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Joie de Vivre, Wanderlust + Former Selves

I’ve been thinking a lot about France, and relationships, and past versions of myself and my friends and it has all meant that I’ve spent a lot of time deep in thought. And lots of these thoughts keep going back to France, particularly Paris. Looking at the gorgeous IG stream of Jessie from Supply Paper Co. and then her website, also helped bring back a lot of old feelings. That, and the fact that my son’s uncle is half Danish, half Italian but raised in the south of France so I hear him reminiscence about French life quite often. I recently introduced him to a friend who also speaks fluent French and we had a chat together and that was enough to bring back my once obsession with all things French. Just listening to them speak with such passion for food and travel sparked something inside of me. I watch French films as much as I do American ones, but that’s not really the same. When you are around those who lived there once and speak the language, as you listen to them excitedly speak about “the good old days”, you are suddenly filled with curiosity and joie de vivre. You suddenly want open windows like these below, windows that overlook slate gray rooftops, with sweet little lace cotton curtains. You want to hear the sound of pigeons cooing and the smell of fresh baked bread making its way up the staircase. You want France.

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I used to go to Paris a lot when I was single. Did you know that? I lived in Boston, but distance (nor being broke) didn’t stop me. I remember once in ’98, my friend found a great deal on a last minute flight to Paris so I told my boss that I needed Monday off (it was a Thursday) and after work, I transferred most of my closet into a suitcase, raced to the airport, and landed on French soil the next morning with no clue what the hotel would be like that I booked 5 minutes before my cab arrived. That trip was one of the highlights of my single years —  just doing crazy, last minute vacations to anywhere and everywhere. Looking back, each spontaneous journey helped me to find myself and get closer to the future Holly. Each trip got me to where I am today and for that, I am grateful.

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I remember roaming narrow cobblestone streets,marveling at the architecture, the chalky-colored buildings, smacking my lips on yummy crepes, buying colorful scarves and perfumes at Galleries Lafayette, shopping in tiny grocery stores enjoying all of the product packaging… And snapping photos with my trusty film camera in only black and white because I wanted to be just like one of my favorite photographers, Robert Doisneau. Cheesy, I know. I remember listening to Morrissey on the plane as I flipped through French magazines feeling so invigorated and full of wonder as I journeyed back to Boston to my boring office job. That same year, I met my German husband online so then I got into German life + culture, traveling to Germany a year later. Though my big dream, since I was a teenager, was to move to England, Paris was always a spot that I wanted to visit regularly for inspiration so I reasoned England was close enough so I could easily live a double life if I lived in or near London.

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Plans change. I’ve been living in northern Germany for over 5 years and I truly love my life here. Yet I’m wondering what happened because I don’t travel nearly as much as I imagined I would if I was ever lucky enough to live in Europe. So I’m thinking it’s time to change that and stop thinking so much and start doing. It’s time I drive over the border to France and to the many other countries that I have easy access to.

On a side note, I often wonder if some of us were meant to roam, to wander, to have 9 lives like a cat? I often thought that maybe we’re meant to have a new partner each decade since we change every 10 years anyway and if there are no kids involved and both are in agreement, a change could be good. So a new partner, a new city or country, a new language, a new life every decade. Can you imagine? Does this sound even a little bit fun to you or does it make you sad or feel lost? I think that once you’ve done the decade thing 3 or 4 times, you’d settle down with a partner and stay with them, in that place, forever – but only when and if the person and the place felt right.

I moved a lot as a child. Moving to Germany was a seamless transfer for me. I still haven’t been homesick. Not once. I’ve never thought of moving back. But in my heart, I don’t have a set home. I guess now with a baby, he’ll need to have stability, and my husband treasures his home and stability here, so for them their experience is different from my own childhood experience. But all of the moving left me with a roaming spirit. I often identify myself with birds and butterflies and things with wings because I like to take flight, whether that be in my heart, my mind or in real-time. I’ve always loved to explore and see new places. Yet I crave stability and home, too. So my heart is wandering on one side and very content and very “found” on the other. I often wonder if my stable husband finds this side of me very annoying and hard to please. I don’t complain but I think my actions may show my lust for life and travel. I think it’s obvious to all who know me well that I have passion for things that require traveling to really experience and enjoy.

