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Pretty Floral Pairings Inspired By Liberty London

Hello everyone! While I wait for our little baby to make his grand appearance into the world (I was due yesterday!), I thought I’d blog a little before hitting the morning farmers’ market. How are you? I’m thinking a lot lately about flowers and how excited I am to see them this spring more than ever before because it’s been so cold and since Leslie and I have a book coming out all about flowers soon and we can’t WAIT to show it to you! Flowers are all the rage and have been trending for ages in fashion and interiors but now more than ever before, lots of people are taking a more natural approach to styling them and even going further to experiment with new ideas that include paper and real blooms to create imaginative displays that  break tradition. I love seeing this trend! I spot lots of creatives planning floral workshops this year, flower series on their blogs, and Leslie and I are hoping to teach a color-filled floral arranging workshop in London this May so you can see some of our creative ideas with flowers from the book and hang out with us for the day. Flower power, baby!

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With all of this flower talk, I want to show you some of the spring-y Liberty prints for S/S 2014 that I’ve paired up with some favorite photos I’ve found online that make me so happy. I’m particularly in love with this one and this one. I hope this mini flower post inspires you today and gets your mind focused on spring and off of the snow and gray clouds. I personally can’t wait until I can plant my balcony and decorate with flowers in my home – I’m dying for some cherry blossoms for my dining room table and to style up some pretty arrangements to share here on the blog for you when our book releases to celebrate its launch. Okay, ready for some pretty floral pairings?

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Left: Liberty, Kaylie Sunshine C Tana Lawn Right: Cannelle et Vanille

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Left: The Gifts of Life Right: Liberty Theodora D Tana Lawn

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Left: Happy Mundane Right: Liberty Jody A Tana Lawn

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Left: Liberty Jess and Jean D Tana Lawn Right: Bemz

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Left: Juno’s Garden D Tana Lawn Right: Janne Peters

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Left: Anna G. Right: Liberty Phyllis C Tana Lawn

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Left: Liberty Jess and Jean B Crinkle Georgette Right: Line Thit Klein via Anna G.

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Left: Liberty Kaylie Sunshine B Tana Lawn Right: Matchbook Mag via Lovely Clusters

I love writing a post that inspires me and this one totally did that for me today. I want to print all of these out and tape them into my little inspiration  journal. Spring will come soon, I promise! Have a nice weekend everyone and thank you all for your well wishes for my husband and I and our baby-to-be! – Holly xo

(images linked to their sources above)

Posted in inspiration on February 01, 2014

Anxiety, Pinning + Waiting For Baby

Hello everyone! I was so thrilled by the response from all of you about our baby’s finished nursery project. It’s been unreal to feel such overwhelming joy and support – thank you. It’s certainly made my final days of pregnancy so nice as I typically being to get really anxious right before something big is about to happen. Our sweet son is due tomorrow! Sadly, I get quite sick the night before any “big” happens in my life – my wedding, my book launch parties, flying, the first day of school… I even get sick before I teach online or in-person workshops! Funny thing is that the moment I have to, “step onto the stage”, the fright is completely gone and I’m 100% myself, happy and you would have thought I was lying if I told you that the night before I was running a fever and had broken out into a cold sweat! This anxiety has griped me since I was 3 or 4 years old, and though I’m “used” to it, it’s definitely not something I enjoy.  After all of these months of being pregnant and worry-free, I finally got a massive dose of anxiety and felt really, really overwhelmed and stuck in my bed this morning. I was up at 5am feeling anxious. I sat in my bed eating clementines trying to distract myself by thinking about my career and some of the fun plans I have for this summer. I also reviewed (again) all of your comments on the nursery tour post over the past few days, which calmed me down. I have to thank each one of you for leaving a little note of encouragement and love because I really, really needed that this morning. I also dragged myself to my acupuncture appointment and then my lady doctor and the little guy is thriving and I finally started having contractions. I stayed outdoors as long as I could (it’s freezing here now) so my husband and I walked over to a favorite spot for a lingering lunch. I felt so good after that. Anxiety is officially gone now. Between my loving doctor and husband, bumping into friends with their new baby on the street, and relaxing with a massive healthy salad, I felt a bit like a superwoman. You know, like we women can really do anything. A day before the due date and I’m out having lunch. How cool is THAT? Once I came back home, I wanted to continue the good mood so to distract myself, I jumped on Pinterest and down the rabbit’s hole I fell. Pinterest can be quite therapeutic sometimes, can’t it? Here are some pins that inspire me today and why. I hope that they inspire you, too.

