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Holiday Gifts From Small Labels With Heart

I’m having so much fun working with makers in my decor8 shop! It’s been really easy to manage and a lot of fun to curate. I’ve pulled together a fun Hollyday Shopping collection with a festive happy theme (not your traditional evergreens and reds, so be warned!) if you want to check it out. And below, I have a few of my favorite things in my home that I plan to use and enjoy for this season and beyond like the gorgeous handmade ceramic bottle by Texan ceramicist Keith Kreeger, hand thrown in Austin who happens to be a Martha Stewart American Made Finalist this year. Nice!

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It’s always such a pleasure to have things that were handmade with love and care, crafted by those who also designed them vs. the design process being done in-house and the manufacturing in mass production plants abroad. Though truth be told, I am not a snob about it – I do shop both local and small as well as factory-produced (in fair conditions of course), because who can afford to always shop handmade and it’s also not so practical as many things that you need aren’t even produced by hand these days. But, when I’m giving gifts or need something extra special for my home, I definitely look at the small guys first to see what makers are offering on sites like Great.ly and my local craft and art fairs. If you’re like me and are looking for something lovely to give, a truly cherished piece, please do check out my shop and support those who are working mostly from home-based studios and small shops this season.

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Shop these above: CERAMIC BOTTLE by Keith Kreeger $190 //2. LINEN NAPKINS set of 4 by Celina Mancurti $62// SERVING BOARD in maple with black handle by Araya Jensen $62 // PRINT 8×10 “I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry” by Colour Moon $25.

I can’t wait to put a few sprigs of fresh eucalyptus in the ceramic bottle and serve an assortment of dessert cheeses on the maple serving board with, of course, those gorgeous tactile linen napkins. The print is so funny, I’m sometimes a little bratty when I’m hungry (so is my husband), so this print needed to be in our home so it’s going in our kitchen. Do you become a crabby when you need food too??!?

Psst: I have lots of my other favorite things on Pinterest now too, so follow this board if you want to keep on top of my frequent updates there.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on November 19, 2014

How To Choose Art For Your Gallery Style Wall

Last we, I gave you a little decorating 101 with 8 Easy Steps For Planning A Gallery Style Art Wall, part of a series of three posts that I’m working on in collaboration with Minted to inspire all of you to be fearless with art and support independent artists through the purchasing of affordable prints – something I’ve been promoting on this blog for eons. This is part two and it’s all about choosing art for a gallery style arrangement.

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Decide on a theme – pick art that works together.

What do you want to say? Think of  a vibe, a mood, a style, a theme… For instance, you want this wall to showcase your love of travel. Or maybe it’s to display your son’s grade school art mixed in with modern art. Perhaps it’s black and white photography you’ve been collecting. Your love of abstract shapes and vibrant color. Whatever it is, try to find something, a red thread, that goes through each piece connecting them in some way. Even if only YOU see the connection, that’s okay, but there needs to be some meaning to you on an emotional level because that is why we display things on our wall in the first place right? Because we’ve emotionally made some connection to it – we like it – whether that be the color, mood, subject matter, whatever… It evokes emotion and that’s good. And in addition to emotion, the work as a whole should connect somehow. Like sure, you could display WWII photography alongside your daughter’s finger-paints, a standard issue Le Chat poster from your Paris vacay, a snapshot of your poodle, a Monet reproduction and nudes of gorgeous men all together on a dining room wall. I mean, it’s your home, your decision (no judgement!).

But.

Does this stuff really work in context, you know? Does it make some sense or tell a story or is everything its own focal point and together, the story becomes terribly muddy or chaotic even (and not in a good way)? Work that doesn’t fit together shouldn’t be displayed together.

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Mix and match.

Art prints, paintings, kids’ artwork, Polaroids, photographs, drawings, sketches, personal photos of a family trip. Mix it up and include what fits the story behind this wall of art your are creating. You can even frame precious mementos and include dimensional objects too – like a ceramic tile, a porcelain head, an old mirror.

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Decide on frames and mattes.

