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Books + Magazines

Big News & Secrets of Successful Collaborations

March 7, 2013

Let’s talk about some big news I have and then, some tips on how to collaborate with others successfully. First, I’m working on book #3 with Chronicle Books and Jacqui Small Publishing! This time, I’m teaming up with my friend, stylist and photographer Leslie Shewring (and Color Me Pretty columnist), and together we’re hoping to create a book that will blow your creative mind! ha! That’s the goal anyway. We have a lot ahead of us, but we’re determined to get this book finished in October so it will have a Spring 2014 release.

Big News & Secrets of Successful Collaborations

Leslie and I have been discussing a book collaboration for a few years now but only recently found the time and energy to devote to making our dream a reality. After getting the book deal, we had the grueling contract stuff to deal with but now that we’re over the hump, we can work on the fun part – pulling together our ideas, scout and organize shoot locations, call in our props and other necessary bits.

Of course, no project comes without a ton of challenge. For one, we have physical distance to deal with – she lives on Vancouver island and I’m wayyyy over here in northern Germany and then, the time zone difference (9 hours apart!), so we will need to stay pretty organized to get through the loads of work ahead!

Now that I’ve shared my big news, let’s talk about collaborations  When it comes to partnering with others I thought I’d give you some helpful tips because lots of people ask me about how I go about working with others. Ready?

1. Trust your gut. If it feels like a MAYBE it is a no. If it feels like a NO, it is no. If it feels like a positive YES, proceed ahead.

2. If someone shows signs of being a poor communicator, beware! If you’ve hired them to work for you and they don’t reply to phone calls, emails or text messages, something is up – if you have opened up your business to someone else and trust them to take care of it, and they don’t, this can create some huge tension. You have to be selective about who you team up with, don’t take the red flags lightly.

3. If your potential partner wants to know all of your ideas before you have agreed to working together, beware. You should have a non-compete, non-disclosure contract between you before you reveal all of the details on any project or before you begin working together. I’m only working this way going forward and advise you to do the same.

4. Draw up a contract with the help of an attorney so that all parties know what is expected along with due dates. Then no one can say they didn’t know or were misinformed. If you have it in writing, and they’ve signed it, they were informed.

5. One major reason why I wanted to do a book with Leslie is because I love working with her. You really should feel good about the people that you work with. They should lift you higher because then your work will be elevated as well. You’ll work harder and put in all of your heart if you’re working in a supportive environment – at least that is how I’ve come to learn how women work best.

6. Leave your ego at the front door. You cannot work with others who allow ego to get in the way of producing the best work. No ego. The work needs to be separate from your emotion.

7. If you have hired someone or are managing a project and you’ve asked others to contribute, watch how well they follow your instruction. If you tell them what you need and they deliver something else, that’s a bad sign. If you have specific points that you’re hired them to deliver on and they go off and do their own thing and return with that instead, it can cause huge problems and tension. When you freelance for anyone, a magazine, a small business, etc. you have to listen to your “boss”, the person who is paying you for the work. Of course, you can give them creative ideas and solutions but ultimately they call the shots. This also has to do with ego. Sometimes people won’t listen because their ego gets in the way. Other times, they are very insecure about delivering what you’ve asked them to do because it falls outside of their comfort zone so they decide to deliver what is comfortable for them.

8. With Leslie I’ve noticed that we also really value and understand the importance of regular communication on the job. When we run into something challenging, we discuss it right away and respect even our differences in opinion because lots of times those differences push us out of stagnent thinking patterns into fresh new waters. Creating magic with someone can only happen if both are communicating honestly and openly.

9. Have a sense of humor. I also like that when I screw something up, Leslie laughs at me or if she does something that doesn’t quite work, we sorta of know at the same time and look at each other and burst into laughter. That’s the magic I’m talking about. It’s beautiful when you work with people who can step outside of their ego and look at their own work as a separate entity and be objective about it. We also know how to have fun on shoots – also important to me because I need FUN to feel creative. If the mood becomes too serious on a shoot, I can’t be creative, my brain just shuts down.