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This kitchen from Australian Home Beautiful magazine via Birch & Bird. What I love: Open and Bright feeling, minty green stools with natural wood seats, big basket style lighting. I’m hoping to put lights like these in my new hallway. Stay tuned for that before and after post!

oct29styleshoot-78-e1384094741883-1   This gorgeous tray design, the minty cup and of course, flowers. Always flowers. I can’t get enough. This came from The Glitter Guide.

DSC_3864   A lovely cactus hanging out with some succulent friends, styled beautifully on a small desk to create a very sweet nook in gray, orange, green and black. I keep telling everyone neon orange is the new neon pink. Photography by Marij Hessel from Enter My Attic.

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I really love all of the texture and warmth in this space. That rustic coffee table is lovely and I like the styling on the fireplace – the paintings are all divine! The only thing I would add is my Beni Ourain rug in cream and black and if the fireplace isn’t being used, I’d stack hundreds of magazines inside OR create a few shelves and put books there. Do you do this too? See a photo and imagine the tweaks you’d make to the space to make it your own? If you don’t naturally do that already, try to train yourself to do it vs. just mindlessly pinning as we are usually inclined to do. You can really begin to develop your “look”, your sense of style, through these seemingly simply exercises. Really. This photo came from Blood and Champagne.

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These pretty patterns, very subdued against natural linen, actually look quite nice if you imagine them in the living room I just shared above. Lots of times we think of something as fitting a very country style cottage but if you use your imagination, often country prints can look really edgy in certain environments or even take on a new life altogether if you pair them with neons – like imagine the first two patterns to the left  - the dotty one and the roses, as a big throw pillow on the floor for lounging, one pattern on one side, one on the other. The piping would be in hot neon pink or neon orange or even neon yellow. The zipper you’ve sewn in could be exposed and in gold so there is some flash. See what I mean about taking on a new life? Photo from Ignite Light.

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This dining room in Seattle gave me such a cozy feeling the moment I saw it, but beyond that, the wallpaper! Oh my! That is one fantastic pattern isn’t it? I see so many black and white spaces these days that really lack warmth and character but this space is different with it’s warm wood tones and more traditional pieces of furniture. In fact, I think this could be a great alternative, especially if you’re into the current black and white Scandinavian trend that you see so commonly on blogs but like me, feel like it’s still a bit too cold and industrial for your liking. This dining room has a very rustic appeal. Imagine a midpoint? Something in between the stark, clean Scandi b/w rooms and this one? How would I design a room like that? With this wallpaper above, a natural rug like the one shown, those same chairs only with a more graphic seat cushion in black and white and a table with metal legs and a wooden top that looks a bit industrial. I’d also swap out the pendant for someone more modern and graphic in either black or white – or perhaps go with all glass orbs like this one or something similar. Photo from issue #22 of Rue Magazine, via Lark & Linen, showing the home of designer Brian Paquette as photographed by Belathee.

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I was so impressed this morning when I spotted this image on Pinterest and then tracked it down to San Francisco creative director Suzanne Shade who made it by hand for her kitchen. It’s so funky! It’s like London meets Copenhagen style – I can see wallpaper like this selling well at a store like Liberty. I love the mix of photography, toile and solid geometrics. It didn’t hurt that the image contains some air plants and the Tom Dixon “London” candle that I’ve been DYING to own for months now. Photography by sfgirlbybay. And yes, I would hang that wallpaper in my home without hesitation, it would be amazing in my guest bathroom or in my entryway. Drooling over here…

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I love photos featuring a nicely styled messy bed! My bed in the morning is rarely disheveled stylishly and camera-ready but then again, I’ve also don’t typically awake to gorgeous Victoria’s Secret bed-head either. Anyway, beyond the bed, I love the rich walls and the grouping of tiny vintage frames and mini paintings. Definitely a great look to try if you want to do something a little different than the typical large-picture-above-bed look. Photo via Merrilee Liddiard.

