Dutch stylist Barbara Groen has been on my radar for well over a year now since I first fell in love with her work in VTWonen magazine when she styled a story about diverse work spaces. I’ll quickly show a quick glimpse below — I fell in love with these three magical spaces instantly.
After finding her work, I’ve been following her ever since. Here are some more views from the portfolio of this talented stylist. To see many, many more you’ll need to visit her online portfolio here.
Yeah, that is some SERIOUS inspiration overload. I love how she uses color and generally sticks to three colors in each of her stories – maybe it’s just a coincidence but it seems to be her recipe. I also admire how creative she is – I found so many fun decorating ideas simply from studying the images above. She also loves to use paint and doesn’t have any problem putting very bold colors on cabinets, inside and out – love it! Her use of pattern is minimal, she relies more on objects, color and displays to tell her story. I like many of her wall arrangements and how she uses tear sheets as decorative elements. What an inspiring person Barbara is!
(images: barbara groen)
I find it so inspirational when I see people take products and furniture and use their imaginations to personalize somewhat mundane things into something special. That’s the beauty of IKEA. Their price point is affordable and nothing feels precious which gives you freedom to explore your ideas – perhaps a lamp base would look better decoupaged in a favorite paper or a cabinet would be far better with new hardware and wallpaper hung on the inside.
(Tip: Stack wooden storage boxes and drawers and paint them inside to create a bookcase – this is a look I’m seeing more and more and I love it!)
That’s what I love about buying things at vintage stores, flea markets, yard sales and shops that are priced reasonably – like IKEA – you have the freedom to go a little crazy and exercise your creativity. You have the right!
(Paint a thick stripe down the center of a table as a “runner” to customize and add visual interest.)
I thought I’d share some of my favorite IKEA inspirations today from their beautiful blog, Livet Hemma. I recognize all of the pieces shown but love seeing the fresh updates each have been given by the creative team behind the Livet Hemma blog. It’s so inspirational and fun! It also shows that IKEA pieces can be quite special and do not have to be left ‘as is’, but can become something special to you and your family.
(Tip: Some vintage pieces add character to a space so consider using them to avoid your room from looking like it all came from a single catalog.)
(Tip: A low cabinet works nicely for displaying favorite things and for storing boxes and books underneath. In a mostly white space, use different tones of white to avoid a clinical look and by all means, go with lots of different textures to warm up white – wool, knit, ceramic, glossy, matte, cotton, linen, etc.)
(Tip: Add a little green to all white space, plants give texture, color and are good for purifying the air in your home.)
(Tip: Paint furniture in chalky matte colors to make them look vintage.)
(Tip: Paint cabinet doors in different colors that you love.)
(Tip: Try layering mirrors and frames, leaning them against the wall.)
Another decorating tip: When you look at anything for your home, it’s great to use your imagination and to not always see what you’re looking at but to imagine how it could be. Look at the shape of a piece, think of alternate uses, imagine how it would look painted in a fresh color, visualize a dresser for instance without the drawers and used as a bookcase instead… There are so many things our imagination can dream up if you only give yourself the permission to do it and so I say, have fun, follow with your heart and happy decorating!
(images: ikea livet hemma)
I spotted these frame wall decals today from Love Mae and had to share as they’re quite cute along with their fabric pantry labels, sweet nothing messages and message tiles… I’m also liking their wrapping papers and that they ship worldwide – yay for all of us!
(images: love mae)
You may enjoy some peeks around Berlin that I shared with illustrator Sandra Juto while we were out and about on Saturday in Berlin (Mitte). It was such an inspiring day, Sandra fills me up where sometimes people can only take, she is such a giving person… Thank you Sandra for being a total rock star!
I laugh so much with Sandra and for me, this is what I need when I’m away from my desk because I often get so caught up in only talking about design, decorating, blogging with my friends that there is never any down time for me to just “be” the crazy, playful and very silly Holly that I have been since I was a child. I don’t always want to be the leader, the teacher or the business idea generator. I love to follow, to share, to fade into the back of a room with a glass of wine surrounded by good friends crammed together on a sofa. We can often get so consumed with our projects that they take over our entire existence, have you noticed that with your own life and business? Especially as creatives, and for me as an American, business is sometimes all I think about. I learn with my German and Scandinavian friends over here that the topic of conversation is so much different when out socially than what I’m used to – we barely speak about business and when we do, it’s for a few minutes and then we move on to other topics. My goal for the new year, and yes I’ve already started to set them, is to think and talk less about business in social settings and to spend it instead on being more mindful, joyful and playful. I want to clear my head to make space for new things to flow in. That way, when I am back at my work desk, I can work with more passion and more efficiently. Sounds like a plan, man.
A few days in Berlin with my dear friends and students and I already feel revived and ready to take on all of my projects and this is a very good thing. I even went to the spa in my hotel for some relaxing treatments and as I looked out from my massage table to the glimmering Berlin TV tower, which reminds me of a huge disco ball, I felt nothing but total bliss. And that evening, when my friends and I opened a bottle of Sekt and shared it on the roof terrace of my hotel overlooking the city, I felt so grateful for all that I have in life and all that this blog and my presence online in general, has brought to me.
Now back to the point of this post! Would you like to see what Sandra and I saw while out on Saturday? I’ll also link below to some places that we ate at and shopped so if you are in Berlin sometime soon, you can visit them too. All of these places are in the same neighborhood called “Mitte”, so you can easily visit them all in within a single afternoon.
