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Coat Hanger Tree

I have this thing you see. Whenever it snows, I must go outside for a walk at night after everyone is tucked away in their cozy homes. I live in a city but after 10 p.m. in my district it becomes a sleepy village and so one can wander around and find inspiration in the silence. While wandering a few nights ago, I walked by one of my favorite shops nearby which happens to be owned by my friends Berit and Kerstin called Snug and I loved what I saw. Here is a shot of what I saw taken during the day as it was too dark to photograph it at night…

snug1

A coat hanger tree. It’s impressive, right? I thought so. That is one cute Chrissy tree, the ornaments are their own products, their pretty brooches made from painted wood. It’s a tree for all of your hang ups! :)

Have you found an impressive, unusual tree in your neighborhood? Or do you have one at home? Perhaps you can post it and link it here in the comments section. We could take a winter blog stroll together to see the trees all over the world. Whether you are into Christmas or not, it’s just nice to see the creative things that people can do and how imaginative people can be with a single tree.

P.S. If you are in Hannover this weekend, don’t miss Designachten where you can meet the Snug girls in person along with several other indie artists from Hannover and the local area. I’ll be there as a visitor on both days so maybe you will spot me, too! :)

(images: snug)

Posted in Decorating Tips on December 16, 2010
decor8 great.ly shop

Inspiring Danish Brand: Nordal

Have you heard of Nordal? Living here I’m exposed to lots of Danish design, especially in the magazines that I read, but also in some of our online stores and even retail spaces here in my own city. I found reference to them today in Le Souk, an online shop in The Netherlands where you can find their gorgeous butterfly chairs (I’m thinking to buy one). I thought you may like to check them out because this style appeals to me so perhaps part of it will appeal to you.  Nordal is yet another brand from Denmark that is a family-owned business and they design products that are functional but also very natural looking with the occasional playful chair or stool thrown in. This looks like a fun line for decorating!

Danish brand Nordal

They design most of the products that you see in Denmark but have them manufactured in the far east but only in good conditions so you can feel good about purchasing from Nordal, which to me is very important. We as consumers need to question where our favorite brands are making their wares, after all our money is directly supporting either fair employment or something entirely unethical – it’s something to think about it. Would you like to see more of their products?

Danish brand Nordal

Above you can see some over-dyed vintage patchwork rugs that I spoke of recently in this post. Do you like this trend? What are your thoughts? I love it, just in a more subdued hue because I’m not into bold brights in my home. Plus, I recently bought a neutral patchwork rug in Istanbul that is huge, it’s in my living room, and it has tones of gray and beige and cream with some bright pinks accents and it’s a-m-a-z-i-n-g to me at least. I can’t wait to show you once I pull my living room together.

Danish brand Nordal

And don’t worry, if you cannot find these exact items in your home country use posts such as this one to inspire you to be on the look out for specific pieces in your local area that have a similar look. I usually print out or circle things in magazines and then try to find something similar in my part of the world, especially since so many companies in the U.S. do not ship to Germany, I’ve had to change my entire approach to shopping and that is the best tip that I can give you.

For instance, if  you are shopping around for a similar look, try to scout rustic wood tables with metal bases. Rivets are also part of this look, so if your metal has rivets all the better. Also metal piping as the base is very current. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to invest in a good rustic table with a metal base as it will look great for years to come. You can find pieces that are new by furniture designers, ones that are from companies like Nordal (but made in China, India and Thailand for example), or you can scout for vintage pieces which may or may not be the most affordable option as dealers watch the trends and read blogs too so you can believe that prices go up when something in their stock becomes sought-after. Another idea is to try making it yourself, you can use an old barn door from a salvage yard and then find metal legs and in a single afternoon, you can pop those legs on that door and be good to go!

It’s all about developing your eye and really thinking about what exactly it is that you like about a piece and then if that piece isn’t available to you, try to find something like it elsewhere or even make it yourself if that is reasonable. I’ve seen lots of similar wares in stores all over the states, again, it’s all about shopping with an eagle eye!

I hope that you have enjoyed the introduction to Nordal!

