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Greetings From Me + My 9 Month Old Lou Ferrigno

Hello dear friends! This week has been CRAYZEEEE. Really crazy! I mean, beyond crazy! We had our wallpaper finished in the entryway (LOVE) but some needed to be stripped and reapplied because it was installed wonky. Ugh. But it is all set as of today. Plus I’ve been supah busy with my little boy because he is mega active crawling and practicing his mad walking skillz — we are just a non-stop party here at planet baby from dawn to dusk. AND. WELL…

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(There is always an “AND, WELL…” with little ones) Our baby has entered some new stage – it’s like BOOM! – he turned 9 months on Sunday and the next day he was having major attachment anxiety whenever we laid him down to sleep at night and during the day, my little scheduled napper (2x a day, sometimes 3!) from the day he came home suddenly turned into I SLEEP WHEN I WANT napper. None of this bothers me, I mean what can you do, he’s a baby for God’s sake. I can’t take away his iPhone or ban him from using SnapChat, so I’m just rollin’ with it.

But man, my little dude turned his new age and yowser… It’s like HELLO NEW BABY and what did you do with the son I had just gotten used to for the past 9 months?

And there is something else. He is expressing frustration in ways that make me want to laugh really hard. But I don’t. But I want to because his frustration is always shown in the most comical ways. So okay, imagine this scenario. Him: Sitting in his high chair eating his carrot puree something or another. Me. Facing him, also seated, making faces, singing songs and coaxing him into eating because suddenly mealtime went from normal eating to let’s! play! with! our! food! and! grab! the! spoon! non-stop! Eating has turned into a 45 minute circus and I’m the clown.

There I am feeding him and suddenly with the force of 100 men, he grabs the spoon that I’m using and tries to flip it so the food goes everywhere. What I then usually do, depending on my own schedule, is:

  • Option 1. Could care less, let him grab it, throw it, smear it, play with it, whatever. Puree for all!
  • Option 2: If we need to leave soon or I have work to get to, I usually pry the spoon from his hand using the jaws of life take it gently out of his hand and try to continue feeding him.

BUT.

A highly emotional domino reaction usually follows if Option 2 was deployed. First, a long very deep grunt. Then, his face reddens. He sticks his arms straight down and makes very tight fists. His grunt gets more intense and deeper. A moan. A bit intimating honestly. He stares into my eyes. His eyebrows go dark red. He wants the spoon back – he did not like that I took it from him. He is literally turning into the Incredible Hulk. I wait for his buttons to fly off his shirt.

The whole time I want to burst out laughing (it’s super cute watching all of this because there is clearly no reason to express so much emotion) but I need to respect his emotions because it feels wrong to invalidate him. So I just talk him down out of his tree in my gentle mommy voice, remain caring and sweet and change the subject. Usually he’ll move on quickly shown by laughing at nothing in particular or planting big wet kisses all over my face.

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This has to be a stage. Right? Or is he a teenager trapped inside of a 9 month old body? But wow, baby emotions are something else. Intense. And also very hard to make much sense out of.

Yeah so because his sleep schedule has changed and because I have so much stuff already going on in my life (new book deal I’m negotiating, house redecoration project, tons of work stuff, wrapped up my current 4 week long Blog Boss e-course today with 400 students (!), prepping for 5 business consults next week) it really is bonkers crazy here. Which is why I went missing on decor8 this week.

But you know something that is funny about all of this baby stuff? I don’t mind it now that the sleepy swaddled child changed into an energetic fireball that is apparently a very passionate little person. And I swear I’m not playing Pollyanna to save face nor am I secretly smokin’ funny things in the laundry room so I can fool all of you because truth be told some days I’m like SERIOUSLY? This? Again? But through it all I am learning a lot about myself (I’m a damn patient women and a really committed, good mother, a surprise to me because you never know what kind of mother you will be until you have a child)… I also love having this little boy to care for – my little son – because it’s rewarding and gives me yet another wonderful thing to live for — another reason to get up, work harder, be better. I like the “crazy” in it all. I like that there are new emotions in our home, this new energy, so young and spirited. It’s nice to have a little challenge, some friction, a new opinion around here to shake things up and bring in a fresh new perspective. I’ve always loved having change and movement and zeal in my life and now I do. An 80cm tall tornado.

