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Books + Magazines

Books + Magazines

Lotta’s Printing Studio

October 26, 2009

Recently my contact at Chronicle Books in San Francisco was nice enough to send me a copy of Lotta’s Printing Studio, which is more like a kit, and it arrived this morning which was a nice way to begin a new week. Lotta’s Printing Studio was my morning read that I enjoyed as I had breakfast, and bonus! Because it’s very light reading and compact I finished it in about an hour. Yippee! I love a book that is simple and quick when it comes to crafting. If it gets too wordy, I’m likely to not make it beyond chapter 3. This booklet was great and I hope that more craft books go down this path of booklets because they’re so easy to toss in a bag and show your best friend over lunch and they just feel accessible – quite the opposite of some of those crafting bibles out there that often leave me overwhelmed and feeling a bit like I signed up for something I cannot commit to. Or worse, I go out and buy the long list of supplies that the craft project calls for, then I fizzle out halfway through and never go back to the project again. Sure, some things I’ll take my time on like quilting, my last quilt took me a year but it was worth every cut and stitch. However when it comes to an afternoon craft project, I want it quick and dirty. :) Here are a few views of this great new booklet with other goodies on my work table…

Lotta's Printing Studio

Lotta's Printing Studio

Lotta's Printing Studio

Lotta's Printing Studio

In this newly released kit you receive a 48-page booklet, stenciling sponges (2), a set of carving tools with two different blades in case you want to try lino-block printing at home, and custom stencils drawn by the talented Lotta Jansdotter who lives and works in Brooklyn. I’d like to note also that the booklet was photographed by freelance photographer, Jenny Hallengren, who is based in Stockholm. I’ve included a glimpse of her work below too.

Lotta's Printing Studio

This DIY decorating kit will certainly give you many creative ideas and a ton of inspiration, you’ll be stamping your aprons, curtains, walls, clothing and handbags in no time. And at $19.95, it’s a terrific value. Carving tools alone can run you half of that price, but also consider the stencils included and the sponges. This is a great budget option and would be a perfect gift for a friend who needs a little creative push because it suits beginner and intermediate crafters (though I wouldn’t suggest it for advanced stencil pros and printers, it’s basic and not really meant for those who have years of experience). Enjoy!

And by the way, Chronicle gives me nothing for posting this – they send me books from time to time and if I like them I review them, if not, I don’t. Of course, I get to keep the book but that’s it!

(images: top four: holly becker for decor8, bottom grouping: jenny hallengren)






Books + Magazines

The Well-Dressed Home {Book}

October 20, 2009

Fashion and interiors definitely go hand in hand, especially since fashion often finds its way into interior design trends within a year or two after walking down the runway… sometimes even sooner. I love watching the master minds out there translate what they’re seeing on the runway into a cohesive collection for the home, whether it’s West Elm, Zara Home, or your local boutique – fashion does seem to inspire many a home collection. Yesterday over at Real Simple, I reviewed a newly published book called The Well-Dressed Home by Annette Tatum, which not only shows examples of fashion and mood boards but how all that inspiration is collection and translated into a room. It’s a rather interesting book, you can read more about it here in case you’ve been wondering about this title since it seems to be popping up on lots of blogs lately.

The Well-Dressed Home {Book}

Also, The Well-Dressed Home is the decor8 book of the week. This means that if you purchase it after clicking this link that I will earn 6% from the sale.

Have you read this book? Or flipped through it? What are your impressions?

(images: the well-dressed home)






Books + Magazines

Jonathan Alder Dachshund Bookends

October 6, 2009

Barnes & Noble has these delicious little dachshund bookends designed by Jonathan Adler and I’m dying here because I cannot order them as they don’t ship outside of the U.S. – wahhhh! (update: Wait! I take that back! They will ship other things outside of books and videos. YAY!) I want these so badly for my books. Well those of you who are in America, you are the lucky ones… You can have this set of precious white resin bookends for under $40. Oh, I’m positively dying here. Want. These. Badly.

Jonathan Alder Dachshund Bookends

Look at the little tongue. Cute. Ness. And let me tell ya, I just know that pup is sticking his tongue as if to say, “nah nah nah nah you can’t have me!”. Little jerk! Rrrrrr.

(image: barnes & noble)






Books + Magazines

Joy of Cookbooks!

September 29, 2009

How is your day going? If you’re looking for inspiration (as I was), spend some time in your local bookstore in the cooking section. Oh my! There are so many great titles releasing right now as the holidays roll in. I found a few that I scooped up immediately, one is called La vie en rose by Murielle Rousseau (heavenly French recipes!) with illustrations by Berlin-based artist Stefanie Roth and the other is Gemüse and Gemüse by Delphine de Montalier (a vegetarian cookbook, gemüse means vegetable in German). With food photos to die for, styling to learn from and even some personal references to family along with pretty illustrations, they are both such inspiring cookbooks. It’s dark here now and well, I just removed my precious new books from their bag in my somewhat dark living room so excuse the poor lighting. But I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to share — the ‘feeling’ may be lost and no doubt I’ll be onto other things! :) So here’s a few snaps of what inspired me today…

Joy of Cookbooks!

