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Lisa Stickley Is Keeping It Real

When I’m in London this spring I will do everything in my power to finally visit the Lisa Stickley shop. I’ve been to London a million times in my life but never stepped foot inside of her darling store and feel positively horrible about it. Why? What is my problem!? Don’t answer that. I clearly need to prioritize next time I’m in jolly old England and skip on over for a visit. It was just in The Independent a few days ago, did you catch the article and shop photos? If not, click here to read more.

I love the new bedding Lisa is working on, and that she’s in conversation with Anthropologie to collaborate with them on a line, and she’s working on a line for Hankyu in Japan, a collection of homewares at Debenhams and a new bedding collection at Heal’s (shown). Wow! Lisa is so talented and clearly very successful and though I’ve never met her my heart swells seeing a young woman who seems to have it all but is known for remaining down-to-earth and as real as they come amongst those in her field. I’ve noticed, even in my own blogging world, that even bloggers who grow in popularity can change and became a bit snobby or make it very obvious that they are top tier and everyone else is, well, everyone else. Let’s make it our personal vow to keep it real on the web.

This is prevalent in every industry I guess, the whole swollen head syndrome that occurs when fame sets in, and sometimes it saddens me when those I love get sucked in and I have to watch, powerless…  That is when I turn to examples of those who are super successful like Lisa Stickley who don’t let their inner fame monster take over. I also think of others in the design world who stay true to their roots. Shannon Fricke, Emily Chalmers, Debi Treloar, Selina Lake, Sania Pell, Geninne Zlatkis, Belinda Graham, Irene Hoofs, Leslie Shewring, Jo Packham (publisher of Where Women Create and Where Women Cook magazine), Leigh Standley, Amy Atlas… these ladies (and tons more, plus many guys) really INSPIRE me because they’re all hugely talented and successful and yet, you never once feel like they think they are better than you or more important in some way. I love these women, they are all stars in my eyes and I’ll always support them through thick and thin! I could list SO MANY more wonderful people but I usually just blog about them instead because promoting them on decor8 is my small way of thanking them for remaining true and special.

Whether in the corporate world or the indie lifestyle, or that space in between — some let the fame monster warp their perception of self and as a result, lose a clear sense of reality. My advice is to keep it real and remember how you got to wherever it is that you think you are today. Your readers, your friends, people who wrote up your work when some flat out rejected you, others who believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself, friends who were there through it all, family members who held you through your growing pains… all of us who have found success in whatever it is owe so much to our fans and support teams – whoever those people may be. I guess that’s why the Lisa Stickley’s of the world impress me so much. They just do their thing and don’t allow themselves to become elevated as a result. It makes me want to support them all the more.


Do you have thoughts on what I’ve said above? I often wonder how you cope with your own success, or the success of others if you perhaps have noticed it affecting them for the worse? Do you say something? Avoid them? How do you handle all of this?

(images: lisa stickley)

Posted in bedroom, real talk on February 21, 2011

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

What Are You Thankful For?

I was thinking recently about gratitude. My friend Laurie, who is also an expat from the states (originally from San Francisco) and lives around the corner from me in Hannover, Germany, gave me the idea for this post so I owe the whole gratitude idea to her. You see recently, she held an event for ladies who  live in Hannover (but are from another country) to get together for dinner and networking – I even met a few decor8 readers which was a lovely surprise! It was such a special evening to be with ladies from all parts of the globe — Brazil, America, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands… but in addition to having friendly chats and exchanging information about our new culture, language, lifestyle — Laurie gave us each a piece of paper and spoke for a moment about gratitude. What was the paper for? Well I’ll get to that.

Sunday Suppers

Laurie (who is a change management consultant who works for high profile companies) told us that when people normally relocate it is easy for them, especially when grouped together with others who have relocated as well, to start complaining and conversations can quickly become quite negative as a result. This is one reason why I’ve not yet joined a local expat group — I’ve heard that people in these groups can be big whiners and that’s just not my style. I believe that the more you complain, the more negativity you invite into your life and the more your complaints turn into reality. I also believe that complainers receive less help – people usually want to help those whom they like and complainers tend to have fewer friends. What do you think?

