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Collections {we love ‘em}

I’m excited to talk about collections today for a simple reason – they’re everywhere! Most of my friends and the design shops that I visited over the weekend down in Boston are moving far away from the “less is more” decor and embracing the pack rat within, but in a more organized fashion – through gorgeous groupings – and I love seeing it.

Decorating that bends the rules and reaches deep into the soul, pulling out your story, dreams, and emotions, and placing objects that reflect these things in your space is empowering. I love being around things that make me feel positive and motivated, and sometimes certain objects do this for me. Combining like items, or objects that relate to one another somehow, create order. This is something we all strive to attain – a sense of order and balance while showcasing parts of our unique personality. Most neat freaks and minimalists disregard scattered objects as useless clutter or little piles of chaos, opting for a more streamlined design. They claim there’s no time to clean around tons of tiny things piled all over. And I see the point. But life in a perfect model home isn’t for me either, so I’d rather hire someone to clean my collections for me or do what I currently do – block out time on a Saturday afternoon to clean my home. But I agree that rooms can appear chaotic and be a nightmare to clean when objects are bursting from every surface.

That’s why I’m a big fan of collections – placing things together instead of scattered randomly all over. Collections work best for a variety of personality types and design styles – from those who favor streamlined interiors to others who embrace a cozy lived-in decor. Why? Because all can achieve harmony and order by placing a careful collection, or two, or ten, in various places in the home depending on how much you’d like to show.

This is a collection of embroidered works that Esther from Mokka bags pulled together to form a gorgeous rug. Do you see something interesting here? A collection doesn’t need to be something sitting idle on a shelf – it can be a grouping of things you love put to good use!

This is an usual way to display a collection – on the floor! I loved it the second I read about this rug on the Style Files today.

For some, if you like very little on display, a collection to you may mean three 3 items on a single floating shelf over a sofa. And that’s it. For others, a collection gives them them the chance to fill every shelf with something exciting to gaze upon. I’ll leave how far you go with the amount of collections up to you — ultimately it’s your home and my preferences here aren’t important. But I can point you to some good tips that I’ve used to make those collections do what you’ve intended for them – to showcase objects in a creative way that is visually interesting.

Collections add dimension to a room in ways both seen and unseen. Pattern, color, or texture are introduced to let you know about the person living there. These curiosities add warmth, make guests feel at home, and give the space character – yours! On an otherwise boring white bookcase flanking a fireplace, group a special collection to add pattern there, for instance, instead of filling it with books that you never read simply because you reason that bookcases need to be filled with books, right? Ha! No way!

Lorena Siminovich, a talented artist from San Francisco, shows us the importance of a balanced collection using her bookcases. She knows when “enough is enough” and she’s got a great handle on symmetry – because her bookcases flank her fireplace, Lorena needed to balance each one so they relate to one another, have the right amount of “stuff” on each or else one side would look heavier than the other, and all this while still being creative and showcasing the things she loves without things appearing textbook perfect.

Lorena’s results are beautiful while still maintaining her authentic style.

How do I get started on a collection, you ask? Easy. Look for themes already in your home in the many objects you already have. You may see milk glass in random spots, maybe in your bathroom, a few items in your kitchen, and a beautiful piece displayed on your credenza. Would you like to create a collection displaying all of these arranged together? No? Okay, let’s leave the milk glass alone and look at other repeat objects in your home. Are those prints from Etsy I see stacked in a small pile on your dresser? Hmm… Perhaps you can start there.

Here’s a practical solution to showing off your growing collection of art. Purchase a few picture ledges, mount two (one directly over the other) to a free wall, and buy a series of white frames or frames that are all very similar in size and color. Take all of your prints, frame them, and arrange them on the ledge in various order to see what suits you. Step back. Admire. If you get tired of their order, move them around. If you tire of a specific print, purchase another or make something yourself using photos or a scrap of your favorite wallpaper, scrapbook paper, or fabric, and swap it out. Maybe you could include that cute drawing your baby cousin sent to you? That’s personal and gives your collection a great conversation piece.

Mixed media collage artist Michelle Caplan has a rotating gallery in her home. Using a simple bench, she displays her favorites pieces of the moment.

When I think of collections done right, Lisa Congdon comes to mind. Whenever I peek in on her, I notice she enjoys artful arrangements around her San Francisco home. She seems to always have something new and she does a beautiful job pulling in all the objects that relate to a particular theme that she’s working on. Here’s her recent plate collection, and another of vintage photos on her wall. See what I mean?

For a real treat, visit Lisa’s pool of creative collections. You’ll look at everything in your home differently after checking out her photos.