My friend once lovingly criticized me saying that all cities look alike – you’ve seen them all if you’ve seen one. She thought I was crazy for loving Montreal so much, for example, “What’s wrong with Boston that you have to drive 5 hours to Montreal for?”, was her argument. But Montreal is French and felt different and the experience of being there was new and the possibilities felt endless. I never saw all cities as being just cities, places that were more or less the same. I’m a people person and I study people when I out. I watch everything. I see each detail. I don’t miss a thing. So all cities may have big buildings and a Starbucks, as she noted, but they each have their own culture and blood and that is the big draw for me. The action. The possibilities. The stories I imagine as I study its inhabitants. The architecture, the smells, the sounds. The what if. The expectation.

I often wonder what happens to our former fun-loving younger versions? The me that hopped on planes to foreign countries with just 8 hours notice, a few hundred bucks, and no hotel? My baby has made me realize how much I miss my younger Holly. He is so full of wonder and so keen to explore and see and touch everything. We adults may not be able to turn the clock back but we can bring the best parts of ourselves forward with us into the future so why not bring along the spontaneous screw it side? For instance, I’m longing for bad coffee, rude waiters, gorgeous streets and flaky croissants. And since it’s been a few years, perhaps Paris is calling. I think Paris with a baby boy would be just beautiful.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this essay, I didn’t have a point to make to be honest. So I’m ending it here. Yet perhaps maybe you see something in yourself as you’ve read this. I often wonder how many of you have wanderlust, too? This strong desire to see, and do, it all. My wanderlust is not felt consistently though, only during certain months or periods in which I’m feeling uninspired – like the end of gray, dreary Januarys!

(images: Supply Paper Co.)

Posted in Ramblings on January 28, 2015

Micro Design Trend: Factory Windows

I’m forever spotting things that I think could be the next trend, like decorating with plants, taking a slower approach to living, brick walls painted white, adopting a more laid-back approach to flower arranging, and of course, Nordic design taking over Europe (and it truly has). All of these trends not only arrived but have stuck around, almost becoming a part of the bigger picture, of a more established design. But every now and then, I spot micro trends, and that is how I see factory windows, also referred to simply as black metal-framed doors and windows, — a micro trend yet a trend indeed. They are making a real comeback in both commercial design but also residential spaces – not just vintage ones but faux versions, too. And I think they’re all quite fabulous.

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Home of fashion fashion designer Naja Munthe via Mad & Bolig

If you follow industrial design, you’ll note that concrete floors, soaring ceilings, brick or stone exposure, metal with raw wood furnishings and large bell-shaped pendant lights, also in metal, are hallmarks of industrial style. And of course, black-framed metal windows and doors with their grid-like patterning and squares, or rectangles, of glass. They are a great solution for when a homeowner or office places priority on creating a space with multiple functions without losing natural light.

I like them, not just because they bring a hint of nostalgia, even a bit of “edge”, to a space but also because they are practical. How so? First, they act as terrific space definers if you’re using them to divide a space. Next, they really let the light in. They’re also great for allowing privacy without sacrificing a sense of space – a room divided by glass still feels spacious – a wall wouldn’t accomplish that. Finally, paned windows and doors are quite practical because if you break one, you only need to replace a small panel of glass e vs. an entire sheet as in windows without panes. Maybe that’s why they were popular in factories years ago? If a metal part flew through the window off of a machine, only a panel needed to be replaced.

Whenever I see factory doors and windows, I think of the homes I’ve worked in while in Paris for my books. I think of old factories. I think of some of the restaurants I’ve been to in New York, London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I think of vintage schoolhouses. I remember some of the restored lofts in Lowell, MA that we toured back in 2006 (and almost purchased but, being in Lowell, we politely passed). I also think of creative spaces because I imagine lofts in cities that were only used in the flower power era to house artists. I remember seeing them in Sonoma at some of the wineries we toured or in LA at the stunning home of Amy Neunsinger when I worked on my first book.

I’ve also spotted more modern versions in Denmark when decor8 was invited to visit the home offices of Muuto so I sent my roving reporter, Emilie Gupta, to attend and photograph it for me.

