From The Heart, Ramblings

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

January 12, 2015

I’m in the mood for essay writing so sit back and pour yourself a cup of tea or glass of wine because we’re going to talk about safety in decorating and even safety in numbers. We’re going to discuss taking risks. This year I simply must make bolder choices in all areas of my life, decisions that feel big and scary at times, and to cast fears aside trading negative voices with enthusiastic chants in favor of the unknown. I believe that a trend in thinking will emerge this year very strongly, driven largely by our political and religious views, and that is to live boldly and stop mimicking everyone else simply to avoid ruffling feathers. Speak up more and have courage in all areas of life, and when you have freedoms, exercise them. Even something as seemingly small as a decorating choice at home. It’s your space, the one spot on this planet where you exercise absolute control and creative direction. Your personal style speaks volumes about you, don’t you think? Why not resolve to make your home a true reflection of you, or the you whom you aspire to become, for 2015?

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

Recently after installing Aimee Wilder’s spinx pina sola wallpaper in my entryway, I personally felt inspired to take more risks. The bold unexpected pattern pulled me right out of my “safe” decorating rut. Wallpaper or anything bold in the home can definitely rev up your confidence – the more you do crazy stuff and like it, the more risks you’re willing to take as a result since confidence builds and your take no prisoners girl power emerges. I have been combing wallpaper websites and Pinterest lately to support my opinion on the difference some wallpaper can make and found many great examples, I even took the time to pin them for you to see here and I also encourage you to visit my go-to online shop for wallpaper and wall murals called Photowall because that site just may light a spark under you, too.

When I look at any home, I don’t see what’s there. I see what could be there. I always tell my friends who are moving into dreadful homes they’ve purchased due to low costs and the idea of what “could be” to look at a room as 4 walls, a ceiling and a floor and strip it down to the bones and begin from there. Most can’t see beyond the ugly flooring or the bad 70s paneling but a room is a room. And nothing can change the interior like altering the walls and floors in some ways – this is when simple materials like paint and wallpaper can work magic.

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

I read once that if you desire a great life you must first allow yourself to feel uncomfortable on a regular basis because that is where the great stuff springs forth – when you step outside of your “normal” and jump without a net, without a “big picture”, and just go for it. When you try something completely random or even a little edgy or very over-the-top (at least your version of OTT). When you stop being so damn safe. For me, moving to Europe to settle in northern Germany from my cozy 1870’s carriage house in southern New Hampshire or leaving my cushy corporate job for interior design and blogging were both massive choices with huge risks involved.

Another was to write a book, then see it become an international bestseller only to then get the courage to write a second and so forth. Or having my baby, that was a massive decision and quite uncomfortable to go from living in absolute freedom to absolute responsibility.

But all of these things have enriched my life and made me a better version of myself. All of these things have contributed to my happiness. Not one was, or still is, easy. Running your own company is not easy. Working from home with a baby is not easy. Living in a foreign country speaking in a new language and navigating an entirely different culture is not easy. Making a decision to sink money into wallpapering a room is not easy. But in the end, these things add character and spark to your life. I also read somewhere recently that nobody writes songs about skinny butts. This was in reference to all of the big booty anthems out there today and so many women starving themselves to have runway-slim bodies. That may be considered the ideal, because so many women long to be super slim, but it’s not really that exciting if you live in a world where everyone had the same pants and cup size, right? Hence the big booty support and why there is support being voiced about veering from what’s considered optimal or the way one should look.

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

Giant golden pineapple wallpaper are my version of a big butt, of making a bolder choice and I love seeing my wallpaper each day as much now as I did when it went up. The pattern is fun but also glammy, makes a statement and is always a conversation starter. We had several guests over the holidays and everyone had an opinion which sometimes segued into lengthy conversations about art and design which are chats that I can get into for hours. And did. All because of some wallpaper.

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

It made me realize that even if others don’t love or they outright hate what you’ve done (or somewhere in between), doing something dramatic adds zest to your life because crazy decisions and nutty ideas often spark something bigger that a boring, safe choice simply won’t. When something in your home elicits strong emotion/reaction from visitors then following your gut and living authentically has paid off. You’re being you and that is exactly what you were born to do.

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

From The Heart: Leave Safe Behind + Make Bolder Decorating Choices

For 2015, I have a decorating wish, a decorating resolution for us all… Let’s make bolder choices and step away from safe ones. I see so many homes and styles all looking the same lately and it’s SO BORING to even peruse decor and style blogs right now because so many have collectively lost that zing which is a mix of personal style, opinion and zeal for individuality. Even food bloggers all look a like to me lately. We all need to reevaluate and step back a bit, don’t you think? I often wonder if everyone really does love the same things OR is it that because these things are accepted as the cool choice, and because it’s “safe” as a result to like them (since certain styles get lots of likes) that many just adopt these styles or even movements into our lives for the sake of fitting in and not so much because these are our personal, deep down choices. We have so many choices now in the design world at all price points, so why does it feel sometimes like we’re all shopping from the same catalog?

