Monthly Archives

October 2011

Rooms

Katie Bourne Children’s Wallpapers

October 10, 2011

I recently spoke at 100% Design in London and while there, I walked around to check out the latest and greatest in the world of design and it was with pleasure that I met Katie Bourne of Katie Bourne Interiors. This charming illustrator was there to launch her exclusive children’s wallpapers based on her own childhood memories of growing up in rural Staffordshire, England. These wallcoverings are made and printed in England using traditional techniques on high quality, sustainable forest paper in gorgeous classic colorways that are soothing and lovely.

Katie Bourne Children's Wallpapers

About the small collection Katie says, “I thought about my friends and what they like when I was designing the range. My collection is created for parents who are design conscious and want the nursery to be an extension of their home’s design concept, whilst being something that their children can love growing up with too” Katie explains.

Katie’s inspiration came from traditional children’s books and her own childhood, “This collection really feels like an extension of me. The characters and scenes have been taken from scenes of my childhood; from the farm I grew up on, and fields I used to play in, to birthday celebrations and outings with my family and friends; they all stemmed from personal experiences,” Katie explained. Her goal in designing this range was to infuse it with not only her own past and personality but to feed children’s imaginations so that they may be able to create their own stories while looking upon it, or that parents could have a jumping off point and do some storytelling of their own.

To learn more or place an order, please visit Katie’s website.

(images: katie bourne)






Inspiration

What Autumn Is…

October 10, 2011

Hello and happy Monday to you! As you are aware, I have two regular contributors on decor8 who post once monthly in addition to my own daily musings, Leslie Shewring with her Color Me Pretty column and Anna-Malin Lindgren who pulls together the always inspiring Handmade Home. Today I’d like to spotlight decor8 contributor Anna-Malin who lives in Sweden and how beautifully she has captured Autumn because it inspired me so much as I read her blog this morning. I don’t think she even set out to carry an Autumn theme on her blog for the past several weeks but she did it by simply photographing corners of her home and life and together, they composed a gorgeous visual Autumn story.

What Autumn Is...Autumn is my favorite season and I have lots of very close friends born in October – a random discovery that I only recently made when a friend brought it to my attention. There is something about the season that brings remarkable comfort from the color palette to lighting, food and drink.

What Autumn Is...

Autumn means family, love, candlelight, messy “hat hair”, comfort food, cuddling, baking, cozy clothes, warm blankets, the smell of a fireplace, hiking in the mountains, walking over crispy leaves, raking the yard then jumping into the gigantic pile of leaves that smells so very Autumn-y, reflecting on what matters most, hot apple cider, pretty scarves, reading with a warm kitty on your lap, a favorite coat, spiked hot cocoa, inviting friends over for a feast. Autumn is a very sincere, honest, no-frills season, isn’t it? It’s all about reflection, too. As the year starts to come to a close, it’s hard not to pause and honestly take a look at our life and the direction in which it is going.

What Autumn Is...There is no bling or bam with Fall — it’s just this turning over period from Summer to Winter that is graceful, touching, beautiful and authentic. It’s flickering candles on the windowsill and fresh baked cookies from the oven – there’s a realness to the season that draws me in. Autumn, in my opinion, is like no other – it’s both high and low – melancholy yet full of hope – with gray weather and shortened days combined with the feeling of unconditional love and acceptance around the family dinner table.

What Autumn Is...

What Autumn Is...

What Autumn Is...

What Autumn Is...

What Autumn Is...

Why do you love Autumn? What does it represent to you? I think for my Swedish friend Anna-Malin, it represents family and comfort just like it does for me. She did such a lovely job capturing the spirit of the season in these photos, wouldn’t you agree?

To see more of Anna-Malin’s photography, including gorgeous images of the season, please visit her beautiful and inspiring blog Helt Enkelt.

(photos: anna-malin lindgren)






Arts + Crafts

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

October 7, 2011

I’m about to wrap up my week but first, I’ve been dying to share a visit that I had with Jennifer Davis and Amy Rice with you! When I was in Minnesota last month and I simply had to visit the opening night party for Jennifer and Amy’s art exhibit because hello, I had too… I mean, I have about 7 of Jennifer’s paintings (I’m a massive fan) and so when I heard she’d be showing her work the same week that I was going to be in St. Paul for my book tour, I made it an absolute priority to meet her. After five years of following her work, it was due time to meet the lady who has so much of her work in my home!

