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Dear Sania Pell

Hello friends, how are you doing today? I wanted to continue with my Dear Friend/Inspiring Person letters but for some reason, after I wrote the first in the series to Emily Chalmers (here), I sort of gave up. I think I felt a bit overwhelmed by pouring out my emotions so publicly, and perhaps that this would be somehow embarrassing for those who are shy to read – like maybe Emily sat there thinking that I was a crazy stalker or maybe that my letter was a bit over-the-top?

Dear Sania

The truth is, I’m not half-hearted and when I enjoy something I enjoy it completely. And there are so many people that I enjoy. So I thought perhaps to continue with the series but in a much lighter way (ha, we’ll see how that goes, I have a hard time holding back) so I’m starting today with Sania Pell. Sania Pell is an interiors stylist and best-selling author of two books, Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children (I have and love them both), and lives and works in London as a freelance stylist for magazines and catalogs. She has a super lovely home in Chiswick (my dream neighborhood to live in) and a beautiful family with a great designer/photographer husband, Mark Wilson, who actually is responsible for how beautiful decor8 looks.

Sania is such an inspiration to me. I really adore her style and how she looks at the world. I also like how take charge she is. She makes stuff happen and doesn’t sit idle. I love that about her. So this little letter is for you, Sania.

Dear Sania

Dear Sania


Dear Sania,

Thank you for being such a great friend to me. Ever since first having dinner with you in Camden Town in 2010, I knew you’d be my friend. I remember when you showed up at my hotel with a gift you had handmade for me – a project from your first book – a beautiful wall hanging that you presented rolled up in a tube. I was so overwhelmed by such a generous act of kindness. It’s on my wall to this day and every time I see it, I think of our first meeting and how lucky I am to have met you. I couldn’t believe you were a fan of my blog and that you appreciated the review I posted about your first book so much that you wanted to meet me to thank me personally. No one does stuff like that anymore, really. You are super special.

Since that day, we’ve been friends – something I value immensely. We’ve done many nice things together ever since in-person, including your wonderful help in planning my book party at Liberty in 2011. I can’t believe it’s already been so long already, time flies! You’ve let us shoot in your home on two occasions, so when your living room ended up on the cover of the first book, I couldn’t believe Chronicle had chosen the room of my dear friend. To have your home on my book cover is a big deal to me. Whenever I look at Decorate on my coffee table, I don’t just see my book but I think about you.

Sania, thank you for being so talented and giving to me and now, to others, through your blog. I love that you have a blog and that I can keep up with you there because honestly, when I am feeling a little homesick or a bit uninspired, I have these plug-in points for inspiration and your blog is high on my list. I visit nearly every day to see if you’ve posted. From your posts about travel to shops you’ve been to, shoots you’ve done on location, your book projects, pictures you take of landscapes that I love so much (because they remind me of that gorgeous painting you did in your bedroom)… Whenever I visit At Home, I feel like I’m at your home and I recall the times I’ve spent with you in your craft loft or in your kitchen and feel really cozy and happy.

Dear Sania

Dear Sania

Dear Sania

Dear Sania

Thank you Sania, you are a beautiful friend that I admire so much. I imagine being grannies looking back at this “blog” era saying to one another, “Well wasn’t that something else.” I am so glad your first book, which resulted in my blog review, which caused us to have dinner one summer’s night in London, turned us into friends. Thank goodness for blogs and books but even more, thank you for reaching out to me in the first place because London wouldn’t be the same without you there. In fact, whenever I go to London, I’m always excited because I know we’ll meet up and be total girls together and I love that so much. You’re the best.


NOW it is YOUR TURN dear readers. Why don’t you join me and write a DEAR X letter to someone you love on your blog and post your link below. :)

(images: sania pell)

Posted in Dear Friend on April 12, 2013

Dear Emily Chalmers

The one thing I’m hearing the most lately is the need to make more personal connections with others both on and offline. I’ve been teaching creative crafting, decorating and blogging classes (in person) for over a year now and started teaching (online) in March 2009 as my way to connect with others more intimately. It’s had a very positive impact on my life. Personal connections are key for me. I thought that it would be nice to write more letters to those whom I admire in an effort to connect even more. What is nicer than being told how wonderful you are via a handwritten note?

Dear Emily

But then I thought of the enormous amounts of time it would take to actually DO this because everything in theory sounds great but the reality of the idea would potentially consume me. There are so many wonderful and creative people that I’ve met through this fascinating world of design and blogging – I’m sure you can say the same and I try to tell them through email how special they are but then…. I thought… How could I do something even more special than firing off a quick email? Perhaps it would be better to celebrate these friendships in a more public way? That’s when the idea to start my new column, Dear Friend, came to mind.

