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The Importance of a Great Team

Oh the importance of a great team. You really can’t underestimate the beauty in finding people that you can trust, respect and work well with who are also super talented, fair and “get it” when it comes to your ideas and vision. It’s rare for me to find team members that I really click with. I’m picky. While I am by nature a total people-person and enjoy the company of everyone (even difficult personalities are cool with me), it’s not the same when it comes to working with them. It has to click, you know? It’s either right or it’s wrong. So today I want to shout out two very special women – one I’ve known since March 2009 and the other I’ve never met in person in my life and just “met” online a few weeks ago. Both are seriously great women and you should know them and know why.

The Importance of a Great Team

Leslie (standing) and Laure (seated) in Emily Henderson’s home – so happy Emily is part of the book!

The first is Leslie Shewring. An intro is really not needed if you read decor8, followed her Color Me Pretty column (on hold for now until we finish our book), or know about how instrumental she was in Blogging Your Way during its early years as a teacher. Now, Leslie is co-authoring the next book that we’re currently working on and she is doing a bang up job and I’m really proud of her. When you find someone like her to work with, and you click, keep them near and dear. Leslie has been a massive support in my life – not just work stuff – especially now as I’m ill and she has flown in (literally) to Hannover to help on our book, and then flew last week to San Francisco and LA (from her home in Victoria, Canada), and is still working so hard styling and producing beautiful photos as stylist, photographer and art director on shoots. I’m blown away by her attitude throughout it all and am so happy we’re on this project together. When our book releases on March 21, 2014, I will owe so much of its beauty and wonderfulness to her. Thank you Leslie.

The Importance of a Great Team

Flower Power! Can’t shoot a home without ‘em! These were for Bri’s house (yay DesignLoveFest!).

The second extraordinary female whom I’d like to celebrate is photographer Laure Joliet. This lady is a class act. She accepted a job with a few weeks notice, hopped on a plane to San Francisco to meet Leslie, and began shooting the first of four homes over the course of last week in both SF and LA. The best part, she gave me NO CRAP. I have zero tolerance for ego when I work with anyone, I don’t care how great you are. Laure listened to me as I rambled on about this and that, which could have offended some photographers (please shoot tethered, please use a tripod, only natural light, blah blah blah) but she had no problem accepting my direction and didn’t once let ego take over doing great work. I directed them both remotely to the best of my ability on shots we needed, angles, ideas but ultimately they had the bulk of the work and ran with it and blew me away as a result – as the photos came in each day, I looked through them, supplied feedback and we moved on to the next shoot and continued this process and in the end, as a team, we really accomplished a lot. I mean a lot. I owe the success of last week to them, not me. To put Leslie and Laure together without any knowledge of how the other works (or even who the other is – they were strangers when they met) and watch them nail all four homes shows the power of women who are talented and professional and how they just GET STUFF DONE.

Leslie gave me the full scoop after the shoot week and had NOTHING but positive things to say about Laure – she sang her praises and would gladly work with her again, and this alone made me absolutely the happiest person ever because I wanted them to click, work well together and do great work and they accomplished that and so much more. You’ll see some of Laure’s gorgeous work in our book that releases in March. I can’t wait to show you! This book is now much bigger than Leslie and I with the addition of gorgeous homes and the wonderful Laure, so Leslie and I are even more excited to share it with you soon!

The Importance of a Great Team

The home of SFGirlByBay will be in our book, yay!

So! To begin a shiny new week on a positive note, I want to celebrate the beauty and importance of a great team of amazing women. These girls, the homeowners, Leslie’s amazing sister Diane who accompanied them in LA to work hard on shoots too… All of them. I’m worked with some women who sadly, left me uninspired, burnt out and wondering how in the world they ever got to where they are with such abrasive personalities. These women were just the opposite – and they made magic as a result. I know first hand what the definition of a great team, mediocre team and team SUCK can be! And these ladies were team awesome all the way. Thanks, LJ and LS and THANK YOU to Emily, Bri, Rachel and Victoria for being such a lovely team of homeowners, too!

(images: emily henderson, bri emery, laure joliet)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on August 12, 2013

Book Review: Well-Read Women

I was so happy when my copy of Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines, arrived today. Written and illustrated by my friend Samantha Hahn for Chronicle Books, it’s exquisite in every way.

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Samantha is a fabulous illustrator whom I’ve commissioned for both illos on my blog and in my second book, so I know how skilled she is first hand. Samantha has worked for some of the best clients out there, including a slew of gorgeous magazines and also Daily Candy. Her gorgeous debut book is now available for pre-order, so grab a copy now because it will make for the most lovely gift for yourself or a good friend. It’s crazy beautiful and so unique.

Book Review: Well-Read Women

In fact, it happens to be one of those books that really is perfect to give to a friend because it’s not only gorgeous but full of girl power (she illustrated 50 legendary female characters and hand lettered quotes from them) so you can’t help you feel so proud to be a modern female. I love what Samantha said about it recently on her blog, “Meet these heroines, befriend them, and in the process, perhaps learn about yourself. Whether you’ve read some or all of these stories, I hope you enjoy gazing into the eyes of all of the powerful, damaged, beautiful, and incandescent women in my book. I hope you follow them back to their original stories and come to see them in your own way, too.” Such a fine statement!

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Book Review: Well-Read Women

Book Review: Well-Read Women

I can’t take my hands off of this book – I seriously love it and will definitely be buying copies to give to my friends. It’s so unique, and I love that it’s light reading because I can get lost in the quotes and paintings and let my mind wander. I also see so many pages that I’m tempted to remove and frame, but hopefully she’ll be selling them eventually as prints. My favorite portraits are of Anna Karenina, Alice, Jane Eyre, Antigone, Juliet Capulet (swooning over that close-up, would love that on my wall!), Ester Greenwood, Estella Havisham, Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova, Scarlett O’Hara and my favorite painting is of Emma Woodhouse from Emma by Jane Austen – so gorgeous! What a collection of fantastic ladies.

