L.A. based Interior Designer Vanessa De Vargas pointed me to the gorgeous wallpaper over at Kreme Life and it was love at first sight. I was impressed to learn that this gorgeous low VOC, eco-solvent wallpaper is designed and manufactured right here in the U.S.A. (California). Based in Los Angeles, Designer/Partner Cadee Wilder agreed to visit all of us here on decor8 today to talk about her work and inspiration.
decor8: Hello Cadee! Looking at your designs I see a lot of southern California influence. Is that were you were raised?
Cadee: I was raised in Orange County, CA until I was 14 then we moved Oklahoma –culture shock! Now I’m back in Los Angeles.
decor8: How did your childhood influence the designer that you are today?
Cadee: My parents are free spirits from the sixties, and they always encouraged art, music, and self expression. My Sunday afternoons were usually spent drawing and listening to music with my family, it was something that we did together and as individuals> My best days are spent trying to recreate these Sunday afternoons.
decor8: When did you launch Kreme Life and how did you decide on the name?
Cadee: We launched officially only a few months ago in November of 2008. I chose the name by thinking of things I like, and among my favorites are shades of white and cream. The odd spelling came out because aesthetically I liked the way it looked. [I’m kind of a typography nerd]
decor8: What is your professional background?
Cadee: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications [graphic design], from the University of Oklahoma, I was the creative director for a fashion line for 4 years, before going freelance and starting Kreme.
decor8: Why wallpaper?
Cadee: I lived above a wallpaper store in Santa Monica for about 5 years, I’d stroll by and think, “this one is almost right, but….” there was always just a little something missing. So I thought “I should make my own line of wallpaper!”
decor8: Describe your average client…
Cadee: My average client usually has these things in common: loves their space, loves art/design, and loves to express their own unique style in their home.
decor8: Has word of mouth helped your business and if so, what has worked?
Cadee: Word of mouth has been great, people seem to pass things along [as in this case with Vanessa], and we were recently featured in Sunset Feb 09 magazine’s “The West At Its Best” which also helped.
decor8: How did you go from idea to execution?
Cadee: It was a ton of research, and scouting and testing materials, it took about 6 months from “idea” to our final printed product.
decor8: What makes Kreme Life stand out?
Cadee: Our papers are incredibly unique, the designs are modern with an undeniable retro nod, not to mention we are now offering custom colors for just $40 extra. You can get all the fabulous designs and you can get them to match any decor. We print and ship in just a matter of days not weeks! In an instant gratification world, Kreme satisfies the I want it fabulous, I want it amazing, and I want it fast!!
decor8: How are the patterns designed?
Cadee: Some are designed by hand, and some are designed on the computer. It really just depends on what mood I’m in on any given day. Some days I really feel like drawing and painting by hand and other days I like to crank up my iTunes and work on my Mac!
decor8: What inspires you as a designer?
Cadee: Mostly my childhood in Orange County, and my parents hippie aesthetic. I love to conjure up pictures in my head of the things that made my childhood happy, and the usually involve the beach and sunshine and lots of loud music!
decor8: Thank you so much, Cadee! It was great to learn about the lady behind these gorgeous designs.
Cadee: You’re very, very welcome!! I love decor8!
Kreme Life papers can be purchased online here. Good news: If you do not want to commit to a roll of wallpaper, you can also purchase it framed or unframed to use as a focal point over your bed or sofa, for instance. I love that she offers this as an option.
(images from kreme life)
I am so pleased to introduce you to the founder and director of Squam Art Workshops, Elizabeth MacCrellish, who lives in Sandwich, New Hampshire. If you already know her then this may not be an introduction but rather a nice opportunity to get to know her better. When I first heard about Squam Art Workshops (SAW) last year and that it’s a local art retreat I had to pinch myself — a creative haven right here in New Hampshire? I don’t have to hop a plane and head west? Yay! With a year of SAW behind her I thought it would be a great time to catch up with Elizabeth to not only learn more about her background but to see what she enjoys most about her newly formed retreat, where the idea came from in the first place and what one can expect from the whole SAW experience. Lets get started!
decor8: Hi Elizabeth! It’s nice to have an opportunity to talk to you today about Squam. What exactly is SAW?
