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Dear Emily Chalmers

The one thing I’m hearing the most lately is the need to make more personal connections with others both on and offline. I’ve been teaching creative crafting, decorating and blogging classes (in person) for over a year now and started teaching (online) in March 2009 as my way to connect with others more intimately. It’s had a very positive impact on my life. Personal connections are key for me. I thought that it would be nice to write more letters to those whom I admire in an effort to connect even more. What is nicer than being told how wonderful you are via a handwritten note?

Dear Emily

But then I thought of the enormous amounts of time it would take to actually DO this because everything in theory sounds great but the reality of the idea would potentially consume me. There are so many wonderful and creative people that I’ve met through this fascinating world of design and blogging – I’m sure you can say the same and I try to tell them through email how special they are but then…. I thought… How could I do something even more special than firing off a quick email? Perhaps it would be better to celebrate these friendships in a more public way? That’s when the idea to start my new column, Dear Friend, came to mind.

Each week, most likely on Thursdays, I’ll write a love note publicly to someone who matters to me and who inspires me in some way. My hope is to share a really great person with all of you and that maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own Dear Friend love letters on your blog too. We need to be more thoughtful, kind and appreciative. So much on the internet is for free, so many people’s hard work is shared at no expense, why not celebrate them in a personal way from time to time?

I thought I’d kick off this column today by writing to one of the most talented flea market junkies that I know, London-based author, shop owner and stylist Emily Chalmers.

Dear Emily

Emily busy at work in her London studio

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15 December 2011

Dear Emily,

I’m not sure I’ve ever told you this, but your work has made a difference in my life and in how I look at interiors. You really stand out as one of my top 10 favorite creative women. I’ve always loved the finer details but through you, I’ve come to appreciate the little things even more that can be easily overlooked in the hustle bustle of the everyday. Your most cherished collection of books in my library, which have served as my primary connection to your marvelous brain, have given me loads of joy and inspiration. Through you, 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).

Through your 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 your work are well aware that you were there celebrating this trend of imperfect interiors long before it became cool to publicly confess to liking it. In fact in 2005, your book introduced so many to the chic side of Flea Market Style and after that, there was no looking back. To me, you are the pioneer of everything from flea market style to granny chic and boho chic.

Dear Emily

I’m writing this letter to you Emily, so publicly, because your eye and talent have given much to so many and I hope that you recognize 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. You 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 you, Emily Chalmers, were to what is happening today in Interiors. You 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 your work in the work and even retail spaces of others. What an amazing thing for you to witness all of this – you can see what has become of your willingness and courage to share your vision and how it’s taken off. Your courage to go out there and tell the world what Emily Chalmers thinks and loves really rocks. I’m so inspired by the many intricate pieces that make up the whole of who you are Emily, from your sweet emails to how you made a special effort to meet me at my book launch in London and perhaps you’ve never known just how greatly you’ve influenced me. Your courage, your vision, your talent and your amazing ability to curate and live the life you were made to live is beautiful, authentic, inspiring and refreshing. Your reputation is unblemished – everyone who has met you tells me you are 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 trendsetter. You use good old-fashioned warmth, talent, hard work and honesty to advance yourself and I admire that. You are the real deal.

Dear Emily

And so I will close this letter to you dear Emily to say that I’m enormously grateful that you are who you are and I hope to see many more books and beauty streaming from your creative mind to your many fans as the years roll forward. Those grateful enough to love what they do are sometimes given the privilege to write them down in a book with the goal to share that passion and knowledge with hopes of making even a tiny difference. 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.

xo Holly

(photography: inga powilleit)


Posted by decor8 in Dear Friend on December 15, 2011

Your comments...

  1. Amy Grace commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 8:11pm

    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!
    Amy Grace´s last blog post ..Daily Covet: I just can’t get enough

  2. MondaysMilk commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 8:23pm

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

  3. Ada @ New York commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 8:32pm

    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).
    Ada @ New York´s last blog post ..{ hi } … xmas village skiers – glue to the rescue!

  4. tinajo commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 8:38pm

    This is lovely – makes me smile. :-)
    tinajo´s last blog post ..Tripod in the house and Mail time!

  5. Juliette commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 8:40pm

    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…
    Juliette´s last blog post ..Wrapping Gifts for the Post

  6. Kinga commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:08pm

    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…

  7. shelbi commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:19pm

    what a beautiful letter Holly!

  8. andrea commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:19pm

    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
    andrea´s last blog post ..favourite free christmas printables

  9. mtbluestocking commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:23pm


    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,

  10. anka commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:33pm

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

  11. Carola commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 9:42pm

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

  12. tina commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 10:09pm

    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..