For a successful collection, there needs to be a theme behind it. I don’t necessarily mean that it has to be object-related – only owls or only white pottery, although these are both common and pretty ones, just as deer, mercury glass, feathers, plates, silhouettes, vintage cameras, globes, clocks, are other popular collections. But a collection can be based around an emotion using a variety of objects to show the emotion.

You can also have collections centered around a theme, such as a season, color, or designer. Some love to collect white pottery only from the pot-king himself, Jonathan Adler. Others collect objects from outside and group them together to show more of a seasonal display of objects (acorns, leafs, seed pods, etc.). Still others are looking to group items together that radiate a certain feeling – this display created by Creature Comforts, who is a highly creative blogger and shop owner by the way, shows us an example of this.

Creature Comforts’ displays many different objects that relate somehow, through various tones of white, along with clear glass, mercury glass, and milk glass, to show us what Winter means through her eyes. A refreshing mix, isn’t it? The reflective surface of the mercury glass adds a festive spark.

Then you have Brooklyn designer Lena Corwin, a lady that many of us are keenly interested in because she has such a great eye for color and pattern, and she shows this through even the most “mundane” objects, things that no longer seem so everyday when she comes in contact with them.

Lena’s way of displaying objects is very appealing. Take her vintage collection of mugs on a simple shelf.

Of course, not all objects on display are ones you can pick up and examine, as we saw early with that beautiful embroidered rug. Some are meant to be enjoyed from a few steps back, like art. In blogger Victoria’s home, you see an example of an inexpensive art collection grouped over a simple white sofa accented by pillows that pick up the pattern and colors in the art.

This is a great example of a collection done right – art displayed in a casual way, although Victoria confesses to spending time on this arrangement to get things right. But the end result is laid back bohemian, a style of living that this California lady embraces.

You can also build collections based on a season or holiday, as we’ve mentioned already, but here’s an example to ground the fact that seasonal decor doesn’t have to be tacky or purchased in one single trip to some big box store. The very word collection means “something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of material accumulated in one location, esp. for some purpose or as a result of some process”. Notice it doesn’t say “collected from one location” rather “accumulated in one location”. Big difference. Collecting is all about taking time to build something and enjoying the process so that the gathering of things in one location, be that a credenza, cabinet, or wall, means something very personal to you.

This is a good example of a collected group of seasonal delights that evolved over time. These dazzling vintage tree toppers owned by Mindy from Retro Clean. Mindy tells us, “These vintage tree toppers are my Christmas decorating obsession. I have 39 of them on display and a few more that I didn’t put out. I can’t pass one up when I see them at a sale. Most have been obtained at yard sales or estate sales.”

Here is a collection of little trees from Stephanie Barnes, also known as one half of the 3191 blogging duo, mixed in with some other objects. When I look at Stephanie’s collections, I imagine that she is trying to tell a story or convey a feeling through her displays. You almost have to peer closely and use your imagination to figure out her displays, and that is really fun I think.

This is a collection of goodies from Nina van de Goor, who has the most gorgeous photos of things she is inspired by right here. This grouping seems to be pretty random, but shows that a collection doesn’t need to be planned out or guided by one specific item. You may find random items at flea markets or gifts from your friends that just seem to work together and after some arrangement, it just works. Perhaps it has to do with the balance she’s created in the harmony of blue and red?

I’d really like to see what you’re collecting lately, and hope that you’ll jump in and share either through a comment or via photos (email me!). I’ve created a flickr group called Creative Collections if you’d like to add your photos there. I hope you’ll join! I’ll be using some of them here on decor8 throughout the week to talk more on the topic.

(images linked above to their photo bugs)

Posted in inspiration, trends on December 10, 2007

Doily Love!

Do not fear the loyal doily! Listen to your grandmother, your lacey round friends can be quite practical and, with thanks to designers giving them a fresh creative spin, even trendy. And because they resemble snowflakes, I’m thinking this is another reason for their increased popularity in the cooler months. If you prefer to take the doily into your own hands (a little DIY’er are you?), perhaps this post will offer you a few affordable ideas where you have an ah-ha moment, “I can do that myself!”. Because in some cases, you certainly can!

{via Inhabitat}

These look pretty simply pinned to a linen board as a decorative touch. This is the work area of Holly Waterfield’s office space in the West Village at her boutique, Camp. Notice the many doilies framed above her desk…

Another modern use for a traditional piece – shape one into
something pretty just like blogger Sweet Paul did here.
Artsy! {via Emma}

While in Europe, I spotted the darling doily on linens and plates, even clothing, and now back in the states, I’m seeing them around town trying to win your favor and love despite how most tend to view them as, well old-fashioned and boring. Ah, c’mon… Show a little doily love. After this post, you may just start rummaging through the attic or hitting the local flea to find a few that you can bring forward into 2007. That’s my goal.