(images: nordal)

Posted in Decorating Tips on December 09, 2010

Danish Decorating Trends

Lots of people ask me now that I live in northern Europe what I consider in style here in the world of interiors. It’s hard to point to a few looks and say this or that is the norm just as it is impossible to pinpoint true American style these days. Fact is, Europe is a big place with tons of cultures and influence making each country quite unique but on the flip side, Europe is much more diversified than ever before (a topic that some are uncomfortable discussing and for good reason, the fear of homogenization). I think that fear is something most of us who grew up in 1980s America where we watched borders slowly fade can relate to… Exciting at first, but today many of us long for the days when travel from one state to the next was exciting — it meant being exposed to all new stores and restaurants, even chain stores were different, and that was pretty darn cool when I was a kid.

Danish Style

I guess that is why so many of us cling to handmade and flock to small shops even if it means paying more — and why we support local restaurants — we are trying to hold on to that feeling of uniqueness that we remember from our childhood. My observation entirely  but what do YOU think?

Danish Style

Truth is, those living outside of Europe have long admired it for maintaining its uniqueness, from country to country… and that it maintains a special old world charm. However, as you watch the Travel Channel and see show hosts wander from city to city, you can’t help but notice recurring store signage. Borders here are fading in some ways too. I think the difference though is that countries are not so quick to allow products in from other countries unless their is a real demand or interest but also because you are dealing with different governments and languages, it just takes longer to negotiate deals and import/export goods. It’s not as easy to set up shop in another country.

Also, new brands from “outside” are not so easily adopted with a smile. And yet it is exciting to see the good stuff leak over the borders to Germany, I can’t deny this, especially since Germany doesn’t have a strong identifiable “style” post WWII like the Danes, French or the Italians maintained throughout the years. Oh yes, once they did, in fact their design and art movements spawned many other movements worldwide, just look at the Bauhaus and it’s influence. However, since the second world war, function trumped beauty in many respects because so much was destroyed here and people were forced to build quickly to recover part of their life that was lost. But lately the tide is changing and younger Germans are starting to move and shake things. Functional products are looking really good to me and the overall future of German design (interiors, handmade arts & crafts, decorating) feels bright once more. Outside influence is definitely helping, as I see more and more Danish design here (and some Dutch) which excites me as these are two of my favorite places when it comes to design that I personally relate to.

Danish Style

Given that Germany and Denmark share a border to the north, it’s natural that Danish design would start to creep over and influence the modern German home especially here in the north. You can see this in many shops and some cafes in Hamburg, the influence is there for certain. Pick up any good German decorating magazine and you’ll see some of the hallmarks of Scandinavian design being highlighted more and more, particularly the Swedish and Danish stuff. Scandinavian design is very easy to classify but also to like and I’m guessing Danish goods appeal to Germans because the design is not only practical for everyday use and the lines are clean for the most part, but there is a rustic, natural feel to it that Germans as a whole like and can identify with as they are a culture very close to and respectful of, nature. Germans are known for being extremely brand loyal. It takes time for them to warm up to something (or someone) but once you’ve won them over you have a customer/friend for life. This is especially true of northern Germans, and since I’ve been visiting here for the past 11 years and now live and work here as well, I have an outsider’s opinion based on the changes I’ve witnessed over the years when it comes to design in this country. This tells me that Danish companies who win over the hearts of people here will gain a loyal market that will stay in place for a long, long time.

Danish Style

If you are curious to see some examples of current Danish designers who are making some of today’s top trends come to life, just flip through the e-pages of a TineK Home catalog, check out House Doctor, Ferm Living, Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Noa Noa (fashion brand but still), DAY, Greengate, Rice, Madam Stolz, and you’ll definitely find many beautiful things that are very clean, some colorful and quirky, others more streamlined and modern with a neutral palette.

Danish Design Trends

In my mind I tend to group some of the Danish styles that I’m seeing quite strongly here where I live in three key categories: Danish Pretty (Greengate, Rice), Old Meets New Danish (DAY Birger et Mikkelsen homeware, House Doctor, TineK Home, Madam Stoltz) and New Danish Modern (Normann Copenhagen, HAY). This post is more about Old Meets New Danish, as you can clearly see in the images I’ve selected. And by the way, these terms are all “Holly made” so they may or may not be how these individual companies classify themselves!

Danish style

Old Meets New decorating, Danish style anyway, is clean and bright (when you live in the north, white is essential!) but there are definite French, Asian and Moroccan influences in surfaces, shapes, colors and patterns. There is also an industrial edge making this style accessible to city loft dwellers in addition to those living in country homes. Think rustic pottery, straw totes with leather handles, metallic (mostly silver) surfaces, linen, jute, wool, metallic linens, rustic wood, industrial, vintage Moroccan tea trays, metal bases on tables, metal lockers, wheels on rustic wood coffee tables, etc.

