Hello friends! Today I have a special interview with London-based stylist and author Emily Chalmers. But first, I hope that your day is going well for you. We just signed on our new apartment about an hour ago and the renovations begin next week (already!), so I’m living fast and crazy at the moment. The baby is doing so well too – I’ve entered my third trimester and my 29th week begins on Monday. I heard his heart beat again today at my appointment and he’s kicking as I type this, so he’s a feisty and strong little fellow. Pregnancy feels fun (finally) and though I still deal with nausea, I’m over the hard part so I’m living more normally again. Yay for that! Ok, so let’s get started shall we? Let’s meet Emily Chalmers!
I recently had a friendly little convo with London-based stylist, shop owner and book author, Emily Chalmers and you are invited to listen in below. Her books and life in general are so interesting to me, and she became a first time mom not too long ago and this made me want to chat with her even more – to see how she’s managing everything! Since she had her baby, she’s been traveling with her little bundle to some really inspiring places like Japan, so I wanted to tap in to her energetic and bohemian mother goddess self. I still feel quite clueless about the road ahead with my baby due and so many people tell me that you have no life once you have kids but I want to think that I still can have my own identity so chatting with women like Emily make me feel very positive and encouraged! Let us begin…
Hi Emily! Okay, so you recently moved – where are you living in London these days?
Emily: We’ve lived in the same area of London for years now – we love the East End! After 8 1/2 happy years in an old warehouse space in central Shoreditch we’re now just 3 years in to a “proper” house (with internal walls and central heating this time!) very near Columbia Road area, a few minutes walk from the old place. I love this spot – we have parks and a city farm near by, the canal’s not far away, and excellent transport links to anywhere else we might want to go. We’re also under a minute away from the vibrant market that takes place every Sunday on Columbia Road itself. Live music, good food, bric-a-brac and masses and masses of fresh flowers and plants. What a treat!
You also closed up shop but I understand you reopened it at home or? And how are your running it, by appointment only?
Emily: In the year following our house move I was due to move the Caravan shop premises as our lease had come to an end on Redchurch Street and the building was due for extensive renovation. I’d known this was coming up, of course, and had kept an eye out in the locality. Coincidentally I’d seen an available space very near our future new home and for some reason I kept going back to it – it was smaller than the previous shop and in a very different sort of location, tucked away under a block of flats in a much quieter area on the outskirts of Shoreditch and very near Columbia Road. We’d only been in our new home for a few months when I discovered I was expecting a baby. Suddenly everything fell into place and the premises around the corner became the perfect spot for Caravan! That Spring I secured Caravan’s next home – it hadn’t been used as a shop for a long time and with the help of a trusty builder we stripped it out and created a light and airy simple open space to make room for the 3 floors-worth of bits I’d managed to accumulate at Redchurch Street. I spent the following months editing stock and turning my attention to our online store. Baby Bunty arrived that winter and I then gradually built up a shop floor again whilst getting to grips with my new life as a mother too.
How is shop ownership with a toddler working out?
Emily: It’s been an interesting time, Bunty has moved from pram to playpen to playhouse in the shop next to me each day and it’s an extension of home to her now. We’re only a few steps away from our front door and always going back and forth, a good server system and a trusty laptop allows me to work from any location – it’s this flexibility that has allowed me to enjoy my time with the baby while keeping the business running. Customers visited by appointment while I was working out of the new space piled floor to ceiling with boxes. Even though we’re more organised now, this system still works best as I can remain hands-on in every aspect of the business and we can plan around Bunty’s schedule too. Seeing customers by appointment also adds a far more personal touch – it’s like having a visitor every time someone pops by and means I can be prepared for them.
What kinds of things do you sell?
Emily: The Caravan inventory has always been a mixed bag! We sell mainly home decoration, cushions, candle holders, wall sconces, mirrors, lighting, etc. alongside eclectic and unusual ornaments and gifts, such as little knitted dogs, baby shoes and tea towels. We also offer a few pieces of jewellery and some very lovely gold and silver leather clogs, so there are things to wear too. Our signature pieces are our vintage fabric covered cushions, vintage silk scarf drapes and a beautiful pineapple wall sconce that is produced especially for the store.
