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Renovating Done Right

I heard from reader Manfung Cheung yesterday who runs Dutch design blog Inrichting Huis in Rotterdam because he wanted to share with you the renovations that he and his partner Lydia La recently completed in their city apartment. They decided to buy their first home — a two level flat in an old mansion that desperately needed renovation and their personal touch.

Manfung's House

You can see all of their before photos here, which I think is a great way to begin this post — to see where they started because oftentimes we approach a big project and it can seem daunting and we wonder if it is really worth the effort or not.  Manfung and Lydia prove that a little elbow grease goes a long, long way. These photos are of their beautiful new space which is light and bright — a requirement for some who want to avoid winter blues and even depression in cities that are known to be rainy and gray, as Rotterdam doesn’t have the best weather — it’s not Hawaii!

Manfung's House

Manfung's House

Manfung's House

Manfung's House

Manfung knows that it is vital to live in a home that fully supports you and allows for personal growth — he calls it a, “necessary foundation for happiness and success in life”. Large amounts of money and tons of space are not required to be happy — that is a bonus — the only requirements to make a house YOUR home is to find inspiration, connect to resources, get creative, tap into your personal style and be motivated enough to get up and do something about it! Kick your own butt! ha ha!

What a great house – thank you Manfung for writing in and sharing your space with us, especially before the weekend as many jump on DIY projects over the weekend — your home inspired me to work on my own tomorrow after I go to the flea market. I particularly love your collections, your wood floors, that darling mini blue SMEG and the Never Grow Up poster.

So tell me, when you start a renovation project, or even a decorating project, what are some of your fears? What often stands in your way? If you have any projects that you’re putting off, why? Perhaps together we can inspire one another to get a move on like Manfung did. Maybe even Manfung can help you with some of your dilemmas, so please comment below.

(images: inrichting huis)

Posted in Decorating Tips, diy on January 21, 2011

Photographer Emily Anderson

I found some lovely interiors that have clean lines and are quite organized to inspire you today. Or perhaps I’m hoping to become inspired by them after spending 6 hours organizing the front four rooms of our apartment and it feels like the mess has only just begun! These gorgeous photographs are from the portfolio of photographer Emily Anderson, who specializes in weddings, and is based in New York City and will travel the world for her clients. I invite you to visit her site and see her many photos for yourself.

Photographer Emily Anderson

We have a floor-through unit in the city, it is around 2,300 square feet, with four rooms in the front, two in the middle along with two bathrooms and two small rooms for storage (one is my laundry closet), and three rooms in the back but that’s not all, there are also two wintergartens (three season porches you would call them in the states) and a balcony. I haven’t lived in a place this large since I was with my parents so I don’t know what to do exactly with all of this space yet but I’m sure I’ll get my groove on and figure it all out soon enough. I’m an expert at organizing small spaces and 1 bedroom apartments but I feel a bit like a goldfish in the ocean in here and I’m not sure exactly where to begin because there are so many rooms and options for storing things. But so far, so good — I am doing well and making progress. My new sofa arrived today after waiting for three months. Now I have to hunt for a sofa table. The sofa is a lovely color, it’s grey-brown and a very modern with slim metal legs — I’m happy with it. My husband and I selected it together, which was important to me that we make design decisions together in this space just as we did before in our New Hampshire home.

My white IKEA sofa is now in my sitting room, but I will retire it altogether when I find another to replace it because it was never meant to be with us for long and it isn’t good for my back. It was only used in our vacation apartment three months per year. I’m ready to let it go, it’s been good to us for three years but I’m ready to let someone else love it now. :)

Photographer Emily Anderson

What about you? Are you decorating or organizing your home lately? Are you seeing any changes in your color choices? I’m still a big fan of white, but I’m getting bored with my home looking like everyone else’s that I see these days so I want to be different and try some new ideas. I am feeling creative and ready to take on some new looks for my home while still being true to myself. And you? Where do you stand with your interiors lately? I believe that we evolve, and as we evolve, we have to allow our homes to evolve with us. Sure, you aren’t going to toss all of your furniture for a complete redux but you can work in some new pieces to reflect who you are today and that is often a good thing.

