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What Sums Up Your Dream Kitchen?

Ah, there is nothing like a custom kitchen. Whether you do it yourself, try a budget-friendly option like IKEA, or go all out and design a kitchen having it completely customized to suit your needs, there is truly nothing like having the kitchen of your dreams. I don’t care what “they” say, money can buy a measure of happiness. HA! :)

Kitchen Inspiration

Thing is, so few of us have our dream kitchen. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but it’s true right? I look at most kitchens that I see and love and think, “Seriously?”, because there is just no way people really live like that. I don’t have my dream kitchen mainly because I rent and there are limits to what I can do. When I designed my kitchen using the online IKEA planner (smile) and some of my own to-scale sketches, I kept thinking of how I would have gone all out if I actually owned this flat. I’m happy with my kitchen but it’s not my dream. It’s definitely not epic! I can’t install the subway tile that I really want nor can I install hardwood floors, the killer lighting or knock a hole in the wall to create a larger space. I am dying to add a transom window over my doorway to let in more light.For my upcoming book, we photographed a home in the south of England and this homeowner had the best kitchen ever – when I was styling it I was secretly pretending it was my kitchen. I lived the dream for the day on that shoot because not only was the kitchen to-die-for but the entire home was drool inducing. You’ll see it in my book that releases this Fall. It was completely custom and so clever and very English.

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchens are my latest obsession, I think about them constantly! I think it’s because there are so many options these days when it comes to the overall design of them. There are oodles of great kitchen designers and companies who make dreams come true everyday. Though I cannot trick out my kitchen anytime soon, I still borrow from some of their ideas and often find inspiration for my big fat dream kitchen that I tuck away in a folder for when the time comes when I can design my own from the ground up. Consider Plain English Cupboardmakers for instance. They have a gorgeous and very English approach to kitchen design that I absolutely love. When they contacted me about sharing their kitchens on decor8 this morning I thought about how timely it was because just yesterday I was thinking about my own kitchen and what I could do to make it better.

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

By the way, have you noticed that some of the best kitchens come out of Scandinavia, America, Germany and England at the moment? But the same goes for cookery books. That’s my opinion, but when I see kitchen design in these countries and go to fairs I’m always blown away. The kitchen fairs in Germany have some killer kitchens on display, for real. But then again, Germany is developing into a total foodie culture so I’m not surprised that their kitchen appliance obsession has morphed into world class kitchen design. I often wonder if the restaurants and cafes here in all major cities (not just Berlin and Hamburg for instance) will evolve as well because I’ve been visiting regularly since 1999 and have witnessed huge changes in the culture of food as a whole… But I’m rambling. Back to kitchens.

What kind of kitchen do you dream of when you think of the ideal workspace to whip up your meals? Would it be eat-in? Open plan? A cook’s kitchen? How do you imagine it? I think Amy Neunsinger’s kitchen in LA, which was in my first book, is one of my ultimate dream kitchens – you can see photos of it below.

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

Isn’t it AMAZING? When I found out that actress and GOOP-founder Gwyneth Paltrow shot a few of her cookbooks in Amy’s kitchen I wasn’t surprised because that was truly a gorgeous space.

SO…Do you currently have a dream kitchen? Is it a tear from a magazine, a page flagged in a book, an entire folder of kitchens on Pinterest? Here is my kitchen folder where I currently have 90 pins of favorite kitchens from around the world. So, tell me friends – what sums up your dream kitchen in a nutshell?

All of this kitchen talk has motivated me to go make some lunch! See you later friends! xo

(images: plain english cupboardmakers and all amy neunsinger photos from her own portfolio)

Posted in Rooms on April 30, 2012

My Happy Place (on Tumblr via Instagram)

Hello everyone and happy Monday to you! I’m not so keen on Mondays but I thought to inspire myself this morning that I would drink a few cups of Mate tea for energy and then snap some photos around my home and work studio using the Instagram app on my iPhone to push me in a positive direction. Taking a few photos never ceases to get me going — and Instagram makes it so easy that I’m using it more and more to capture stills of my life to not only share with others looking for inspiration but to, at times, inspire ME and to serve as motivation. Have you ever tried it? For me, it really works! Here are some views from my morning and a few snaps from my weekend.

Blogged today on decor8

If you want to follow me on Instagram (or Followgram on the web), you can simply look for ‘decor8′ and connect with me via the app OR if you don’t use Instagram that’s fine too because I post some of my better photos over on my Tumblr site, Happy Place. I’m not a big fan of Tumblr for posting others’ photos because rarely can you track the original source, but I made a pact with myself that if I only use it to share my Instagram photos, ones I’ve taken myself, that I could use it with a clear conscience.