You still have an online shop, are you running that mostly full-time now?
Emily: The online shop continues 24/7 and is an area of the business that fits in very well with family life. I can pack parcels any time of the day and night – and often do! I am an established interiors author and stylist and I’ve always continued to produce features for magazines alongside running the shop. When I was fitting out the shop floor I made sure everything can be moved easily – I’ve kept the space very flexible too so that we can shoot there and work on other projects.
What are some current decorating trends that you’ve spotted in London lately?
Emily: We are surrounded by decorating trends here in London, especially in the area I live. There seem to be so many trends around – it’s lovely to see that everything goes nowadays. What I have noticed is that everything seems very much more considered than it did a few years ago. It’s as if people are just more aware of interiors generally. I’ve always been a fan of a more eclectic bohemian approach and this is definitely still a strong look generally.
What other things are you involved in – do you do styling jobs on the side or is your daughter and shop enough at the moment?
Emily: I do manage the odd styling job on the side and it tends to be in my shop or home. Bunty and Caravan are probably enough to be getting on with, but much of what I do crosses over, so it all works out somehow.
You are a new mom, how old is your daughter and what has motherhood taught you?
Emily: Bunty will be 2 years old next month. In a strange way, time has flown by but I’ve also managed to savour every moment. Ooooh, motherhood has taught me so much – I don’t even know where to begin with this question! Motherhood has helped me appreciate my life more too, it has helped me to simplify things and concentrate on what works best for me at this point in time. It is full of challenges and then, of course, of achievements. I love it!
Do you think that having a child changes a woman, and if so, how has it changed you?
Emily: Yes, I do think having a child can change a woman. Perhaps not every woman though, it depends on how you approach it. Like everything in life! I’m not sure how it has changed me but it has certainly developed me.
Have you noticed whether or not your daughter has a creative knack yet like you do and if so, in what ways?
Emily: Children are incredibly imaginative. I see this in Bunty and it’s a joy to nurture that quality and create a safe and secure environment so you can stand back, give enough space, and allow it to grow. Seeing Bunty setting out her little tea set in her playhouse in the shop is wonderful! The other day she gathered up three crows (we sell ornamental crow figures at Caravan), set them down in a neat row and put little pots in front of them and then said “crows having water” – I thought that was particularly creative seeing as she’s not even been on this earth for 2 years yet!
You author a few of my most precious and beloved books – you have really inspired me over the years. Do you have plans to do more books?
Emily: What a wonderful thing to say, thank you Holly, to hear my books have inspired is the highest compliment. I will definitely be doing more books in the future and I should imagine they will always be decorating related in some way – that’s my raison d’être!
What do you love about living in London and where are your favorite, inspirational haunts from cafes to shopping?
Emily: I love living in London – I love the spirit and vibrancy here and how you can find whatever you need or want, somewhere. I love the cultural mix and the creative energy, the fact that new things pop up all the time, alongside the good established, old things. I love the shopping opportunities and most of all the markets – there are many around London but those in my home area never cease to keep me interested and inspired – Brick Lane, Columbia Road, Spitalfields Antiques Market, Broadway Market and so on. There are some great cafes around – my local favourites have to include the Towpath Cafe on the Regents Canal and a new local favourite is Stories on Broadway Market where they won my heart by giving Bunty her own tiny fruit shake in a little milk bottle with a straw, when I’d only ordered one for myself and was planning to share it. It’s the extra thoughtful touches like that that make a place more special.
And finally, tell us where you go online for inspiration – who do you read, where do you shop for things, etc.?
Emily: I go online for inspiration far less than I’d like to say I do. I’m surrounded by inspiration in my busy day-to-day life so any extra found digitally is always a treat! Having Bunty has allowed me to discover the wealth of and occasionally dip into beautiful online shops for children. I also enjoy finding things on eBay for her. What I tend to do is miss the daily reads and instead I catch up with favourite blogs from time to time. Running a business around a little one means more often than not I spend my evenings working though occasionally I’ll plan an early night and will find time to have a proper blog surf, going from one to another, catching up on what you’ve been up to at decor8 and pouring over sites like Etsy too. What joy!