Something to think about, right?

(images: all wallpaper shown from photowall)


  • Reply Julzalicious January 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

    I do love your personal posts and this one is an exceptional plea for boldness! It goes right into my “exactly what I am thinking”-mood right now, maybe because I feel the urge to make some bold decisions myself in the upcoming months. Thanks!

    And these are some lovely wallpaper ideas! Surround yourself with boldness, see the positive outcome and be inspired :)

  • Reply Valerie January 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Great essay Holly :) it really does feel like for the past time in blogosphere and even pintetest decor looses a bold individual touch. My husband asks me already for so long to draw a mural on our entry wall. – an alternative to a wallpaper. I have to try to come out of my safety zone and just do it. He constantly teases me and says ” I married a designer and artist for a reason, or?” :) I love your revolutionary thinking Holly, always open the mind for weighting out new ways of thinking. Greetings, Valerie

  • Reply Naomi January 12, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Great inspiration for a dreary Monday morning! LOVE the picttures. I’ve been itching for some wallpaper and this might just put me over the edge.

  • Reply Florence January 12, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Dear Holly,
    happy new year! thanks for this inspiring post! I am French and I must say although interior design may seem a trivial topic in times like these, your post resonated on so many levels.
    So yes to living boldly and expressing our true selves, starting with our own homes!

  • Reply Huub Ricardo January 12, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I’m at work and couldn’t read the whole post, but I’m just in love with all the wallpapers you’ve posted. Meanly the one with all the black/greyish dots.
    I also truly believe in taking some bigger risks in your interior or any other expect in your life. (I’ll read the whole post in my break). Keep up the lovely posts. Thank you for your inspirations.

  • Reply Britt Kingery January 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    This resonates on many levels! For one, I have been considering wallpaper in my home but have hesitated because it sometimes isn’t appealing to home shoppers. This is especially sad because I’ve only just purchased the house myself. Resolution: decorate for myself, not a future potential buyer. Also, I recently came across the saying, “Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage.” Simple but emboldening, and a great reminder to take more risks.

  • Reply Sarah Rooftops January 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I wonder the same thing: is everybody decorating the same way because it’s the “cool” thing to do? Or are lots of people decorating differently but not getting picked up by design blogs because they don’t fit in with the current trends? I’m looking for inspiration for my (due in April) baby’s room at the moment and I’m SO BORED of seeing grey and yellow chevron – there must be other ideas out there?!

    • Reply decor8 January 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      @Sarah – Yes that is overdone now isn’t it?!

  • Reply Laura @ Rather Square January 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I like this challenge to be more bold and out-of-the-box with our homes, yet still be true to ourselves and how we live. Good mantra for 2015!

  • Reply Maggie @Maggie Overby Studios January 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    So much here to talk about. My family and I have been moving every few years, for the past 15 years, as a military family. I long to be bold, to be out of a rental, or a house I have to think about selling in a year or two. A year and a half ago after moving to Germany myself I started my blog (and took my first BYW class.) I have to say it has really amped up my need to do things differently. I think the experience of being in a new culture and doing something new definitely brings out the courage to keep taking risks. It will be a few more years before we retire to a forever home but you can bet when we get there I will be more that ready to do it up bold as I want.

  • Reply Sandra January 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Yes! Between the change in the algorithm and the sameness in design, I’ve become bored with Pinterest. Don’t show me things similar to what I’ve already pinned – show me something new!

    Whether it’s in someone’s writing or their design or decor or even fashion, I’m drawn to those who have an opinion. Who take a stand. Who step up and say what they really think and feel. I may agree. I may love it. And I may disagree and hate it but at least there’s something to bump up against.

    Challenge me to think differently. Shake things up a bit.

  • Reply Andrea Hamann January 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Oh wow, these have really switched me on. Especially the illustrative black and white ones and the watercolour inky splotches. They are so playful, and set your mind wandering don’t they. Unfortunately right now I live in a fully furnished rented world heritage house, so taking bold action has to go on hold until we have our own place again. Won’t stop me dreaming though.

  • Reply Tracy Gooding January 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Happy New Year Holly and thanks for all the inspiration. Yes indeed we do need to find our individuality again and be brave and take bold stands! Love, Tracy x

  • Reply S Lauren @ Modern Granola January 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    This is truly inspiring. I really adore the blue ink blot wall. What a worthy risk to take! Love love.

  • Reply Nova @ 18chelseamews January 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    This is just the kick up the derrière that I’ve needed for a while Holly! I’d been reflecting on my very bold self of the past this weekend as I went through some old photographs, and for half the time I was wondering, “What the hell happened?” I’m so with you on this resolution!

    Awesome wallpaper finds by the way. I’m really feeling the second and the last two images!

