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Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips, Inspiration

Inspired by Skona Hem

December 11, 2008

I’m feeling VERY creative lately, I think it’s due to the friends I’ve made here in Germany (and in other countries nearby) and being around so many ladies who are so into all things handmade, it’s absolutely inspiring. All of my friends are making something by hand and I find it very motivating too. I really love life in northern Germany, it’s not perfect in any country but I’m satisfied with what I have and the things I’ve been exposed to. Wonderful!

Another thing that has been fueling my creativity lately is the access that I have to so many different cultures, I don’t even have to leave Germany for this but when I do it feels almost surreal to hop over the border to another country because I’m American and when we leave our state we are still in America (unless we go up to Canada or down to Mexico of course). It’s so different on this side of the pond and I’m enjoying it immensely. I was at the train station the other day and nearly fainted when I saw a train boarding for Moscow. As in Russia. That is one train I cannot take in New Hampshire! :) I traveled up to Stockholm last year for under $100 round trip and felt so appreciative of that opportunity as I’d wanted to see Sweden for most of my life. I love America but I am really having fun with this experience!

Speaking of travel and Stockholm in particular, I always think of Skona Hem magazine and their glorious monthly spreads, they feature mostly Scandinavian homes that are very impressive and I wonder how they never seem to run out of gorgeous pads to feature given that Scandinavia is not that large. But they continue to publish beautiful places… here are a few to inspire you today.

Psst: Skona Hem has a blog so you can keep up with what’s going on in the world of Swedish design.

(images from skona hem)

Decorating Tips

Decorating Outside of the Lines

December 10, 2008

Let’s talk a little about decorating outside of the lines, shall we? I’m not sure where I’m going with this thought so I invite you to just roll with it and let’s see where we end up. I am LOVING the photography of Trine Thorsen, these rooms are gorgeous, ethereal, absolutely stunning and I can’t help but think about this topic of decorating outside of the lines as I look at them and here are some reasons why.

I know so many are scared to decorate with lots of white but take it from me, someone who isn’t neat as a pin and who never had a mostly white apartment in her life (until now), I LOVE it. I think it works for me because I have no children, no pets, and my husband is well trained (he he), but it also works because I have a slipcovered sofa and find it even easier to keep clean than color or patterned sofas because I can simply remove the cover and wash it with a little bleach so any stains vanish. I had lots of white growing up, I grew up on the coast so of course our home was filled with sunshine along with sea-inspired colors and textures (my mother loves blue, green, and yellow) but as an adult I fell into using lots and lots of color and pattern and got away from a mostly white palette since we relocated from South Carolina to Boston. Now that I’m using the colors and textures here in my German apartment that I grew up around in the Carolinas, I feel absolutely comfortable and at home. I also feel extremely peaceful inside. View apt. photos (here.)

My other flat in New Hampshire is mostly beige, brown, yellow, green, and blue with creamy white and tons of texture. Being in New Hampshire this works because of the nearby forests and lakes, the interior colors mimic the natural setting around me. But I have discovered recently that those colors don’t really ‘click’ with who I am and my personality. When I came to Germany this year to set up my 2nd apartment, I assumed I’d fall into the same palette since the city I’m living in here is 1-2 hours from the sea, I’m mostly around forests – but I was determined not to do this and to experiment a little so I decided before even coming over to plan my entire palette and pull together mood boards in advance so that once here I could not change my mind. I decided on soft pastels, mostly white, with accents of black and silver. Much to my surprise, it was very easy to find the colors I wanted to use in local shops so the decorating process was an absolute breeze. I wondered though if decorating in pale hues vs. strong brights or earth tones would somehow be a problem. I once held strong to the belief that your home should absolutely reflect what is outside of your front door. That’s what you learn in design school, design books, magazines, you name it. It’s one of those rules of design you are told really matters. For instance, if you live on the coast, you should use colors that work with the natural palette outside. If you love in the country, you may want to go with a more earthy scheme. And while I still believe that to some extent that this is true since it can promote balance (spiritual, emotional, etc.) I believe that you can break the ‘rules’ and mix things up when circumstances call for it. The most important thing is that your home provides you with peace and fuels you to live a life you truly want to live. A home that nudges you to ‘go for it’ when it comes to all of your dreams and desires, it’s not a draining place but an inspiring one. I think the rules can be broken (and should be) if perhaps the colors where you live are not ones you feel comfortable living around in your interior space.

