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Flowers: Chic & Cheap

I just received the most beautiful floral design book called Flowers Chic & Cheap by Carlos Mota who is the Elle Decor editor at large. There are so few “good” floral arranging books and magazines on the market in the US — my friends and I always comment that such a huge hole exists in the bookstores when it comes to floral design books that are modern, fresh and well… not kitschy or packed to the gills with silk flowers. Flowers Chic & Cheap is a beautiful book and it came at the perfect time as I just picked up bunches of ranunculus, freesia and bi-colored carnations today at the flower shop after being so inspired yesterday by my visit to the Herrenhauser Garten. I’ll take some photos of this beautiful book later this week and share a proper review of it then but for now I’ll leave you with some floral inspiration with photos that I took yesterday at the garden.

Flowers Chic & Cheap

More orchids

So pretty...

Herrenhäuser Gärten

Cherry Blossoms


All of these colors and patterns really make me feel energized and inspired – and I hope my snapshots inspire you as well. Please note I do not use a digital SLR camera and I have little clue what I’m really doing with camera settings but I think these photos came out nice considering all of that — and so perhaps if you feel up to it maybe you can find a park or garden in your local area, bring your camera and find some memorable shots for yourself too. Nature always has such a perfectly composed palette, doesn’t it? Flower gardens never clash and patterns always look so fresh and lovely together no matter what the scale or shape. And nothing goes out of style – imagine that! There is so much for us all to learn from the examples provided in the natural world around us. And another big thing to consider with flowers is the broad range of color. Of course, I always lean towards the pinks (you know me!), yellows and violet tones but there are also oranges, reds… the colors are endless so the bottom line is really this: don’t be afraid of color!

Next week I’ll give you a full review of Flowers: Chic & Cheap!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on April 26, 2010

Print & Pattern Book Review

I am so excited to review the new Print & Pattern book today because I love the author, Marie Perkins (aka Bowie Style), and her blog under the same name — Print & Pattern! And what a lucky girl to have her book named after her blog, right? Love it. Okay so let’s get started in seeing and discussing Print & Pattern (the book). First let me tell you a little about Marie.

Print & Pattern

Marie is a surface pattern designer in London who started blogging in March ’06 which seems like ages ago now (I guess web years are a bit like measuring time in dog years?) and I’ve followed her site from day one. I guess I always felt like she and I were partners in crime since we got started blogging during a time when it wasn’t yet hip or cool, and certainly before blogging became the next big thing. Marie and I always supported one another, I had launched decor8 only a few months before she got started, so again — there was this bond between us that made showing up each day to write online a nice experience — I knew she was out there, along with a handful of other new blogs that I enjoyed. This is another reason why I am so proud of her as she has been writing religiously on her site for four years now and that is some dedication — especially since so many blogs come and go. That level of commitment and consistency is quite impressive. Now Print & Pattern is both a blog and a book — the blog is loaded with bazillions of illustrators and products to drool over but the book is equally handy because you can reference it snuggled up on your sofa or carry with you to the balcony during lunch. And of course, a book pulls everything so nicely together and gives the Print & Pattern blog a permanent home that Marie can take pride in for years and years to come… even long after she’s wrapped up her blogging career and moved on to discover other paths.

Print & Pattern

In Marie’s beautiful book you can find 120 designers on over 300 pages with over 750 full-color examples of their work. I like how each designer has their own spot and that each has a mini bio along with contact details so that you can find them on the web. Marie has been working on turning her blog into a book since 2008 — I remember because she had put out a call for entries back then on her site which resulted in hundreds of entries (naturally). I think Print & Pattern may require a second book after I read this one… as I know Marie is scouring the globe daily for designers that I’m sure in a year or two she’ll have more than enough for a possible volume two. Fingers crossed!

Print & Pattern

In this book you can find the best of the best — works by surface pattern designers who have had their designs on products ranging from wallpaper to bed linens and greeting cards. You can expect to find the fabulous Orla Kiely, Caroline Gardner, Lotta Kuhlhorn, Petra Boase, Rock Scissor Paper, Sanna Annukka, Sukie, Nathalie Lete, Julia Rothman, Anne Wendlandt, MOZI, Marilyn Patrizio, Jessica Gonacha, Samantha Hahn, Fifi Mandirac, Heather Moore… and dozens more! It’s a fantastic introduction to surface pattern design that is happy, bright and inspirational. And Marie if you’re reading this, I’m so proud of you — inspired by you, happy for you, and extremely impressed by the beautiful book that you’ve pulled together.

Print & Pattern

Congratulations Marie on this delightful, super informative book! I hope I see it in stores everywhere — this would fit in so nicely at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters because it would help to educate the average consumer who shops there… they could learn about where all the beauty around them comes from — people! Very talented ones — I often think most people don’t even consider this when out shopping, those who aren’t reading blogs and who haven’t made the whole “online connection” yet. In fact, this book would be great in many shops for this very reason — an education — especially in stores selling some of the works from the designers featured therein!