I hope that you had a really nice weekend. I did some decor8-related work, went to an outdoor fair, walked for miles, caught up on some reading, had a friend over, watched a film and a few episodes of SMASH (oh my gosh the dreamy Brit!) cooked, bought a few bunches of flowers and did some work around the house. It was relaxing  – no stress – this is my motto for the weekend because we need a break don’t we?

What did you do this weekend? How do you inspire yourself on Monday mornings? I often wonder how you motivate yourself because sometimes it’s just so hard, isn’t it? Any creative routines or things in general that you do to motivate yourself to get your rear into gear??? :)

(images: holly becker)

Posted in Inspiration on April 30, 2012

Big News! My Second Book!

Oh boy, this is going to be a long post – I can feel it. I was chatting with a reader lately and she asked why I’d not been writing on decor8 like a mad woman as per my usual. I told her that my book was taking all of my time and she replied, “Didn’t Decorate release one year ago, what else is there to do?” and it was in that moment that I realized something. I may have hinted at it or mentioned it in passing here and there but I never wrote an official post to tell you my exciting news and though I have no clue why something SO IMPORTANT slipped my mind I have to tell you — I’m writing my second book and it will be called the Decorate Notebook! The cover you see here is not the final cover, but it’s already on Amazon and ready for pre-sale.

Book Announcement

In case you’ve not seen me on decor8 as frequently, that is why. I promise to pick up the pace again soon, but I’m on deadline until mid May so my schedule will be upside down for a few more weeks before posting is back to normal. Thing is, I’ve been working since January on it and lately the deadlines have been keeping me up late at night and robbing me of time, showers, family gatherings, you name it – I’m under the gun and working hard to deliver a book that you will love. It’s a labor of love, tears, pacing the hallway, scribbling notes all over the house, late nights writing until the wee hours… It’s a very passion-filled adventure, for sure!

After Decorate I had to really think about whether or not I wanted to write another book. The last thing I wanted was write one after another after another – I’m not interested in doing books just to do books, you know? I had to give a lot of thought to what was REALLY missing out there in the sea of decorating books and it dawned on me the moment I did one thing and I encourage you to do the same when you are trying to develop a new idea. I asked what I would want out of a decorating book. That’s what you have to do, right? Ask what is missing, and what you would like to see. This applies to almost everything. I got busy with a pen and for weeks I created list after list. After listing, I found my answer and while I knew that I would have my work cut out for me I felt ready to write book #2 and put my heart and soul into it. I trusted my instincts, put my ideas into a proposal and pitched it to my publisher and a deal was struck over a period of months as the pitch was delivered shortly after Decorate released. My vision with this book is to create an approachable guide written in my own blogging voice that you can learn from but beyond giving you tips and ideas, it will be a book that makes you really THINK about your own ideas, style, and to really dig deep and explore what makes you tick and how to translate all of that into ideas that work.

In February, March and April, I scouted locations that put me on flights and trains in both the US and Europe. I met so many lovely homeowners and had a lot of fun with photographer Debi Treloar who shot Decorate with me in 2010. Last week, we did a shoot here in my own home so you can see how I live and work because doesn’t it make sense to share that in my own decorating book? So in book #2 you will see my home.

Blogging has brought me so much. It has helped me to make some of the most wonderful friends and to build an entirely new career from the ground up. It has helped me to build my confidence, develop courage and to really pinpoint exactly what I’m good at and how I can use my talents to make a bigger contribution – to my family, my friends, my readers and beyond. I want you to know that I am forever grateful to your love, support and encouragement. I’m not one of those bloggers who gets a book deal or becomes a success and forgets where she came from – my roots are always close and dear to me. When I first started decor8, I was a cocktail of passion and fear, a younger version of who I am today who had just left behind her career to embark on the unknown. Fear aside, I knew back then that I would have had huge regrets for not trying so I went for it not knowing where blogging would lead me. I gave up the great job and benefits and threw myself into blogging and decorating under the name of my little decorating practice called decor8. Over 7 years have passed and my life has changed so much. I’m still scared at times, especially now because Decorate is a very hard act to follow but you know what, I have decided that I don’t need to be scared – that I need to simply trust my gut and do my best work from the heart. In the end, isn’t that all any of us can do? Our best?