Elizabeth: It’s a retreat located at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in Holderness, NH. From the time you arrive Wednesday to the time you leave Sunday, there’s no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no driving kids to practice and all meals are taken care of for you. There are workshops all day with spectacular teachers to indulge your creative spirit. Squam attracts the full spectrum of attendees– we have working artists who are looking to recharge and gain fresh inspiration for their work as well as people from all walks of life who do not consider themselves artists but cherish the opportunity to mess around and play with stuff– and lots of people in-between those two extremes. And, on top of all that, the people who come have the most extraordinary energy so the whole gathering becomes the event itself.
decor8: What inspired you to create an art retreat?
Elizabeth: In 2006 I attended Artfest which absolutely changed my life. I have written about this many times, so I am just going to link to one of my rambles here. In a nutshell, it opened me up. It connected me with my tribe and set me back on my true path. I launched Squam because I wanted someone else to have that same experience. And, it turns out, quite a few people did.
decor8: All of our past decisions place us where we are today so I’m curious to hear about your path. What is your professional background?
Elizabeth: Well, unlike most creative types who zero in on a career soon after high school and stick with that one thing their entire professional lives my professional trajectory, as it were, has been rather erratic. For a number of years I taught French and coached lacrosse at Holderness School and then did a stint of writing including publishing a book, Dorm Room Feng Shui. I also spent seven years getting a taste of corporate life as the commercialization manager for EFI, which was an exceedingly interesting experience. Today, I teach writing at The New Hampshire Institute of Art and it is hands-down the best job I have ever had; I absolutely love it.
decor8: How much does it cost to stay at SAW and take classes there?
Elizabeth: $890 all-inclusive, room & board or, $480 if you want to stay off campus.
(Where the magic happens and founder Elizabeth MacCrellish)
decor8: If someone lives locally and wants to just show up for a day or a single workshop, can they?
Elizabeth: No, I’m sorry to say– it’s a retreat. We’re not set up to offer one-day classes.
decor8: What is your personal mission with this project?
Elizabeth: Well, I’m a little bit behind in writing our mission statement– I am gonna sit down and do that one of these days. Meantime, I just want people to come, have a good time, and keep the high spirit and creative energies flowing into their daily life long after the weekend is over.
decor8: How do you locate the artists that you invite to participate as instructors?
Elizabeth: I seek them out. Some I know through attending Artfest, some I know cause of blogging, some are referred to me by friends. It’s a mix.
decor8: What is the rooming situation like?
Elizabeth: It’s champagne in a tin cup. If you like pine trees, being on directly on a pristine lake surrounded by mountains, and starry nights– you’ll probably like this, but it’s definitely not for everyone. The cabins were built at the turn-of-the century and each one is unique. Every one has an ice box and the ice is cut from the lake each winter. Yet, all the modern conveniences are in place including wireless internet, should you want to keep hooked up to the outside world.
decor8: Where do most of your students come from?
Elizabeth: Last year, people came from 27 states and two eastern provinces of Canada. This year, we’re already expanding beyond that and have attendees coming from Switzerland, Mexico, Vancouver and the UK and registration only opened at the beginning of February. It kind of blows my mind.
decor8: What makes SAW so special in your eyes?
Elizabeth:We receive such wonderful letters, mothers and daughters who come together, old friends who meet up here after not seeing each other since college, husbands who joined their wife here last year but this year are going to come and do the workshops, too — people write us the most BEAUTIFUL stories and it pretty much knocks me off my feet. I honestly feel so deeply grateful and privileged to participate in the creation of this gathering where people get to have such extraordinary experiences (read the raves here).
decor8: How do you spread the seeds and get SAW out there?
Elizabeth: Word of mouth, baby. Thank heavens for bloggers. And to YOU, Holly. My deep thanks to you for sharing information about Squam at your beautiful site! Looking forward to the day when YOU are here bringing your magic to Squam!!
