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Book Review: Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court

I was delighted when Sibella’s publisher, Harper Collins, sent me a beautiful advance copy of her new book, Life of a Bowerbird, which releases October 9th. If you do not know Sibella Court, she is an interior stylist, shop owner and author from Australia who has 3 beautiful books (this one being her 4th) that are all dedicated to her passions: styling, shopping and world travel. When Life of a Bowerbird arrived, I immediately made myself a cappuccino and sat by the window in my kitchen to flip through but a funny thing happened… As I was perusing I felt this overwhelming urge to grab my camera so I shot a few pages so you could share the experience of reading Life of a Bowerbird along with me. Ready to take a seat and follow along?

Book review: Bowerbird

What is a Bowerbird, you ask? If you’re not familiar with them (I hadn’t a clue, but suspected it was something like a crow), a bowerbird is a bird native to Australia that builds its nest on the ground and collects everything it can to create a cozy home from shells to bones, stones to brightly colored objects, always found or stolen, always collecting and building.

Book review: Bowerbird

Sibella is often referred to by her dearest pals as a bowerbird because she is a passionate, curious collector. She believes in building ones nest over a period of a lifetime, day by day, object by object, and as passions change, to rotate in (or out) collections, or perhaps to give them a new home and begin again with another series of collected treasures. I believe in this too.

Book review: Bowerbird

Book review: Bowerbird

Many of us collect things but aren’t always certain how to arrange, store and display our prized collections. In Life of a Bowerbird, Sibella shows us everything from scissor collections to feathers, eggs, antlers, taxidermy, porcelain and maps, for example, and how to do interesting things with them. As I looked through the book, I found with each assortment of things both a close up shot of it (for instance, ribbons) with at least one idea for how to display the collections creatively in the home as a larger shot nearby. For instance, you can find a macro shot of ribbons on page 152, and then Sibella advises on page 153, “Velvet embellished ribbon lengths are easily tacked over a doorway. What a lovely entrance to a room or a beautiful visual as you peer down a hallway, with ribbons catching in the breeze“, along with a larger photo showing more of a room view with ribbons in the doorway. While it’s not a DIY book, these simple ideas are ones you can do yourself simply by reading Sibella’s captions and applying her advice. For me, her words and images challenge my thinking and ways of doing things – so while I may not apply her idea to hang ribbons in my doorway, it did lead me to think that perhaps hanging them across a window as a sort of curtain would be amazingly lovely…

Book review: Bowerbird

Book review: Bowerbird

Of course, no Sibella book would be as amazing as they are without her talented brother, Chris Court, who is a photographer and shoots her beautiful arrangements of things. I love his aesthetic – his eye is brilliant and he sees so many lovely details and approaches objects from the best possible angle. I also like how he shoots using natural light because it makes everything feel so much more cozy and natural.

Book review: Bowerbird

Book review: Bowerbird

Book review: Bowerbird

I must add that this book isn’t one that will appeal to the masses looking for a step by step guide to styling or collecting – you really have to have a creative soul or be open to her more abstract ideas — you have to “get” Sibella and her artistic take on things in order to fully appreciate this book which is really a poetic work of art. She is so creative and this comes very naturally for her, it’s her gift, but this book isn’t for those who want detailed instruction, long lists of ways to show each collection or perfectly perfect storage ideas. What Sibella does well is present creative, more artistic ideas that aren’t textbook, boring or overly planned – her ideas are very organic – they aren’t fussed about – and come from the truest place of all – her heart. For me, this is why I still buy books, for unique perspectives and beautiful imagery that isn’t being pinned to death all over the web. This is such a special book – well done, Sibella!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on October 05, 2012

Decorate Workshop: Sneak Peek!

I am wobbly kneed yet deliriously delighted to show you a sneak peek of a very special project that I began working on earlier this year that JUST arrived in my mailbox… but first, this is what my workroom looked like for 6 months of my life…

Planning Decorate Workshop

After months of planning, traveling, writing, editing… Copies of my upcoming decorating book, Decorate Workshop, which will be available in the UK, North America and Australia/New Zealand in October/November of this year and then in late winter, in German! Woweeeee! I nearly fainted as I opened my mailbox today because it’s such a big task to do a book, you wrap up totally exhausted from it, and then you are waiting for what feels like an eternity to see it in print. Cracking it open for the first time was a real high… Would you like to see it? Here is the American version from Chronicle Books on my bookshelf…

Decorate Workshop!