Danish Design Trends

If you want to recreate this look in your own home, consider keeping your foundation pieces clean and fuss-free, mixing in a few statement pieces that may be painted in gray, blue or black for instance or you may choose to bring your statement pieces in using metal furniture – lockers, metal cabinets on wheels, wood tabletops with metal pipe bases… Also pay close attention to texture. This is what makes this look work. The Danes are naturals when it comes to making people feel at home, I felt very accepted and at home in Copenhagen earlier this year when I was there to work on my book. They are also effortlessly stylish, which I admire so much.

Danish style

This style is a well-edited look appearing to be effortless, but in reality it is very well thought out. If you are trying to recreate the look use some of the images in this post as your inspiration. No matter where you live, no doubt you can find objects in your local neighborhood that can be used to create this look if you don’t have access to the companies that I’ve mentioned above.

If you like the photos that appear in this post, they are from the Danish brand Madam Stolz, run by husband wife duo Pernille and Peter Stoltz since 1995 who live and work on the island of Bornholm in Denmark. They also run a delightful shop during the summer in Svaneke that I would love to visit as it appears as though everything they stock I would consider owning! If you are interested in Madam Stoltz products, please visit their website to see their online catalog or contact them directly to find a sales rep nearest to you.

(images: madam stoltz)

Posted in Decorating Tips, trends on December 07, 2010

Decorating & Other Stuff

Hello friends, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I had a great shopping weekend, I found some things for my new place simply by staying at home and shopping online — we got a lot of snow so it was the perfect plan of action! I’m dying to pull in all of the key foundation pieces so that I can start decorating, sewing, and crafting together my new apartment from there. I ordered a new sofa last month, but it won’t arrive until mid January, so until then I’m trying to pull things in piece-by-piece, as I bring together my crafty, eclectic, old-meets-new home. I will show you some of the pieces that I picked up over the weekend so you can get a sense of where I’m going with all of my decorating plans… To refresh your memory, my place looks like this: Click Here for my new apartment tour.

finds

What’s what: 1. Vintage chandelier won on the German eBay site. 2. Desk for my sewing machine “area” from Jantuma, 3. Vitra MedaPal chair in black/white purely purchased based on comfort, 4. Another vintage chandelier from eBay.de (I am only doing chandy’s in two rooms, the rest of the rooms will have mid century classic modern lighting in mostly white, 5. Muuto all wood desk light, 6. Chevron-patterned 240 x 170 cm jute/wool rug from Impressionen for my eating nook located in the hallway outside of the kitchen (I haven’t shown you photos of that space yet. 7. IKEA PS Sinka to organize things and 8. White table with birch trim from Danish brand HAY in the 250 x 92,5 cm size for my actual work desk – it will hold my iMac, MacBook and Epson color printer plus I can lay things out on it as I work.

My Dresser

Here’s a little glimpse into my everyday world, a polite corner of my dresser –  “as is” in my bedroom. Here you can clearly see my very organic, natural way of putting things together. Which is also why I don’t work on one room at a time but all of them together as part of this experimental composition of sorts. When I worked with clients in the past, I did the traditional room-by-room mood board. With my own home, I don’t bother. I do pull together mood boards but end up referring to them only as loose ideas as I improvise constantly since my budget is so strict. Plus, I believe that your most authentic creative expression is the best to use in your home. I also learned after styling all of those homes that you’ll soon see in my upcoming book — what you see in books and magazines is not an exact image of how people really live. I think writing the book and working in so many homes this past year made me much more aware of that fact than ever before.

It also helped me to feel more comfortable in my own decorating skin now that the smoke and mirrors have lifted. You become quite hazy when you live so much of your life online and with beautiful books and magazines surrounding you each day. You start to develop this fantasy that all homes look like the ones you see in print, or online, and that no one ever stains their white sofa, that the dog doesn’t occasionally pee on the patchwork rug and that your kid doesn’t run wild with markers on your newly applied wallpaper. It happens, it’s called life.

Living Room

Above is some artwork and handmade things on a bookcase in my living room. Nothing is arranged with skill, in fact none of the art is staying there — it will be hung in other rooms… but it’s pretty just the same, because reality can be just as fantastic as the dream.