I’m not that bold with mixing frame styles, but perhaps you are. I like to stick to a few colors (white and natural wood) then through in a few color frames or black or something with a clean slim gold frame, for instance. Also decide on mattes. I think all mattes should be the same color on gallery style walls but then you’ll sometimes see a wall that breaks every design rule and it works beautifully. If you have that knack, by all means mix and match. I honestly don’t have that knack of mixing matte colors and frame styles and colors with amazing results. So I have a formula I work with and that usually is the one I work with successfully time and time again.

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Lose the obsession with frame size.

If it fits on your wall, it can fit the arrangement. Salon style, or gallery style, is generally a really loose casual arrangement of art that grows over time. It begins with some work and spreads over time. That’s the beauty of it. If you are obsessed with frames all being the same size and installed in a grid, you’re not really a gallery style wall person so steer away from this and try the grid arrangements because they’ll ultimately fit your style and make you happier.

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Over the weekend I plan to install my art sponsored by Minted, all work that I selected, along with some original paintings I’ve collected over the years and add a few special bits here and there unframed. Then next week, for the third installment from this series, I’ll show you the big reveal on how it all looks on my wall with a shopping list for everything.

A big thanks to Minted for sponsoring my salon style art wall project – I love all of the work that I was able to choose from your shop! Thank you again.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on November 14, 2014

Crushing On These Artists and Photographer Paige French

Through my interview with Emily Jeffords, I discovered photographer Paige French. Then, I discovered something else. Paige is the photographer for Barb Blair’s next book. I wrote the foreword for Barb’s debut book, Furniture Makeovers, so this was a thrilling bit of info to learn of since I adore all things Barb Blair. Now I can’t wait to see her next book because Paige’s photos are tops. Particularly inspiring to me are her photos of artists’ works. Here are some that really jumped off the page for me – the art and the way it was shot. (Click on any image below for a larger view.)

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Raven Roxanne

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle – I don’t know who did these paintings, but adding gold and gold painted men on horseback is by far, the coolest thing I’ve seen lately.

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Erin Mcintosh

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle

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Koelle Family Home/Chris Koelle – I’m IN LOVE with their sofa and rug, but interiors aside how about those paintings? I have to find out who did them – maybe Paige will comment and let us know. Swoon!

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Barb Blair/Knack Studios – This random print washi taped to a concrete wall in Barb’s studio is just SO pretty.

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Raven Roxanne – Don’t you adore seeing an artist at work like this? On the floor, immersed, trousers splattered with color?

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Michelle Armas – Dear GOD these are stunning. I clearly need to go to the south because all of the art in this post seems to be from South Carolina or Georgia. Explains the color palettes and the lightness of the work. I’ve always loved the natural light in my home state. Which explains why, as an adult, I still love light and airy open spaces.

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Britt Bass Turner – Stunning, stunning, stunning.

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Barb Blair/Knack Studios -A pocket of inspiration on Barb’s wall. I loved studying it, to see what she is looking at.

Gosh I love all of this work. You just don’t find paintings like this where I’m living. German art is so different, there is no comparing the stuff coming out of Berlin vs. what is shown above. I miss it.

(images: paige french)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on November 04, 2014

10 Questions + Studio Tour With Fine Artist Emily Jeffords

Looking for artistic inspiration? Feel the need to make something with your hands? How about a studio tour and some advice from a fine artist for those of us who want to try our hand at painting? I first found out about fine artist Emily Jeffords (and blogger) through Minted – I was shopping their site for work to install in my home and came across these. And swoon. It was love at first sight.

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Then a funny thing happened. Out of the blue, Emily contacted me about possibly appearing on my blog. Fate? I’m not sure how many of you know this about me, but I grew up on the coast in South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. Finding out Emily was a SC girl too (she’s in Greenville) sealed the deal – I had to learn more! So I asked her for an interview and studio tour and well, that’s exactly what I’m about to share. I found this interview particularly inspiring for mothers with careers and aspiring painters. Let’s get started.