I can’t wait to crack them both open and start preparing meals for Fall. But this post isn’t a book review for either of these titles, it’s merely to say that the cookbooks in your local bookstore may be a great place to look for inspiration. The presentation of food in newer books seems to be stronger than ever — styled beautifully with food so enticing that you wish each page had a scratch ‘n sniff sticker so you could experience the smell of each recipe to go along with the visuals.  ha ha. :) No seriously, the photos really draw you in and make you want to cook but even more… they give you ideas for color palettes and even styling ideas for the home. I was looking at one and noticed how beautifully olives looked with turquoise dinnerware and hadn’t given it much thought before today… now I’m thinking of how nice it would be for presenting a meal or setting a table. So, need some inspiration and unable to find a decorating book you really click with lately? Try a cookbook, you never know what could come out of it — in addition to a great meal of course!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

Joy of Cookbooks!

And a BIG P.S. on this post because I hope major booksellers everywhere read these words and put this into practice immediately… it’s popular here, at least in the bookstores I’ve visited, that books that have photographs in them — like coffee table books, cookbooks, art and design books, etc. have a “customer” copy on top a stack of shrink-wrapped copies. I LOVE THIS. I have been telling my husband for YEARS when we were living in the states that bookstores should have a customer copy and then all the others should be in shrink wrap. Why? It made me feel annoyed with people would take books into the restroom, cafe, or even just sit in those chairs at large booksellers for hours, breaking the spines, bending pages, etc. and then not buying them. It was getting so bad in our local Barnes & Noble that I would only go to flip through a book that I was interested in and then I’d go home and buy it on Amazon because at least that way I knew the book was new – it would arrive unused and in shrink wrap. I once bought a book for $50 and it had a coffee stain on a few of the pages! Now that I’m in Germany, I go to the bookstore and find my idea in practice and let me tell you, it’s a great idea and not just because I had it. he he. It truly makes buying a book a wonderful experience again because well, I want to be the first to crack it open and smell that fresh book smell. :) Does this sort of thing matter to you?

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Books + Magazines

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

September 25, 2009

Time for a little book review of a most glorious decorating book that would do any coffee table proud: Perfect English Cottage by best selling author Ros Byam Shaw with photos by one of England’s most sought-after photographers, Jan Baldwin. Ros Byam Shaw is a freelance journalist and writes for design magazines in addition to being the author of a bestseller. A former Features Editor at The World of Interiors and Deputy Editor of the British edition of W magazine, she lives in a restored Elizabethan manor in Devon, England where she penned this inviting and informative book. Care to sit next to me on the sofa and flip through with me today? Oh good! Because you have no choice. :)

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

The publisher of this title, Ryland Peters & Small sent me a copy and not only did I fall in love instantly, I was so hungry for English that I read most of it too! I don’t review all the books sent in because I will not review just any title — if something doesn’t fit my taste or interest (no matter if it is free or not), I don’t bother. But this one — well it’s special — I had to share because it’s quintessential Britain. Whenever I’ve visited England, I always enjoyed strolling around the charming villages mostly for the ambiance — stone homes and pathways, rolling hills, traditional thatched roofs, and wooden floors… Along with the cozy, inviting rooms and rustic fireplaces. The perfect vacation spot in the Autumn is to break free from the modern conveniences of city life (or inconveniences, however you see it) and head to a cottage of any kind really, but an English one is like a big, warm hug. It’s where you go for a few weeks to roll out dough, bake apple pies and curl up under plaid woolen blankets with a mug of cocoa or hot mulled wine. No diets. No laptop. No television. That is what Perfect English Cottage feels like in book format – a big cozy vacation space meant for dreaming.

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

So, what do I like about this book? Nothing. I was so disappointed! Ha ha! No seriously, it is fabulous and I won’t at all be surprised if it becomes the authors next bestseller. For one, it’s huge and the photographs are inviting and vivid. For $22 (at least at Amazon), it’s a steal because I think it’s worth $50 due to book size and the amount of photographs inside. I love a good coffee table book. Photos are not used over and over again on different pages throughout the book, either. Each page is different from the last, each photo new and beautifully shot – the mood of the space reaches out from the pages and pulls you in like cookies beckoning you from the oven. And it was published, in my opinion, during the perfect time of the year (it just released) because it fits the weather and how I imagine England as I’ve only been there in the Autumn months.

I also like it because it  features real homes, 18 of them, and all categorized so you have rustic, whimsical, historical and cottages by the sea to name a few, all styled with absolute perfection. It is divided, by style, into five key chapters: Character, Holiday, Romance, Simplicity and Elegance. It reminds me so much of some of the homes I’ve either lived in or visited when I lived in New England back in the states, which is another reason why I love this book so much — it’s a reminder of a bit of where I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. The medley of patterns, prints, colors and textures in each room lures you in and holds your attention — and one theme I see through the photographs is simplicity, creating a retreat, layering experiences and years into the home decor, and infusing rooms with character while still using careful restraint so as to not overwhelm the space or yourself with too much clutter. These rooms are edited beautifully.

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Bottom line: If you love a good English cottage, take it from me — this is a great addition to your decorating library.  This book won’t disappoint!

