Designers + Stylists

The Very Dear Emily Chalmers

December 15, 2011

Today I want to share one of the most talented flea market junkies that I know, London-based author, shop owner and stylist Emily Chalmers. Her work has made a difference in my life and in how I look at interiors. She really stands out as one of my top 10 favorite creative women. I’ve always loved the finer details but through her, I’ve come to appreciate the little things even more that can be easily overlooked in the hustle bustle of the everyday. Some of most cherished collection of books in my library are yours, which have served as my primary connection to your marvelous brain and have given me loads of joy and inspiration. Through Emily, I’ve learned how to delight in more than just the beautiful “perfect” things that as an American, I am naturally drawn towards — my culture is all about perfect packaging and perfectly made crafts and perfect looking interiors (being part of the Martha Stewart generation).

The Very Dear Emily Chalmers

The Very Dear Emily Chalmers

Through her book, Flea Market Style, so many (me included) felt set free from all of the poshness that exists in interior design and instead, were exposed to a world where perfectly symmetrical and stuffy rooms are unknown and instead, rebellious rooms with plenty of quirk and character are the norm. All who know her work are well aware that she was there celebrating this trend of imperfect interiors long before it became cool to publicly confess to liking it. In fact in 2005, her book introduced so many to the chic side of Flea Market Style and after that, there was no looking back. To me, she is pioneer of flea market style, granny chic and boho chic.

The Very Dear Emily Chalmers

Her eye and talent have given so much to so many and I hope that she recognizes this. So often as a pioneer of a movement, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been left behind by what you yourself started. She may or may not feel this way, I don’t know, but I feel this way sometimes as a blogger as I enter my 7th year of doing this “professionally” and sometimes wonder if anyone remembers that I was writing in this space long before it was cool or the press gave a damn about me or what I had to say. I remember writing 10 articles a day on this blog during a time when few people even read design blogs. I didn’t know where it would lead me but I had a desire to connect and share and get noticed so that I could one day write for magazines. I know other “old school” bloggers like me who are reading this right now wagging their heads thinking of those early days when blogging didn’t have any drop of coolness associated with it. Today it seems everyone wants a piece of the blogging pie and for good reason, it’s a great pie! It takes a true love affair though with what one is doing to stick through it through the “thin” because god knows it’s easy to love it while it’s “thick”, isn’t it? But I digress…

But yes, it’s easy to forget how key Emily was to what is happening today in interiors. She is one who paved the way for so many closet flea market junkies to come out with confidence and share their own love for granny chic, homespun, flea market and the fabulous mix of old and new. I see so much of her work in the work and even retail spaces of others. What an amazing thing for her to witness all of this – she can see what has become of her willingness and courage to share her vision and how it’s taken off. Her courage to go out there and tell the world what she thinks and loves really rocks.

I’m also so inspired by the many intricate pieces that make up the whole of who Emily is, from her sweet emails to how she made a special effort to meet me at my book launch in London. Her reputation is unblemished – everyone who has met Emily says she is gracious, generous and a kind and caring soul. This means a lot because it’s not common in interiors to find down-to-earth people who happen to be trendsetters. She uses good old-fashioned warmth, talent, hard work and honesty to advance herself and I admire that. Emily is the real deal!

The Very Dear Emily Chalmers

Emily, you have made an enormous difference to me and so many others and if you didn’t know this already, well now you do.

(photography: inga powilleit)


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  • Reply Amy Grace December 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    What a fantastic idea! And Emily is certainly someone I’m glad you shared with your readers. I may try to do the same thing on my own blog after the holiday hustle has subsided. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply MondaysMilk December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    So true & so very inspiring, thanks Emily and Holly! I’m just in love with the ‘curtain’ in the London Studio!

  • Reply Ada @ New York December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Wow Holly, what a great letter to Emily and what an inspiration. That reminds me, I haven’t hand written a letter to mom in a while … time to do so (she loved getting photos too … for not everyone runs to their computer monitor to view pics).