Last week I spent the day in London – I literally flew in for a meeting with my publisher that lasted from 10-6 pm, jumped back on a plane at 8pm and flew 50 minutes home. It was a whirlwind day, in fact I’ve had a lot of whirlwind days since beginning my second book but I am determined and look forward to taking you with me for the ride – as we finalize everything over the next few weeks including the text (there is no co-author this time, only me), font decisions, layout ideas, cover ideas… It’s been a really complicated and emotional process to say the least. Like all authors who work on very visual books, I’m very attached to the overall design and feel of the book – aside from the words in it – I want it to be pretty and special and to offer something different. That is why, and I’m so happy to be able to finally tell you this, that each book (at least the UK copy, unsure about the US) will come with a special surprise. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I’m guessing you will really like it. I’ve never seen it used in a decorating book before so I’m hoping it will set a trend and that other authors will include something like it in their own books in the future, too.

Some of you who do know about the book have asked about another tour. I’m not sure if I’ll do a book tour with this one, it depends on sponsorship and ideas and who really wants me to come to their shop to present my book, teach a class, I’m open but also just unsure at the moment! My first book tour was sponsored by Anthropologie and Chronicle Books but we’ve not discussed a tour for this book yet so I’m unsure as to whether or not it will happen and when, how, etc. I’m thinking to have a launch party in London again (Liberty did the Decorate launch for me along with my publisher, Jacqui Small)  when the book releases in the UK and who knows, maybe I’ll have a launch in America too. I want to see everyone again, the first tour was so great – 20 cities total in both America and Europe – I would love to visit some of you again so I’ll definitely keep you posted. I hope to tour + teach again as I did the last time but we’ll have to wait and see…

BUT SERIOUSLY….I haven’t even thought through all of that yet, because in addition to this baby (my book) I am also trying to create a real baby! I finally felt the baby urge and though it’s a little later than I hoped, I’m just happy that I’m finally ready to have children and hope that I’ve not waiting too long. I’m staying positive though and so who knows, if I do go on another book tour or have a launch party, I may show up with a baby in my hands (my book) and another in my belly. Fingers crossed, that will be the case! But for now, one baby at a time — first, the book which will be born in October… Then, who knows? :) Maybe decor8, jr.?

So, I will end my little post with this. THANK YOU because I am so happy that I can finally really TALK about my book on my blog and I hope to share the news of it as it comes along.

(photo: holly becker)

Posted in Books + Magazines on April 28, 2012

Colorful Rug Round Up

I’ve been thinking about rugs a lot lately because I want a few for my home so I’ve been on the prowl… What’s currently on your wish list of things you’d love to add to your nest? For me, it’s a dresser for my bedroom, end tables, wallpaper for my bedroom and two rugs. Rugs add an important layer to a room. They can define a space, add comfort, bring in color or pattern (or both!), provide warmth, add texture, they can even be a focal point. Throw rugs are also very easy to relocate to other rooms. I recently got tired of seeing one of my rugs in my bedroom so I moved it to the entryway. In a few minutes, my entryway was transformed simply by “shopping” from another room.

Rug Love

I want to return soon to Istanbul because I love the rugs that I find there. I also adore the more modern and graphic patterns that you see by American designers like Madeline Weinrib (huge fan) and Jonathan Adler. Here are some rooms with very smart and grown up rugs…

Rug Love

Rug Love

Rug Love

Rug Love

The room shots shown above are from the lovely Lonny magazine, a mag that always seem to have rooms with the best rugs – have you noticed that? It seems all of the Lonny homes ooze with layered rooms with throw rugs being a must-have element for every room in the home.

I am loving these rugs as seen on the blog, Identical Eye. Wow, right?


If you tend to like rugs that are a bit more bold, floral and colorful, seek out Amy Butler rugs. Aren’t these pretty?


Do you fancy vintage rugs? Try Loom for these over-dyed vintage rugs. I have two that I bought in Turkey and LOVE them.


If all of this rug talk has you inspired, I’ve rounded up 8 lovely rugs from One Kings Lane that I like though this comes with a warning, I can’t actually afford any of them though perhaps you can so have a peek.

Rug Love

1. Arizona 2. Nico 3. Brayden 4. Raymond.

Rug Love

5. Hudson 6. Bennett 7. Sawyer 8. Max.

Another rug suggestion is to shop Anthropologie because they always have a beautifully curated selection.


If those beauties are a bit out of your budget, opt for West Elm rugs – they’re gorgeous and a bit lower in price. Check these out…




Another more budget option is to check out Urban Outfitters. See any below that you fancy? You can find them all online here.


Or if you are REALLY on a tight budget (or not because it’s great for ANY home) here is one rug that I keep going back to time and time again. It’s this one from IKEA. I owned it once and want to buy another eventually… I see it in so many great rooms – it’s a real favorite of mine.

With so many choices out there – where do you usually shop for rugs? Any secret sources?

(images: one kings road and lonny mag)

Posted in Round-ups, uncategorized on April 26, 2012


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