Skip to content

Cheap Chic by Emily Chalmers

Ready for a book review? I’ve been dying to share this one because I’m guessing anyone who pairs old with new and who has a thing for feminine bohemian style must have a crush on Emily Chalmers. Right? Emily is a London-based author, stylist and the shop owner of Caravan who has a brand new book set to release on February 28th that you simply must get your hands on. It is called Cheap Chic published by Ryland Peters & Small. Here are a few views of my personal copy from the publisher. Want to take a peek?

Cheap Chic

If you loved Flea Market Style then I highly suggest Cheap Chic. It is soft bound, so it’s easy to toss in your work bag and flip through during your commute or in a cafe during lunch. It is also accessible in that it gives you tons of inexpensive advice on how to create a distinctively stylish home by explaining how to mix things that you already own with flea market treasures and chain store finds.

Cheap Chic

Cheap Chic

Cheap ChicMy dream kitchen shown above.

The first part of the book, The Elements, discusses pattern, color, fabrics, window coverings and furniture. There are also sections on storage, display, lighting, flooring, accessories and materials used indoors. Then you begin the next part, The Spaces, which features chapters on cooking, eating, relaxing, sleeping and bathing areas and home work spaces. A lot is covered but thankfully it doesn’t feel overwhelming because there is a equal mix of imagery and words to keep it flowing from page to page without moments of zone out or the feeling of giving up and moving on to the next decorating book.

In fact, this is one of the few recent titles that I want to finish reading because the author seemed to “get” that most people who love decorating books do not want to read detailed explanations and long-winded personal opinions in every single paragraph. It’s uncomplicated, straight forward, no-frills, and not a dose of smugness. Emily shows that money does not buy style and that budget interiors are nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, it is a badge of honor when you use intuitive and style to create a budget-conscious home that is also style-conscious.

Cheap Chic

Cheap Chic

Cheap Chic was photographed by one of my favorite interiors photographers, Debi Treloar, so each of the 200 photos are light-filled and composed expertly. It’s important to note that I’ve not already seen the homes featured in other books or magazines already. My biggest complaint with decorating books is that some tend to recycle what has already been published, almost relying solely on stock photos, so the result is too often a book that you open and instantly feel like you’d seen it already — and it feels about as fresh as last week’s headlines. Cheap Chic, at least in my opinion, seems to have paid attention to ensuring photography and homes were fresh and interesting.

Cheap Chic

So that’s my little review of my new favorite book. But I’m not finished yet as there is a terrific quote I must share. When the author opened with words from Andree Putman I knew I was a fish in her net, “[To have] style is to see beauty in modest things”. Amen.

Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon affiliate and earn 4% on the sale of this book if purchased through this link.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on January 26, 2010

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


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.


Next dates

Blogging Your Way: Blog Boss
e-course, October 10 - November 10, 2014
Find out more about this exciting class by bloggers, for bloggers, teaching you how to blog like a boss!