Thank you so much Elizabeth for this terrific insight into your inspirational program. I wish you much success and joy!
(photos: Elizabeth MacCrellish and Denise Andrade of Boho Photography)
I enjoy Scandinavian design so much and very often find links to people and places that immediately put me in my happy zone. These images are so transporting, this bedroom is gorgeous. Everything you see here was styled by Stockholm talent Eva Lindh.
Norwegian blogger Anettes Hus talked about Eva, that is how I found her, and my eyes are enjoying the deliciousness on my screen at this moment — Eva’s commercial, interior and fashion work. Blown away!
(images from eva lindh)
I’m excited to introduce you to former Domino assistant Robin Sillau who is currently working as an Interior Designer at an architecture firm in Manhattan. I spotted her walk-in closet/bedroom in the current issue of Domino magazine Feb. 09 pages 46-47) and had to know more about the lady who pulled together such a rockin’ space. Would you like to know more about Robin? I especially enjoyed her answer to “What do you think is missing in the design world?”, you will spot that below. Ready? Okay good… take my hand, let’s go!
Her 8′ x 6′ x 8′ bedroom is now a loft!
decor8: Tell us about your background and how did it lead to interior design?
Robin: I grew up in Queens and went to college for journalism to pursue a career as a newspaper writer. I’ve been passionate about writing since I was a teenager and thought that being a journalist would be a really fulfilling career for me. As I worked as writer in college and as a freelance writer after college, I did enjoy myself, but didn’t feel whole. My other passion, which only in my adult life did I realize could be parlayed into a career, is interior design. I grew up in a small apartment and my room was my haven. I rearranged my furniture for fun and was constantly redecorating, decoupaging, and making my space feel perfect. I continued to develop my style in each residence I inhabited in college as well. Since I’m so career driven, I pursued many internships during college. While working at the now-defunct Organic Style Magazine in the summer of 2005, I was placed in the home department. It was here that I really fell in love and decided that after my graduation, I would find a way to integrate writing and my love of design in the hopes of discovering which was the path for me.
(Robin Sillau blogging her design finds, photography: Lesley Unruh)
decor8: And that’s around the time you started working at Domino magazine… So tell us what did you do at Domino and why did you leave?
Robin: I was the assistant to the Creative Director, Sara Costello, and was also an assistant in the Market Department. I left because I knew I wanted to design homes and I wanted to make the next step in my career at a young age.
decor8: What did you learn working at the magazine?
Robin: Working in magazine land was very trying at times, but I would not change one experience because I learned something that is utterly invaluable and that is what I want to do with my life. I see my peers struggling with what step to take after their entry level jobs and many simply don’t know what they want to do in the long run, or how to figure it out. At domino I learned what I wanted to do with my life, and how important being happy in your home is. I also learned less ethereal, and more technical matters. I learned how to product a photo shoot, how to remain completely calm even under times of duress, how to transport 40 pieces of furniture to California from New York in, oh, about a week, and about what to look for when taking shots of interiors. I learned about the different styles of furniture design, about how to chose colors, textures and patterns that work together, and about the importance of scale in a room. Everyday at Domino was a learning experience and I could never have gotten to where I am now without those two priceless years of education from the most talented group of people I’ve ever met.
decor8: Why did you become a designer?
Robin: I decided to become a designer because I want to help other people feel obscenely happy in their homes. I grew up with only my mom (who is 1000% the best parent anyone could ever ask for) and we lived in a tiny space. Try as we did, with little money, it was hard to make our apartment a home. Two years ago my mom retired and moved to North Carolina to a beautiful, new home. Watching her develop her own style and furnish her home with items that made her happy was the catalyst to make me realize how much having a beautiful, well-designed home is integral to leading a whole and comfortable life. When I reached two years at working at domino, I took this into account and what I loved best about my job, which was decorating sets, I knew that I had to take a very big leap try my hand at being a designer. I can make a beautiful photo shoot happen, and I can make it disappear. I decided I would be happier taking my talents and applying them to design homes where families with whom I could develop relationships with could live for years and years.