Psst: I’m an Amazon affiliate so the links to Amazon are part of my affiliate program.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on April 20, 2010

Inspired by Bolig Magazine

I was hopping around Facebook today to check in on some of my friends and noticed this terrific link to Bolig that Tiger posted. And then down the rabbit hole I fell into the beautiful Scandinavian interiors featured in Bolig magazine online. Here are some views into some of my favorite rooms which make me all the more excited to move into a new flat and decorate!

Bolig Inspiration

I have so many ideas for my new space that I want to execute soon — my dream is to find a flat soon enough so that I can decorate it and include it in my decorating book that will be out next spring. So the apartment search continues but I am hopeful because hey, I have to find a place sooner or later. Be positive, right?!

Bolig Inspiration

Bolig Inspiration

Aren’t these spaces so clean and lovely? If you’d like to join in on the drool fest and leave some of your thoughts below please do — I’d love to know what room you like the best and why, what elements you see that you’d like to try at home, etc.

I like the bold yellow in the kitchen above, the light wood floors (and the white ones, swoon!), the “ruler” table runner (did you spy that too?), the giraffe art, the shelf over the bed, and the shiny black smeg fridge. :)

(images: bolig magazine)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on April 15, 2010

Eco-Friendly + Chic via Lonny Magazine

I was flipping through the latest issue of e-magazine Lonny yesterday when I came across the New York apartment of Michelle Adams who is one of the founders of Lonny magazine (along with Patrick Cline) and is the designer behind the brand Rubie Green whom I’ve featured here before. Michelle recently renovated her city apartment to be a bit more eco-friendly and since I love yellow and white her place really sang to me.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

I asked Michelle if she’d give decor8 a further look into her apartment so although these images appear in Lonny they’re larger and without text so you can see all of the little details. Plus I’ve asked her for some decorating tips so that you can walk away from this post with more than visual inspiration but also with a few clever ideas on how to make your space more “green” from the lovely Michelle who calls her new look, “English conservatory meets Dorothy Draper.” Okay so Michelle will take the wheel from here…

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

Living room notes: Decorating was a challenge because my apartment is in a post-war building with NO CHARACTER, and it resembled the gross high-rise buildings that make me cringe. So I knew I had to inject some serious charm into it fast! I didn’t have much money to spend on the re-do, so I decided to use the ostrich wallpaper (which I’m OBSESSED WITH!) on the main wall in my living/dining room to not only tie the space together and create a strong focal point, but to also ensure that I didn’t need to hang much on my walls! Rather than buying a bunch of art for above my sofa, the busy paper allowed me to simply hang a vintage mirror (another obsession- $20 at the flea market!) flanked by two sleek sconces. And that’s it! The curtains were custom made from my Rubie Green Bryn fabric, and I had them finished with grommets to keep the look laid back and beachy. The fabric itself reminds me of an outdoor canopy, and I chose the yellow because it’s unexpected and it pulls out the little bit of yellow in the ostrich paper (where he’s sticking his head in the sand).

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

The TV is sort of an unexpected shout-out in the sense that I’m obsessed with it (who is obsessed with a TV?!) because: it has a built-in DVD player, which means there’s only one cord and no ugly components! Plus it’s white. The federal mirror was another amazing find- $40 from the same vendor who sold me the bamboo mirror! It was originally a gross brown and used to be hanging in a bar (there’s seriously a beer advertisement underneath the mirror, which i discovered while painting it!) so I took my leftover Benjamin Moore Natura paint (zero VOCs) and slopped a few coats on and voila! The 20×200 photo of the girl in the city is a favorite that I first saw in Victoria Thompson’s apartment when we shot it for the last issue of Lonny! It was $50, and when paired with an oversized Pottery Barn “thin metal gallery frame” it’s suddenly a large and strong enough piece to anchor the whole table. The other two frames on that wall are also from this same collection, and one has an old IKEA post card in it of a David Downton illustration, and the other a magazine tear out that I’ve had for years and am in love with. The huge silver lamp is by Arteriors and I love it because it would work equally as well in a bachelor pad, sleek modern home, girly retreat or even a child’s room! I look for versatile pieces like this that can be reinterpreted in each apt I move to (and eventually HOME!). The West Elm stump side table is awesome – I cannot emphasize how cool it is that a mass corporation has taken on the green movement and truly MEANS IT. This piece was cut from naturally fallen cypress trees and then boxed and shipped! Nothing more! So it literally smells like a cypress tree, and it makes my home smell fresh and natural :)