Places I Visited:
R.S.V.P. – Stationery shop, very sweet and organized. Lots of great washi tapes, too.
Marron – Great interiors shop, many things from Donna Wilson whom I love and furniture from companies like HAY. The overall style is very Danish.
The Barn – For coffee and pastries. Loved the decor in this cafe with the deep grays and rustic woods. So calm. Delicious cafe latte.
Do You Read Me? – A delightful magazine shop and some design books too. I bought the new Milk Deco, and interiors book from France made by the same people who publish the gorgeous Milk magazine. I’ll show you some peeks on decor8 later today.
Monsieur Voung – Delicious Vietnamese food, great prices, lovely atmosphere. I had the glass noodle salad with chicken and it was light and fresh.
Cafe Fleury – We ate brunch here on Saturday, charming little French cafe with great breakfast. I’ll definitely return again + again.
Barcomi’s Cafe & Deli – Delicious cakes and cookies – we split carrot cake, had it packed into two little bags, and walked around eating and exploring. It’s delicious and was the first “American” style carrot cake I’ve eaten here in the past few years so for me, it was a real treat.
No More Sleep – A small and very cozy coffee bar owned by Frederik Frede who is the founder of Freunde von Freunden and they’ve now printed their blog as a book and I saw it in his cafe and it looks great inside, very happy for them all! It’s near to R.S.V.P. so you can grab some Japanese washi tape and then go over for a coffee! :)
Pizzeria I Due Forni – Best pizza in town, it reminded me of the pizza napoletana my friend used to make… With the amazing flat delicious crust and really good house red wine served in no frills glasses – loved how relaxed and loud this place was – lots of energy!
Cupcake Berlin – 100% American style cupcakes – the baker is American so it’s a pleasure to go to Berlin just for a little comfort food fix. Note: They catered my book launch at the Soho House a few weeks ago and they also catered an event that I had with DaWanda in 2008… Everyone loves Cupcake Berlin!
Green Tea Café MAMECHA – Such a sweet interior and the menu items looked delightful. (Note: I didn’t eat there, only peeked in from the street).
Dudu – For sushi, recommended to me by a reader, though I didn’t go in. Everyone told me though that it’s great.
That’s all I can think of for now… Berlin is a big “foodie” and cafe place. There are also tons of places to buy clothing and shoes. I didn’t see a lot of interior design stores though, I found more in Hamburg, but maybe I wasn’t in the right neighborhood.
I had such a fun time in Berlin thanks to my friends and will return again when I can! A special thank you Sandra, Johan and Lutz for making my visit memorable and fun!
(images: holly becker)
Hello everyone! I was in Berlin again and now that I’m back home I want to share some highlights! This time, I taught a gift wrapping class for Anthropologie at the amazing Barcomi’s cafe where they had a “pop up cafe” this week to celebrate the launch of their new German online shop. I was able to chat briefly with owner, author and baking queen Cynthia Barcomi (a highlight!) before I got started and then, my students arrived and we made pretty and inspiring gift packaging and tags using torn fabric, masking tape, decorative papers, maps, paper punches, rubber stamps, cocktail napkins, lace, yarn, etc.
Below is a photo of me with my dear students (I’m in the center in green). There were 8 of us, but a few others joined in like my friend Sandra Juto and fashion blogger Camilla along with Jana and Massimiliano, so there were 13 of us total and it was such a fun bunch!
On the table you can see all of the things that we made. Each student made 4 projects, some did 5 — a box, a gift tag, a lunch bag and a sheet of patchwork paper. The patchwork “quilted” paper ideas was one that I learned from my dear friend Leslie Shewring that she taught in her washi tape class in St. Paul this past Fall at The Creative Connection event. I can’t take any credit for that idea but Leslie told me I could teach them how to do it so I did and they had a good time making their patchwork sheet of wrapping paper. Above you can see me with Anna Sterntaler, Simone Haffner, Annie Raymond, Toni, Ursula Markgraf, Julianne, Anja, Urszula Lotysz-Bossart.
My idea was to show them how to make gifts look pretty without always running out to the store for the typical roll of wrapping paper and pre-made bows and tags and so I taught them how to create beautiful gifts using what they may already have at home. I thought this was very much a part of the Anthropologie way of thinking as well — to be creative with what you already have because Anthro is known to be such an inspiring place to shop since they’re very creative with their own store displays using random objects to create gorgeous installations.
Here are some pictures of the things that I made. I used basic white boxes from a discount store and applied tapes, papers, torn fabrics and even cocktail napkins to decorate them. In Germany, white paper bags are everywhere right now for Advent so I used them to decorate as well. I told students that these bags are great for giving baked goods – just wrap cookies or chocolates and place inside with a sheet of pretty tissue paper or shredded paper.
I naturally went with my soft color palette with a punch of hot pink or turquoise. I think it’s important to go with what your instinct tells you and wrap gifts in a way that not only reflects your personal style but that shows the recipient that you thought of them in a special way and made the outside look just as nice as the gift waiting within.
The gift above was topped with torn fabrics as ribbon and a silver star.
The box above in purple and orange was wrapped using two cocktail napkins. One for the bottom, the other for the top, in two different patterns to add interest. If the cocktail napkin doesn’t cover the box entirely, that’s okay — you can trim it out with tapes, found papers and ribbons and it will look great!
I had such a great time, thank you to Massimiliano (Grazie mille!) for helping organize everything and for my students (Danke schön!) for joining me and Anthropologie at Barcomi’s for a crafty class!
(photos with white borders: anna sterntaler/all others: holly becker)