Each week, most likely on Thursdays, I’ll write a love note publicly to someone who matters to me and who inspires me in some way. My hope is to share a really great person with all of you and that maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own Dear Friend love letters on your blog too. We need to be more thoughtful, kind and appreciative. So much on the internet is for free, so many people’s hard work is shared at no expense, why not celebrate them in a personal way from time to time?

I thought I’d kick off this column today by writing to one of the most talented flea market junkies that I know, London-based author, shop owner and stylist Emily Chalmers.

Dear Emily

Emily busy at work in her London studio

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15 December 2011

Dear Emily,

I’m not sure I’ve ever told you this, but your work has made a difference in my life and in how I look at interiors. You really stand out as one of my top 10 favorite creative women. I’ve always loved the finer details but through you, I’ve come to appreciate the little things even more that can be easily overlooked in the hustle bustle of the everyday. Your most cherished collection of books in my library, which have served as my primary connection to your marvelous brain, have given me loads of joy and inspiration. Through you, I’ve learned how to delight in more than just the beautiful “perfect” things that as an American, I am naturally drawn towards — my culture is all about perfect packaging and perfectly made crafts and perfect looking interiors (being part of the Martha Stewart generation).

Through your book, Flea Market Style, so many (me included) felt set free from all of the poshness that exists in interior design and instead, were exposed to a world where perfectly symmetrical and stuffy rooms are unknown and instead, rebellious rooms with plenty of quirk and character are the norm. All who know your work are well aware that you were there celebrating this trend of imperfect interiors long before it became cool to publicly confess to liking it. In fact in 2005, your book introduced so many to the chic side of Flea Market Style and after that, there was no looking back. To me, you are the pioneer of everything from flea market style to granny chic and boho chic.

Dear Emily

I’m writing this letter to you Emily, so publicly, because your eye and talent have given much to so many and I hope that you recognize this. So often as a pioneer of a movement, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been left behind by what you yourself started. You may or may not feel this way, I don’t know, but I feel this way sometimes as a blogger as I enter my 7th year of doing this “professionally” and sometimes wonder if anyone remembers that I was writing in this space long before it was cool or the press gave a damn about me or what I had to say. I remember writing 10 articles a day on this blog during a time when few people even read design blogs. I didn’t know where it would lead me but I had a desire to connect and share and get noticed so that I could one day write for magazines. I know other “old school” bloggers like me who are reading this right now wagging their heads thinking of those early days when blogging didn’t have any drop of coolness associated with it. Today it seems everyone wants a piece of the blogging pie and for good reason, it’s a great pie! It takes a true love affair though with what one is doing to stick through it through the “thin” because god knows it’s easy to love it while it’s “thick”, isn’t it? But I digress…

But yes, it’s easy to forget how key you, Emily Chalmers, were to what is happening today in Interiors. You paved the way for so many closet flea market junkies to come out with confidence and share their own love for granny chic, homespun, flea market and the fabulous mix of old and new. I see so much of your work in the work and even retail spaces of others. What an amazing thing for you to witness all of this – you can see what has become of your willingness and courage to share your vision and how it’s taken off. Your courage to go out there and tell the world what Emily Chalmers thinks and loves really rocks. I’m so inspired by the many intricate pieces that make up the whole of who you are Emily, from your sweet emails to how you made a special effort to meet me at my book launch in London and perhaps you’ve never known just how greatly you’ve influenced me. Your courage, your vision, your talent and your amazing ability to curate and live the life you were made to live is beautiful, authentic, inspiring and refreshing. Your reputation is unblemished – everyone who has met you tells me you are gracious, generous and a kind and caring soul. This means a lot because it’s not common in interiors to find down-to-earth people who happen to be trendsetter. You use good old-fashioned warmth, talent, hard work and honesty to advance yourself and I admire that. You are the real deal.

Dear Emily

And so I will close this letter to you dear Emily to say that I’m enormously grateful that you are who you are and I hope to see many more books and beauty streaming from your creative mind to your many fans as the years roll forward. Those grateful enough to love what they do are sometimes given the privilege to write them down in a book with the goal to share that passion and knowledge with hopes of making even a tiny difference. Emily, you have made an enormous difference to me and so many others and if you didn’t know this already, well now you do.

xo Holly

(photography: inga powilleit)


Posted in Dear Friend on December 15, 2011


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