Please note: As most of you know but I’ll say it again… all book links to the title are associated with my Amazon store and will link to Amazon where you can purchase it. If you purchase the book, I earn 6% of the book total ($3.85 USD before tax).

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Books + Magazines, Inspiration

All In The Details…

September 25, 2009

I have a few lovely pages to share with you sent in by Melinda, designer/owner of Dandi in Australia, who recently assisted Wedding Style Guide (leading Australian bridal magazine that looks divine) with some gorgeous products and ideas for a wedding theme. People generally don’t think of a wedding magazine as anything they’d pick up unless they are getting married or helping to plan one, but I refer to them constantly as a source of decorating ideas and for color palette and pattern inspiration in addition to styling ideas for parties. I find some of the most exquisite color medleys in bridal magazine spreads so I insist on finding a good bridal magazine and subscribing to it because it can really help train your eye and develop your own personal style and creativity. I believe the more you look at beautiful, well edited and carefully styled things, the more you are training your eye for good design and you may even start to see your own wardrobe, home and even food preferences improve. I notice that after several years in this profession, my taste (which was a bit all over the place when I started), finally developed into a coherent style that fits me and my personality and lifestyle perfectly.

All In The Details...

I always had good taste in things like most of you, but I needed to refine and trim and work out exactly what my own personal style statement really was so that when I shop or flea market or anything else, I’m not carrying home things that I liked in-store but that do not work in my home. Some people are always very surprised at how I am able to do this but it comes from years of training in addition to being born with a certain fascination for decorating that became evident to my family when I was a very young girl who was obsessed with decorating and constantly flea marketing and shopping at my mother’s side — trading in trips to amusement parks and waterslides to accompany her instead or sitting by her side watching her patiently sew for hours — everything from shower curtains to drapes to the clothes that I wore. My mother was a domestic goddess and I was happy to be in-training by her side. She also loved to landscape and was known in our neighborhood for having the best yard ever. When I’d go outside to look for her, it wasn’t uncommon to find her chatting up the neighbors, giving them planting tips on on her knees in their yard showing them how to arrange and plant things. She was also trained in her twenties as a floral designer, so we had flowers in our home at all times. I was also very keen on the neighborhood paper goods shop and would blow my entire allowance every Friday on Japanese “Sanrio” products from pencils to smelly erasers and diaries. Then I’d head to the bookshop to buy books and magazines. Hey, it was the 80s.

In fact, all I ever wanted when I was really young was to have my own home one day – I didn’t think about having babies, playing mommy and I gave little thought back then to having a husband or even a career as much as I thought about how fun it would be to have an entire house to decorate and “play” in. I’m sure many of you can recall your own memories of when you were very young, before you had external influences to tell you to be “this or that” profession, when all you loved to do was play “house” or be a mommy. It’s fun to think about how those days influence who you are now and what you like. As I grew older, my preferences remained strong on decorating and moving the furniture all over the house, but then I learned how to read and write and would spend hours (after decorating and cleaning and perfectly arranging everything in my room) writing in my journals or making my own little books with my horrible illustrations. I learned early on that I would not be an illustrator, but I still loved to try. And because I hated doing homework, the only way I could do it was to “teach” it before my class of stuffed animals lined up on my bed with name tags. It’s no surprise that I still love all of these things. Blogging, in particular, has helped me immensely when it comes to getting in touch with what I loved to do as a child. In school, particularly high school and college, I lost touch with who I really was deep inside because I just needed to get a job, pay the bills, and work. And I did this for many years until I decided to get back in touch with my first loves, I guess you could say. And from there, things have gone so well. I find that once you do what you were sorta created to do in life, things just flow… And you start to really figure stuff out. Like personal style. You wouldn’t believe how greatly personal joy and happiness affects your ability to get in touch with your personal style and to know yourself. Now what does all this have to do with an Australian wedding magazine? I’m getting there…. :)

Decorators, designers, stylists and people with good taste in general train this by carefully choosing, knowing their style, and often carrying with them swatches from things in their home so that when they shop there isn’t a bad decision made that one pays for later. There is not much more of a secret to shopping than that – honestly. To know thyself… this is the way to avoid picking up things that you don’t like when you get home. So! This is why I always encourage people to surround themselves with things and places and even people that inspire their own creativity, happiness and help them to train their eye so that there is a greater sense of peace when at home amongst all these “things” collected out in ones journey. And having a good solid collection of books and magazines that reflect YOUR vision is vital to all this as well. So next time you see a beautiful bridal magazine with a focus on tabletop decorating, floral arrangements, favors, etc. don’t pass it by discarding it as not applicable. It is! It is! If you’re not convinced, head to a magazine rack and see if you can be swayed… Check out wedding blogs too (they’re magnificent resources with often über creative authors) Or simply view these shots within this post. I particularly love the styling but also the colors (yellow and aqua, which has to be one of my favorite color combos) and ideas in general. Have a look, I think that Melinda did a beautiful job.

All In The Details...

You can visit the Wedding Style Guide website for more goodies and thank you Melinda for sending me these gorgeous images to share here today!

(images: wedding style guide)






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