  13. Aina commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 10:37pm

    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!
    Aina´s last blog post ..MAGRANES

  14. Valentina commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 11:07pm

    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.

  15. Judy Sitzer commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 11:20pm

    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.

  16. Zane commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 11:44pm

    simply wonderful
    Zane´s last blog post ..I got the poison, I got the remedy

  17. Karena commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 11:56pm

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

    Karena´s last blog post ..Grand Finale Holiday Giveaway from Greyfreth Antiques

  18. Ría commented
    December 15th, 2011 at 11:56pm

    I love that letter. Her work is really inspiring.
    Ría´s last blog post ..De Siena Shoes

  19. Glenda Childers commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 12:58am

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

    Glenda Childers´s last blog post ..Cookies for Heroes

  20. Jennifer commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 1:38am

    What a wonderful idea Holly! Awesome!

  21. fenny setiawan commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 2:22am

    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.

  22. bethania commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 2:50am

    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.

  23. julie commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 3:39am

    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

  24. the chronic utilitarian commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 3:40am

    i love this.

    i bet you have made emily smile big inside.
    the chronic utilitarian´s last blog post ..alphabetic equestrian

  25. Borghild commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 6:09am

    Very, very lovely Holly!!

  26. Julie the Alkaline Sister commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 6:46am

    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:)
    Julie the Alkaline Sister´s last blog post ..Tomato Basil stuffed Spaghetti Squash w/ Garlic Almond Cheeze-Weight loss with whole foods??

  27. Saskia commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 9:45am

    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!
    Saskia´s last blog post ..Fairy Tales by TASCHEN

  28. The Jeanny commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:20am

    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
    The Jeanny´s last blog post ..Jeanny’s Feuilleton wird 2 Jahre alt!

  29. Maureen commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:34am

    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!

  30. Isabel commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:42am

    The dining room is awesome!
    Very nice post ;)
    Isabel´s last blog post ..Un apartamento sueco / A swedish apartment

  31. Jessica commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 3:54pm

    So inspiring and a good reminder about how important personal connections are!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..Shimmer & Sand Table Card Holder

  32. Angela commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 6:05pm

    What a lovely, lovely idea Holly! Look forward to your letters and watching the idea spread.
    Angela´s last blog post ..Angela Ritchie

  33. Chloe C commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 6:45pm

    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.
    Chloe C´s last blog post ..The Protester, cover of Time Magazine by Shephard Fairey

  34. Bonnie McCarthy commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 6:48pm

    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!
    Bonnie McCarthy´s last blog post ..Simple Giving: DIY Rice Sock

  35. dialoguewithspace commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 7:17pm

    beautiful and poetic! all i love :) thankssss
    dialoguewithspace´s last blog post ..COLOR PALETTE JANVIER / 2012

  36. Marcela commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 9:05pm

    What a lovely idea Holly!
    Marcela´s last blog post ..GANADOR!!

  37. Ingrid commented
    December 16th, 2011 at 9:28pm

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

  38. Monica Lee commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 1:46am

    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!
    Monica Lee´s last blog post ..Understanding Your Audience or How to Think Like a Shopper

  39. laura @ hollywood housewife commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 2:50am

    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!
    laura @ hollywood housewife´s last blog post ..friday links – fashion show edition

  40. Mer commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 7:41am

    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.


  41. Deanna commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 5:34pm

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

  42. Deborah Velásquez commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 6:55pm

    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!
    Deborah Velásquez´s last blog post ..Words Replayed

  43. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 9:44pm

    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….
    Melissa de la Fuente´s last blog post ..Closer to home

  44. christy sheffield commented
    December 17th, 2011 at 11:47pm

    oh how lovely! i am inspired to write my own “dear friend” letters to those I admire in the blogging community.
    christy sheffield´s last blog post ..A Christmas Tree for Baby H

  45. shannon berrey design commented
    December 18th, 2011 at 2:57am

    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.

  46. Merrill commented
    December 18th, 2011 at 5:12am

    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.

  47. Kat commented
    December 18th, 2011 at 10:52pm

    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
    Kat´s last blog post ..Harry and Aliona win Strictly

  48. The Dandelion Chronicles commented
    December 19th, 2011 at 4:44pm

    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.
    The Dandelion Chronicles´s last blog post ..{SlowFashion Christmas}

  49. Gill commented
    May 6th, 2012 at 2:26pm

    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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