Some of my favorite things from Emily’s online shop are shown above: 1. LouLou 2. Trunk jug set 3. Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers 4. Metal storage box 5. Ceramic container 6. Gold beakers 7. Ceramic bell lamp 8. Poodle lamp.
Thank you Emily for sharing your world with decor8 readers, it’s a pleasure to meet with you!
(Top 4 photos: Debi Treloar, all others: Emily Chalmers)
Hello friends! It’s been so nice to spend the week with you. I’m off now to enjoy a little weekend time with friends and family, but I wanted to pop in to wish you a very happy weekend and to say that I hope you find something inspirational and magical out there so that once Monday morning rolls in, you truly feel like you had a great few days off. I approach each weekend with the goal to do something, at least one thing, that is really inspirational and emotionally “filling” so that a weekend doesn’t end up a big blur or errands and stress. Maybe you can approach them in the same manner if you don’t already? Especially now as the holidays draw closer and things are about to go from normal to totally bonkers.
I want to mention, because lots of you are asking about my pregnancy and ability to work at my desk so much, that my laptop has been my best friend lately as I’m now teaching Blogging Your Way online for the next month and I like jumping around my workroom to sit in different areas depending on how I feel or how active the baby is. Sometimes when he is kicking a lot, I don’t like to sit on my Eames chair at my long work table (shown above) but prefer the Herman Miller ergonomic one at my desk, instead. Other times I like to stand and work, so I put my laptop on my counter in the kitchen! Whatever works, right?
Oh and BY THE WAY… We are moving! Oh. My. Goodness. Right? So I won’t have the baby room finished and ready for you until around Christmas, but once it’s ready I’ll do a tour of his room and show you some of the renovations and etc. along the way in the rest of the space. We have only this month and December to strip wallpaper, refinish walls, paint 9 rooms, a kitchen pantry, a hallway and 2 bathrooms. We are also having hardwood floors installed in part of the new apartment in the hallway and 3 bedrooms so that the entire apartment has wood flooring and not just the front rooms (currently the back rooms are linoleum that is 10 years old and looks like wood – it’s pretty rough looking to put it kindly). In this apartment, most of the rooms will have a different wall color (more or less) and I’m adding wallpaper so my days of only pure white walls are over for now because unlike my current one, the apartment gets tons of light and is much brighter and because it’s only a few floors up (yay!) it’s the same layout as this apartment so I can have wall color now without worrying about making the place feel dark and dreary. Yay!
We have all of the painting to do (we’re hiring help, we’re not doing this ourselves) this month and then the first few weeks of December, the new flooring will go in. We selected the flooring yesterday with the carpenter – they look really nice. When the floors are being installed, I’ll start packing and we’ll move slowly over the course of Christmas and the first week of January. Again, it’s only a few floors upstairs from here (we have 4 floors in our building, we’ll be on the 3rd which in Germany is called Etage 2), so it won’t be that stressful – we just need movers but no moving truck! Then I’ll unpack and try to pull the house together in a flash – I’m plotting out the floor plans now and getting all of my ideas in order. Then my bouncing baby boy should arrive during the final week of January so we seriously have to hustle.
Yes, it will be nuts, I am nuts to do this maybe, but I love this kind of “stress” because it involves change, decorating and fast decision-stuff which fuels me, so I’m not worried. Plus, I’m not working after December 1 – just blogging on decor8 – but I’m taking December – March completely OFF other than decor8 – so I won’t have books to write, classes to teach or clients to work for. I’m also not accepting more magazine work until Spring. By moving, we don’t have to put our baby in the tiny closet-sized guest bedroom that is cold and not so pretty – he will have his own big, sunny and lovely bedroom. I want him to love his room and want to play in there as he gets older and who knows when we’ll ever buy a house, so there is no time like the present and great apartments do not list here very often so we had to say YES. :)
This is about to get real, y’all!
Have a wonderful weekend – and I’ll see you again on Monday!
(photo: holly becker)
Here is the BIG news that I told you about on Friday and it’s called Decorate With Flowers! In fact, this is a very big day for Leslie Shewring and I because finally, FINALLY, we can announce our new book to the world! We began working on this concept for a flowers book in early 2012 so when we landed a book deal this past spring with only the summer to bring our concept to life, we knew we had to get moving! And we were lucky enough to include some of our favorite stylists and bloggers in this book, including Emily Henderson, Bri Emery and Victoria Smith, to share flowers in their homes, too!