You can also support Samantha, in addition to buying the book of course, by liking her Facebook page. This is her first book and I’m so proud of her!

Congrats, Ms. Hahn!

(images: samantha hahn)

Posted in Books + Magazines on August 06, 2013

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

I’m so happy today to tell you about my friend Barb Blair and her gorgeous new book, Furniture Makeovers. I’ve been wanting to write about it for weeks but have been totally consumed with a project and when I write reviews, I don’t want to put together something sloppy just to review something… I really wanted this review to be from the heart since Barb is a super special lady.

Barb Blair today on decor8

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Barb and I met at my book signing in NYC back in 2012 for Decorate, she was very friendly and lovely – just as I had expected through our numerous email exchanges prior to our in-person meet up. That is us shown below cuddling in my signing chair at Anthro. :)

me and barb

We’ve known one another for years and I’ve written about her furniture restoration numerous times because I’m a big fan of her work. What this woman can do to furniture that is dying curbside is unbelievable, a book had to be born from her years of dedication and hard work as a furniture superhero.

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Furniture Makeovers, her debut title published by Chronicle Books (I wrote the foreword for this book of which I am eternally honored), is just lovely and super inspiring. In this book you will find 26 restoration techniques and 30 before-and-afters showing exactly how Barb added her magical touches. Since receiving it only two months ago, I had an idea to paint two pieces of furniture in my home and so when my friend Leslie was here recently, we got to work and painted both pieces so they now look stunning and lovely. So thanks for the inspiration Barb. I will show you these pieces in the future but I don’t want to steal Barb’s thunder – this post is for her and about her — but wow, to get a DIY book and actually be motivated enough to DO STUFF after reading it is sorta a miracle for me because I tend to flake out and not do the stuff I set out to do when it comes to furniture improvements. Barb’s book was SO good though, SO helpful, SO inspiring and most of all, SO approachable that I HAD to DO something to my furniture when I finished her book. In fact, I have a few more pieces to paint… I’m on a roll, thanks to Furniture Makeovers!

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

In this post, I’ve shared some gorgeous photos from her recent book launch at her shop (held in early May) and studio space in South Carolina called Knack Studios. All of the photos from the book party were shot by Carlton Riffel and the beautiful image of the book was shot by her book photographer J. Aaron Greene. I love parties, especially ones that feel and look like this one… Because it feels very welcoming and from the heart, just the way I like things to feel.

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

Book Review: Furniture Makeovers By Barb Blair

I am so happy to see Barb shining in her photos above because a book launch party has to be one of the greatest professional experiences every – it’s like a baby shower or wedding for your book – and it’s such a special day that an author never, ever forgets. I’ll never forget my launch parties nor do I forget those who attended them because they are just so cherished… To write a book and see it published and in books stores is huge enough but to have launch parties and book signings — my goodness, total ICING ON THE CAKE and all made possible by our wonderful online community of friends and shop owners and bloggers.

Barb deserves every shout of praise and wonderful review for her book – it’s by far a favorite on the decor8 bookcase! Congratulations Barb!

(party images: carlton riffel)

Posted in Books + Magazines on June 07, 2013

A Forest House in East Sussex

I was happy to see this beautiful home we shot for Decorate Workshop, which belongs to a friend of a friend of mine (how I found out about it in the first place), pop up as a location for hire today over at Light Locations. I loved working in this home. In fact, you can take your copy of Decorate Workshop and compare the photos we took with those on this page and then you can clearly see what a little before and after styling fun – you can see what I did to bring in a little Holly style to the mix.

Today on decor8

Today on decor8

Today on decor8

Today on decor8

Some homes require little styling, some way more, but this one kept me busy as it was very spare so I needed to really collect from other rooms and rearrange things, including furniture, in order to make it feel more lived in since it was only a summer house. Working in this home for a day was a dream come true, I wanted to move right in, I never connected to a home as much as I did this one. It was in the middle of nowhere – in a forest about an hour or two outside of London and we got SO lost getting there but once we arrived, I didn’t want to leave. In fact, I barely missed my flight home that night. I remember the two buckets of flowers we loaded into the car that I bought earlier that morning in Chiswick before we ventured out and how excited I was when I arrived on location – I hadn’t seen the home previously – only a few rooms and vignettes, so I wasn’t sure what was in store for me but wow, it was a pristine gem of a place. It made me so happy “playing house” for the day – and the best part was that the home owner wasn’t around so the photographer, Debi Treloar, and I could really relax and go at our own pace.

I love when homeowner’s are around to, don’t get me wrong, but I find it less tense when they’re not – I always worry about moving things and rearranging stuff in front of the person who lives there and they can easily get offended or worried you will drop something or they can also spend a lot of time explaining where this or that object came from and while those bits of history are wonderful, it takes so long to shoot a home like this one. This house was massive on two levels so it took some time to work through. Also, when the homeowner is there, you usually are asked to stop and break for lunch and Debi and I like to work straight through so we can get everything done and leave before the light is gone. We were shooting late winter, so we had to wrap up by 3:00 – and it takes about an hour to clean the house after, put everything back into place, back up the photos and pack the car, so you get a lot more shots when no one is home. This was such an enjoyable shoot… I remember the fresh country air, the singing birds and that feeling like this home would look extra gorgeous in my book and well, it did. Here is one shot from my book below – to see more, I guess you have to get the book (wink). :)

Today on decor8

To the lovely lady, Emma, who owns this home, thank you. I loved working there for the day and pretending it was my own!

(images: light locations)

Posted in Books + Magazines on May 02, 2013

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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.

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