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Budget Apartment By Tim Neve

Hello! Okay so I know I’m not really supposed to be blogging as I’m on vacation but I have to bust in today to share a few hot tear sheets from the latest issue of Real Living magazine (my fix post Domino). I’m so happy I bought myself the gift of a subscription to their magazine from Mag Shop, it’s fabulous and I highly suggest getting a full year of decorating goodness for yourself. It wasn’t that expensive when you consider it’s coming all the way from Australia and the subscription rate includes shipping, which we all know to send anything from Europe or North America to the land down under is crazy expensive alone. You simply must see this apartment, decorated under $1,000 Australian dollars which is just incredible. The talent who pulled this cottage together is editorial stylist and publisher Tim Neve who happens to have a great blog too. Take a look at this neutral nest (view larger images here).

Tim Neve

Tim Neve

Tim Neve

First, I love the lamp. I didn’t see a source listed for it though, does anyone know where it is from? Next, the coffee table. Where is that beauty from? I also cannot find it listed in the article but it’s the best. The breakfast table where the model is so joyfully stacking dishes is an IKEA hack — it’s an IKEA tabletop updated with new Vika Oleby legs from IKEA. Clever! I’m always inspired by the creative minds out there who mix and match things from IKEA to create their own custom piece. I also like how Tim used various tones of white and dare-I-say the word, beige, in such a way that gives the room warmth and texture, it’s cozy. The variety of textures also helped the apartment from feeling sterile – the leather sofa, the wool, linen and cotton fabrics, the woven stool and rug, all this texture makes for an inviting space. Even the lampshade has texture, did you catch that? It’s subtle but it’s there. I’m guessing Tim is a tactile kind of guy. Same goes for the bedroom, from the bedspread to the pillows and the art over the bed. Texture! Texture! Tone! Tone! Another smart move Tim made was to remove the dated mirrored door in the bathroom of the wall cabinet to expose the shelves, leaving them open for practical purposes but also for decorative arrangements of toiletries and candles – things that will be used but also admired vs. hidden away behind some oddly placed mirror.

And all under $1,000! Eek! How inspiring. I bet the whole of Australia will want to hire Tim after reading this article, I think his approach is creative and fresh but in this economy, everyone is looking for creative solutions that won’t put them in debt. It feels better to sleep on a bed that you’ve already paid off. With a space like this, anything is possible when it comes to colors too. You can add new hues with each season and pull them out and bring in others later and so on. Why, you could go nuts! Nuts I tell ya! With a canvas like this to work with, a splash of red in the winter, lilac and sage green in the Summer, or pink and yellow, maybe some Orange and turquoise, see what I mean? Endless. This neutral palette is so versatile — you’re not stuck using certain colors – great for spontaneous decorators who can’t be pinned down.

(images: real living magazine)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on December 29, 2009

Stylist Anna Richardson

I am thoroughly in love with the January issue of Livingetc. It’s fabulous and was thoroughly worth the (gulp) $15 that I paid for it at the train station. At first glance I thought it would be rather uninspiring as it appeared quite thin and for that amount of money, I want something that I’ll refer to again and again versus a quick one flip. This is what my morning looked like, candles are a must this time of year as it is so cold and gray.


When it comes to design glossies I’m happy to say, size does not always matter! This slim issue is loaded with inspiration… from a fun apartment in Cologne to an eclectic home in England and a gorgeous Copenhagen flat — I felt connected mainly since a few are rentals and let’s face it, with a rental home one is limited so more creativity is required to make a house a home. I believe that the space I’m sharing below is owned, but still… I loved the color scheme so much — bright and punchy – that I must share it.

Above is a glimpse into the whimsical East Sussex coastal home of stylist Anna Richardson and her singer/songwriter man Blair Mackichan who has worked with music giants like Lily Allen. This home was photographed by Paul Raeside and styled by Mary Weaver from Livingetc magazine who is also an editor at the magazine. Paul is an amazing interiors and lifestyle photographer based in New York with an impressive portfolio online that you can view here.  You can view Anna’s gorgeous home on the Livingetc. website here. Enjoy!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on December 14, 2009

Elle Interiör

There is so much inspiration packed in the pages of Elle Interiör Sweden but if you’re not lucky enough to have access to their issues the website is the next best thing. I find so many great links, ideas and trend reports there and I don’t even read Swedish… but it’s so visual and easy enough to navigate that you really don’t need to. Here are a few recent photographs in Elle Interiör, I like the colors in these photos and the gorgeous au natural wood trend that they are spotlighting…

Elle Interiör

Elle Interiör

When I think about it, how many decorating magazines do I really read anyway, even when they are in English? Sad to admit but it’s true, I skip most of the articles or trend reports but I do scan them and if the home or product is of someone I know then I’ll read it… otherwise not. Is it bad for a writer to admit this publicly? Should I feel ashamed of this? Well whether it is or not, there I’ve said it and it cannot be taken back: I only read text in design magazines by either a writer whom I know to be engaging, informative, conversational and/or witty (a few columns from Domino come to mind), or I just skim and drool at the photos and read the bylines and photo captions. I guess everyone is different though. But I will say this, there are exceptions — when Selvedge arrives, I gobble it down word-by-word. I read each article twice. It’s so well written and poetic in some ways, it’s a word fest and extremely informative…

(images: elle interior sweden)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on December 03, 2009

