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Accepting Natural Pauses + Japan Inspired

Good morning friends and happy new week to you! I want to share a little inspiration from Japan and nature today but first I thought I’d talk about something I sense a lot of you are feeling lately – unmotivated! Personally, I finally feel like I’ve come out from under a big blanket that covered me from new year’s until today! I’ve been inspiration-challenged and unmotivated, like my creative fuel tank was at 1/4 and slipping rapidly towards empty! I get this feeling each and every January and attribute it to nature’s way of saying, “Slow down. Rest up, enjoy the silence in your head because it will soon be full speed ahead!”, and well… Nature knows best.

IKEA Japan Inspired

Animals hibernate, trees stand naked with exposed limbs, soil freezes over with no signs of life and yet we always-hungry-for-more humans still push with all of our might to fly forward without any rest or reflection. The moment our body tells us to pause we think something is wrong and freak out. More and more, because I’ve noticed this January pattern for several years now and am “on” to it,  I think something is right when I feel like doing a lot of nothing. My January down time is something I expect and roll with these days…  Who cares, I reason, I’ll get back on my feet soon enough. This month, I caught up on a ton of boring administrative work, read some novels, went to museums and lingered a lot, did horrible expense report stuff and tax stuff and tried to prepare for the year before me. I cooked and cleaned and ironed and felt crabby a lot. I ate sweets and drank wine and just did my downhill spiral January thing. After three weeks of a giant TIME OUT, I woke up feeling like Holly 2.0 today which makes me happy because I know that I’ve gotten through it,  my groove is back and now I can begin again. I hope you are feeling energized too or are on your way and if not, you’ll get there. Don’t worry. You’ll soon emerge from your little bear cave, too. You need these natural pauses, I think it’s good for the mental health over all other things. Learn to accept them and yourself, down time is exactly what you need in order to do your best work when your body says that you are ready.

IKEA Japan Inspired

IKEA Japan Inspired

With that, let’s chat for a moment about pure simple living because this is being highlighted by IKEA’s Livet Hemma blog as one big trend for 2012 and I have to agree with them – though in my opinion, not necessarily only Japanese-inspired for me but nature-inspired from anywhere be it Norway, the California coast, Finland or the Alps… it’s nature that gives us the call to balance and simplicity that centers us. Japanese tend to work with raw concrete, natural woods and light colors in their design and these elements are inspiring rooms in the home in the western world, too. Harmonious natural elements make us happy and for me, these tactile elements help me enormously to connect to my environment as I like to touch a lot – I relate and explore through touch which I am sure annoys every shop I enter because I tend to touch everything. Tactile natural elements are also nice to live around because of their warmth and welcome spirit but for some, the less “busy” an interior is (not a lot of color, clean, simple, etc.), the more inspiration can flow in and around that person.

Do you appreciate this simple, calm style in your interior too? Are you feeling inspired for 2012 yet or still in a creative coma hung over from all of the work you did in 2011? Talk to me people.

(images: Nina Broberg/IKEA Livet Hemma)

Posted in trends on January 23, 2012
decor8 great.ly shop

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

I’m always seeking out fresh ways to be more creative at home, especially when it comes to decorating. I also love to browse for ideas that I can share on decor8 that are inspirational on some level. You never know when you may see something and have that light bulb moment, right? We all need inspiration but often I find that this inspiration gets dropped into a folder never to be found again. I decided that starting this week, I will pick one small project from my inspiration folders to actually experiment with at home – one per week. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Here are 10 creative ideas that I found to be quite out of the box. I wonder which one will resonate with you? Or perhaps several?

Idea 1: Wallpapered Door Panels from Martha Stewart, Idea 2: a Polaroid heart made using tons of Polaroids of course from the portfolio of Warren Heath and Idea 3: Stack magazines in an unused fireplace as a design element but also quite a practical storage space from French by Design. This also works because the spines are neutral and the magazines are the same width. Bear this in mind if you try this at home.

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 4: Frame fabric or wallpaper that you love (especially practical for renters!) and mount to the wall for a bit of pattern and color, this photo comes from BH&G.

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 5: Using chalk, sketch an rough outline of something that you admire (like a chandelier) on a wall painted in chalkboard paint OR on a chalkboard mounted or leaning against your wall. This clever ideas is from Velvet, a cafe in Croatia designed by owner Saša Šekoranja that Sania Pell photographed recently for her blog.

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 6: Why not wallpaper a wooden headboard from BH&G? Of if you don’t have a headboard, try tracing an outline of one on your wall with pencil and cut wallpaper to size and mount directly onto the wall.

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 7: Change up your eat-in kitchen by mixing up your chairs – things don’t always have to match! If you have wooden floors and want to change things up, stain them in a very deep chocolate brown for a more rustic “French bistro” look. It’s not nearly the huge commitment that painting floors black entails, but the darkened wood elevates the space in my opinion and looks quite stunning. This photo is from Alvhem, a real estate agency and interior design firm in Sweden.

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 8: Group lovely things together that have special meaning to you. This is from graphic designer and knitter extraordinaire Sandra Juto in Berlin, a Swedish lady whom I’m very fond of for her authenticity, wit, courage and amazing eye for style. Here she shows that you don’t even need to use frames in the correct size to make a stylish statement. Love this!

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 9: Pick a palette and layer from there, on my own dresser at home I’ve placed all of the things that I use and love and they happen to work rather nicely together!

10 Creative Decorating Ideas

Idea 10: Paint your fireplace in a bold color and group art from mantle top to ceiling and forget the glass, just find frames and paint them all in the same color, inserting art inside fixed to the wall so the focus first is the art and grouping, THEN people notice the frames. This is exactly what Regas NY did in their studio and I love it, via Brooklyn Bride.

