Skip to content

Hello 2009!

Hello friends! I had a great time off but I’m so glad to be back in the saddle because I’m not one for taking lots of time away from work… the longer I stay away the harder it is to return and get back into the groove. Truth is, I love blogging and this whole crazy web world and though I thought staying away would inspire me in crazy new ways it sort of didn’t because I missed my favorite blogs, connecting through emails, and writing in general. Have I turned into a total computer geek? A hermit? What’s next? Taking in stray cats, wearing my pj’s all day, living on take out food?

Many of my friends encouraged me to take a break, step away from the computer, avoid blog reading for a few weeks and I listened… but I do not feel as super inspired as they claimed. I do have tons of ideas for the blog this year so in that sense stepping away was productive. I think we all need one another more than we care to admit. Isn’t that why blogs sprung up in the first place, as places to share our thoughts with others and for gaining insight, entertainment, and/or friendship in return? Stepping away from blogs and spending time only with family and friends was certainly nice as I was able to connect with some that I’ve not seen in awhile but overall, after two weeks, I felt the same way towards the end of my vacation that I recall feeling back in 2005 when I decided to start this blog: kinda alone with my ideas, like no one in my immediate circle “got me”. Not much has changed is what I learned recently. Most of my dear friends still do not know what a blog, blehg, blag, “a what?”, is and most aren’t too interested in learning as being a blogger and freelance writer certainly isn’t nearly as amazing as being a {insert real job title here} as most of them are.

With that being said, I’d like to kick off the new year on a positive note by saying thank you for reading my blog and for supporting my work throughout 2008. Every blogger posts this kind of thing, thanking their readers and getting all mushy about it so I’m no different I guess. And while I love my family, it’s great to have an online posse who does know what a blog is, is equally obsessed with Facebook, and who is quite familiar with blogs like Dooce and why they make me laugh so hard that whatever I’m eating usually ends up on my computer screen.

To thank you even more, and to bid adieu to 2008, I’ve decided to round up my favorite posts from this past year in a post that will follow this one. There’s lots of reading, so stay tuned!

P.S. A special thanks to Australian interiors magazine Real Living for the decor8 love in their January/February 2009 issue. What a way to kick off the new year! I don’t know what their readership is but Aussies must be a loyal group smitten by this mag because I cannot begin to tell you how my traffic spiked. Good grief. Watching the traffic flow in from Australia and New Zealand, there is no doubt it’s coming from this single press mention, so thank you Real Living.

(images from Real Living magazine. A special thanks to Catherine Bain for scanning this article for me!)

Posted in blogs, inspiration, press, round-up on January 07, 2009

Inspiration Boards & You!

I promised earlier this week that I’d share my current inspirations with you, what’s on my mood board, so I photographed it this morning since we finally had some sunshine. It’s time for a little show and tell, but more showing that telling… Here’s what I’m loving lately…

Pulling together this board made me think of that song, My Favorite Things, a childhood favorite of mine that my mother sang to me before bed at night. “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes; Silver-white winters that melt into springs; These are a few of my favorite things.”

With that song in mind, this board shows a few of my favorite things. Tassels, silver, matte gold, chunky knit throws, messy bed hair, raw silk in orchid and pale turquoise (think sea glass), snowflakes, handmade clay beads from Africa, silk thread, butterflies, vintage green cars (I dream of owning a 1950′s citroen or a 70′s fiat like this one), patterned dresses (over tights or even skinny jeans), and mostly white interiors with shots of beautiful color and pattern, Ethnic Scandinavian is my new made up word for this look, though same may call it bohemian modern.

Ah… I love my current mood board. It’s so peaceful and it really made me happy to pull it together this week.

What are some of your inspirations?
If you feel like pulling together a mood board and photographing it, please do — and share it with us! You can send your mood boards to me at holly AT decor8blog.com (subject line: Mood Board. Please do not attach photos, just send me a link to your board on your blog or on flickr) and I’ll select 10 of my favorites and post them here on decor8 next week linking back to your website/blog. For those I do not select, I will still include a link in the post to your mood board so everyone has a chance to see it. Along with your board, please state your inspirations and anything else you would like for me to include with your post. All mood boards must be received by December 15th. Oh, and please tell me who you dedicate your board to. Names and links please. No more than five please.

I dedicate this board to my those who helped inspire it, some very dear friends of mine: Esra, Petra, Kathryn, Ez (Heather), and Marisa. xoxo.

(photographs by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in inspiration on December 12, 2008

Inspired by Skona Hem

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)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips, inspiration on December 11, 2008

Decorating Outside of the Lines

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)

Posted in Decorating Tips, design, inspiration on December 10, 2008

Books:

Available now on Amazon

Further editions available include: Portuguese, Danish, Czech, Slovak, French

Courses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way for Beginners
e-course, April 17 – May 15, 2014
Find out more and sign up now.

Styling With Holly Becker
London, May 2014 (Date TBD)