(Dining room and bedroom designed by Robin for the Cheap Kit from Aug 08 Domino, shot in LA by Melanie Acevedo)
decor8: You also have a blog called Decorated Life. When did you start it and what is it about?
Robin: I started my blog, Decorated Life, in August 2008. It’s about trends that I find, rooms that inspire me, and essays about personal experiences. I help readers with decorating questions and also enjoy posting pictures of Homer, my best friend’s dog with whom I have developed an undying love for. I treat my blog as if I were the Editor-in-Chief my own magazine. I try to post original content about project I am working on, advice for readers, new sources I discover, and inexpensive ways to bring bits of light into your home. I also like to post personal stories that I think might be able to help anyone who comes across my blog. I suffer from an auto immune disease called Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, and writing about that has not only proven to be cathartic, but I hope it has helped others with rheumatological diseases, or anyone who has to deal with chronic illness.
decor8: What challenges do you face with clients and how do you handle them?
Robin: As a residential designer, my largest challenge has been transitioning from creating spaces that were born in my brain, to creating spaces that were born in someone else’s. At the magazine, I came up with a concept or a color palate and the shoots I worked on were my taste, to a tee. Yet to be a great designer, you can’t push your aesthetic onto your clients. You need to be the conduit for their creative vision to become even more beautiful, Learning that balance has been my biggest challenge. Not every client I work with wants a silver leather ottoman, a room entirely wallpapered in Osborne and Little’s large-scale chevron print, or a head board upholstered entirely in ironic toile. I’ve handled this challenge by having an open mind and listening to my clients and respecting and embracing their styles.
(this room is enclosed with fabric, bed on top, closet below.)
decor8: As a new designer, how do you market your business and what seems to work?
Robin: I currently work for a design firm, but I’d eventually like to start my own business, and I’m trying to market myself through my blog so this will one day be possible. I’ve found blogging to be my most effective marketing tool. I started by letting my friends and family know I was writing, and then branched out to posting updates on Facebook. This reconnected me with many old friends, who told their friends about my blog and so on. I try to stay true to the focus for my blog and I use my career as inspiration for posts.
decor8: How would you define your style?
Robin: Style is a hard thing to define! My decorating style is much more eclectic than what I wear on a daily basis. I LOVE PATTERN. I love mixing modern, iconic pieces with touches of floral, an antique wood, or a bit of tradition. I use graphic prints in conjunction with traditional shapes. I love glitz and glam, and think that punches of metallic fabrics can add a whole other dimension to a room. I love dark colors in small spaces and playing with scale. My style is everything I see, feel, experience, love and hate, filtered through brain and projected like a kaleidescope into the blank canvases I have to work with.
decor8: What 5 words best describe your personality?
Robin: Resilient, Complex, Funny, Loving and Curious.
decor8: What keeps you energized and focused?
My desire to please my clients and my desire to thrive as a designer.
decor8: How do you stay organized, do you have a specific system?
Robin: The process of ordering furniture at a magazine and ordering furniture as a designer is VERY different. I use Quick Books to keep my finances in order, and keep separate files for my invoices, organized by project, and purchase orders, organized by vendor. I also couldn’t live without writing myself notes. The notes feature on my iPhone has helped tremendously, as has importing my rolodex onto my computer and my phone. It’s annoying, but keeping my contacts always synched helps me to be able to work from anywhere. If I’m installing a project and need to call a vendor to ask “Where is my lamp?” it’s really easy to do so if I have all of my contacts in my phone and on my laptop. I also live for my Graphic Image planner, I use the daily journal and I love it. It’s the perfect size to carry with me all day, yet it has more than enough space to write my massive “to-do” lists. I loves.
decor8: What is an average day like for you?
