Designers + Stylists

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

June 21, 2016

I have big news! I have to tell you guys where I’m flying this morning… I’m heading up north to a Swedish island called Gotland. Have you heard of it? I mentioned recently that I was going but left out WHY… Well my friends, I’m taking a masterclass with Creative Director and Stylist Dietlind Wolf.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Dietlind is a leading stylist for 25 years in Germany, styling stories for magazines globally, but mostly German and Dutch publications. She also is a self-taught photographer and for the past several years has coupled her styling work WITH her own photos. Dietlind is also a columnist for Sweet Paul magazine. She designs and makes a line of heartbreakingly poetic and beautiful ceramics that sell in New York City’s own ABC Carpet + Home too, all produced in Hamburg by her own hands, with her own paint, infused with her unique point of view.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Dietlind also does some beautiful collaborative efforts with talented people since she is more than a stylist, she makes so many of the props she uses, she is a true artist. She is the first stylist in Germany that ever caught my eye whom I’ve followed for years. When I moved here in 2009, I saw her work more and more in magazines and really took a liking to it. Her style just speaks to me. I am hard to impress when it comes to styling these days. I’ve seen it all… And most of the work I see doesn’t stand out as a signature look or even as special. I feel like some work doesn’t tell a real story and stylists are just showing what everyone else shows in almost the same way because it “works”. I am sure this is largely driven by their clients or the magazine they work for. It’s not that they are copying, it’s just how they were trained. I fall into this at times too. No one is to blame! But some stylists are just fantastic, they definitely tell a story and awaken the senses bringing objects to life.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

I don’t find most of the styling I see in most magazines and especially in catalogs, that inspirational lately. Do you? Sometimes I believe if you’ve seen one issue you’ve seen them all. The styling doesn’t change and neither do the photography angles, nor do the portraits of people who look almost depressed sitting in their beautiful houses. I don’t find that beautiful or touching, a lot of times I walk away feeling empty. To see a home story with everything perfectly placed and people looking “too cool” to smile or at least show some emotion in their eyes… it’s almost like showing where ghosts live.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

Why bother learning to become a better stylist if what is already out there works fine though? What has become popular, mainstream, or trendy, isn’t always inspirational, touching or magical. Lots of work can run very vanilla, generic, simplistic but in a negative way. It can sometimes look like everyone has the same muse and is just replicating. A home as a museum and a person as unfeeling doesn’t speak to my heart.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

On the flipside, there is still genuine magic out there being produced, it’s just not so common. But you can spot it and immediately you’ll know it’s special. Like some of these stories produced by leading Aussie stylists. Or some of the Americans, especially the New Yorkers… Or you look at the work of some of the Spanish or French stylists… Or those living in the UK, Denmark and Sweden… You can’t help but look at their work and feel fire in your belly and love again for interiors, home, food and family. When I stop to study a photo because the placement of objects are so interesting, then it’s no longer just a photo of stuff in a home or on a table, it’s a piece of art, and I love that.

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

That’s why I admire the work of Dietlind as shown throughout this post. Storytelling through mini scenes, through objects, food, flowers, ceramics… inspires me to no end. I am excited that I will get to share nearly a week under her masterclass as a student, to soak in her wisdom and learn a new way. Starting in a few hours, I will land in Gotland and live in an old Swedish farmhouse with my friend Leslie Shewring, and we’ll be only a stone’s throw away from the beach, with a private greenhouse and an organic garden on the property. And we will travel to prop shops on the island and create scenes and take photographs. Dietlind will train us on how to develop all of our senses and bring them into our work more fully, making our styling more robust and magical. I simply cannot miss this experience to train under one of my favorite stylists. I’ve invested so much time and money into this trip, I want to make the most of it – I have a two-year-old boy so stepping out of my role as mommy for 5 nights is a big deal. I miss him already but I cannot think about that… This is fuel for my soul and good for my work, so off I go!

My Journey: Styling From The Heart

I’ve not spoken much about this course because it was something I wanted to keep in my back pocket until I felt ready to talk about it. But I’m thrilled and ready to be molded and shaped like a fresh piece of clay. I am stuck in a certain way of styling and I want to grow. I want to start styling the things my heart feels when I touch objects, I want to display them in a way that tells a story, that makes people think and feel something, I want to approach my work more artfully and create a certain intimacy but also improve my skill set. To me, creativity is an ongoing process of learning, feeling stuck, wiggling out, learning again, getting inspired, going into a hole, coming out, learning, working hard, again and again and again.

I want to learn how to put my own stamp on the work I style, because also take my own photos now and want to write, style and photograph my own book from beginning to end someday. In order to do that successfully, I must take on a new adventure, become a student, and allow myself to feel new light and breath fresh air. My 4th book, with Leslie Shewring, to publish in September, has many photos inside styled and photographed by me. But of course, not solely. I could never style and shoot an entire book at this point along with write it! Yet, this is my goal so to get to that point, I need to train hard. This is the first creative retreat I’ve ever been on in my life where I was the student, so I’m absolutely ready and excited for whatever comes my way and to see what results.