  • Reply tinajo December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    This is lovely – makes me smile. :-)

  • Reply Juliette December 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I’m looking forward to this series! I know exactly what you mean about wishing you could write handwritten notes to the inspiring people we interact w/online! ;-)

    And Emily Chambers, yes, so inspiring! Her book has been on my wishlist for a while now…why don’t I have that yet?? I’ll have to remind Santa…

  • Reply Kinga December 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I love this idea! How absolutely wonderful and sincere! I get what you mean about e-mails, they hardly seem personal enough. I’ve written a few Thank you e-mails and in some cases got no reply…which is fine it’s not why I wrote them to begin with, but you do wonder if the person has received it…with such a public declaration there is no way a person doesn’t know how appreciated they are…It’s amazing! Can’t wait to read more…

  • Reply shelbi December 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    what a beautiful letter Holly!

  • Reply andrea December 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Holly, this is such a marvellous idea! I’m so hearing you on the “we need to be more thoughtful, kind and appreciative” bit! There’s so much to give and gain in the design community and it’s so nice to be amongst all these wonderful people who seem to speak the same language. Your letter to Emily is beautiful.
    Thanks for this,
    x Andrea

  • Reply mtbluestocking December 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm


    I wish I HAD known and read your blog from its very beginning. I am a new follower to many design blogs, but there are a few that stand out because of the passion you describe. Thank you for your passion and excellence and introducing me to other inspiring creatives such as Emily Chalmers.

    Looking forward to a long blogger-reader relationship,

  • Reply anka December 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I think it is such a lovely idea. I think all bloggers should try this once in a while.

  • Reply Carola December 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Very nice blog! Congratulations!!
    Inspiring and delicate. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply tina December 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    What strikes me most about you, Holly, is how brave you are and how you set your own ‘trends’. You have a powerful way of reaching and penetrating people (not easy to do online) and it’s always from the depth of your heart and soul. I felt the same way when you wrote the post about being away from your husband for longer than usual and unconditional love. Bravo on your new ‘dear friend’ column. Thank you for the continued inspiration! Gosh, I think Emily will burst out in tears as about to give birth (or has she already?). We in London miss ‘Caravan’ hugely and can’t wait for her new enterprise..

  • Reply Aina December 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I just bought one of Emily’s books today! Before reading this post! I’ve always been so impressed by her work, so creative and so talented. I really recommend her books!
    Your post is amazing, it’s a great idea!

  • Reply Valentina December 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Dear Holly,

    This is such a wonderful idea and the letter you wrote to Emily has touched my heart deeply. Her work is special and her shop also and I imagine she must be a very inspiring lady :).

    On the other hand, I can say that for me you represent a great role model. You are the nicest, most thoughtful and sharing person I´ve met since being online through the blog world. I´ve been following your blog for almost 4 years now, but never leave any comment – I know, I´m bad, I promise to change in the future :).

    I dived into the blog world discovering decor8, style files and bloesem. While reading your blog I realized that you are a very sensitive and caring person and many times your posts have been encouraging for me. That made me feel good about my decisions and the totally new road that I decided to choose in my life.

    In one moment of weakness and uncertainty, there were many of course, I wrote you a personal letter. I did not expect a reply because I know your mailbox must be loaded with all kinds of letters. But I was pleasantly surprised a few months later, when I looked in my mailbox :). It really meant a lot to me.

    Today I write my own blog, have a small craft business and most of all I feel much happier. I invite you to peek into my world even though I rarely write in English.

    Thanks so much for this beautiful post today and I can´t wait to see who will be the next inspiring person that you´ll share with us.

  • Reply Judy Sitzer December 15, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Beautifully written Holly. Thank you for introducing me to Emily Chalmers. Her work inspiring. I love her style. Great addition to your already wonderful blog.

  • Reply Zane December 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    simply wonderful

  • Reply Karena December 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Holly thank you for introducing us to Emily who sounds like an absolutely fascinating and creative woman!! I look forward to more introductions!