1.  Hi Emily! First, a little about yourself…
I am an artist and mother of two, working in a 100-year-old light-drenched studio & gallery called the White Whale in Greenville, SC. I create impressionistic landscape oil paintings on canvas featuring lively colors and slightly abstract skies.  My desire is for viewers to be reminded of sweet times past while bringing some beauty to life in the present. I began painting as a child and never stopped! Something about the creative process lets me say things that I cannot say with words – expressing feelings and emotions is so exciting to me.

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2.  Were you classically trained or self-taught?
I graduated with a BFA in 2D fine art, which was so helpful and gave me the confidence to officially call myself an “artist”. However, one of the most helpful things for my artistic career has been doing painting-a-day challenges. The discipline and challenge of creating consistently has taught me SO much about myself and about art.

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3.  What was an advantage of studying fine art and what is your advice for those who didn’t study but want to become a working artist?
It helped me think about creativity in a whole new way. However, I really don’t think you have to go to college to achieve that. In a way, all artists are self-taught. No one can train your eyes or your hands. That’s all on you. If you’re interested in becoming an artist (sans school) here is what I would do: try everything, test out new tools and materials, study the masters, attend workshops taught be professional artists, and soak up as much inspiration as you can!

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4.  What do you love about being a mother and also working as a painter?
Having my girls in my studio brings life and joy to my space and to my work. I can see their influence on my color pallete, subject matter, everything. They make me stop, notice, and enjoy life a little more.

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5.  What do you find challenging about having kids and a career?
My girls have grown up in my studio and around artwork, so they understand the ebb and flow of the creative process. But, they are young, and they are normal kids! When I create, it is so easy to slip into a wonderful focused “headspace”: I block out the world, getting lost in the movement and motion of the process. That’s a little hard to do while also parenting.

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6.  How did you handle that challenge?
When I moved into a studio outside of our home I really wanted to be sure that my girls felt like this is their space to learn and create as well. When they feel involved in the creative process they’re on my side. I talk with them about my ideas and deadlines and in return they tell me about theirs! — we have “mini art” shows pretty frequently and they’re always working on a painting for someone special. ;)

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7.  How do you balance family/work –what is a day in your life like?
Oh goodness, no day is the same … but, if I were to mash them together and come up with an average: mornings spent with my girls at home, some days their tutor comes to the house, others they come with me to the studio, but either way, I head to the studio around 11 am where I spend about 2-3 hours painting. In the afternoon my intern and studio manager might join me, we’ll package prints, mail goodness, send emails, keep all the wheels turning… We have dinner together as a family as often as possible, the girls go to bed and my husband and I relax and do a little more work. Work/life balance is a myth. It’s more of a juggle. The key is communicating with the people in my life, coordinating our needs and finding ways to support each other as often as possible.

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8.  How have you marketed your work?
My “marketing strategy” feels incredibly natural and organic. I simply make an effort to share my artwork and process consistently. I’ve found that people want to take part in creativity – even if they cannot create it themselves every day.

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9.  What is your greatest achievement so far as a painter and what goals do you have for your work going forward?
I think the process; the days all stacked together are my greatest achievement. There are highs and lows and many days in between, but maintaining my passion throughout the journey is something I am super proud of. I would love to collaborate on some more artistic collaborations with some dreamy brands and fashion designers over the next couple years to create products that mix fine art with everyday objects. Having people interact with art in every day ways is super exciting to me.

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10.  What advice can you give those who want to paint but are too scared to “mess up”?
The scariest thing is to start a painting, or anything, really, telling yourself that this thing must be Perfect. It won’t be. Every painting is a practice. Some are going to please you more than others, but the process is the art. Giving yourself space to practice and to try new things is so healthy for your creativity.

Beautiful! Inspiring! Now I want to paint! That’s what a great interview and studio tour does I guess. Motivates.

Tip: Check our Emily’s photos on Instagram here. And you can purchase her work in her Minted shop here.

(images: emily jeffords // paige french)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, interviews on November 04, 2014

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.

eCourses:

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