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What Autumn Is…

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.

Anna Malin Lindgren 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.

Anna Malin Lindgren

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.

Anna Malin Lindgren 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.

Anna Malin Lindgren

Anna Malin Lindgren

Anna Malin Lindgren

Anna Malin Lindgren

Anna Malin Lindgren

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)

Posted in inspiration on October 10, 2011

Meeting Artists Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

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!

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice Exhibit

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.

Jennifer Davis and Amy Rice

Amy Rice (L) and Jennifer Davis (R)

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice Exhibit

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice Exhibit

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice Exhibit

Jennifer Davis + Amy Rice Exhibit

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)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on October 07, 2011

Visiting Rachel Ashwell at Home

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.

Rachel Ashwell's Kitchen

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…

Rachel Ashwell's Living Room

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

Details

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…

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

Shabby Chic Couture Shop, LA

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)

Posted in designers, Home Tours on October 07, 2011

Gatherings e-Magazine

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-mag

Gatherings e-mag

Gatherings e-mag

Gatherings e-mag

Gatherings e-mag

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)

Posted in Books + Magazines on October 07, 2011

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

eCourses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way: Blog Boss
e-course, October 10 - November 10, 2014
Find out more about this exciting class by bloggers, for bloggers, teaching you how to blog like a boss!