When I say “mix things up when circumstances call for it” I mean… well let me illustrate. Here in northern Germany the weather can be gray a lot in the Winter and Spring, and it gets dark now at 4 o’clock, so using a very washed out light palette gives me energy no matter what the weather is like outside. If I had painted my walls gray, plum, and beige as I had originally thought to, I may have felt sad because while those colors are gorgeous they may have made me feel depressed. Having lots of light colors and tons of white makes me feel like I’m living in Sydney on days when the sky is showing me nothing but storm clouds. It’s a good way for me to trick my mind and to feel like I’m living on the coast again too as I really do miss living beachfront and though I doubt I will again anytime soon, I am able to pretend that my city apartment is a lot closer to the shore than it really is because of the colors and textures I use.

It’s quite fun to experiment with this, using colors that don’t necessarily ‘match’ your place on the map, and I encourage you to try it in case you are totally bored out of your brain with your current hues or in case you feel a bit down or drained in your home. Try mixing things up a bit, pull in things that inspire you, if you are living far from your dream land try to bring bits of that dream to you no matter where you live.

Here’s another good example of this: my friend Petra from southern Germany currently lives in the north and despite being German she has created a home, shop, and work studio that feels just like Morocco the moment you step inside. It’s magical, amazing, transporting. She uses colors and fabrics that few here use, and she frequently travels to Marrakesh to pick up more fabrics and home accessories, notions, etc. to add to her home and shop and she shops online for silks and vintage suzanis and such from India and beyond. She has never lived outside of Germany but when you step into her ‘world’ here you’d swear she was born and raised in Morocco. She is absolutely inspired by this bohemian ethnic style and has been for years, long before it became trend, so I find her decorating style absolutely refreshing. Her colors are definitely outside of the lines so to speak. Locals flock to her shop to see what she’s up to and to purchase what she has created with her own hands using materials from all over the world. There is absolutely nothing in her life that feels typical German and this is for a reason, she isn’t typical and she doesn’t feel inspired by some of the design in the country in which she was raised so she decided a long time ago to build the world around her, at least her personal surroundings and what she can control, to look and feel like what is rooted deep inside of her heart and soul which is ethnic design and an oriental lifestyle. And why not?

I’ve said a lot here today, but looking at Trine’s photos I thought about how white has inspired me lately and well, all the words above that spilled out onto this page is just what ran through my mind as I thought about white, how I’ve used it successfully in my own home, and how no one has to feel confined by decorating rules – if you like a particular style or color then GO FOR IT. I think the days of interior design as it existed in the past up until a few years ago are OVER. I don’t think we need to be told to do this or that in order to achieve the perfect space. I’m so over the whole minimalist chic, with perfect symmetry here and $10,000 designer sofas there with $600 per roll wallpaper. Aren’t you over it? I pick up design magazines these days and unless they are showing realistic and somewhat affordable design, fun projects, well written articles, and inspirational homes, I don’t even bother buying them. I once spent $150 a month on magazines. Now I spend around $30! Why? I’m not inspired by $4,000 chairs in a million dollar home. I am inspired by being totally original, loving your home, decorating in a way that supports you and your lifestyle (and wallet), and not stressing over impressing others – the key is to IMPRESS YOURSELF. This pride and happiness doesn’t come from decorating to impress your friends but comes when you sit back on your sofa, look around, and feel extremely pleased in your nest because everything around you is 100% your style.

For more beautiful lifestyle and interiors photography, visit Trine online here.

(images from trine thorsen via the graphic exchange)

Decorating Tips

Inspired By Photographer Polly Wreford

December 9, 2008

Last Friday I shared with you the cover of an upcoming book from Atlanta Bartlett called Easy Elegance. Did you notice that? Anyway, the book I’m eagerly awaiting will release in April 2009, you can pre-order it on Amazon (US) like I did for only $19! (the ISBN is: 978-1845978501 in case you want to hang onto that for future reference.) Okay anyway, I noticed today on the book cover that the photographer is Polly Wreford who I’d not heard of before so I googled her to learn more. And learn I did!

Polly is a lifestyle, still life, and interiors photographer and nothing short of excellent. I also found out when I googled her that Ez showed her work right here on decor8 a few months ago pointing to Polly as an inspiration in an interview I had with her. Funny how Polly’s name was mentioned on this very blog and I did not even recall it. Shame on me. But it was when I was when I was on vacation so I think that is how I missed it. Polly’s complete portfolio is online where she is represented by Sarah Kaye in London. I think it’s really important to look at the photographer’s name in your favorite interior books, google them, and learn more about their work and what other projects they have or are currently working on. I started doing this and have discovered so many talented people online this way, and in return have so much beauty to refer to for inspiration – as these portfolios are only a bookmark away!