I hope that through decor8 I can somehow help you to feel safer in your decorating skin, too. I try to keep it real around here and I have some projects brewing for next year that I can’t wait to share as I continue my journey forward into my 6th year of blogging. The more e-mags popping up, and lifestyle magazines, and cooking magazines… well they are all very beautiful and inspiring but it’s very easy to feel as though that is how we each must live to be happy and it is not. If anything, we should pull ideas from these beautiful resources that we have and apply them in our own unique way. That is exactly how I decorate, from the heart, not to impress or pretend to be more than I am. What you see with me in real life is what you get, and online it is no different.

In fact, everyone who has met me, and you can comment to verify this if you have in fact met me in person, realizes right away that I am the same warm, friendly and down-to-earth Holly offline as I am here online. I don’t play games, I don’t gossip, I’m not negative but I love to point out stuff that irks me but always in a funny way, and I’m encouraging. But I also am real, I have bad days, I get down at times about myself, I often fear things, I worry for instance that if I do have a book signing that no one will show up, stuff like that. I take great pride in the fact though that I’m the real deal. And so does my home – what you see is definitely what you get here! And I’m proud of it.

I was starting to get in a decorating rut, you may remember this post (CLICK HERE if not), but I realized that the rut was one I’d dug myself. I was putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect. I was listening more to others than to my own heart. I was worrying that if I didn’t create the perfect “decor8″ house that no one would take me seriously as a writer, a book author, a human being. How stupid and petty this all is when you have people dying all over the world from hunger, aids, and cancer to name a few. Children are being abducted. Bad stuff is going on worldwide yet I was hung up over how well I decorated my house? What a bunch of rubbish, how self-centered of me — and if you are a blog author and you worry about how you present your life online and get so caught up in it that family members get ignored, chores go undone, your stress level soars, or anything else negative is resulting from your own quest to please others and have some pretend amazing life then let me tell you it’s absolutely nuts and a waste of time to bother. Just be yourself, show your friends and readers your real life and be proud of it and own it.

But we’re all only human. An example of this: yesterday I won those two great chandeliers that you see above from eBay and one of my “anon” readers told me how kitschy and more-or-less terrible they were and how much I let her down because she relies on my style so much. Imagine being told that? But you know, I’m not calling anybody out or saying that it was wrong of them to hate my lighting. They have the right just as much as I have the right to like it. Thing is, when you put yourself out there like we bloggers do and share things from your heart, you often wonder why someone who doesn’t know you would put the energy into commenting that your ideas are bad or have let them down. Like so many women out there (can you relate?), I am a people-pleaser so it actually bothered me for 3 seconds that I let someone down.

That single comment made me think about the expectations others have of me and it made me realize that the most important expectations to meet are those that I have of myself, then those from family, friends, business colleagues, customers and so on. But the first person is you, you have to live up to your own expectations, meet your goals and even exceed a few, and just be happy. If you have taken good care of yourself you have automatically taken care of others. That is why people love to be around those who have their act together. It’s just the best feeling to be in the company of a really down-to-earth talented person who put themselves first in the most unselfish sense. And if people don’t like your lights, well whatever man. You’ve got to let stuff like that go. The most impressive people are people who try not to be impressive, right?

Truth is, the decorating rut I was in is over. I’ve climbed out, readjusted my approach and for 2011 (I’m making advanced resolutions, gang) and I’m going to decorate my home and have a heck of a time doing it.

I’m digressing big time. Today I just felt like talking. I hope you do as well, I wonder what I’ve said here that you’ve thought about recently, or that you never thought about before, that resulted in some of your own food-for-thought? If so, and you feel like sharing, please do.

So those are some updates from my little world here in northern Germany where it is so cold, but with all of the Glühwein stands sprinkled on so many corners around the city, you barely notice the temps. Your outsides are freezing but your insides feel real nice. And speaking of nice, did you know that Nichole and Even from Little Brown Pen are flying to Paris next month to sneak away with my husband Thorsten and I? Oh yes, we are. And I promise to share some of the shops we find, but also I’ll be attending for the first time Maison & Objet where I plan to meet up with Aphrochic who will be there, too. Can’t wait!

(images: linked to their sources above)

Posted in Decorating Tips, real talk on December 06, 2010

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