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Are you slightly obsessed too by Kate Moss? I grew up with Kate as the “face” of my generation, she is nearly 40 now and still looks wonderful… In fact, I think age suits her quite well. I really want the Kate Moss Book to display on my coffee table – I bet it’s so interesting to flip through and bask in her often breathless photos from year to year. Photo from Kate Moss Daily.

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I know it’s quite a switch to go from Kate Moss to French textiles, but wow I just can’t help myself. I loved seeing this page from a sample book showing French textiles dating around the 1862 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was so taken in when we studied the history of textiles in college and today I’m no different, I eat this stuff up. What an inspiring glimpse!

I’m hoping you are all doing just great! I’m writing this post with a huge heart full of love for you all as we wait for our little baby boy – his due date is tomorrow and we couldn’t be MORE excited to soon welcome him to our life and to yours, too! xo Holly

(images linked to their sources above)

Posted in inspiration on January 30, 2014

Looking Ahead To Spring

Hello friends! I’ve been thinking a lot about spring, have you? I think it’s because winter hasn’t really come yet here in northern Germany – it’s been consistently in the 50s all season so far so we definitely did not have a white Christmas. I must confess though, that being pregnant and walking everywhere as we do – this has been a true blessing for me. Today the sky is clear and blue, temps are in the low 50s, and all I can think about is that my baby will soon be born, we move this Thursday, my mother will be flying in this Spring, my next book with Leslie Shewring will be published all about decorating at home with fresh flowers and that I have an entirely new apartment to decorate and share with all of you, including the baby’s room.

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There is so much to be excited about – plus my birthday is in March and it’s always nice to have a birthday even though getting older isn’t really what we all crave, it is nice to say that another year of life has passed and that many more are ahead – and to ask the question, “What’s next?”.

So yes, I have spring and all the things that it brings on my mind today. I can already imagine blades of fresh grass bursting through grayed fallen leaves, daffodils, tulips, peonies and cherry blossoms at the farmers’ market and taking long walks with my baby in the forest. Simple, beautiful moments that will be so much more special with a little one in my life. I’m also thinking about the direction of my business, this blog and the many ideas I’ve started to develop over the weekend after writing, Resolve To Be Happy. I can’t wait to slowly unfold the pages of what I plan to do as time goes by, but for now I’m just focusing on moving, childbirth and navigating the new life of a first time mommy. Yet, I cannot help but think about decorating, design, spring trends, new products that will soon hit market… Exciting!

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See the photos in this post? I took them in May last year when Leslie was at my house and we were shooting and styling our upcoming book, Decorate With Flowers. These photos are not in the book, but I thought to share them anyway because they are so pretty. I also love putting flowers beneath bell jars, though you can’t keep them there long as they fade very fast – but for dinner parties or for guests, a few hours is just fine. Aren’t flowers inspiring? And wow, so spring-y!

Are you thinking about spring, too? If so, what are you looking forward to? Do you have some plans? Are you also a spring baby, born in March, April or May like me? Do you have a new baby on the way? Are you considering some changes in your life and if so, what? I’d like to know because it really encourages me to hear what you are up to – makes me feel more of a push towards the positive, too.

(photos/styling: holly becker)

Posted in inspiration on January 06, 2014

Resolve To Be Happy

Hello friends and Happy New Year! I hope that you had a beautiful holiday season and that you’ve kicked off 2014 feeling completely open and ready to take in whatever the next twelve months has to offer. I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions (Will I bother? What will they be? Will I ditch “the list” altogether?) and for the first time in years, I’ve decided to abandon the list. While I respect those who take time to carve out their master plan, I thought I’d remove the pressure and just go with the flow this year. Ambition is nice and drives me on one side, but it’s becoming a bit uninspiring and mundane on the other. The real drive, for me, is to simply be more mindful, present, and passionate and to both invigorate and be invigorated. There’s so much ambition and hustle out there (often at a huge cost), I see this so much now online, so I want to step out of the ring and drive a return to passion, happiness and sharing: What drove me eight years ago when I launched decor8. The days when possessing merely a love of sharing and a passion for creative living and decorating were at the core.