Remember to check out Emily Anderson’s site and I nearly forgot to tell you… she authors a lovely blog that you may enjoy browsing, too.
(images: emily anderson)

Posted in Decorating Tips on January 18, 2011

Interior Styling Favorites

Good morning friends and happy new week to you! Guess what? My UK publisher will host a press conference for me in London in just two weeks, I just saw the official invitation this morning and am quite excited and very nervous — shaky knees for sure! :) I heard that some journalists and bloggers will be there to talk about Decorate and to view the book in person, which releases in the UK during the same week as my birthday in March. Oh my goodness you guys, what will I wear!?

Ohhhh Mhhh….

I’m very excited to see the book in two weeks myself — I keep wondering what it will feel like to hold it in my hands and flip the pages… I’ve been reading decorating books since I was a child so it’s still a very surreal feeling for me to have my own book and I am feeling very emotional about it. Lots of my friends tell me to “work it” and “have fun” and all I want to do is praise all of you for making this happy because I’m smart enough to know that it is through your support that I got a book deal in the first place. It’s such an honor for me to create a book for you, and when I have a copy I will make sure to give you a preview in a few weeks. Speaking of decorating…

I thought that it would be fun to share a few photos from my Interior Styling group on Flickr each Monday, a few highlights along with some links to Flickr members that you may or may not follow yet. The reason I selected Monday for this is because at the dawn of a new week lots of us need inspiration and ideas to carry us through the work week.

The Interior Styling group on Flickr has some lovely images submitted by members of the group and so there are always lots of photos to enjoy of real homes decorated by people all over the world who just love to decorate and possess a real knack for it. I curate the group to ensure a cohesive look and feel and to make sure that no odd submissions leak through (I sort through plenty of questionable content that’s for sure) so you can be sure that the images will be inspiring and diverse to fit many tastes. Members of this group also know that if they submit their photo to the group that I just may use it on decor8 because good work needs to be shared!

Interior Styling Group Inspiration

Pops of red and yellow with white and gray… Top left: Lillian Day knows that a little bit goes a long way. |  Top right: i l’aria brightens up her white bedding with a vibrant patchwork quilt and colorful crochet pillow cover giving this room a handmade feel. |  Bottom left: Nest decorating adds a bold floor rug to her kitchen making it a strong focal point in her Vermont farmhouse.  |  Bottom right: maedchen style lifts a mostly neutral palette with shots of country red in checks, dots and stripes.

Gorgeous workspace that looks soooo inspiring by ishtar olivera in Spain.

Super organized and a beautiful, nature-inspired theme by Dora iz Londona.

Interior Styling Group Inspiration

Top left: ninaaribena1 mixes several bold black and white patterns (a risk) but placement and scale is key and she gets it right. |  Top righti l’aria makes a crochet lampshade to give her otherwise pastel decor some energy which is always nice in winter months.  |  Bottom left: ish & chi is never afraid to take a risk. She is a very courageous women in more ways than one. Vivian, you go girl! |  Bottom right: Ninaribena1 painted her front door with black and white stripes for a bold, graphic statement. You can really have fun in small rooms like this so why not mix and match?

Elsa’s shelf of vintage and vintage-inspired notions makes me smile and feel creative just by looking at it. Isn’t this how it is sometimes? Even when we do nothing with our little crafty bits, it still makes us feel more creative just by collecting them and having a few around to jump start our creativity now and then… Plus lots of crafty things look extremely sweet when used as decoration in the home, don’t they?

This living space by lakbdesign is so inviting in blue tones and tactile elements (wood sculpture above fireplace, coffee table and natural sisal rug) but surprise, there is a gorgeous lime green table in the corner to introduce playfulness to this otherwise sophisticate decor. This look is very relaxing and inviting. The curved armless sofa is divine.