We just finished Decorate Workshop in July so I’ve not had tooooo long of a time to wait yet it felt like forever because the anticipation that an author and team feel to see their “child” delivered is undeniably off the charts – I’ve been happy, crabby, emotional, just a whole load of hormones as I waited by my mailbox for this book to arrive. It’s like a newborn child, getting the keys to a new apartment, buying a home, bringing in that newly upholstered sofa, landing on the soil of your dream destination, seeing your blind date after weeks of wondering whether he’ll be cute (and he shows up looking delish, oh my!)… The waiting period that went into realizing the dream is a rainbow of delicious, stressful, raw, draining, magical, crazy and hope-filled emotions. You’re pretty much a crazy person from the time you start writing until the day your book releases. (Here is a shot below of Decorate and Decorate Workshop. I love how Chronicle Books designed the spines to coordinate nicely when displayed together on a shelf. They are so committed to detail.)

Decorate Workshop!

My hope with this second book, which I’ve decided to write in the voice of my blog decor8 and to author solo, is that you will read every single page, scribble in the margins, highlight stuff with your neon yellow marker and write in the spaces that I’ve designated throughout the book for you to jot down notes, ideas, dreams… This book is all about tapping in to your personal style and turning your ideas and inspiration into something real in just 8 steps. (Below is a shot of the UK version of the book. The US version is softcover with a different jacket but that is the only difference. The UK version is hardbound. I’m so happy that Jacqui Small put my blog address on the cover, I think that’s pretty amazing!)

Decorate Workshop (UK cover)

Here are some spreads for you to peek at that follow. Decorate Workshop is filled with pretty photos that were shot by mostly Debi Treloar, the magical photographer and now a good friend who lives in London. Debi has shot around a million of the best looking books in the world so to work with her is always an absolute “pinch me is this really happening” moment. She is brilliant in every single way.

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

Decorate Workshop

In Decorate Workshop, I had the pleasure of selecting the homes and styling the rooms. We shot locations in the US and in Europe. I also pulled together lots of mood boards and more creative, inspirational vignettes that my husband photographed for the book – around 30 photographs are his. As the project wrapped up, we realized we needed more images but couldn’t book Debi as she had started a new project and so my husband jumped in and took the final shots that we needed to wrap up. It feels good that he had a part in this book, it’s nice to get the family involved in a project so close to your heart but furthermore, and the really cool part is, that the cover of the book was shot by him and the image on the back of the US version is also his photo – it’s our home and I’m so proud to say that 4 rooms are in the book from our house along with a breakdown of how I planned several of them from A-Z. I thought that with my 2nd book you may like to see my home but also to learn more about how I think when I’m planning my own space so you’ll get that in Decorate Workshop.

Decorate Workshop!

The book design was done by the talented and patient Sarah Rock and is super colorful and pretty to flip through, there are lots to look at and to inspire. I’m really proud of my team and of this book and hope that you’ll pre-order it as it’s now being sold at a very special rate and will be shipped to all who pre-order it first before you start seeing it in stores.

Decorate Workshop!

Decorate Workshop

It even comes with a very special gift – a French Fold book jacket that you can unfold, iron out and use as a poster – you can hang it on the wall to display. It’s an inspirational collage and is so very pretty with words, illustrated floor plans by my dear friend and rock star illustrator Samantha Hahn who did the beautiful floor plans in the book for us, and washi tape accents and pretty photos shot for this book. I just photographed it below after sticking it to the door of my cabinet so you can get a sense of scale, but it’s quite pretty and I’ve never seen this in a decorating book before so I’m hoping to start a trend because I think a book with a gift like this is very special and is what makes printed things so much nicer and more warm and fuzzy than only digital things.