  • Reply Ría December 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I love that letter. Her work is really inspiring.

  • Reply Glenda Childers December 16, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Writing thank you notes . . . is always a wonderful idea.


  • Reply Jennifer December 16, 2011 at 1:38 am

    What a wonderful idea Holly! Awesome!

  • Reply fenny setiawan December 16, 2011 at 2:22 am

    You are always so thoughtful and warm person, I really admire you in so many ways and you have no idea how much you inspired me especially through the blogging world. I am so happy being part of this community because I got to know you and other like minded persons.

    I love this column and I think this is a very special column, it thought me to be more appreciative toward persons that I hold dearly in my life.

    I also admire Emily’s work, love her Caravan shop (I think that’s the coolest shop that I ever know) also her books are in my waiting lists to buy too.

    Thank you so much once again to share and to instill me…Xo.

  • Reply bethania December 16, 2011 at 2:50 am

    I loved the letter and the idea behind it. I have Emily’s Flea Market Style, which I might have bought because of you. Thank you, Holly, for sharing your ideas and inspirations with us.

  • Reply julie December 16, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Dear Miss Holly- you have been and continue to be an inspiration to me. I have to agree with Valentina up above and give you thanks for producing this blog. I used to print out copy and paste selections from your blog to paste and comment on in my own paper journal-and get the books you reviewed and really, for me you opened up the internet as a structured place of beauty. I remember posts about orla kiely (CONGRTS ON HER SHOUT OUT to you IN HER BOOK) and coffee creative posts about photography and styling and identifying your own personal style. Just amazing to me that you walk in beauty and share it with those around you, not only on your blog but also in your book. There is a great deal of bravery you posess by sharing your vision with us. Thank you again, my warm wishes for a happy holiday, julie p

  • Reply the chronic utilitarian December 16, 2011 at 3:40 am

    i love this.

    i bet you have made emily smile big inside.

  • Reply Borghild December 16, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Very, very lovely Holly!!

  • Reply Julie the Alkaline Sister December 16, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Awe I luuuuv this idea! You are such a clever cookie! What a wonderful way to share your appreciation for someone and their impact on your life. She must be just delighted with your lovely letter. I think you have just begun a new trend that will add a brand new dimension of kindness to this world of blogging. Hats off to you! Hope you are well:)

  • Reply Saskia December 16, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I can still remember exactly: When I saw Emily’s book years ago for the first time in a store (in German it calls “Flohmarkt-Flair zuhause” ;), I HAD to buy it, because I finally had the feeling and the knowledge I’m not alone and that all I love about interior design is also being appreciated and lived by others. And you are so right, Holly, when you say, “after that, there was no looking back”.
    And YOU have helped a lot. Thank you!

  • Reply The Jeanny December 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Hi! I love your blog so much! Thank you for that great ideas every time! My (German) Blog is now 2 years old and i’d like to give you a (designed by me) blog award für decor8! Greetings from Vienna, Austria! Yours The Jeanny

  • Reply Maureen December 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Hi Holly,
    I love this idea of connecting more with the people who matters in our life, look forward to read more letters, enjoy the weekend!

  • Reply Isabel December 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The dining room is awesome!
    Very nice post ;)

  • Reply Jessica December 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    So inspiring and a good reminder about how important personal connections are!

  • Reply Angela December 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    What a lovely, lovely idea Holly! Look forward to your letters and watching the idea spread.

  • Reply Chloe C December 16, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Holly, This post sweetly reminded me to communicate! I am still around here, several times a week, enjoying what you are sharing and linking around a bit each day. Thank you for sharing your life and ideas and the other people you come in contact with.
    I recently had opportunity to meet up with several on-line contacts at once.
    It was wonderful, and underscored what genuine human beings are behind the avatars and icons and funny names we use online.
    Within your personal letter to Emily, I was really encouraged by the part where you wrote about writing your blog when you didn’t even know how many people were reading it, yet you kept on, and here you are!
    I joke that there are maybe 3 people in the world who look at mine, so reading that yesterday was very encouraging.
    You don’t know how encouraging! Really.
    Thanks for being you,
    and wishing you the best in the coming year.