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THE EARLY YEARS OF BLOGGING

Do you remember the early days of blogging? I remember them so clearly; long before companies noticed us and monetization and social media sites became the norm. In those days, we bloggers only hoped to get our voices, our opinions, out there and to show that we had worthy ideas in addition to what mainstream media was showing us. I started blogging because I was bored with popular opinion in print publications and longed to share an alternative approach to decorating and style. I trusted my gut and followed my creative passions – and today I still do though I feel like I hold back a lot more than I once did and I’m working to change this.

We were all driven by very pure things both raw and genuine, not by money, the number of “likes”, growing a massive audience (we didn’t know our potential back then), or some rather disappointing popularity contest. I personally was driven by a need to connect and share and spread joy for something that I truly loved with all of my heart. What drove you? What drives you today?

GETTING BACK TO MY ROOTS

For 2014, I’m returning to my roots, which you’ll start to slowly see on decor8 and in other parts of my business. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but ideas have been swarming for months now and it feels good that I came to this decision with the help of my husband. He reminded me to think about what drives me, what REALLY drives me. It isn’t my “brand” or sponsors or ads or popularity or numbers or increasing readership… None of that has ever felt inspiring or motivating to me but only caused me to feel alienated from my core values and from my readers. What drives me is my passion for beauty, a love of creative pursuits, sharing and spreading positivity, being encouraging, nurturing community and connecting others. Maybe this is something you can think about for your blog, too. That is, if you feel overwhelmed by the business side more than the creative passion that originally drove you to start blogging in the first place… What really drives you?

INSTINCT TAKE THE WHEEL

This year, I’m letting instinct take the wheel and drive my blog more than ever before. And you know what, I mostly just want to have FUN doing it. Raise your hand if you feel like blogging, as a whole, is becoming a bit stagnant, boring, underwhelming? Yes, my hand is high in the air too! But the good thing is that we all have the power to change this. We are each our own blog boss; we are the managing editors of our blogs. We drive how we are perceived, negatively or positively. WE are our content, WE are the voice, WE can easily switch things up and create more interesting content that is based on what we are truly excited about vs. what we think will drive our numbers or build a brand or what equals to simply showing off. In the end, your love for your topic will shine through and you’ll end up building readership and a brand anyway, so there’s no business risk.

WHY SO SERIOUS?

Let’s talk about something I’ve not heard discussed at blog conferences or even in books on blogging or blog workshops. HAVING FUN! Yeah, you know, how to really have fun as a blogger. Why is SEO and traffic more important than FUN? I want to blog and have FUN with it. I want that FUN to be contagious and for other bloggers to start having FUN again too. That was how blogging was when we got started, right? FUN. Then, it all got so serious online all of sudden – money driven, over-produced (pressure is on for every post to be magazine perfect), competitive, flat. Yawn. It’s time to have fun again and return to the days when blogging was exciting and when we talked about whatever we wanted on our blogs because that kept us real, approachable and more interesting to read. When we read our blog comments, and replied to them. Real people, real conversations. Going beyond what magazine content provides to lift the veil and get to the heart of whatever topic in which we were writing about.

RESOLVE TO BE HAPPY

Back in the Fall, I was asked by Mollie Makes (UK craft mag) to write an article about my new year’s resolutions. I knew back then that I wasn’t going to make them for 2014, so I replied explaining that I would write the article but instead, I would encourage an alternative approach – to simply open up your heart, drop the self-criticism and task-mastering, focus on family and friendships, bask in the art of taking some time off, seeing behind the veil of perfection that most of us only show on our blogs, and simply to Resolve To Be Happy for 2014. In other words, no race to tick off boxes on our resolutions lists. My article was titled, “Resolve To Be Happy”, and it appeared in the 34th issue of Mollie Makes (you can buy it and download here). I’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to my words from their readers, which further encouraged me to stick to my resolve; simply to NOT resolve – no resolutions for 2014. Reader response also became a huge source of validation – that how I felt, others felt too. That lots of us just want to be happy, have fun with our blogs and business, and cut the crap.

HAS PREGNANCY CHANGED ME?