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

From her color palettes (love her shots of black and neon pink!) to her quirky characters who display a range of emotions from melancholy to fear, timidness to hopeful, I find her work touching, engaging, meaningful and altogether mesmerizing. Amy Rice is another amazing talent, also based in MN, so to have a chance to meet them both in one evening was a total moment for me. Here they are, such a lovely duo.

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Amy Rice (L) and Jennifer Davis (R)

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

I was in la la land surrounded by these gorgeous paintings. There were many more that I didn’t have time to photograph, but at least you can see a few of my personal favorite groupings. I’m more motivated than ever to purchase another piece for my collection so I may contact Jennifer to see what’s available from the show. I wanted so badly to buy something in person but I was in a rush to my book signing cocktail party at The Creative Connection so I was in and out in a flash. I wish I had spent more time chatting with lovely Jennifer and Amy – I really do.

And in case you wonder… Amy and Jennifer were both even nicer than I imagined. Jennifer made me feel so welcome, she’s very warm and sweet, and now that I met her the work on my walls means so much more to me. I often wondered if I met her if I’d feel the same, better or worse? Do you know what I mean? Sometimes we have this perception of what someone is like that we’ve only met online and then you meet them and it’s slightly different. To own a lot of someone’s original paintings is nothing you do everyday, you really have to love and connect with the work, and I have formed quite a bond with all of Jennifer’s pieces that make me smile whenever I pass by them. That’s why it felt a bit scary to meet her in person – had she been completely different, rude even (hey, it happens!), I would never look at the work the same and I’d have to live with those paintings, and that sour memory, for years. Meeting Jennifer made me HAPPY. I want to buy more of her paintings now that I have connected with her warmth, graciousness, kindness and sincerity. The paintings in my home are suddenly very much alive and more meaningful than ever because Jennifer has a heart of gold.

Jennifer, I know I’ve made you blush but really, from my heart — thank you for being so awesome!!!

Perhaps we shall meet again… I’d love to curate an art show and invite these two very special ladies to be part of it, so perhaps someday very soon.

(images: holly becker)






Designers + Stylists

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

October 7, 2011

When I was in LA this past July on my book tour, I had the honor of meeting Rachel Ashwell who attended my signing and mood board event at Anthropologie. It was surreal to meet her for a second time, the first was in 2005 when I went to one of her warehouse sales and shyly asked for an autographed copy of one of her books. It was amazing to have the table turned and I felt a huge shift inside when she was at my signing… so much HAS happened in my life since 2005 that even I can’t believe it sometimes.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Rachel, who most of you know as the founder of Shabby Chic and who created the Shabby Chic decorating style in the first place, has had a very full career as a designer, author, television personality and so much more. Currently, she’s celebrating the launch of her latest book, Rachel Ashwell: Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces (which is lovely) and hosting book signings in these locations. In this post, I’ve snapped photos from my visit in her home and shop, including her inspiration journal that I kept peeking at while she spoke over tea and sweets. I am forever inspired by handmade books packed with collected images and things – loosely curated but always a theme when those doing the collecting have a good sense of personal style. Below are more photos from her home in LA…. This one is from the tabletop where I sat with Rachel discussing her new book, my book, blogging, social networking, her roots, business in general… It was a very full and memorable discussion that I’ll never forget.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

In addition to products, Rachel is also enjoying these girly gorgeous retreats that she sets up for creative ladies in her ranch in Texas called The Prairie, decorated in her signature style, of course. Her successful Simply Shabby Chic line at Target is still going strong and she has an online shop and four boutiques called Shabby Chic Couture located in London, New York, Los Angeles and on her property at The Prairie B&B in Texas. Despite the peeks and lows of being such a massive brand with a huge cult following for over 20 years, Rachel has found her comfortable landing spot after lots of change in her own company and is completely at ease being smaller but better than ever. My kind of lady.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

I’m sure you are wondering how I was able to get into the private home of Rachel Ashwell. I wondered that through most of my visit, in fact! Well, it was quite easy – she openly invited me and my friend, Leslie Shewring. She’s been following my blog and knows of my book because she contributed to Decorate. We also share a connection — one of her best friends, Amy Neunsinger, is someone I know as well – we shot her home for Decorate and if you have the book, you’ll see it throughout.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

A glimpse into Rachel’s home office and mood board

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

A fireplace mantel with leaning art work and an old, battered wooden cabinet from Texas in soft blue in the living room.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Even her office was loaded with feminine details like this boho style pillow lazily lounging on her office chair and a big basket of ribbons on her file cabinet.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

I love how she displayed vintage ceramics on the ledge above her kitchen sink just at the window. It was beautiful to look at them but also to see the garden view outside. I also appreciate details like beads and ribbons adorning cabinet handles. I do this too, so there was a sense of familiarity when I came across them throughout her home.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Her kitchen is a little old and new. I personally love hardwood floors in a kitchen combined with stainless appliances so I think this looks a bit country but also smart.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

This corner in her dining area was so pretty, I loved how the light streamed in…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

I found mirrors throughout her home, in every room it seemed… I love how they add a sense of space. In this one, you can see the reflection of her guest bathroom. Isn’t the wallpaper lovely?