Now back to this inspiring dinner party with Laurie…

She tactfully explained to our group that it’s best to concentrate on what we have in our new culture, versus the things we may miss, and then she asked us to write down what we are thankful for… what do we have currently in our life that we love? Specifically, she asked us what we love about living in our new city. My list covered both sides of my index card and I quickly filled it, which told me something instantly — that I found a great spot to live and work!

The other ladies didn’t realize it (I was discreet), but I took notice of who had to really sit there and think about things to list vs. those who quickly listed their favorite things. I wondered if the ones who quickly wrote their list vs. those who had to really think about what they were thankful have a happier expat experience because they are naturally seeing the good things? Or? It also made think that perhaps by making regular mental notes (and from time to time making them on paper, too) that we all should remind ourselves what we are currently thankful for, what we love about our life, our personality, our home, our city, our job, those close to us… I think being thankful makes us less prone to negative thinking and gives life more meaning. We shouldn’t have to suffer an extreme hardship before we start to appreciate what we have, right?

And so, since yesterday was Turkey Day in America and many of you still have bellies full of pumpkin pie, perhaps it is a nice time to reflect on what you have currently that makes you feel grateful. What Are You Thankful For? I’d love to see some of your lists, would you mind sharing with me in the comments section below? I think writing a list publicly reinforces our feelings and also encourages others to look on the bright side and be more thankful too. Care to participate? I will join you with my list in the comments section below… You may also answer this question publicly on your blog and then leave a link to your blog post in the comments below – it’s up to you.

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts! :)

(image: Sunday Suppers, a supper club I’m dying to attend someday in Brooklyn that also has a new blog!)

Posted in real talk on November 26, 2010

Real Talk: Life Without The Web

Could you live without the web? How long could you totally unplug? Do you want to? Do you long for the days before email and social networking? Recently on Facebook a friend (thanks, Alex!) shared an article that she read over at Slate written by By James Sturm called Life Without The Web. It’s about the resolve of one man to sign off for four months to see how it changes his life — work, family, etc.

Real Talk: Life Without The Web

I think most of us can relate to James when he confessed, “The question I’ve been wrestling with lately is whether it’s all going by so fast because…of the way I’ve been living my life. Specifically, I’ve started to wonder whether that feeling might be connected to all the time I spend online. Too often I sit down to dash off a quick e-mail and before I know it an hour or more has gone by.” I found his perspective interesting, you may too — you can hop over here to read it and then pop back to leave your impressions below because I think as a community we could have a pretty neat discussion about it today if you’d like. I wonder if you can relate to any of his “issues” with being online a lot.

Perhaps you can relate to James on this point, “Over the last several years, the Internet has evolved from being a distraction to something that feels more sinister. Even when I am away from the computer I am aware that I AM AWAY FROM MY COMPUTER and am scheming about how to GET BACK ON THE COMPUTER.”

After reading the article and his resolve to completely sign offline for four months I came to this conclusion: Part of me understands James’ decision to go offline. I totally get it. But another part says it’s like anything else — it’s a self control thing, not an internet thing. If someone has an addiction to the internet they need to figure out why and how to change and then take the necessary steps. I don’t think that cold turkey will help long term because eventually he’ll be back online and then the pattern will most likely emerge all over again. I think it’s more important to learn balance and practice self control in everything we do — even healthy things can be bad for us if we over-indulge. If you remove a vice without first learning self control you will only replace the vice with something else like television and book reading. And what really is the difference – watching television and reading books can be done online so doing them offline doesn’t accomplish much.

So my questions are this: could you totally unplug for four months like James? Would you want to? Do you wish you could unplug completely long-term? Do you think self control plays a part in all of this and that the web can become an addiction turning an otherwise healthy activity into something unhealthy? How do you balance your life online with your life offline — any tips for other readers who may also be a bit frustrated by all of the time they spend plugged in?

(image: holly becker for decor8)

What are your thoughts?

Posted in real talk on April 15, 2010

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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