Tips: I think it would be fun to hand sew a few to the bottom edge of a linen curtain (tone on tone is best for this look to stay modern vs. kitschy) or apply a few in random areas on a throw pillow. You can even use the paper ones and with a little spray glue, affix them to the exterior of a glass lantern or candle holder. Candles look so pretty glowing behind their intricate patterns.

Hannover-based German artist Evelyn Hahn incorporates doilies
into her mixed media art, on display here at Gross Stadt Rekorder.

Wrapping paper from Eieio at Rose + Radish, a doily chair by
the uber talented Tara Murray, the many ceramic bowls and plates
from Country Creek Pottery, the gorgeous work of
London artist Mhari McMullan. Are you a believer yet?

Unblossom salt crystal bowl vis Inhabitat.

Of course, you can always count on the craft queen Martha Stewart
for a few good ideas. I like the Lacy Luminarias, the
Lovely Lace DIY idea, doily envelopes, and
the doily-edges shelves – this is a nice idea for a kid’s room.

Thomas Paul is in on this motif, he has some
dinner plates offered over at Velocity Art + Design with
a goth vibe.

Floating vintage doilies framed from Dima Designs,
Small Stump “Tea For Me” Silkscreen print
(she churns out the cutest stuff), and
sweet retro pillows from Dottie Angel.

Or you can be all fancy pants with these 22K gold plates
by notNeutral, also at Velocity.

Modern doily gift tags and cards created by May Third.

Accessorize!
Ink Jet’s badge set in black and white, or a damsels
and doilies key fob from Mary Mo. A black and white
tote made with love by Oh Honey, or how about
a cute wristlet from Generi Online?

There’s also these black rubber coasters or a set of 8 pink vinyl
doilies – both from Rockett St George, Silver
Elissa Frankino contemporary jewelry with
doily impressions (lovely), and Amy Butler lace work fabric.

Crocheted doily jewelry, and another darling creation from
Dottie Angel: dish towels. Tea towels “Tree House” from
new Scandinavian design store (in the USA – yeah!), Huset.
Love this store. You will too. Contrary uses a doily in her
dyptych painting, “When I Was Happy”.

Anthropologie is one we can always count on to be in on the
trends with a mug in blue and white, the porcelain doily cake stand
(perfect for cupcakes – make sure you view the up close details,
it’s very sweet), and the bone doily mirrors (these are such a good
example of bringing a traditional design into 2007 in a very grown-up way).

Doilies influence New Hampshire-based artist Gina Adams.

This is perhaps my favorite of the bunch based on the story alone. How cute is this?

“The doily will be handmade by my mother who has been crocheting for over 50 years! She has made nearly 2000 of these doilies and therefore I guarantee the quality. The cost is $15 for up to 8 letters. Each additional letter would be $2.00.”

Available in white, ecru, and cream. I’d like one with my name on it in
pure white to center in an all white frame and mat. Modern yet
extremely old-fashioned at the same time. I’m ordering! I have
a friend with an all-white home, this would be perfect for her
since she relies to much on texture to add warmth to her space.

The Suspect Shop seems to be inspired by our little lace friends too.

First Snow patterned dinnerware just released by Rosanna at Kekk2.

Crate and Barrel has some dessert plates, felt placemats
(I picked one up for my coffee table over the weekend),
and some very dainty glasses with a doily motif.
Perfect for something a little boozey. :)

Psst: Free crochet doily pattern links {via Inhabitat}.

And for all the fashion victims out there, this doily tee from Urbans is a great piece to throw on beneath a cardigan or black velvet blazer.

So now I ask, do you or don’t you desire a doily?

(images: All from those cited in this entry, with the exception of the intro image via Inhabitat.)

Posted in trends on November 26, 2007

Hem 2007 {Stockholm}

I think I’d mentioned before heading up to Stockholm that I wanted to visit their home show called Hem 2007 (Hem is Swedish for Home). And I did! Ready to visit along with me? Good. Here we go!

Hem ’07 was held at Stockholmsm?ssan, a huge trade fair center only a 20 minute train ride from downtown Stockholm.