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Rachel had a rack of vintage clothing randomly placed in her living room – rather unexpected, but very Rachel. I couldn’t stop looking through them, each piece was unique and had some sweet detail from smocking to decorative buttons…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

A view of her living room… the ethnic touches on the sofa make it very global, which I like.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

More details from adorned handles to rustic finishes and embroidered vintage art work.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Rachel is a very spiritual person, evident throughout her home. All of the saints were represented and even a Buddha. Her en suite bathroom had gorgeous tile on the floor and felt very serene in gray, pale blue and white.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Her bedroom was paired down, simple, pretty…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Another bathroom in her home had some vintage details I had to capture, though I didn’t have my DSLR on me and my amazing lens so I had to make due with my old point and shoot. After taking the photo on the left, I grabbed the flower and a necklace from an adjacent room and placed it on a table in front of a window – the lighting was so perfect, I had to capture it somehow.

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

The artwork in her dining room was particularly pretty and varied. I also liked this golden headboard in a spare room upstairs.

After visiting Rachel at home, we left feeling elated and energized. We grabbed a snack at Le Pain Quotidien and then hit Shabby Chic Couture in Santa Monica. Here are a few snaps of some things in the store that caught my eye…

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

What a special treat to spend hours chatting with such an inspirational lady in the world of design. I mean, seriously, imagine creating a decorating style that is known around the world? That’s quite a contribution and something that will always be associated with the one and only Rachel Ashwell. Thank you Rachel for inviting me into your home.

(images: holly becker, taken with a basic point and shoot)






Books + Magazines

Gatherings e-Magazine

October 7, 2011

Hello everyone and happy Friday to you! How are you? I’m excited to see a weekend on the horizon because the past few days have been positively jam-packed with work and I can’t wait to bask in the glory of a free Saturday. Next week, I’ll be in Frankfurt, Germany for the Frankfurter Buchmesse which is a mega event that is focused on print and digital publishing for mainly books. My publishers will be there so I’ll have a meeting with them and also I’ll be meeting with the press and mingling with my German publisher, Callwey, since they just released my decorating book in Germany called, “Lust Auf Wohnen“. In addition to Frankfurt, I’m teaching Blogging Your Way again until November 7th, so I have lots to do but I love it — my work is my fuel — it keeps me going. So! That’s my update… And speaking of digital publishing, have you heard of Gatherings e-mag produced by blogger Heather Spriggs? Here’s a glimpse if you haven’t…

Gatherings e-Magazine

Gatherings e-Magazine

Gatherings e-Magazine

Gatherings e-Magazine

Gatherings e-Magazine

As you can see, I focused primarily on the gift wrapping section because I believe in the idea of using what you have at home to create unique presentations like the many shown above. Heather’s ideas are very much in line with the current, “Granny Chic” trend so the doilies, mismatched fabrics, vintage papers, buttons, etc. are all things that you can easily find at craft stores, fabric shops, flea markets or your grandmother’s attic! The idea is to get clever and be creative – use your imagination to re-purpose things you may have long tucked away into a drawer. Heather’s ideas definitely tuned me in to some things that I’ve not used that I should pull out and apply to some gifts.

I want to add that I had the honor of meeting Heather over the summer in Chicago since she came to my book signing event there at Anthropologie and after, she was part of the group that took me out for a fabulous celebratory dinner hosted by Nicole from Making It Lovely. That was such a nice evening – I really enjoyed being with those ladies and thank you again Heather for your warmth and enthusiasm, it was very nice to meet you. All the best on Gatherings, too! You’re off to a great start.

(images: heather spriggs)






Ramblings

You’ve Got To Find What You Love

October 6, 2011

It’s no secret that Apple founder, Steve Jobs, passed away. It’s a trending topic on Twitter, bloggers are busily tapping on keys to express their condolences and newspapers have plastered the sad news all over websites and on their printed pages. I wondered before writing this post what the point would be for me to chime in, just another voice, why would it matter?