See you tomorrow, I’ll be back to blogging regularly again.

By the way moms out there, is all I just talked about a 9 month old thing?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

 

Posted in baby on November 13, 2014

5 Sunday Things That Make Me Happy

Sundays are always so pleasant in Germany. I’ve been living here from my native Boston for just over five years and the slowness of Sunday has always inspired me. Most shops are closed except for the flower shops and bakeries, as German tradition dating back many years say that on Sunday you are to visit the ill, your family, and then after the visit, go for a nature walk together. So cake and flowers are certainly mandatory offerings for such visits, which is why these establishments keep their doors open for a few hours each Sunday. I really love a day where you feel like there is a page break between last week and the week ahead. Like Monday begins a new chapter because Sunday concluded the week. While I’m waiting for our family to come by with some cake (the baby gets a visit from grandma/oma each week), I want to share five very random things that made me feel joyful today.

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1. This gorgeous photo of Amber Rose in celebration of her new book, Nourish: Mind, Body and Soul. I love the basket, her outfit, the color palette. It’s so inviting. There is so much coziness in this single shot. The stunning cover over this book, another favorite thing, is below.

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2. This print from my class. Tomorrow my month-long e-course, Blog Boss, concludes. We taught 400 students worldwide how to blog like a boss. It was so much fun, I loved all of the hard work of my students. In every class, I hire a graphic designer to design prints themed around the class that students can have to download, print and frame or tack to their pinboard. This is one of them from this class that Corina made for us. She made several more, all of them look quite different, so I can’t wait to show my students all of them tomorrow. But seriously, isn’t this one lovely?

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3. These holiday orbs filled with cut papers and pretty things are by Ashley Goldberg — I loved them the moment I saw them on her Facebook update today and had to share. I’ve done this before, only with little plastic deer and clippings from pine trees inside, but this is equally darling.

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4. This book cover. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on my knees begging politely asking my publisher for a jacket on one of my decorating books like this above. Three books later, I’ve not yet won. Ok so I’m not complaining, I know they have their reasons, but someday I hope I get my dream cover. Patience… I just SO love book covers like this – the simplicity of the words combined with the busy collage of inspiring shots. Do you like this too or are you a fan of the more traditional single shot full page image with a title overlay? I like both but also love experimenting with something that feels fresh that not everyone else has.

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5. My beautiful son! Look at those feet and his adorableness! He seems to love my camera and lens cap, he is studying it here (right before it went into his mouth since he is teething). Aidan turned 9 months old today and I nearly cried because he started taking his first steps! It was so cute, he was marching around as I held his arms, just like Max from Where The Wild Things Are. So I had to put on his metallic leather crown and let the wild rumpus begin! I kept saying he’d be walking by Christmas because he is such a little overachiever (he started crawling as 6 months to the day) so this came at no surprise when he stood up while I was taking photos of him and boom – one foot, then the other, then the other, forward forward forward. Seriously this is the stuff that nothing materially can give you – it’s a joy I’ve never known. I am so touched by motherhood and the emotional roller coaster of it all.

Why didn’t I just pin these on Pinterest and skip posting here altogether? Isn’t that the trend these days? Pinterest is great but it also has cased a lot of us to stop the conversation. We just post and pin stuff but we don’t take the time as we once did to say WHY we like something, WHY it moves us, WHY we are drawn towards it. These conversations still need to happen. There is more than meets the eye to visuals, no matter how beautiful. The pretty girl isn’t interesting until she has something intelligent to SAY. The handsome man in the corner booth is only as good as he looks if he speaks kindly to others. Pinterest is only skin deep.