Upon entering the exhibit hall, you turn right and enter the “Inspiration and Trend” hall, which is where I spent the day. There were other exhibit halls, but those mostly focused on appliances and such — all things that I have absolutely no interest in because if it won’t fit in my suitcase, I figured I didn’t need to bother. :) The Inspiration and Trend hall had lots of exhibitors with items you could purchase, so this was the ideal place for a design hungry girl to make a bee-line for. But first, I have to show you this beautiful restaurant to the left, it’s called the The Garden and featured some of the best design elements, from the lighting (overhead) to all the Josef Frank fabrics that are so popular in Sweden.

I think every home has at least one throw pillow designed by Josef Frank, so if you’re looking to mimic Swedish design in your own home, take note. You need something from Svenskt Tenn somewhere to truly be a wannabe Swede. :)

The first exhibit I enjoyed looking at was called “Up Side Down” styled by Synn?ve Mork for Elle Interi?r. I was excited to see that Elle Interi?r also had a booth where they offered current and back issues of their magazine for only a few dollars, it was heaven. I hope that American magazines hop on this idea and do the same in the big U.S. shows because I’m sure many would love to scoop up past issues for a good price.

As you can see, I clearly had no problem scooping up magazines. :)

I started to spot some trends, black, white, natural wood, metallic gold, and a few Asian finds. Nothing new but still fun to see.

I absolutely adored this light but couldn’t find any information about it. I like the shadows it casts, it really captivated me.


These rooms (below) were created by Helena Sandberg and Jimmy Sch?nning, both Swedish stylists. The theme chosen was “Personality” showing three living rooms – one white, one black, and one in black, white, with gold accents. The black room felt unusually warm – the wood, leather, and wool felt contributed to that. Despite the nice design of this space, it didn’t make an impression on me, I didn’t connect to it on any level as I couldn’t imagine living in a space like this at all. It felt a bit heavy and draining. Not for me. But the white on the other hand…

This was my favorite space of the three, the all-white living room, complete with a white vacuum, which I would definitely own. The eye is a photo tile (above) by Fotokakel, a company that had a booth at the show displaying their new photo tiles. You can take whatever image you like and they’ll create tiles for your home. I think this could become a trend, but given that tiles are a long term investment, you’d need to carefully select your image because once it’s installed, you can’t easily change your mind.

I loved the ping pong ball light, it reminded me of a mini version of the Troy light designed by my friends Marcia and Paul of Zia-Priven. I also love this metal cut out chair in white. Oh so pretty!

{edit: found the name/website!} I couldn’t help but notice the very Scandinavian style shoes on the staircase designed by Asa Westlund, they’re called There Goes The Neighborhood. I’ve seen them in lots of Jeu de Paume books. I adore these shoes and I kept hoping I’d find a pair whenever I went shopping because I think they’re just adorable. I would use them as a bit of a prop for my home, I think clothing and shoes can definitely add a decorative element if displayed in the right spot, don’t you? I wonder how long before Anthropologie picks these up…

This is the Cosas booth, where I met fellow blogger Anneli Levin and purchased a Swedish horse and some Karin Eriksson ceramics. Anneli was so nice to meet, I’ve admired her blog for a long time so it was exciting to meet her in person. I didn’t expect that Cosas would have a booth at Hem ’07, so it was a very nice surprise for me to bump into her. Here’s a grouping of images that Anneli took and arranged herself, I just love this collage and have to show you it. I hope she doesn’t mind. :)

Cosas carries a popular ceramic cup designed by Anna Svensson, voted as one of favorites from this show by Elle Interi?r.

Along with this tray designed by Liebling (love their patterns). Here are a few shots of the Liebling booth, one that I wished I’d lingered at but by this point, I was starting to get a bit overwhelmed!

And this is jewelry designer (above) Catrine ?berg of Cooee, who helped me select a necklace from her line. Imagine two acrylic heart pendents, one clear, one silver, dangling on a long silver box link chain. I love it! In fact, I fell head over heels for all of her designs (you have to visit her website). Psst: She is actively looking to network with some stores in the U.S. to carry her line, so if you’re a shop owner, contact Catrine and tell her that you read about her on decor8 since she knows who I am now (we met at the fair). Her jewelry was a huge hit at the show, the foot traffic was incredible, she’s quite a popular lady!

Here’s a room designed for a teenager that I liked by Jan Rundgren. I liked the lamp the best but again, couldn’t find information regarding the source.

I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of these gorgeous trays! I wanted them all. So hard to resist.

And these great chairs (above), designed by Carl Malmsten, were another favorite of Elle Interi?r at this show.

And finally, here are some pillows I liked from Kreativ Insikt. Not a lot of pillows at this show, or textiles, so it was a bit sad for me because I was expecting to see a lot of prints and patterns and instead I found mostly black and white.