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

My obvious obsession in this room is my vintage credenza! I went to Furnish Green looking for a vintage desk, and stumbled upon this beauty and practically screamed! It’s huge and elegant without feeling pretentious, and since it’s over 100 years old I love imagining the other women who must have owned it, and what they used to fill it with. On top is some of my favorite art that I’ve collected over the years at the flea market. The black framed line drawing on the upper left corner is an original piece that I found for $60 at the flea market underneath a pile of DVDs! So when I stumbled upon the white line drawing (in the middle, white frame) of the Flat Iron Building years later, my jaw dropped. It’s from a local Brooklyn artist and I love how it’s elegant but totally relaxed. The oil painting above it (far top right) is also from the flea market, as is the gold framed watercolor next to it, a mere $40 at Elephant’s trunk market in CT. Lastly, the two photos of shoes and a Polaroid are some that Pat and I took together over the years! We sell a lot of our work on etsy. Lastly, the candle hurricane is one that I’ve been in love with for years and finally received as a gift a few weeks ago! It’s from Ralph Lauren and I first spotted it in domino Editor at Large Tom Delavan’s home. It’s timeless, and elegant enough that it sort of gives credibility to my otherwise hodgepodged art collection.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

My dining table is a West Elm parsons that I found on Craigslist! The previous owner had purchased it two months before selling it, because it didn’t fit in her apt, so I was able to save it from a landfill and also save myself half the cost. The chairs are from Ballard Designs and I’m obsessed! They’re totally classic, and I know I’ll have them forever. Since Ballard does custom work, I had them upholstered in my Rubie Green Capri Stripe fabric, which reminds me of Paris! The framed photo of Paris is one that Pat and I took from the top of the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris when we traveled there last fall for Lonny! The horses were shot in New Jersey on a little farm that we stumbled upon.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

I had the headboard custom made a few years ago by the Furniture Joint and upholstered in my Marilyn fabric! Pottery Barn has a really similar one right now called York. The headboard fabric itself was inspired by a vintage napkin that I bought for $2 at a flea market when I was in college! The bamboo armoire is one that I found at Housing Works (an NYC thrift shop) for $365! When I found it I literally wrapped my body around it and begged my assistant to take my credit card to the cashier so nobody else would buy it in the meantime – ha ha. Lastly the sofa is from Williams Sonoma Home and I’m obsessed with it too – the scale is so petite and sophisticated, yet the natural linen fabric keeps it from feeling fussy and I love that the frame is made from sustainably harvested wood. The rug is awesome too — it’s a 9×12 PB Essential Jute rug (Pottery Barn) and it’s made from jute and finished with fire rather than chemicals! I love this one in particular because it’s soft underfoot- it almost feels like wool, and since I couldn’t afford wall to wall sisal carpeting, the huge size was the perfect alternative.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

Ways to “green up” your living space:

1. Do your homework: Ask questions and read product descriptions to find out exactly how products are really made. If you’re unclear about something, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call customer service to ask. Companies that make the effort to truly manufacture earth friendly items will be happy to tell you all about them.

2. Start with a clear inspiration in mind: Rather than looking for eco products and buying them simply because they’re earth-friendly, figure out what style you’re hoping to achieve and select your furnishings accordingly. In my own apartment, I decided early on that my inspiration was “English conservatory meets Dorothy Draper,” so I searched for items that were bold (i.e. Dorothy) yet still charming, relaxed and natural. My wallpaper is clearly a bold statement, as the birds are large and highly repetitive, yet when you look closely they are delicately drawn and very feminine. I tried to look for these sorts of juxtapositions in every piece that I brought into my home. Since I’m fascinated by flea markets, I also wanted to inject a bit of history into my decor, with pieces that have been around for decades.

3. Make the easy switches: If eco-chic design feels a bit overwhelming, start with the basics. When painting your walls or furniture, opt for paints with zero VOCs. There are so many easily accessible options on the market that you won’t have to hunt whatsoever (Benjamin Moore, Home Depot, etc.) and you can rest assured that your walls won’t be emitting toxic gases that you and your family will breathe in. When choosing rugs, always buy an eco-friendly rug pad and look for rugs made with natural fibers. Be sure they aren’t finished with a chemical coating (this is key!) and look for certification stamps like RugMark and Goodweave to ensure that you’re buying pieces which were not created with child labor. For furniture, look for pieces made from reclaimed or sustainably harvested wood, and when cleaning your home you can make the simple switch to natural and biodegradable products. (Which honestly smell better than chemically produced ones anyway!)

4. Embrace vintage: By buying vintage, you’re saving products from ending up in a landfill, and also reducing the demand for new products to be manufactured. Often times you’ll find that vintage furniture is much less expensive than new, and absolutely packed with character! Don’t be afraid of a cheesy looking antique mall – that’s often where you’ll find the best deals on furniture and accessories ;)

5. Spread the word: If you make the effort to go green, be proud of it and share it with your friends. The more people who pick up on the movement, the better our planet will be as a result.

If you’d like to see more images from Michelle’s apartment, or if you’d like to read Lonny online, please click here. Lonny magazine was founded by Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline who is a photographer also residing in New York.

(Photography: Patrick Cline)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on April 13, 2010


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