Hope your Sunday is slow and meaningful.

xo, Holly

(images linked to their sources above. photo of my son by me)

Posted in inspiration on November 09, 2014

Before + After: My Entry With Golden Pineapple Wallpaper By Aimee Wilder

Want to see some embarrassing before photos of my home followed by some inspiring after ones? Okay so I’m totally psyched to share this with you because I love, love, love working on decorating projects and this wallpaper project, which I’ve teamed up with Aimee Wilder in Brooklyn on, is just bananas. Or in this case, pineapples. Remember this paper from the other day?

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That’s what has transformed my entry. But truthfully, outside of designing my son’s nursery before his arrival this year, I’ve not done much of anything in my home except think about things I need to do before I lose my mind. Despite my love of motherhood, I also love my home. I can’t deal when rooms are upside down or incomplete, this makes me feel chaotic in my head. Can you relate? Home is my sanctuary, my place of love, peace, dreams and aspirations. If it’s a cluttered dump or piled with half-finished projects, I can’t give 100% to my family, friends or job.

And you know that expression, don’t do anything half ass – use your whole ass.

So I decided to use ALL of mine and work on a project this week that has been annoying me the most – my depressingly unwelcoming entryway. But first. Three truths.

  1. I rent.
  2. We aren’t moving anytime soon.
  3. I have to live my life NOW because none of us are getting any younger.

BAM! All are challenges and inspirations. And they affected this project. I think the hardest thing is to pay for stuff in a rental that you can’t take with you when you move. But unless you imagine having the same wallpaper on your walls for the REST OF YOUR LIFE then wallpaper really isn’t as hard to commit to as you may think. Sure, it’s an investment. But it’s a bigger emotional investment to come home to a space that doesn’t have YOU written all over it. That is depressing. It drains you.

I have this philosophy that I’ve written in my books already but in case you missed it, I believe that if you make your home a great place, even if it’s a rental, you will become more successful in other areas of your life. That may sound really far out, but in my life, it’s just how it is. I have always been the most productive, the slimmest, had the most money and been the most energetic when I lived in a space that was decorated and organized well. My hope is that this wallpaper will make me rich and thin. (smile)

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I’m also not one to wait until I own my home before I properly decorate it. Never have been. I remember gut renovating my first apartment when I was 22 years old living on my own in Boston. While I won’t install something like a new bathroom into a rental, I am willing to work on smallish projects that have major impact. Like paint and wallpaper. And while wallpaper and installation aren’t cheap by any means, it is so worth it to do at least one complete room in a home and/or a feature wall somewhere. I have one wall in my tiny half bath with wallpaper and now, my entryway in giant golden pineapples – and to borrow from Jerry MaGuire – It “completes me”.

Am I crazy? Yup. Positively mad.

But that’s a good thing because crazy people take risks and have more fun. Just like no one ever wrote a song about a skinny flat butt, no one ever wrote a hit song, film script or book about a normal person doing normal things. Bleh. We all crave a little crazy.

Where I’m from (I grew up in South Carolina), a pineapple was the welcoming fruit. It meant hello, we love ya, have some iced tea on our front porch, tell us about your day. We had a brass pineapple door knocker (always). We had a brass pineapple on own living room bookcase because that was the 80s, brass was were it was at. I’ve never not lived in a home without a pineapple somewhere – until now. I gave away my gorgeous white ceramic pineapple to a friend before I relocated to Germany and I’ve missed having it around. Seeing one always made me think happy thoughts associated with home and love. My fruity talisman. And now I have a billion of them! The moment I step into my home I’m greeted with an explosive reminder of warmth, welcome and love. Everywhere. It’s bonkers and I love it. When I walk in, my view sure has changed from before…

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Above: The view from the main stairwell into our apartment after I’ve opened our double doors. 