10. When issues arise, talk about them. These days most of us are talking through email and text messages. It’s best to talk via email or the phone if you can. Better yet, in person face-to-face. Everyone makes mistakes. Be willing to forgive, forget and move past them. Also allow for some problems to arise because it’s only human to have slip ups. On the other hand, if you keep reaching out to someone and they refuse to handle issues responsively, move on. There are far too many talented and creative people in the world to work with you – you don’t need to devote time and energy on those who don’t want to be happy and work with you in a positive and productive way.

I hope my collaboration tips have helped you! Do you have any of your own?

I can’t wait to tell you more in the coming months but I’m very happy and hope you are excited too. Another nice thing that happened to be recently is that my work and tips have been featured on Oprah.com – Here are two that already ran, with more on the way!

6 Decorating Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them
12 Ways to Enliven Your Home with Green

It’s so exciting to be part of Oprah.com sharing my decorating advice, a big honor!

Have a nice day! I’ll be back later on with a yummy cookie recipe that Jillian baked up for you for her March column. See you soon.

(image: leslie shewring)






Books + Magazines

Color & Pattern For Spring

March 5, 2013

I am ready for color and pattern this spring like never before. In fact, I just narrowed down the palette that I’m going to use in my home decor for Spring/Summer, I’ll share it later this week. I’m SO finished with winter weather, aren’t you!? It felt great packing away my winter decorations over the weekend. I couldn’t fill the storage box fast enough. I’m ready for outdoor picnics and concerts (especially David Guetta whom I’m seeing in June and our annual maschseefest) along with country drives with the sunroof open the music high and lots of weekend getaways. The thought of what springtime brings makes me feel so good. I think that’s why I loved these images shot by photographer Jon Day for Heart Home magazine’s latest edition which releases to the public online this Thursday. I thought I’d give you a sneak peek to share the feature that stood out the most for me because the colors are super energetic and bright which put me in the best of moods.

Color & Pattern For Spring

I like the ideas that I have spinning around in my head after seeing them – especially the clouds made out of, what appears to be wallpaper, perked me up too. I’d love to try making balloon silhouettes instead of clouds to use at a party.

Color & Pattern For Spring

Color & Pattern For Spring

Color & Pattern For Spring

Color & Pattern For Spring

Color & Pattern For Spring

To learn more about this story and to see where all of the beautiful products come from, you’ll need to wait until Thursday and then go to the Heart Home website to check out the Spring issue. I know, I know… They are such a tease! But hey, it’s fun to have something to look forward to right? Plus, I spot a few pillows I have to know more about so I think it’s worth the weight.

Thank you Heart Home for the inspiration in your latest issue!

(images: jon day)






Books + Magazines

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

March 1, 2013

I’m so thrilled to bring you today my review of Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau’s first decorating book, Happy Home – Everyday Magic for a Colourful Home. You may know Charlotte as the lady behind the super mega Danish lifestyle brand, Rice, or you may know her home since it appeared in my first book Decorate. Since Decorate published, Charlotte relocated to a new home that she renovated and decorated from the ground up in a colorful, friendly palette (complete with a glitter bathtub) and you can see most this color-filled castle in her new book. Want to have a peek inside?

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

In addition to Charlotte’s own space, you will see many homes belonging to her many friends and the bonus is that I’ve never spotted any of them before – even online – which makes this book even more special. Happy Home has everything you need to know about color, whether you love it or are scared to death to explore outside of your neutral world since it encourages you to experiment, play and not be so uptight about it – it’s only color, not hostage negotiation! Have fun!

I’m going to go a bit deeper though so this won’t be the standard reviews I do because in this case, the author happens to be my friend, so it’s tough for me to not let out friendship influence my opinion. Honestly, she could have filled it with photos of her home and wrote on a single page, I Love Color! and I would have bought a million copies because she is just a super special person. But you know what, if you like me and my style then the fact that I like her and her style may tell you that you can still trust my opinion and the gushing words that follow.

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Charlotte is the author of two Danish cookbooks, both of which I own, but when I worked in her home in 2010 for Decorate and got to know her better on the shoot, I felt really confident that she could also do a decorating book. We stayed in touch and after she appeared in mine, I dropped the idea by my UK publisher that Charlotte should do a book and before I knew it, she was sitting on a book contract because they agreed with me – she had something truly special to share that not a lot of people have. I am so glad she went for it and even happier that I was chosen to write the foreword for Happy Home because Charlotte is a true authority on hue not only because of how she lives but through the hundreds of products she and her team design for Rice which bring so much joy into homes, especially here in Europe where her brand is so well known and loved.