Summary: Hem 2007 was a bit small and honestly, a little dull to be set in such an innovative capital city like Stockholm. Outside of what I’ve featured in this post, the many additional booths (not shown) felt very dismal and somewhat tacky even – and the room arrangements I saw did not inspire me so I didn’t bother photographing them. I got the sense that other attendees they felt exactly the same, so I’m not alone in this. However, the fact that I had the opportunity to attend was extremely exciting and an experience I won’t forget, so for me, it was worth it to be there. Plus, I was able to meet some nice people and see some beautiful things, so I can’t complain too much!

Would you like to see additional coverage of Hem 2007? Visit Emmas Design Blogg and The Style Files.

(images from holly becker for decor8 with the exception of the anna svensson cups, photo by cosas)

Posted in shopping, travel, trends on October 15, 2007

Power Poufs!

No matter what you call them, pouffes, floor pillows, cushions, poufs — whatever — these beauties are the it accessory for the home right now, and I’m willing to bet into the new year and beyond. Loved for their versatility (foot stool, place to sit, or table), within reach pricing (at least most of the time), and overall cuteness factor, it’s hard to go wrong with something so right. Take this felt pouf from one of my favorite designers, Chris Labrooy. How can you not desire one of these in your home?


With so many hunting for durable pieces that perform double duty without taking up much-needed floor space, the pouf is perfect because you can easily tuck one away beneath a table. I think they look so stylish and often bring in the pattern, color, or texture that a room needs – the icing on the cake. In all its available shapes and sizes, why not check out a few of my favorites to see if anything clicks with you, perhaps you’d like one for yourself? I’ve included a few inspirational images from Living Etc. so you can see them in actual spaces.


First off, the Morrocan pouf – it’s the first thing I think of the moment I hear the p word. I love them in soft leather with the handstitched patterns, they’re very bohemian I think, they have that come relax in my casbah appeal. White leather is my favorite, but a close runner up is pale pink and then the turquoise ones – or something in a pale mustard. Aren’t these beauties from Graham and Greene the best? I like them around a coffee table for dining with friends. Also great for the patio in the warmer months, with candlelight of course.


This one from Shabby Chic is gorgeous, I saw it up close and personal in their new Boston/Natick store and it’s worth every penny. Even if you do need several hundred pennies to buy one. :)


Of course, you can get them in felt too, which really appeals to those living in colder climates I think. Leather is nice, but if you live in a region that is cold for most of the year, then you may be more inclined to find something in wool or cotton. I like this felted pouf from Danish Bohema (a site I found thanks to Leah) because it has an embroidered pattern much like the Moroccan ones above. This one is made by En Gry & Sif of Copenhagen, distributed by Danish Bohema in the U.S. for $113 – which I think is a terrific price.


Shirdak out of the Netherlands also has some in felt showing off some bold ethnic patterns. I see floor cushions and poufs everywhere in decor over here, in all the magazines I flip through they’re in so many rooms – and also in the homes of my friends.

The Alseda is another that I really like, it’s a very affordable option for under $30 at IKEA and it’s very natural – made from banana fiber so it’s eco-friendly, too. Top it off with a silver tea tray set, Danielle from the Style Files uses hers for this purpose and I think it looks great near her fireplace.

Big on color and pattern? Although these are ottomans, they’re a great alternative if you seek something soft with a decorative pattern. I like these three from Anthropologie, some are under $300 on sale, so click here for the full scoop on that. Or this floor cushion made to resemble an ethnic style pouf from Urban Outfitters for only $40.

And of course, some more pouf inspiration in case you wonder about how to place them in your home. They aren’t just for the living room, you can use them just about anywhere you’d like.

Image from Het Kabinet.

And you can even sew a few up yourself. Amy Butler recently released a new pattern called Gumdrop Pillows, aren’t these the best?


And blogger Yvestown from the Netherlands got her hands on a pattern and using fabric from Cath Kidston, she crafted one for her home. (By the way, if you like CK stuff, you can now order a catalog right here at no cost.) Yvestown said that many more gumdrops will follow, as she seemed to really enjoy making this one. Isn’t it gorgeous? Here’s her photo below. I purchased fabric from Amy Butler to make one for my own living room when I’m back in the states (a winter project).


Looking for additional seating options that are pouf-like? Try Fat Boy, Livingstones by Smarin (shown below), and Blog Beanbags.


Hope this pouffe post gave you some decorating inspiration for today. I know it did for me, now I have to reupholster my ottoman and make a few gumdrop pillows. :)

{Sorry blogging has been light the past day or so, I’m still getting settled here in Germany, our schedule has been nonstop since we landed. I’ll see you tommorow!}

Posted in trends on October 03, 2007

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