This transformation was done by removing an ugly unused radiator from the right wall, stripping old wood chip wallpaper off the walls and replacing it pineapples and getting an inexpensive pendant from a local shop, handmade in Thailand. Now I can’t wait to finish the room with furniture, a rug, coat hook, etc. I’ll show you the finished room soon! But doesn’t it make a huge difference to add a little wallpaper?

Designer: Aimee Wilder
Wallpaper: Piña Sola
Color: Spinx
Note: You can order a sample, single roll, double roll, or a gorgeous sheet of it if you don’t want to wallpaper with it but frame instead which would be gorgeous. Please note: I didn’t install the paper myself, I hired out for the work, so if you ask me questions about installation I’m not your girl. All I can say is that this is the most gorgeous paper and in person it’s even more stunning than in my snapshots.

I’d like to thank Aimee Wilder and her team for sponsoring this project by donating this beautiful wallpaper. I contacted them with my idea and they were so supportive and lovely, which gave even more good energy to the project. Thank you ladies!

SO DO YOU LIKE IT?

(images: holly becker for decor8)

 

Posted in walls on November 07, 2014

8 Easy Steps For Planning A Gallery Style Art Wall

I’m working together with Minted to present a series of posts on decor8 about planning and installing affordable, beautiful framed art at home with prints by artists far and wide. This is the first of three posts where I provide quick and easy advice on how I plan gallery style art wall because there is a rhyme and reason to it regardless of how many times you hear designers instructing you to just wing it. That may work, but only after your wall has a ton of nail holes and spackle marks.

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To be fair, yes designers CAN wing it. But that’s only after installing dozens of art walls for clients — after awhile you can eyeball stuff and intuitively know where it should hang.  But there are still some ground rules that are followed in the selection and arrangement whether the designer realizes it or not. Because that designer had to learn in the beginning and you can believe they learned art wall 101 – the importance of balance, telling a story through the work, hanging the focal point piece at eye level, etc. And they learned through a ton of trial, error and spackle paste.

HOW DO YOU PLAN AN ART WALL? 

I don’t know about you, but I rummage through what I currently own that hasn’t been hung yet, or in this case, I go and buy it all at once because I have a deadline and need to get my work studio finished by the end of November. No time to build my collection over time. And I see no problem with that. I’m buying prints, not fine art originals, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of thought behind each piece other than, Do I love it? Yes. Do the colors work? Yes. Does it work with what I’m already planning to use? Yes. Then it’s onto size, type of framing, with it be matted, etc. So when it comes to planning, the first step is to love the work and find the right spot for it in your home.

HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT WORK?

My first thought for this particular project was: what do I want this room to convey? Energy and joy. This is quickest to achieve through color and works that don’t take themselves too seriously. So no portraits of people, no black and white city views, nothing that makes you think too hard. I wanted a wall that you would look at quickly and simply feel energized and happy. Not much more. No story telling or deep emotional tales of love and war. I guess if you call my wall a person, she would be Cameron Diaz. Peppy, happy, fun, not too deep, a twinkle in her eye, feminine, free-spirited, energetic as all hell.

WHAT IS YOUR THEME OR MOOD?

Questions worth asking when choosing art for a salon style wall include: Do you plan to show favorite patterns and shapes, colors or a theme -like that you love to travel? Are you showing only family photos? Do you want to mix paintings with photography? Will you mix original works with prints and even three dimensional objects, like porcelain objects, old keys, rulers, etc.? For my wall, I’m going to mix in three dimensional objects after I install the wall, but for now I’m simply planning out the art and I’ll fill the spaces after everything is up. I like to work backwards sometimes. My theme is around patterns and shapes but beyond that, it was a mood I was going for: energy and joy.

WHAT ABOUT FRAMES?

