, you really did it girl!”. And that day was yesterday. I finally said it, I meant it, I owned it and I didn’t even get emotional or apologize for it. I really, truly owned the moment. I’ve always been so hard on myself and though that drove me to do better work, it also drove me into moments when I simply felt no peace inside of myself until I accomplished this or that goal. I am feeling peace inside now and with this peace, I want to continue on my way as a blogger, friend, wife, daughter and maybe now I’m even ready to be a mother. I’ve been so worried about becoming one until yesterday. I think I needed to get to that place emotionally before I could imagine guiding and directing a young life.

I know, heavy stuff for a decorating blog. But you are my friends and I cherish how I have your friendship and how so many of you relate similar experiences to me in return and perhaps now you can share bits of your life that perhaps you share with me in the comments section. And I feel zero regret for posting this on a design blog because honestly, you can’t even begin to make your home an authentic expression of your taste and style if you are completely out of touch with yourself so emotionally, it’s good to be in the right place even when it comes to decorating. Funny how that is.

Have a wonderful weekend dear friends.

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on May 06, 2011

Colorful + Quirky Living

I am seriously digging this colorful, quirky home in a major way. From the painted ceilings to wall hangings and full-on saturated hues as accents and some as focal points, I can’t stop looking at the details! After a week of being sick in bed, this is just the interiors inspiration that I needed to come across today. It also didn’t hurt that my book made it on the bestseller list over at the Wall Street Journal at #2, Eek! I am so happy (thank you guys so much!). Between that extraordinary news of now authoring a best selling book and this fab home that I stumbled across below, I’m in 7th heaven (no reference to the kitchen ceiling at all, ha ha!). But I’m not here to brag about my book, or simply show a few photos and be on my way. Oh no. I want to talk about this amazing home and some memories from my past that I want to share because these photos took me back to a very special farm… a special place in my childhood. And I want to somehow spark your memories in the process.

The moment I spotted this home on the Room and Serve blog and found out that it is actually from Vårt Nya Hem (Swedish) magazine, I had to dig deeper into their website to see what else they have featured that I might want to have a look at. I also tried to figure out why it felt familiar to me and then memories of the large farmhouse belonging to my great, great grandmother came flooding in and suddenly I was transported to another time and space.

One thing that admire about this particular home shown in Vårt Nya Hem magazine is that, even with all of the color and pattern, each item seems to have been carefully curated and restraint was shown in both the floor plan and overall styling so it doesn’t end up looking like a massive interiors heart attack. I admire people who are this stylish, it’s quite amazing really and I’d love to linger in this space with the homeowners and really get to know the story behind each piece as I’m sure they have delicious stories to tell of travel, adventure and even a bit of danger. I love that the floor above appears to be stenciled. How grand (and doable!).

But yet, when I look at the kitchen I see a story from the pages of my own life. I’ll tell you it, if you have a moment. You see, when I look at this kitchen I see the farmhouse that my Polish great grandmother owned in southern Rhode Island in the countryside. She had very ornate floral wallpaper, vinyl and tile flooring, art nouveau touches, extremely colorful everything… and the layout was the same with the old-fashioned style of cabinetry and such.

She moved from Warsaw in the late 1800s to American to make her life in Rhode Island where she gave birth to my grandfather, raising him on a huge farm. Then, when he was in the military stationed in Chicago, he met and married my Irish/Scottish/Russian/Polish grandmother who was a cabaret singer there, and they made their life on the same farm in a coverted barn nearby where my mother was born and raised. I grew up visiting my grandparents on their farm, affectionately called “Baby Farm”, as my mother’s large extended family stayed there in the summers and someone always ended up getting pregnant – including my mother, with me! My grandfather’s sister married an Italian man and so the farm went from being Polish to Polish-Italian so I remember how this mix of culture affected life on the farm. I also remember braiding bread for my grandmother and rolling out dough and baking pies in a kitchen much like the one shown above. I remember thinking that my very Polish great grandmother, who only spoke Polish to my grandfather when she didn’t want us to know what she was saying (which was often), was extremely “different” because her decorating style was wayyy over-the-top. She didn’t have the typical country farmhouse – it was vibrant and filled with antiques from Poland that she brought over and of course flea market finds as my grandfather loved going to them religiously on the weekends. I also remember him taking me to massive flea markets along with my mother. I think that’s why I enjoy them so much today and am always on the prowl for a unique find.

Growing up I remember loving my great grandmother’s crazy farmhouse and enjoyed all of the color, pattern, massive floral wallpaper, taxidermy (oh yes), patterned floors, farmhouse sinks, minty green tiled bathroom, stacks of mismatched china in white cabinets with glass doors and the way the home smelled in the warmer months when all of the flowers were in bloom and the breeze drifted their heavenly scent through the home, usually through the kitchen where I was usually hanging out with my grandmother and great grandmother, and yes, my mom too. She lived to nearly 100 years old so I remember her in my life until I was 22 years old. I was lucky.

Maybe you’ll find some inspiration over at Vårt Nya Hem to motivate you on a home project this weekend? Or to connect you to bits and pieces of your past life or how you would someday like to live? It’s important when you find photos that inspire you to then pinpoint WHY you are connecting to them. What is it? Perhaps a window to your past? Or simply the colors? The style? The casualness? Think about this whenever you pin an inspiring image to your moodboard – it’s a great way to refine your personal style!

(images: vårt nya hem)

Posted in Decorating Tips on May 06, 2011

Lisa Bengtsson for Save The Children

Some of Sweden’s most prominent designers have made products for your home for Save The Children, and one of my favorite designers, Lisa Bengtsson, has a new collection of wallpaper, textiles and posters created especially for their design shop. The sweet doggy patterns that you see below are from the Tillsammans collection (which means Together in Swedish) and shows dachshunds from around the world.

Lisa Bengtsson for Save The Children

As mentioned, these products are in cooperation with Save the Children and show six illustrations depicting dachshunds from around the world with hats and hairstyles to symbolize different nationalities. The illustrations are exclusively designed for Save the Children and are available only in their design shop. I like to know that when I buy something beautiful for my home that I am supporting such a worthwhile cause — to protect and save little ones against violence and sexual assault and to invest in their future by ensuring that they receive a proper education in Sweden and in other parts of the world.

Lisa Bengtsson for Save The Children

Lisa Bengtsson for Save The Children

I love seeing good design being used to promote and support something so important and to own something that I know supported children in need makes the item, for me at least, so much more valuable and gives me a genuine emotional connection to it. Design with heart. With soul. With intention that goes beyond personal gain.

I believe that our possessions should have positive associations (or else what’s the point in owning them?) and any design item created for such a worthy cause would definitely make it even more cherished and special in my home. Do you agree?

Thank you Helena from Room and Serve for writing to me about this today!

(images: lisa bengtsson/save the children)

Posted in shopping on May 06, 2011

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