  • Reply Tina Slocum January 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    This is such a great post, Holly. I’m even bored with some of my own pinterest boards that have far too much white, when in reality I don’t live in white. Your wallpaper is the best I’ve seen online…like putting on a beautiful and classic gold bracelet. Adore it. Bold choices add dimention to our spaces and take a homogenized look to a beautiful and person layered home.

  • Reply Andrew Bigwood January 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    This interests me greatly. As a photographer come decorator, I’ve created a page on my website offering a bespoke photo wall mural service – from shooting the image, to hanging the paper!
    I want to get viewers and potential customers to think outside the box when considering what they use for subject matter with a wall mural – the possibilities are quite staggering when you give it some thought.
    There are some absolutely beautiful wallpapers out there if you look for them, but until now, as this blog alludes to, people like to stick to the ‘safe’ path.

    Great blog by the way – I think I’ll share it around a few places.

  • Reply Clever Girl Reviews January 12, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Once I get into a more permeant living situation, owning instead of renting, I will certainly be making some bold wall color choices!

  • Reply Robin Storie January 12, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Perfect advise for me today because I’m starting a new project and the client’s have given me a clean slate to transform their ho-hum house.

  • Reply Gabrielle Jones January 12, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    I totally agree about everything becoming boring same/same. I have recently moved house, and have, for the first time really, just done it my way. I have paintings (mine and friends) all over the place, a dark brown wall, pretend glitz etc and I truly love this place, even thought it sat on a heated market for a really long time. No-one could see the potential, and I benefitted. (PS I have a sculpture that hangs from the ceiling – it could be a mollusc., a brain, a judges wig etc etc. Some friends hate it, some love it! It certainly sparks a conversation, and because of that, it’s very special to me.!). Thanks for your blog and your baby is beautiful!

  • Reply Ivonne Spinoza January 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Some of these are amazing!

  • Reply Melissa January 13, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I love your challenge Holly! Thanks for the reminder that growth and discomfort are two peas in a pod! Recently, I’ve been bored with the same-old, same-old conversations at parties and gatherings. Your example of bold decor to spark some conversation is inspirational to me! Love the blue watercolory-wall paper.

  • Reply Tina January 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks, Holly! This is a great essay and, once again, is exactly what I needed. I tend to overthink things and the result is often: nothing. No decision, no step forward, I’m just stuck in the same place. No matter if it’s my bedroom makeover or my blog. Be brave, be bold! Today, I’ll think about my version of the big butt!

  • Reply Sarah January 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Holly,

    I recently read this quote that I thought it was just great! and your blog reminded me of it today. I think you can easily apply this quote to design, art, or even life!

    Style is independent of fashion. Those who have style can accept or ignore fashion. For them fashion is not something to be followed, it is rather something to be set, to select from or totally reject. Style is spontaneous, inborn. It is gloriously deliberate, unpremeditated but [a] divine gift of a few.

    This quote to me, shouts be yourself and be BOLD!

  • Reply Tina@Traveling Mama January 14, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I could not agree more and came back to Denmark with that very thought running around in my head! We recently started a “Temporary Home” video series where we remade the house in Atlanta that we were staying in for 6 months and somehow knowing that the house wasn’t my permanent home, encouraged me to be bolder and try things (many of which were very inexpensive!) I think a lot of people get caught up in the idea that it costs too much to try bold things, but with things like paint and even wallpaper, it’s just another coat of paint or a new wallpaper. It’s just not that expensive, so go for it!

  • Reply Sam January 18, 2015 at 4:07 am

    I love this! I recently moved into a new apartment with my husband and we can’t paint or make major renovations (of course). I thought that meant I had to be “safe” and normal because they set me in a 4 walled conventional home. Now seeing this post I am inspired to make bolder choices in terms of wall adornments and accessories. Of course when you let someone into your house you don’t want them to be struck in a bad way because of your CRAZY style, instead awestruck by your clever bold moves. Thank you for giving me the courage to try the creative silly things that will make my home much more “me”-ish and less conventional! This post is everything. xoxo, Sam

  • Reply Sam January 18, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Sarah Rooftops,

    You’re so right! I’m sure there are hidden jewels that aren’t being tapped because they are unconventional but those are exactly the trendsetters! I too need more inspiration that chevrons.

  • Reply mary beth @ January 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Love this! so many of my clients, and young clients – always comment “out of my comfort zone”. As a decorator, I am always trying to delicately shake up their comfort zone and why not one fab wall of wallpaper! Thanks for inspiration

  • Reply Becky @ Flipping the Flip January 31, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Could not be any more emphatically behind this! Excellent post and your words have reinvigorated me. So much so I shared this in my most recent blog post. Thank you!

  • Reply James February 24, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Hi Holly,

    This is my first time on your blog and I must say that your all images that you have share was amazing. All the color, pattern, areas looking so good. I have also love to take risk and after looking your this post I have also some ideas for my home.

    So thanks for sharing amazing ideas through this post.

  • Reply Lisa February 28, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    This is the best article I’ve read in a long, long time!

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