About the book! Published by Jacqui Small LLP, Decorate With Flowers offers advice on selecting, combining and arranging flowers to best complement your decor. The book is separated into eight styles because we wanted to show flowers in real homes, not just close up shots of floral arrangements. We never intended for our book to focus on a professional approach to floral design rather, being stylists not florists, we thought to take our experience and create an approachable book that we felt was missing in the market. We wanted to create a book that spoke to those of us who just want to experiment and get playful with real flowers without feeling like we have to pre-order specific blooms or invest a large chunk of cash into a single arrangement. In Decorate With Flowers, we also include step-by-step projects and crafting ideas showing how to adapt and decorate containers in a creative way with ribbons and trims, paint, string and fabric. You will also learn how to arrange flowers like a stylist along with the importance of placing them in the right container, and where. Additionally, we created some easy-to-follow entertaining pages to help you to create pretty and approachable floral decorations for entertaining at home, from tea parties to cocktails with friends. Whether you want to make the most of freshly picked blooms from the garden, or you crave to put your personal stamp on the more generic pre-packaged bunch from the local market, Decorate with Flowers, will leave you inspired and excited to work more freely with flowers and containers in a spirit of exploration and creativity.
When we showed our friend, Amy Butler, the book she had this to say,
Holly and Leslie’s Decorate with Flowers is an incredibly rich and inspiring book clearly created from their lifelong passion for floral forms, nature and decorating! This book brings all of these elements together with a casual, easy and elegant ‘how to’ approach that gives you everything you need to create your own unique decorating and entertaining experiences with the warmth and beauty of flowers…all from the heart! – Amy Butler, designer and author.
To pre-order and receive £5.00 off when ordering online at Waterstones.com, please use voucher code HB2014 upon checkout. Decorate With Flowers releases in the UK on March 21, 2014 (which coincidentally, is my birthday!). Chronicle Books will publish it on May 6, 2014 for the North American market (pre-order here), though with a different jacket but the same title. Australia will follow with a few foreign language editions later on.
Waterstones.com Terms and Conditions – Discount code HB2014 entitles you to pre-order Decorate With Flowers by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring for £15.00 (RRP £20.00) at Waterstones.com. Discount code is valid from 24/10/2013 to midday 30/11/2013. Discount can only be used once per person. One discount code to be used per transaction. Discount code cannot be used with any other voucher or coupon. Discount code can only be used at time of purchase and not retrospectively. This voucher can only be used on Waterstones.com and not in Waterstones stores. All prices onWaterstones.com are online only and may differ from Waterstones stores. Voucher Code not valid on Reserve and Collect.
By the way… This book was a real labor of love because I was at my peak of pregnancy illness only 4 weeks after we began shooting. I was down and out in bed working on the book from my iPad – it was crazy! Leslie and I were in touch daily to hash out our next plan, the next shoot, the next idea. With her all the way in British Columbia and me over here in Germany, it was a challenge! But there is also a funny story behind everything. Leslie came to spend a week with me in Hannover so we could begin shooting right before I found out I was pregnant. Over dinner one night we were dishing about pregnancy and how much I wanted to have a baby and how I knew my husband and I really needed to start taking the whole baby thing more seriously — like the song goes, “A less conversation and a little more action.” A few weeks after she left, I felt a bit “odd” and so I took a pregnancy test just because – and to my shock I was already 6 weeks pregnant. While I was whining to Leslie about getting pregnant, I was already there. So this book came at a special and challenging time for me personally but this makes it even better now because I’ll forever recall writing it with my dear friend Leslie at a very precious time in my life with my baby boy as my muse. And the best part – I started feeling better later on in the project and was able to give this book my all so you can expect a whole lotta Leslie and Holly style up in here! You can’t beat a memory like that, can you?
10/30 UPDATE: We received the jacket proof so today I wrapped it around a book of the same size to see how it looks – amazing. This will be such a lovely book!
Leslie and I hope that you will pre-order and enjoy our book! We put a lot of love into it just for you. xo
Pre-Order Here and remember to use Discount code HB2014 upon checkout!