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Another thing about Charlotte that I adore is that whenever I’m around her, I’m so inspired by her clothes! She’ll show up in pink cords, neon striped shirt and a floral blazer topped with a big colorful brooch and a pair of sequined chucks on her feet and she thinks nothing of it. I adore that she owns who she is and her spirited design travels from her magical hands into everything she touches – her wardrobe, accessories, home, the food she prepares, party decor, her products… Even her car is a lovely sky blue Fiat. This is why I think she is the perfect voice for a book about colorful, bright decorating.

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

There is something about a woman who has such confidence and who wants to stand out and be noticed. You want some of what she has, you know? And for me, I have not only her friendship by now, her new book so there is always a little Charlotte in my life and I like that and I bet you will, too.

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Happy Home By Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau

Please check out Happy Home because I know that you’ll walk away with color confidence that you may not have guessed you had locked inside. Her approach is so casual, her words so warm and encouraging, and everything she teaches from how to make your outdoor space brighter to infusing your home with bold happy hues, will give you a burst of ideas and the energy to see them through. With Spring on its way, it’s about time we turn to sunny yellow, bold blues, perky greens, fresh-picked picks and juicy orange tones to wash away this gray winter.

Charlotte, well done! I’m so happy for you and hope to see many more books from you in the very near future.

You can buy Happy Home on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and it is soon to be released in German under the title, “Funky Home: Style und Design für ein farbenfrohes Zuhause” at Amazon.de. The book is also available in all good bookstores in North America and the UK.

(images: holly becker)






Books + Magazines

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

February 13, 2013

Hi everyone! I love a good book, don’t you? That is why I have to share this sweet crafting title from blogger Abbey Hendrickson of Aesthetic Outburst today. In addition to her life as a blogger, she’s a freelance artist and craft stylist living with her family on a farm in rural New York. I’m guessing that living away from the big city is what makes Abbey so super creative when it comes to crafting — often when you have less to work with you are forced to think and create and DO stuff. Of course, everyone is different, but personally I find that the less I have the more I find creative ways to get what I need.

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

In her new book, You Are Awesome – 21 Crafts To Make You Happy, published by Cicada Books, Abbey will show you how to get crafty with basic things you can find either already in your crafting closet or that you can pick up anywhere – and each project is really cute, too!

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

About You Are Awesome, “In between DIY disasters, childcare catastrophes, book obsessions and cultural consumption, Abbey makes some fantastic and funky craft projects, which she sells through her Etsy shop. You Are Awesome collects together 21 of her craft ideas from her blog and her “20 in 20″ challenge (for which she made 20 crafts in 20 days), each one presented in color and clearly explained step by step. They range from an embroidery sampler to a bookshelf to a laptop toy made from a cardboard box. The projects are fairly simple, but all distinctive and quirky, and will appeal to novices and crafting professionals alike. Each one captures the warmth and humor that Abbey herself radiates and which has made her and her blog so popular.” Sounds about right to me! Here are some spreads and more pics from it to whet your appetite!

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

Book To Check Out: You Are Awesome

What I loved about this book: First, the gorgeous neon orange spine and the lovely cover – from the project featured to the font chosen, it looks really fresh and clean. I also love that the end papers are the most gorgeous pastel blue, so serene and such a nice complement to the neon orange accents throughout the book. The entire book feels very fresh as you flip through it, too – the layouts are simple yet striking and the font choices throughout are quite lovely. Another favorite is that it’s small enough to fit into your handbag yet it still feels special because it’s hardbound in some cool cardboard, I’ve not seen this often and totally like it because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I also really appreciate the title, even though I’m sure being a bit vague (it’s hard to tell it’s a craft book when you first see it) may make it hard to find for those who don’t know Abbey. Despite that though, I still love the title for one reason: it makes you feel good. I think that lots of people feel intimated by all of the perfection out there from what we are seeing on Pinterest to the pages of gorgeous magazines – it’s very easy to feel like you sorta suck in comparison. That’s why YOU ARE AWESOME is such a nice, “There, there, you can do it!” pat on the back kind of message. I like that.