See any ideas to try at home?

(images linked to their sources above.)

Posted in Decorating Tips on January 20, 2012

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

Isn’t it inspiring to see how people live in other parts of the world? If you hop on the train near my house and travel for 90 minutes just east from here you will be in Berlin and I’ve said it a million times already but that city is nothing short of inspiring. The many apartments and homes there blow my mind too because the old buildings ooze with character because all of the original details that make me so happy from ceramic-tiled stoves to herringbone wooden floors and original ceiling medallions (not the plastic press and stick kind!) are delightfully intact.

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

I first introduced you to interiors blog/website Freunde von Freunden when they launched but they’ve since published a book based on their site that I flipped through in their cafe and thought it was nice and definitely a great way to give the creative community in Berlin a platform to show how they live, work and decorate there. Love it! I visit Fvf a few times a month for inspiration and comb their wonderful stories and videos for inspiration yet I always find myself back on their Berlin-based properties which are cleverly cool though admittedly mismatched, wonky, undecorated, edgy, unedited, yet still super appealing, charming and a delight to behold. Berlin style is very laid back, lived-in and personal and I find that alone incredibly inspiring.

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

The Homes of Freunde von Freunden

Fvf has recently expanded their views outside of Berlin to include studios and homes in places like New York City and London. I selfishly hoped they’d venture further to explore places like Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Turkey, Russia and even more German cities but it doesn’t look as though I’ll get my wish anytime soon as the more popular locations (London, NY)  seem to be calling their creative hearts.

I believe strongly though that whoever starts venturing into the lesser-known spots (not just the recognizable design meccas – too easy!) to find inspiration and shoot homes that they could OWN a completely uncharted market — especially in cities that you barely see in glossy mags and books. It takes risk and courage but I’d love to see someone do something that hasn’t been done yet. Most publications here and especially in the UK and US simply don’t have the budget to run to Warsaw for a shoot so I wonder why Fvf doesn’t just jump in and go for it? They have a wonderful platform for this and are evidently very creative and not geographically challenged at all – Berlin is only a trade ride away from the often unexplored east. If I had a crew of people and the budget for it, I’d do an entire book centered on creatives living and working in cities like Moscow, Budapest, Bucharest, Warsaw, Prague and yes, Berlin (of course). Just a few thoughts…

Homes shown in this post are from Magnus Reed in Berlin-Schöneberg, Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel in Berlin-Mitte and Silke Neumann in Berlin-Moabit. Such beautiful light-filled spaces and gorgeous classical details!

(images: Fvf)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips, travel on January 20, 2012

ONE by Victoria Alexander

As I sit here cross-legged on my sofa with a cup of lavender earl grey tea and Jo Malone’s Grapefruit candle providing the perfect ambiance, I’m reminded of one simple truth:  Moments of solitude can be the most soul-stirring and magical touch points in life.

ONE book review

I love my living room where I am writing this because it’s the one place in my home where I can truly live and do all of the things that I take pleasure in – entertaining, writing, reading, watching films, even taking an occasional cat nap, exercising, dancing or enjoying nothing more than tea and Amy Winehouse on my stereo. Just a few moments ago I was engrossed in answering a reporter’s email when the bell rang and I accepted a package of books I had ordered — All 11 V&A Pattern Books that I’ve been dying to own arrived along with a jaw-droppingly tactile new book I mistakenly spotted (and so glad I did!) called “One” by Victoria Alexander published by Murdoch Books. One? What’s that? Here is a show following by a tell.

ONE book review

ONE book review

ONE book review

Pages with ruffled edging (oh my!), a few lovely inserts like an envelope here, a small card there… Gorgeous matte paper with a lovely weight to it, lots of snappy travel photos, quotes throughout, layered elements of papers, maps, fabrics… It’s stunning from a visual perspective and though I’ve just begun to read it, I am certain I’ll finish this book because it’s the perfect combination of self-help and visuals.

I must admit, I barely read self help books, not because I don’t need to (ha ha!) but because I don’t like to read them. Too much text, too much blah blah. Often a writer can take an entire chapter and edit it down to two pages because we don’t always need the full scoop. I’m happy to get half a scoop with photos allowing me to explore the missing half, the half that I can search and find on my own. I like books that allow me to come to my own conclusion in the end. If a book that talks about the journey of someone’s life — what they’ve learned, where they’ve been and how they approached then solved their many issues allow the way — and combines those words with photography throughout I am absolutely going to pick it up and give it a good solid flip through. If I read a few sentences and the word “I” is used ad naseum, the book returns to the shelf but on the other hand, if it captures my heart through text and imagery from the very first page then its love at first sight and it will be on its merry little way to the cashier’s desk clutched tightly to my chest. I know a gem when I spot it.

One – Living As One and Loving It is such a gem.

About this book the publisher says, “One is a celebration of individuality and life. Author Victoria Alexander writes with humour and wisdom about the importance of believing in and valuing ourselves. She reminds us to trust in ourselves, try things on for size, take risks and ask for what we want – after all, we might just get it. At its heart, this beautifully layered collection of stories, quotes, reflections and evocative images is about the power of choice and about enjoying life, with all its shifts and changes. Its message is universal: accept who you are and who you can be, whether you live alone, or whether you are one of many. ” I can’t wait to explore more about this book, to dig more deeply and to find out more about a book that is meant for everyone – from those living alone to those in relationships, as I think we all can feel very alone at times whether in a huge family or simply as a party of one in our little cottage by the sea.

Do you have a copy of One? What do you think of it? Isn’t it sumptuous?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on January 19, 2012

Books:

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