Everyday for me starts with an unhealthy amount of coffee and about 10 shameful minutes spent on the Facebook. I’m constantly working on new projects while juggling the ordering and installation of projects that are ongoing. I joined my firm at an interesting time and have been able to install, make furniture plans, conceive palates for construction materials, and plan the homes of brand new clients. I spend a lot of time learning AutoCad, going to furniture showrooms, going to site-meetings to oversee construction, and a LOT of time trolling the Decoration and Design building for fabric samples.
decor8: What’s next for you, future goals?
Robin: I couldn’t have asked for a better job or a more nurturing learning environment to get me from magland to becoming an interior designer. Eventually, my ultimate dream for myself and my career is to start my own interior design firm. I’d like to work alone, or with an assistant for a while, but eventually be the principal of my own company. I’d love to eventually have my own line of fabrics and furniture, and although I’m sure it will be quite challenging, have all of my products be at reasonable price points
decor8: What do you think is missing in the design world?
Robin: Compassion and accessibility!! I see a lot of negativity and criticism in the world of design. You can’t have art without conflict and negotiation, but I’ve got butterfly skin when it comes to being privy to some to the nastiness going on in interior design blogland. I don’t believe is criticism without it being constructive. I put my stuff out there and totally expect not everyone to love it, but I get perturbed when blogs or comments completely rely on making fun of magazines, people, ideas, etc., without putting something positive into blogland as well. In the larger scope of design, I think accessibility to the masses is lacking. Furnishing your home will be one of the most expensive things you can embark on, and fabric, wallpaper and furniture can be INSANELY pricey. I think well-priced items that you don’t have to put together yourself and won’t fall apart on their own are heavily lacking from the market.
decor8: How do you get through a creative rut?
Robin: I take a break, eat a cupcake, and look through my inspiration binders.
decor8: Let’s say you run into a competitive person who tries to copy your work or in other ways, wants to bring you down. How would you handle them?
Robin: I don’t let negativity permeate me. I’m really proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished. Any negativity I encounter I can spin and view as a good thing, because it means I’m getting my work and my words out into the public.
decor8: You need a new outfit, where do you shop and what are your favorite labels?
Robin: I’m a Lorick, Morphine Generation, and Marc by Marc Jacobs junkie. I also am a huge fan of Steven Alan’s button down shirts, and probably would be nude right now if not for American Apparel. When I need a classic dress for a party or an interview, I always go Diane Von Furstenburg. I get all of my skinny jeans from Urban Outfitters and love pairing my Chloe boots (which I got on MAJOR sale) with leggings, an oversized t-shirt from American Apparel, a blazer and my vintage Gucci messenger bag I got at the Hells Kitchen Flea Market. I love mixing sporty with labels, which I always try to get on sale.
decor8: What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
Robin: A point ballet dancer.
decor8: Favorite designers?
Tom Dixon, Miles Redd, Vincente Wolf, Ilse Crawford, Nina Campbell, Nick Olsen.
decor8: What do you do there to recharge yourself in Brooklyn?
Robin: When I’m feeling really stressed out, I like to work on projects that I’ve been thinking about but don’t make time for. I love going to flea markets and restoring pieces of furniture I find. I recently built a vanity to put on brackets and placed it on one of my bedroom walls. I love building and working with my hands. It allows me to zone out of my stresses and focus on something productive.
decor8: Three people (living) that you’d love to have lunch with and why?
Robin: Heather Armstrong (Dooce). I’ve briefly met her once and I love her style of writing. I think she’d be a blast. India Hicks, because I think she’s graceful and intelligent and I’d love to hear what her life growing up was like and Blake Lively, Serena, of Gossip Girl. Because…I mean…COME ON! She’s beautiful! And maybe, just maybe, if we had lunch, she’d realize we were meant to be best friends.
decor8: And finally… What trends do you love and what can you do without?
Robin: I love graphic prints, Lucite, Greek key patterns and white lacquer. I could do without shells and coral. BIG TIME!
(Living room designed by Robin for the Cheap Kit from Aug 08 Domino, shot in NY by Melanie Acevedo)
Thank you so much for chatting with me today on decor8, Robin. It’s so nice to meet you!
Readers: If you have any questions for Robin please ask her via the comments section below.
(images from robin sillau)