In addition to the design of the book and title, the photography shot by Garry Maclennan is beautifully done and the illustrations throughout by Fiona Biddington from Pink Paper Circus are equally charming – what a great team Abbey had assigned to her book!

Some of my favorite projects include the Awesome pegs on p. 16/17, rainbow necklace on p. 18-21, Faceted necklace p. 34-37, Geometric ornaments p. 22/23 and the Valentine medals p. 64/65. The book also comes with handy templates in the back.

All in all, this is lovely little craft book – nice job Abbey!

(images: holly becker and pages from You Are Awesome)






Books + Magazines

Cartas De Amor – Love Letters

February 11, 2013

What a great afternoon I had! Let me tell you what I did. First, I stressed out a little because I realized I have a few looming deadlines I’d forgotten (oops!) and, instead of working on them, I had to stick with my appointment this afternoon because there was no way I was going to cancel it… Then (the fun part), I spent 5 hours with my film instructor, Christopher, shooting and working on editing a short film we made in my work studio about the simple pleasures of reading a good book and enjoying a cup of tea. I’m not going to show it all (sorry, we didn’t finish it) but it came out really good and if you’d like, you can watch some of it on Vine if you follow me there (@decor8).

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Sounds simple, but there is so much that goes in to making a really good film – it’s absolutely the coolest thing to really LEARN. If you want to convey emotion and lots of love (at least if that’s what you’re going for) without having it look boring or too corporate-y, you really have to shoot with your heart. Thankfully, he is exceptionally patient and talented because I didn’t feel for a second like I was going to fall asleep – just the opposite – when it was time for him to wrap up I felt like I could have gone on learning for many hours more. It felt good to just give myself 5 hours “off” (no guilt!) from the normal routine to absorb all he had to teach me.

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Later this week, we’ll go on a field trip to a film studio to work some more — I feel like I’m learning so much. I have no clue what I will do in the end with this education but I’m not learning with any “goal”, no big picture in mind, no end result. I’m simply learning because I’ve always wanted to learn about video production and editing and finally found the time to do it but also the person to teach me. I’ve been thinking more and more about doing a little video here and there for decor8 and my e-classes, so this is also inspiring me in that direction. But again, no big planning or new career direction. Just having some fun. It’s vital to do things that we love, just because we love them.

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Speaking of LOVE, this lovely e-mag that Jen Ramos from Made By Girl just released is LOVELY. It’s called, Cartas De Amor, or Love Letters in English. It’s a collection of personal handwritten love letters from the heart from Jennifer and 17 of her closest blogging pals. It’s really sweet and personal and I think Jen did a really nice job on it and hope she does more e-mags it’s nice to see her eye directing a magazine! To view the entire mag, click here.

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Cartas De Amor - Love Letters

Which reminds me… February 14th is just around the corner – I’m cooking for my family and friends and then we’re all going out to see a concert so it will be a very nice day. What will you do on V day?

(images: jen ramos)






Books + Magazines

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

January 18, 2013

Hello friends! I have an interview and book review to share quickly if you have a moment… I’d like for you to meet German stylist, photographer and debut author, Peter Fehrentz. I wrote about him last year but with the launch of his gorgeous book, Made By Yourself, I had to see if he would be free for a chat and he was! Peter is very talented and is a real inspiration to me so I am honored to feature him today. The projects in his new book are so innovative and fresh, I can’t wait to show you a few of them!

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

His publisher, DVA, gave me some images from the book to share with you so I’ve included them in this post along with some snaps that I took of my own copy of Made By Yourself. Won’t you join us for our little chat? Good! Meet Peter Fehrentz, everyone!

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

First of all, where do you live and what do you do for a living?
PF: I live in both Hamburg and Berlin and I am an Interior Stylist, Set & Product Designer and Photographer.

How did you get into this profession?

PF: I studied product design and after getting my degree, I did an internship as an editorial stylist at Schöner Wohnen magazine in Germany.

Do you find Germany in general supportive of those in creative fields?
PF: Currently it is changing a lot because there are many design schools that are very supportive and there are many fairs for young designers to show their work and to get in touch with industry professionals and potential clients. So, yes there is support here!