I often wonder if getting pregnant is at the core of my list dropping. I know pregnancy has definitely affected my need to listen more to my body and less to what the rest of the world says. You learn to really tap into your instincts when pregnant, don’t you? Especially if you’re like me and you intentionally stay away from all of the baby books and websites (and pregnancy forums! omg, lots of nutty advice!) out there. I’ve only relied on a single app, flipped through What To Expect (although I found most of the advice instinctual which made me realize even more the need to tap in to myself), and I read that book on French parenting (thanks for the gift, Leigh!) which proved more humorous than insightful and ended up being a great read while I was so ill during the first 5 months… But yeah, I’ve had to tap into my instincts like never before. My doctor speaks only German to me so I’m constantly googling or referring to my husband to explain medical German terms to their English equivalent. So even from a medical standpoint, I’ve had to ultimately trust my gut because so much of what my doctor says gets lost in translation. I’m learning to trust my gut like crazy right now and I imagine, after our son arrives, this will only increase.

WHEN THE TEACHER GETS SCHOOLED

Then there is this thing that happens when you are are a teacher. You think you know it all but then, through the eyes of your bright and talented students, you see how much you have to really LEARN. Teaching online and in my in-person workshops for the past five years has brought about a massive shift inside that sort of “hit” me this year as I was teaching Blogging Your Way online just a month ago… Maybe it was because it was the first time I taught while simultaneously being pregnant. My students ask me a lot of questions, some I don’t know the answer to so I do loads of research to assist them along their path. Through teaching, I’ve learned that ultimately, the answers are inside of us – we just need guides at times – but we have to be more open to what the questions are and to have the courage to ask them – even the tough ones. I like to motivate my students to ask the right questions, to dig inside and to really examine their intentions. Oftentimes, we aren’t open and aren’t asking because we’re too driven to succeed, too scared to know the answer, too focused on being better versions of ourselves, scared of failing, etc… Tuning out and tuning into our gut instinct is all we’ve got to rely on sometimes but ultimately, it’s a pretty damn good guiding light. So again, for the New Year, I’m going to tune in more to what Holly wants. Maybe you can tune in more to what YOU want, too?

INSPIRING IS NICE; BUT INVIGORATING IS A CALL TO ACTION

My ultimate desire sounds simple but it really isn’t. It’s to be HAPPY and to INVIGORATE others. We all know what happy means, but what about invigorate? It means to give vitality and vigor to; animate; brace; refresh: fill with life and energy; energize. It goes beyond simply to inspire. Pinterest is inspiring. But does it call you to action? Are you making the cakes or the crafts that you pin? I had a long discussion on inspiration vs. invigoration before the holidays with my husband and he is the reason the topic of INVIGORATION came up in the first place. He encouraged me to make the New Year a year that I focus on this word: invigorate. To not just show pretty pictures and inspire, but to go beyond that and really use my talents to fill others with life and energy. With our first child to arrive any week now (he’s due 25 January!), this will be a very literal translation of “filling others with life”, a baby! But what about my students, all of you, my family, my friends and my husband and our new baby? What about me?

While I’m not going to make a resolve to take any particular step towards my master objective: to invigorate, I will be listening daily to my heart and soul to see where this leads me, and my blog and business, my friendships and family, for 2014. I may make some mistakes. I may not. But I’m going to trust my instinct and open my heart to what I think matters and where I want to put my energy into for this year. I’m going to look at my blog very critically and make some changes. I’m going to get back to my roots, take time to play with my baby and bond with him, decorate my new apartment, share projects here with all of you, and I’m going to take it one day, on step, at a time. None of these are resolutions. I’m not pressuring myself to fulfill any particular task. I just want 2014 to be a year when I grow up and let my instinct drive me, when happiness and having fun become part of my daily life again, and when I get back to what drives me and in turn, invigorates all of you. Let’s see where I end up this time next year.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

And what about you? Do you have resolutions? Have you chosen one word that will define your new year? Have you given much thought to tapping in to your raw desire and passion vs. letting others lead you? Have you ditched new years resolutions list for this year too? Do you have a different approach to this year that you’re taking? No way is the “right” way, so feel free to share.

Happy 2014 everyone! xo, Holly

(image: illustration by the lovely Emma Block for my article, Resolve To Happy, which appeared in issue 34 of Mollie Makes)

Posted in inspiration on January 03, 2014

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