How’s that for gorgeousness, am I right? I can’t take myself away from this dreamy palette of pale gray, lilac and blue lately… I wonder if this will change once I’m back in America next week? I leave on the 18th for the states and won’t return to Germany again until May so I’m looking forward to seeing how my inspirations change (or not) once I’m in a different country around new things. I can’t wait to pick up my mail, although 5 months of mail will be a bit overwhelming, the Domino book and the past 5 issues, including the one I was mentioned in, will be there waiting for me and I cannot wait to see them!

What color palette has you swept away these days? I have a small inspiration board that I pulled together recently showing my current color inspirations and images and objects that I’m into lately. I will photograph it and show you tomorrow morning. :)

(images copyright polly wreford and sarah kaye

Decorating Tips, Objects, Rooms

Robins Egg Pink {Pillows Under $25!}

December 9, 2008

It was so nice to learn about Robins Egg Pink via an email that owner and Canadian designer Angela Falcao was nice enough to send announcing her soon to launch shop (coming in January, so bookmark this one!). Angela currently creates lots of beautiful things for babies and also some gorgeous pillows for under $25 that I want to show you that are available in her Etsy shop.

Most of her pillows are around $22 which is a great deal for a handmade cushion. I can imagine lots of them on my big white sofa! :) The net proceeds from the sales of many of her products will be donated to The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario; and the Ontario Humane society. Angela will soon add pendant lights to her collection – yay!

Robins Egg Pink on {etsy} and in January you can find more including lighting on {Angela’s website}.

For some reason they remind me of beachfront living in Australia. Maybe it’s all those Aussie mags I’ve been reading and of course the influence Miss Anna Spiro has had on us all in bloggyville. I can see one of these pillows in her lovely home or shop. Here’s a little idea of what I’m talking about…

Anna’s gorgeous shop, this is a recent shot of a display there. Total wow factor. More shop photos here.

(photos for robins egg pink by sarah hartill photography)

Decorating Tips, Rooms, Shopping + Products

Bongenre: Fancy Melamine Tableware

December 4, 2008

I recently heard from Jill at Bongenre and thought her work was something lots of us may really enjoy, especially for guests and for setting the “children’s table” that so many use during dinner parties when the family gets together. Bongenre is melamine tableware (bowls, plates) with a twist – it’s actually quite elegant! Brooklyn-based founder/designer Jill Fenichell spent 15 years as an antique porcelain and pottery dealer specializing in English blue and white porcelain made in the 18th century.

About her designs Jill says, “I get to think about patterns I love, and work out interesting color relationships and rhythms between shape and pattern and color,” she adds, “The real question is: how to connect the old to the new…that’s what I want to do with my tableware.”

Don’t miss the Winchester Mandala pattern, available in several gorgeous colorways. I’m really into mandalas right now so these totally speak to me, especially in purple, lime, and winter (oooh) which is PERFECT for an indoor party this winter for January/February when everyone is tired of red and blue and white seems to coordinate so nicely with the snowfall. Perfect for gift giving too!

What do you think of Melamine tableware? Yes, no, maybe? Under what circumstances do you use it currently? Outdoor only? Indoor? Do you use it mainly for food or for decorating (on the walls or on plate racks)? Do you think it’s a good option for dinner parties when breaking out the china isn’t something you feel up for and paper plates are definitely not on your menu? Is Melamine the happy ‘in-between’ option for you or…?

(images from bongenre)

Decorating Tips, Shopping + Products

H&M Home Collection {New!}

December 4, 2008

Frida from Husmusen told me last week that Swedish apparel giant H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) will soon launch a home line (window coverings, comforters, sheets, pillows, towels and accessories) due to an large demand for home textiles from their customers. The collection will include several items grouped by theme, here are a few that the lovely Frida has grouped together for a quick peek:

Nature (love those button cushions!)

Design (bold graphics, black and white)

Bright Colors (featuring work from Liselotte Watkins, blogged here before)

and Classic (Marine blue, “New England style”)

These collections will start to sell online in February 2009, but not in America, only in Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Nordic countries. They want to start selling online and through catalogs first to see how things go and then see what they want to do from there. Perhaps America could be next? Stay tuned!

Out of the collections shown above, do you have a favorite? Why? Anything that you’d like to see that is currently missing when it comes to affordable home items? I think the world could use more of a selection when it comes to shower curtains and affordable patterned curtains personally.

(images from frida and H&M)

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