  • Reply Bonnie McCarthy December 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    What an amazing letter. I completely agree that if we all expressed our gratitude, admiration and thanks more often this world would be a happier more beautiful place. After reading it, I think I have to go buy her books!! Holly, I hope you know that I am inspired by you too! Keep up the great work and Know that I’ll be writing my own letters to special people in the near future. All the best!

  • Reply dialoguewithspace December 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    beautiful and poetic! all i love :) thankssss

  • Reply Marcela December 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    What a lovely idea Holly!

  • Reply Ingrid December 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    This is in fact a very unusual way of recreating an interior space! I love the feeling is quiet rustic!

  • Reply Monica Lee December 17, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Catching up with your blog, Holly and this was such a lovely letter. It is so thoughtful of you and I like that you spread love and gratitude, it really speaks to who you are!

  • Reply laura @ hollywood housewife December 17, 2011 at 2:50 am

    This is such a great idea. Every year, I try to write a few meaningful letters to people who I admire or need to thank. But you’ve inspired me to do this publicly, maybe!

    I love a handwritten note, but it’s sort of like receiving flowers. You like looking at them yourself, but sometimes you want the world to see, too!

  • Reply Mer December 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Beautiful idea Holly. Really love this and yes Emily is such a visionary. And I’m pretty sure I could write my own dear Holly Becker letter. Thanks for all you’ve brought to table.


  • Reply Deanna December 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    So nice to see someone so talented give respect to someone so talented.

  • Reply Deborah Velásquez December 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    The series sounds wonderful. It will be a good read as well as great inspiration. I love how you write Holly it is so soulful. The series is a nice combination of old fashion connections through the written word in todays online environment, gotta love it!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente December 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Oh, Holly…you are such a generous & beautiful gal~ Truly. What an incredibly lovely idea and so beautifully written. I adore Emily’s work and what an honor to be written a note like this. You are a special & radiant light in this world of blogs. So special indeed….

  • Reply christy sheffield December 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    oh how lovely! i am inspired to write my own “dear friend” letters to those I admire in the blogging community.

  • Reply shannon berrey design December 18, 2011 at 2:57 am

    I am really looking forward to this series!! What a great idea and a wonderful way to encourage friends who have made a difference in our lives. I look forward to each letter.

  • Reply Merrill December 18, 2011 at 5:12 am

    I just borrowed that book from the library! So very cool and retro and very anthropologie like. Today it inspired me to put away some of my new stuff and dig out some of my old stuff.

  • Reply Kat December 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Hi holly
    Oh I agree so much, personal connections are the most important thing within blogging and I have always respected your ability to have a massive blog readership yet remain personally connected to them.
    Posts such as these show that same caring nature you have and I’m sure it must have touched Emily immensely as well as highlighting to those reading just what she has achieved.
    It’s so true that she had the courage to create her books in the decorating style she loved but which was not considered as stylish back then. How times have changed! Though it could be considered a trend (flea market style, thrift style, homespun) I don’t believe it’s going anywhere, I think it’s here to stay as a refreshing alternative to the perfect look, as you mentioned.
    I’m looking forward to your future letters and it’s a beautiful way to give back for all the inspiration received from others
    Kat x

  • Reply The Dandelion Chronicles December 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    What a wonderful feature! I am touched on her behalf and yes, time sometimes outrun us but this is a greta way to let people know that we think about them and that we are inspired by their work.

    Love it.
    Merry Christmas.

  • Reply Gill May 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    What a wonderful idea and what a beautifully writeen heartfelt letter to an amazing woman.
    By the way, yours is the interior design/decor blog I most see written about, referred to and revered everywhere so you are not forgotten as a pioneer in your field too.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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