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

What do you appreciate most about German life and culture?
PF: Germans are very open and curious about other cultures – it influences our daily life wherever you go. Germany is a great place for doing straight forward business, especially in the northern part of the country.

Where do you go for inspiration in Hamburg and Berlin, where you split your time?
PF: I always go where there is art – galleries, museums, cinemas and theaters. Also simply nature.

Where do you look for inspiration online?
PF: There are some blogs (like decor8) that I visit frequently but also art and style websites that are sometimes good for creative input depending on what subject I am working on.

Where has your work been featured?
PF: There are many magazines and companies that I’ve worked with here throughout the years, for instance Living at Home, Brigitte, Schöner Wohnen and also foreign press such as Elle Decoration, Inside Out, etc. I work with companies too, for instance Parador, Alape, Dornbracht, Duravit, Hansgrohe, JAB Anstoetz, etc.

Where did you get the idea to write, style and photograph your own book?
PF: I’ve always produced DIY stories for magazines anyway, but it was when I started to photograph my own ideas in 2009 that I started to feel ready for more – for a book project.

What was the process like for you to do a book – how did you get a book deal, how long did it take to do the book, etc.?
PF: First, I approached my favorite publisher, DVA, about the idea in general and they were very interested and open to it. After negotiating the contract I had about 1,5 years time to produce the book. I didn’t work on it the entire time though because I had a lot of “daily business” and other jobs to do that were separate from the book. I’d estimate that the core amount of time it took me to do the book was about 6 months.

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

If someone living in Germany wants to get into interior styling, what would they need to do to be taken seriously and break into the profession?
PF: The best thing is to assist a stylist who is very talented and very busy in the industry for a long period of time (years not months). There is so much to learn and explore and this will not happen overnight. It takes patience. After assisting for awhile, and once one feels secure and ready, you have to find magazines, photographers, clients and agencies that fit your style and – very important – like you personally. Then you proceed from there to pitch some of your ideas and see what happens!

Who are some of your favorite stylists from other parts of the world?
PF: Rhea Thierstein, Robyn Glaser and Studio Toogood.

What do you think makes a stylist “good”?
PF: When styling is not only decoration but also has a certain twist. I like work that tells a story in a subtle way and it’s even better when this is done with a little irony. Not only one the surface but something deeper with many layers.

In Germany, there aren’t many gurus in design like we have in America, there are not a lot of well known names like Jonathan Adler or Kelly Wearstler. Why do you think this is the case?
PF: Germany doesn’t have a strong decorating tradition like some other countries. Sometimes I think one reason could be due to World War II. Right before the war, we had the Bauhaus which is still very popular and adored all over the world. After the war everything was about rebuilding and escaping the trauma for a long time and it is still not very popular to hire an interior designer here. I am not sure though if that really can be a reason, it makes sense to me, but perhaps it’s just in the German nature.

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

Would you like to be better “known” in Germany – famous for style and design for instance?
PF: I just like doing what I do and I am not really keen on being famous. I like the idea of reaching a large number of people and sharing my passion for what I’ve explored and what I believe in though. It’s always great getting response on your work.

Tell us about your book! What do you love about it?
PF: From the beginning, I always wanted the book to be about inspiration so people who love books can feel joy by looking at the photos but it should also work for those who love to build and handcraft things. When I peruse the pages of my book, I still like to look at all the pictures, the layout and design, and the colors. I hope that those who bought the book have the same feelings, too!

What is your favorite project in the book?
PF: There is not one in particular but two of my many favorites are the concrete lamp base (p.101) and the drop shaped mirrors (p.16).

What is a really big dream of yours?
PF: This book! I had wanted to do a book for a long time and I am really grateful that I found a publisher who gave me the freedom to make it a very personal piece – a true reflection of my taste and style.

Meet Stylist Peter Fehrentz

If you’d like to see a video interview with Peter (in German) or watch him make a project for the book, you can click here for two videos on his site. To buy a copy of his book, please visit Amazon or his publisher, DVA (Random House).

Thank you Peter for the interview – so nice to get to know you better! If anyone has questions for Peter, please ask him in the comments section. Thank you!

(images: peter fehrentz (styled shots), book photos: holly becker for decor8)






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