French Fold ironed out

This is very exciting for me to share this news and to show off a wee bit too as I’m not really trying to show off but talking about an accomplishment can certainly come across as such… But I’ve had a tough few months since I finished this book as most of you know so it feels good to be back in a good place again now that I see the book and feel like it’s a really, really good and big accomplishment. I simply wanted to share a happy moment in my life with you today so thank you so much for your love and support and for listening and looking. :)

Decorate Workshop planning

By the way, I dedicated this book to all of you as you’ll see in the beginning near the table of contents because it’s so true – without loyal friends and fans where would an author be? Your support for Decorate, my first book that became an international bestseller and is now available in 12 languages, gave me the opportunity to write a second one so thank you for that because I truly love doing what I was meant to do for a living. It feels great to no longer be stuck in a cubicle at a corporate job as I once was before I made the leap, took a chance, started this blog and today, doing what I’ve been wanting to do since I was little. Thank you for giving me this, you guys!!!!!! And thank you to the homeowners and some of my blogger friends who are in this book too – so proud!

Pre-order

Tell me, which one of the two covers do you like the most? I’m really curious!

(images: holly becker)

Posted in Books + Magazines on September 19, 2012

Decorate Workshop: My Next Baby!

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to finally get to share with you the covers from both my US and UK versions of my next book, Decorate Workshop! First, the US cover is shown below which is now in pre-order mode over on Amazon.com for half off the cover price so you’ll want to scoop this one up now – what a great offer!

Decorate Workshop US - Now in pre-orders!

Next is the beautiful UK cover which is also being offered at a terrific pre-sale discount on Amazon UK.

Decorate Workshop UK - Now in pre-orders!

Decorate Workshop was written, styled, shot and produced between February and July of this year so it kept me very busy between scouting, traveling, styling, working with the fabulous Debi Treloar again, writing (and writing and writing!), amongst the other things that keep a girl very busy when producing a book. My team in London at Jacqui Small Publishing was amazing and I cannot thank my editor, Sian Parkhouse, or the book designer, Sarah Rock, enough. I am so happy that my team was so dedicated and to have Chronicle Books and Jacqui Small publishing my second book to follow Decorate after they took such good care of me for my first book. It’s an honor beyond my wildest dreams to be able to write another and this time, I’ve gone solo and wrote it in the same voice as my blog which makes it an even more personal project for me.

I’ll tell you more about the book in the months to come and once it is printed, I’ll show you a copy, but I want to thank you all for your endless love and support and hope that you will love it. In it, I explain 8 creative steps to decorating and I show my own home, lots of mood boards and things I’ve pulled together to inspire you and of course, a bunch of gorgeous homes that we photographed in the US, UK and Europe.

Today is a happy day!

xo, Holly

Posted in Books + Magazines on July 31, 2012

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

Love London? Visiting soon? This post is for you! Last night I stumbled across a most curious travel book while perusing Amazon called the London Style Guide authored by Londoner Saska Graville and published by Murdoch with photography by Jessica Reftel Evans & Martin Reftel of Amorfo Photography. It looked like such a lovely guide and definitely not ‘typical’ so I snapped it up in jiffy, ordering before retiring to bed.

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

To my surprise, this lovely guide arrived a few moments ago and as I flipped through it I couldn’t contain my excitement. Finally someone wrote a shopping, eating and sleeping guide for London that speaks 100% to my aesthetic and is free of blah blah tourist-y stops and those all too familiar recommendations that every book suggests. This guide is stylishly laid out (props to the book designer!), meticulously curated and beautifully, and I mean beautifully, shot. I love the “Meet the Londoner section” with 18 interviews of shop and cafe owners, showcasing their favorite things to see in London.

I highly suggest picking up a copy because if you intend to go to London anytime soon, you simply MUST own this guide. Even if you don’t intend to go, this book is still a lovely one to own because through it you can feel like you’ve traveled and there are all sorts of lovely things to see and read along with links to places you can look up online. It is available for download here or you can buy a hard copy in the UK here or in the US here. There is even a digital version available on iTunes which I’m going to investigate because having this guide on my iPhone would totally rock for my next trip back to London. Would you like to take a quick look with me?

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

London Style Guide By Saska Graville

About the author: Saska Graville has worked as a writer and editor for magazines and newspapers for 20+ years in London and Sydney. She was former editor of New Woman magazine in Australia then the features editor of The Sun-Herald newspaper in Sydney. Later, she relocated back to her native London as deputy editor of Red magazine and currently is a UK travel correspondent for The Sun-Herald.

Now I’m more excited than ever to return to London this Fall!

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines, shopping, travel on July 25, 2012

Books:

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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