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Storage Wish List (+ some organizing tips)

I can really get into wish listing things. Are you with me? They are a lot of fun to pull together but even more, they often motivate me to get things done or to have a certain goal to work towards. Currently, I’m wish listing storage items for my home – everything from zip bags for blankets to bins and magazine folders. There is no doubt about it, when I’m organized I can do my best work. What about you? Some function really well in chaos but I need definite places for everything and a neat space so that my ideas can flow freely. If I’m not organized, I feel like I’m walking in wet sand up to my knees. To motivate myself to get organized at home, I created a wish list for furniture that I’d like to share with you that is both good looking and practical that I also know can help me to get my act together. Introducing my storage wish list…

Storage Wish List

Pretty, right? I love wooden cabinets, preferably vintage, in gray tones, gray-browns, creamy whites and pure whites… I like them painted inside in a favorite color that is really striking or wallpaper inside. I like hardware that is pretty like hand-painted ceramic knobs. But most of all, I like containing my stuff in set places so I can have some peace of mind! I don’t know if you are the same, but when I can’t find my scissors or packing tape for a box I’m about to send I get a little peeved!

I believe that everything in the home should have a place. Keys, spices, dish towels, linens, tacks, scissors… you simply must devote a space to everything, including spare buttons and stamps, because those are always the items that you turn over your house trying to find the second you need them and you know you have a stamp laying around somewhere! Another organization tip is that you have to return items to their nook immediately after use to avoid clutter and chaos as well.

I’m currently in the process of organizing my home and for me it means buying furniture. I’ve not purchased much for my new place since moving in last October. I know, eek is right! The space I had before this one was significantly smaller (550 sq ft) so I had all of the storage and furniture that I needed in a one bedroom apartment. But now that my home has 2,300 sq ft and huge open rooms, I need to furnish it properly. First though, I’ve spent a lot of time THINKING. I really needed to get a feel for this massive city apartment – a feel for the space, what I want to do in each room, etc. before investing in furniture. It’s natural when you first move in to a home to go out and buy everything and be done with it within a few weeks. Problem with that is, you make purchases you often regret later on. You have to get a feel for the space before investing in quality pieces of furniture.

Would you like to see the first item that I purchased on my storage wish list? Here it is….

Wish List Storage

Above you can see my new cabinet shown in the Lys Vintage shop in Hamburg. I first “met” it several months ago in person and fell in love at first sight. I particularly love how solid it is and that it’s this gorgeous gray brown wood with glass doors. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a new piece but made from vintage wood and that it is from France. It will arrive in just a few weeks and I cannot wait to use it. Once it arrives, I’ll show you where I’ve placed it in my home and what I’ve put inside so perhaps it will motivate you to get organized if you’re not currently. I ordered it from Simone who owns Lys Vintage and curates the lovely selection in this favorite shop of mine located in nearby Hamburg.

Now I’m looking for a closet with a single door, in wood, that I can put in my guest bedroom. We will use it to store winter coats and also as a place for guests to hang some of their garments. I am sourcing for something like this one currently, can you see it there in the left corner in creamy white? I think Simone sold this one, so I’m in the prowl for something similar, definitely an antique and not a reproduction piece, for the guest room.

Wish List Storage

My next dream storage cabinet is shown below, it’s a photo taken by Debi Treloar for my book, Decorate!

Wish List Storage

This beauty is tall, antique, from France, gray, solid wood, and inside it has only shelves so it would be perfect for my work room to use as a crafts/props closet where I can store everything that I use and love but can also hide stuff in an attempt to have less visual clutter in my work area since it distracts me quite a lot. I’m not sure where I can find a cabinet like it, most likely a flea market or eBay, so I’m on the prowl… This one is in Tine’s dining room, owner of Tine K Home. Does anyone have some leads for me? Ideally I’d love one in gray like Tine’s but I have plenty of paint and so I don’t care what color the cabinet is in because if it’s wood, I can paint it! I also want to wallpaper inside… Because Shannon Fricke’s cabinet below that I wrote about nearly a year ago hasn’t left my radar.

Shannon Fricke

And finally, do you remember Atelier Charivari that I wrote about awhile back as well? I fell head over heels in love with this cabinet below with the green interior. See…

Atelier Charivari

And yes, I’m also looking for something like this for my home too. I hope to eventually find all of the storage that I need (German homes and apartments typically do not come with closets so no room in my home has one except for the kitchen, hence my need for storage!). Remember, I’m American. I come from the land of walk-in closets so this has been an adjustment for me.

So those are my dream storage cabinets, currently on my wish list with the exception of the one I will soon own and the others that I hope to have the patience to source and find.

What’s currently on your wish list? Does your wish list motivate you or depress you? Do you have links to share to pages where you keep your wish lists?

(images: first two: lys vintage, third: debi treloar for decorate.)

Posted in shopping on May 10, 2011

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

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.

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