As far as frame colors go, neutrals all tend to work well together – white, natural wood and black. When you introduce metallics, stained woods, colored frames, etc. things can start to become visually distracting. In most cases, you don’t want the frame to be the focal point, but the artwork inside. I believe the frame shouldn’t contrast with the art too much, unless you are working with a monochromatic scheme (black art, white frame). So if you have a dark plum-color painting then having it framed in natural wood or black is more complementary and warmer – a stark white frame would make the contrast too great in my opinion.

For my project, I wanted to mix and match the frames, mostly white since I thought they’d stand out nicely against the slightly gray walls in this space and I wanted some with wooden frames to complement the sideboard. Frame width is also important. Do you want it super slim, a few inches wide, or wider? Lots of country-style frames tend to be wood and very thick – almost like four barn floor planks made into a frame. Modern art galleries favor super slim frames for works-behind-glass. Like pencil width. It’s your choice and really about preference more than anything. If you like it, who cares if it’s not typical or common.

HOW ABOUT MATTING?

I like work that is framed and matted but I also am happy with just frames. For these works, I went with just frames. I like the look of work filling the entire area.  Mostly, when I do go with matting I go with pure white or linen. It depends on the print and the room, but either works very nicely. White shows off the work 100%, linen adds texture and warmth.

HOW DO YOU PLAN OUT AND INSTALL A GALLERY WALL?

If you lack patience like me, you can “wing it”. Planning complicates the process for me. The only real planning I do is that I measure the wall and then use Photoshop to mock up how I see the art (not 100% to scale but somewhat). I usually gather all of the work together in front of where I plan to install it and lay it out on the floor, playing with the arrangement until it looks right. In this case, I used my dining room tables since the art wall will go above the sideboard. If winging it isn’t your plan of attack, here are 8 steps so you can plan it like the pros.

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HOW TO PLAN A GALLERY ART WALL IN 8 STEPS:

 

1.  SIZE MATTERS: Measure the wall area where you plan to install the art

2.  HUNT & GATHER: Gather large pieces of solid paper in white or brown — so wrapping paper, butcher paper, any large pieces you can find, and tape them all together to form one very large sheet of paper. This will most likely be about the size of a bed when you are finished.

3.  GET LAID: Lay all of your art on the paper and move it around until it looks good. Until the arrangement speaks to you.(In my case, I laid all of my art out on the table directly in front of the wall where I plan to install it.)

4.  HOCUS FOCUS: Make sure the focal point of your salon grouping (the boldest piece) is hung at eye level either in the center of the arrangement or slightly off center- and then place all pieces around it from there.

5.  THAT’S TIGHT: For a tight grouping of art, try places them 3” apart. I don’t suggest planning your salon style wall in a symmetrical arrangement – it’s too hard to get right and a bit boring. I think the best spacing between frames is around 4-5” apart because then each piece can breath.

6.  TRACE ELEMENTS: After the art is laid out in an arrangement that you like, trace all of the frames with a black magic marker (quick drying).

7.  I’LL STICK YOU: The next step is to stick the massive sheet of paper* to the wall, in the exact position where the art will go. Tape it using painter’s tape so it doesn’t tear the wall when you remove it. Make sure the art heights and distances between pieces look right.

8.  WELL HUNG: Hang the art directly over the paper with nails and then carefully cut out or tear down the paper when all of the art is hung. You should be left with an art wall with work in all the right places. If not, then lather, rinse and repeat. It may take a little tweaking – my first gallery style art wall was a hot mess.

In my second post in this series, I’ll link you up to all of the works that I selected at Minted along with the frame styles and sizes. My final post of this series will be the big reveal, so stay tuned!

A big thanks to Minted for sponsoring my salon style art wall project.

* An alternative to a large sheet of paper is to use brown paper bags from the grocery store, cut them to be the same size as the art, and move them around on the wall until they look right.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in diy on November 06, 2014

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.

eCourses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way: Blog Boss
e-course, October 10 - November 10, 2014
Find out more about this exciting class by bloggers, for bloggers, teaching you how to blog like a boss!