If you want to follow my journey on Instagram, I'll be posting live from Gotland, Sweden from 21 June until 27 June so please enjoy my Swedish feed and leave comments as I go, I would love to read them. I'm @decor8 on Instagram.Click To Tweet

Wish me luck and see you on Instagram!

xo Holly

(Photography + Styling: Dietlind Wolf)


  • Reply mel June 21, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Oh Holly enjoy every minute! So funny that you post this now as I just put the question out about Styling workshops in Sweden for when I move to Stockholm. I hope that Dietlind will be running more next year:) I totally agree with you regarding being a little bored with styling, there seems to be this formula so many are using…. Boring!! I love watching people break the rules. I look forward to seeing you develop your style. Mel x

  • Reply Aga I Passion shake June 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

    You will love it Holly! I had a chance to participate in one o Dietliend’s workshops and it was magical!

  • Reply Marina June 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Good Luck Holly! Such an amazing adventure. I am looking forward to all the pictures on Instagram!

  • Reply lovelydiamond108 - Sabine S. June 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I wish you all the best and much fun and joy and knowledge and …..!

    And now I have a question: can you tell me the source of the photo with the “gold-shibori” (the fore-last one) ? It looks soooo great to me.

    many ♡ ly greetings sent by
    Sabine from WO(rms) in Germany ♡

  • Reply Lucia June 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    ohhhh it sounds like heaven!!! such a great experience in a beautiful place with people you like!

  • Reply margarita June 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Enjoy it, it is always refreshing to see and do things from the student perspective, and she seems a very talented woman, I will follow the IG!

  • Reply Cattie June 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Wow, what a trip! Not only Gotland, but to also work with someone so amazing – now I’m even more envious! :-) If only I was going to Gotland sooner this summer!

  • Reply Patricia Shea June 21, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Sounds like you’ll be in heaven this week – have to admit to a twang of jealousy in the nicest way possible :) Dietland sounds like a true Renaissance woman – her work is gorgeous and inspiring. Your work is beautiful too! Happy, spontaneous and real occur to me as a new approach to styling. Have a fabulous trip!

  • Reply myallam June 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    That sounds absolutely glorious! and so fun!!! You will love it I’m sure. I look forward to your instagram pics and all the creative goodness you will be soaking up. Good Luck!!!

  • Reply Robert Alejandro June 21, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    Have fun and thank you VERY MUCH for sharing your journey with us! :-)

  • Reply Bee June 22, 2016 at 12:24 am

    That’s awesome, Holly! I’ve been a longtime reader and have taken some of the Blogging Your Way courses. Cannot wait to see how your newfound knowledge and inspiration from this workshop will influence your future work!

  • Reply Die Frau im Haus June 22, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Dear Holly,
    I don’t need to wish you any luck. Since I attended the same workshop last week I know that there will truly magical things happen. Dietlind isn’t only that amazing in her work, it’s her whole personality. I never thought that this would be possible or someone like her could exist.
    So. Enough love for her from my side. You’ll start in a few minutes and see it for yourself.
    Have fun and enjoy. <3
    (I've been there two days ago and stayed in the same room you are now and still envy you for being there.)

  • Reply Kristina Paustian June 22, 2016 at 10:51 am

    So lovely! Enjoy every minute and thank you for sharing with us!

  • Reply MeuEstiloDecor (@MeuEstiloDecor) June 27, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Hey Holly, I’ve been reading your posts since 2003 and it’s been a pleasure to watch your blog grow and your interests with it. Love your work. You have no idea how you inspired me. Have a great time at the workshop.

  • Reply Laura June 29, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to hear and see more about the things you learned and experienced up there in Gotland. It must have been a dream! Thank you for shaking us up, let’s style from our own heart.

  • Reply Kay January 24, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Hey Holly! I love your style, it’s beyond cliche. I totally agree with you; the different styles and decorating ideas from magazines and catalogs are lifeless. If my design idea was placed in a magazine, I would consider the reader and display a design that is simple but yet effective. My use of color, structure, and creativity would tell the story of the design. What would you do to change the lethargic style of magazine design ideas? Hopefully your trip to Sweden will give you a broader insight of design. Have a great trip Holly!

  • Reply Stile e bellezza con la consulente d'immagine Elisa January 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    So amazing and incredible project and journey! I’m following it on instagram! Great path!
    thanks a lot for your outstanding idea.

  • Reply Okere February 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

    OMG this is SO GREAT!!! i am so happy for you and overly excited!! reading this goes me the courage to ask you one or two questions: I normally work in journalism, but i really want to switch careers and get into interior Styling. I don´t have any former experience in the styling industry though, but i really want to get my foot into the door. I know it might be a somewhat odd way to get in touch via email, but i thought i need to start SOMEWHERE to get information and as i love decor8 so much i thought i´d just try and ask! For anybody trying to get into the interior styling industry: Do you have any tips for me/us as to where it would be best to start at? What would make the most sense concerning lack of experience in that department (first steps)? I would much rather learn in a more practical, „hands on“-way than to study it. I would be soooo happy and appreciative if you could help me!

    Warmest regards from Germany!


    • Reply Holly Becker February 22, 2017 at 11:17 am

      @Okere Find a stylist you love and contact them. Ask if they need an assistant for a photoshoot. If you train under a stylist for some time, you can learn very well how it works and eventually, start doing your own jobs.

      • Reply Ijeoma February 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

        Thank you so much! oh my god, thank you so so much for the tip you gave me on how to become an interior stylist! Holly, I still have one more last question: I was wondering if you think an interior stylist (when we talk about prop stylists specialiesd in interiors ) can also work in styling private homes? I just wonder how versatile the field of work can be? Do you think that knowing how to work as a Prop Stylist enables you to also style different private homes?
        I am just trying to find out if it is enough to get as good in Prop Styling as possible and then to also work in both fields you know?


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