Swedish Design & Your Thoughts

Let’s talk about design, some common stereotypes and other things that were on my mind when I hopped out of bed this morning. First of all, I decided yesterday that I seriously need to go back to Sweden again for vacation because I love to shop there and find so many things that appeal to me. I am inspired by Swedish magazines too because whenever I look at them I’m reminded of why I love certain elements of Scandinavian design so much. Of course, like any country, the rooms featured in magazines are not entirely representative of the average family home and how all people live in Sweden, or any other country for that matter. When you look at Elle Decor in the U.S. do you think of your friends house? Most likely not. But the design found in magazines is representative of what the “ideal” home may be in the minds of the majority living in that particular part of the world — based on culture, available products, local architecture, what people use, don’t use, etc. And so from the homes I see in Swedish magazines, I take it that there is a more relaxed mentality when it comes to decorating and though the design is thought about and well edited, comfort is more important than perfection. Do you mind if together we spend a moment to consider this topic as we examine a few rooms that I found in Hus & Hem, a popular Swedish decorating magazine? Oh good, I was hoping you’d say yes!


I’d like to share something with you that I feel is important to consider. I had the chance a few years back to visit Stockholm where I met a number of bloggers, one who stood out was Emma who authors Emmas Designblogg because she asks a lot of good questions and is as bold as she is charming and fun to be with. I would define her as a hot ticket. :) She’s also a gracious host, she gave my travel partner, Danielle, and I a great run around her city. That is why when Emma recently wrote about Swedish design on her blog, I took note. I’ll quote part of what she said, “I’ve received quite a lot of comments and emails lately about Swedish style, that it is so wonderful and everybody here must be born with a great sense of aesthetics and so on. Well, that is not the case. The pictures I show here are in no way representative of what an average Swedish home looks like! If I were to show average homes, no one would want to read this blog. Most people live in common boring apartments and haven’t changed their sofas since 1998. They have curtains with ugly flowery prints, apricot walls and IKEA posters on their walls.”


Interesting point she makes, right? What she said makes us all feel a little better because often we think design in this or that country is so amazing and often we assume that the majority who live there have these slick, high fashion homes. Partly this comes from the magazines we read but also the film industry. Whenever you think of NYC you imagine the massive industrial loft or classic brownstone architecture, right? I do. But let me assure you because I’ve visited many apartments in Manhattan in my lifetime, the average person does not live in million dollar property. Lots of my friends in Germany have this impression of Manhattan that doesn’t fit what it really is. I mean, how many single journalists could ever live (and shop) like Carrie Bradshaw? And how many live in an apartment like those kids had in that film Cloverfield? And Will Smith and his monster-size brownstone in I Am Legend or Meg Ryan and her flat in You’ve Got Mail. Those are the dream apartments but they are not the way most New Yorkers live because spaces like that are either not available and privately owned by the super rich or if they are available, they run in the thousands per month to rent and who in the world has that kind of money in your social circle, right?

Then again, not even celebs have massive flats in New York. Remember Nate Berkus’ apartment featured in Oprah magazine a few years back? It was a two room apartment. Or even Lisa Loeb in that reality show she once had (that I loved) — she’s loaded and yet she did not live in a massive townhouse. Of course, some do live large in cities all over the world and I’m not saying otherwise, but the norm in films or the norm in magazines is not the norm in real life. It’s a lifestyle, a dream, smoke and mirrors, not a reflection of daily life lived by the entire population. So the next time you look at a foreign decorating magazine keep in mind that those living there aren’t all design aficionados who have posh flats. (pop pop bubbles are bursting, I hear them!) Even the posh flats you see were styled to perfection and given a thorough cleaning before the crew arrived to shoot. These homeowners weren’t caught with their pants down in other words – preparations were made. I try to remember this whenever I’m standing in my own tiny apartment flipping through my mass loads of glossies thinking my home doesn’t even compare. Ring! Ring! Reality calls!



But overall, the design that comes out of each country is coming out for a reason so it’s not that it doesn’t exist. There is a background — history, culture, art schools and artists all influence it, the designers coming out of that country influence it and the average homeowner and their tastes and needs influence it. And of course, the super rich influence it as well as the most stylish apartment and home owners who have their spaces featured in magazines, on television, etc. So there is something to the design we are seeing — there is a reality to it all though it’s not how every single person decorates or lives. It’s interesting to think about all of this and to discuss it, don’t you think?


So back to these lovely rooms and what we know as Swedish modern design. I really like how each of these spaces shown above feel accessible and within reach. And is it just me, or does black seem to be part of nearly every room shown above? I read once that there is design rule that states to always add a shot of black somewhere in a room and though I don’t believe that is necessary, I do see the value in it when I look at these rooms and see that black certainly gives a certain something to them, don’t you think? I also notice a trend with stripes and how they appear to be a pattern used in home decor in Sweden.


Each of these spaces shown within the pages of Hus & Hem have something I appreciate, and you must have noticed to as you were inspecting them. They are lived in but also design matters to those dwelling in the space — and there is a feeling of positivity, creativity, individuality and a cozy comfort without over accessorizing. It’s clean and balanced living that I think is a hallmark of modern Swedish design, don’t you? And I like this because it supports how I like to live. So while not every home may look like something from a magazine, there is definitely a striving for it that makes the whole obsession with decorating more fun.



Let me turn the table now. What about you? Out of all of the design you’ve observed in the world – from Australia to France to America and beyond, which one, or combination of, speak to you the loudest and the clearest? How is design presented in your part of the world – what are common elements and such that seem to be what your country is known for?

(images: hus & hem)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on November 19, 2009


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