You've Got To Find What You Love

Sure, I use Apple products daily but have always been equally loyal to the PC and never understood the need to pick one over the other because both have their place. That’s why this post isn’t about Apple (the product) or how much I love and rely on my iPhone, rather it’s about how important I think it is to find what you love, have courage, possess talent and then act on it just like the brilliant man the world just lost to cancer.

Have you ever read the text of Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University? I watched the video years ago and was so touched and inspired by his words and thought that if you’ve not watched it already that now is a good time to do so. Here is the link, it’s a really good way to spend just over 14 minutes of your life. Some points from it that I’d like to share and discuss are below. Perhaps you feel the same or would like to chime in…

* “None of this (taking a random calligraphy class in school) had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” – Steve Jobs.

My takeaway from his words above is that you have to experiment, get out there, and try new things. Take classes that often feel very unrelated to what you do and that seem to have no practical application, but that simply sound like fun or interest you in some way. An artist may try an astronomy course for kicks and several years later, translate some of that into a body of work that receives an incredible response. You just never know, do you? When I took a random writing workshop one snowy night in January 2006 (in Boston), my teacher said, “If you are not on the internet these days, you don’t exist”.  I immediately went home and started writing my first post on decor8 and I’ve been writing ever since. All because of something I heard from a class that I nearly missed due to heavy snow. Again, you never know where certain “moments” in time can lead.

Another thought from Mr. Jobs that stuck with me is,

* “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs.

I believe in this wholeheartedly. I’ve often tried to figure out the intentions of others, my own goals, put together a five year business plan (to the advice of friends in the business world)… but in the end I had and still have to ultimately trust my gut. I’d rather experience fear than regret. I may be scared to take a risk but I’ll do it because I’m more concerned to miss out or regret not taking the risk. None of this is based on what looks good on paper or even what is always the best action to take. If it feels like the right thing to do, if my gut drives me in that direction, I often leap trusting that my instincts will not let me down. I also trust in the circle of life and how, “What comes around goes around”, always applies to everything we do whether we want it to or not! It’s something my mother and grandmother always told me and it stuck, and so I tell the same thing to others – if you dish it out expect to receive it back in return! When it comes to connecting the dots by looking backwards — yes, always. That’s why you have to create the dots in the first place and that takes courage.

I really see the wisdom in these words also spoken by Jobs at the same address,

*”Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose… There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

How beautifully said is that?! Having lost my talented and lovely aunt to cancer when she was only 40-years-old, I know how it feels to lose someone who was aware of how temporary life really is. In her final days, she was brave and told me to be happy and follow my heart – all this from her death bed weighing only 85 pounds. As a fine artist, art teacher and world traveler (she spoke several languages and taught at prestigious schools), her love for me and for others was proof that she valued life. I remember her making me bears, smocks for painting, dollhouses from wood and other beautiful things when I was a child. Her love of handmade craft and art influenced my life, look at what I do for a living! My mother’s love of making also had a strong influence on me. My aunt never feared death or anything – she was a fighter, a creator of joy, she followed her heart while also embracing others around her helping them to follow their hearts… I think it’s true, we have to step back and think that if we had only a few months left to live would we do anything differently today.  Most of us would answer YES. Now the question is, why aren’t we doing it then?

And finally, these words touched me as I’m sure they’ll touch you,

*”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I can’t add anything to this – it’s so perfectly stated. When I first heard this I wanted to high five everyone around me.

In the end, we have to find what we love, who we love, what works for us because life is so precious, realized even more the moment someone disappears from this planet. Live for yourself, then others – this is not at all selfish. If you try living for others first denying your own happiness, you are ultimately denying others of happiness too because no one is inspired by a person who is trying to fix everyone else but hasn’t bothered to first be an example and fix their own life.

I hope this post has inspired you today, provided some encouragement, and helped you in even a small way. I know this is a design blog but I have to veer off at times and talk about things that matter most to me because it refuels my creativity and helps me to think outside of design for a moment, which in return inspires my work – being deep at times feeds me and allows me to enjoy my job even more.

To wrap up, I have to share the words from a greeting card I once gave someone when they lost their parent. It stuck with me for years and I refer to it whenever someone dies because it reminds me that the only way to look at death, since there is nothing positive about it in all honesty, is to remember what the person gave us while they were alive to breath some sense into it all and then to think of what they left behind — to take away something beautiful from their passing that will never die – what they taught us.

“The tide recedes, but leaves behind bright seashells on the sand. The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land. The music stops, yet echoes on in sweet, soulful refrains. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.” – unknown.

Your thoughts?

(image: holly becker)






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