Look for “Interior Styling Favorites” each and every Monday on decor8 going forward where I’ll pick my weekly faves from the group and share right here. Enjoy!

(images: linked to their sources beneath each image above.)

Posted in Decorating Tips on January 17, 2011

Vintage Industrial Decorating Tips + HKLiving

Is vintage industrial a style that interests you? If so, you’ll like this find. I found out about HKLiving just yesterday after buying an industrial pendant light from them at Die Wohngeschwister in Hamburg. HKLiving is a home collection offering everything from lighting to furniture and interior accessories and is owned by Dutch designer Emiel Hetsen along with his partners Saskia Wesselius and Sander Klaver. Emiel launched his company in 2008 and along with product design, he also has a background in selling antique and vintage furniture and by the looks of his collection, his background resulted in a strong, cohesive collection. HKLiving has appeared in several European design magazines, you can see a few spreads below from VTWonen and Skona Hem.

HKLiving

HKLiving

What do you think of this look? These products are not offered yet in the US, though I’m sure you can find similar products at stores near you and I can bet that you’ll be seeing this look more and more in the states — the vintage industrial look is a big trend here.

If you like vintage industrial but want to mix some elements of it in with your own style to create a look, you can go a few ways with it, try these ideas:

* Go clean and graphic — Minimalistic with bold black as an accent, a large metal initial on the wall, chalkboard paint in the dining room, industrial stools at the bar in your kitchen. This look is mostly black and white with a shot of bold color if you wish. Orange is a nice accent and can be brought it by placing a bright orange metal chair at your desk or an orange vase on your table. Floors can be painted white, black or if you are lucky, natural hardwood that is original and a bit rough around the edges. Polished concrete is another option.

* Go country by bringing in pinstripes in black and white for your fabrics along with creamy white (with a yellow tone) mixed with your bright whites (which often have a blue or gray. Add some pastel color – a pale mint wooden cabinet for instance. Mix in original vintage elements like an old wooden farmhouse table, a farmhouse sink for the kitchen, etc. along with your faux vintage pieces. Style with fresh flowers (pink roses, white peonies or lavender for instance), layer blankets on your bed and mix the patterns of your linens, buy a comfy sofa (brown leathers or white linens work nicely), and add wicker baskets as storage for that pile of magazines near your favorite chair.

* Go bright and have fun by adding in patterns (try gray stars or petite floral prints) and bright colors like red, blue and pink. You can bring in a pink Smeg fridge and colorful Cath Kidston wallpaper. Add a vintage industrial light over your dining table in bold yellow. Paint a crate bright red and use for storage.

* Go the natural route by bringing in lots of warmth and texture with reindeer furs and cow hides (cruelty-free or faux), driftwood and branches in vases. Think “rustic” and natural. Mango wood tables, a whitewashed coffee table, comfortable seating that you can sink into, vintage industrial furniture like black metal lockers for storage or crates on wheels as a bedside table. This is purely optional, but you can bring in some ethnic accents into this look — silver Moroccan poufs, a white wooden tea table with silver metal tray, etc.

There are other ways to use vintage industrial items in a way that suits you. You can even mix and match some of these ideas above, for instance the natural and rustic style can work nicely combined with the country look. With clean and graphic, you can add in some country elements to make it a bit French flea market-esque.

Note: Don’t only go faux or else your home risks becoming a Faux Chateau, a slang term right up there with McMansion that my friend Laurie uses to describe the interior of a home that has all reproduction pieces in it and nothing genuinely vintage or antique. Mix your faux pieces that are beautifully made and look very authentic, like those at HKLiving with those that are actual vintage pieces that you found at a flea market for best decorating results. This is what I do and it works for me and hopefully can work for you, too. :)

What about where you live, do you see this look creeping in or is it already popular?

(images: hkliving + herzlich wohnen)

Posted in Decorating Tips on January 13, 2011

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.

eCourses:

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