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The Copenhagen home of music producer Jon Oron as photographed by Pernille Vest for Elle Decoration UK

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The Copenhagen home of music producer Jon Oron as photographed by Pernille Vest for Elle Decoration UK

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The Copenhagen home of music producer Jon Oron as photographed by Pernille Vest for Elle Decoration UK

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Heidi Lerkenfeldt for Still Stars, Munich, Germany

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©Renee Arns styling & photography

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©Renee Arns styling & photography

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Fab Showroom Amsterdam by Bricks

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Photography: Armelle Habib

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My (un)Finished Home.

I’ve created a Pinterest board to share examples of rooms globally with black-metal framed doors and windows if you’d like to see it – click here.

What do you think? Do you like this look? Would you like them in your own home or office?

(images: source linked below photos)

 

Posted in Trends on January 28, 2015

decor8 Collaboration with Pinterest

Hello everyone! I have to mention this fun collaboration currently going on between Pinterest and decor8. But first, are you following my boards? And are you on Pinterest too? Because if so, leave your @ name in the comments below so I can check out your pins. Ok, so anyway, they approached me to represent them as their Pinterest expert and of course, I said heck yes because I’m such a fan and use their site daily to share my own work and the many inspirational lifestyle-related things that I find online plus I create tons of private boards to plan the various projects I’m working on at the moment.

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Pinterest is a terrific resource for a small business owner like me. It’s always there too – your very own giant virtual mood board that you can access from nearly any device no matter where you are. I pin from my iPad, iPhone, desktop and laptop. During my bedtime ritual after my little one has fallen asleep, I love to put on my cozy pajamas, enjoy some tea (Winter in Lov is my current favorite), read a chapter or two of a good book and when I’m tired of concentrating, zone out and enjoy Pinterest on my iPad. My guilty pleasure for sure.

As their expert, I pulled together three boards around New Year’s themes that I thought were important TO ME for 2015 – I was hoping to gain some inspiration through the repetition of pinning mostly to three main themes for several weeks. Here they are:

 

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1. Living with plants and decorating with flowers (Go green).

 

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2.Tapping into our creative side as much as possible to challenge us (Sei kreativ).

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3. Healthy, mindful living (Gesund leben).

A funny thing happened as I was creating and pinning to these boards, which I’ve been working on since the beginning of December until now. They really inspired me to take action on a few big goals in my life! I think it was because I’ve been pinning to mostly these three boards so my focus has narrowed which gave my brain more space and enabled me to feel less overwhelmed. I’m usually pinning to 100 boards all at once, and I think this hurts me personally on a creative and emotional level – I don’t get anything done! So I’ve learned through this exercise that if I focus my pins and work on only certain boards during a specific period, I accomplish so much more than just mindless pins. I discovered the art of mindful pinning!

For instance, next week begins my first of several private yoga and mindfulness lessons for 90 minutes in a local studio –all thanks to the Gesund leben board. The next inspiration which has resulted in action is the Sei kreativ board because now I’m in the beginnings of my 4th book which will be published in Spring 2016 and I’m more excited to finish decorating my studio and move onto the bedroom and living room now. And finally, the Go green board has encouraged me to add plants to my home in small, manageable doses and to care better for those I already have which has resulted in them flourishing – becoming greener and fuller – and my home feels more energy as a result.

Here is the splash page they’ve created for our partnership. Other pinners we’ve included in this campaign include Lu loves handmade, 23qm Stil, Titatoni and Sodapop to name a few. This partnering has already resulted in press mentions for me too on Wunderweib, Wohn Idee and Lecker, which was an unexpected and nice surprise, so thanks to Pinterest for that.

How are you using Pinterest differently for 2015? Will you use it to encourage action in your life as I have done? What are some of the goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

(Top photo: holly becker for decor8. All others: screenshots from Pinterest)

 

Posted in Press on January 23, 2015

Happy Weekend!

I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful weekend! I’m taking Monday off but I’ll be back on Tuesday with another Blog Trends column and some more goodies throughout the week. Do you have any nice plans this weekend? Whatever you do, I hope you have a good time and enjoy yourself. Here are some links below that I’ll leave you with to enjoy and as always, thank you for sharing a little bit of your time to read decor8 this week, I always appreciate it so much.

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You may have missed…

(Photography: Holly Becker for decor8)

Posted in uncategorized on January 17, 2015

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