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Decorating Outside of the Lines

Let’s talk a little about decorating outside of the lines, shall we? I’m not sure where I’m going with this thought so I invite you to just roll with it and let’s see where we end up. I am LOVING the photography of Trine Thorsen, these rooms are gorgeous, ethereal, absolutely stunning and I can’t help but think about this topic of decorating outside of the lines as I look at them and here are some reasons why.

I know so many are scared to decorate with lots of white but take it from me, someone who isn’t neat as a pin and who never had a mostly white apartment in her life (until now), I LOVE it. I think it works for me because I have no children, no pets, and my husband is well trained (he he), but it also works because I have a slipcovered sofa and find it even easier to keep clean than color or patterned sofas because I can simply remove the cover and wash it with a little bleach so any stains vanish. I had lots of white growing up, I grew up on the coast so of course our home was filled with sunshine along with sea-inspired colors and textures (my mother loves blue, green, and yellow) but as an adult I fell into using lots and lots of color and pattern and got away from a mostly white palette since we relocated from South Carolina to Boston. Now that I’m using the colors and textures here in my German apartment that I grew up around in the Carolinas, I feel absolutely comfortable and at home. I also feel extremely peaceful inside. View apt. photos (here.)

My other flat in New Hampshire is mostly beige, brown, yellow, green, and blue with creamy white and tons of texture. Being in New Hampshire this works because of the nearby forests and lakes, the interior colors mimic the natural setting around me. But I have discovered recently that those colors don’t really ‘click’ with who I am and my personality. When I came to Germany this year to set up my 2nd apartment, I assumed I’d fall into the same palette since the city I’m living in here is 1-2 hours from the sea, I’m mostly around forests – but I was determined not to do this and to experiment a little so I decided before even coming over to plan my entire palette and pull together mood boards in advance so that once here I could not change my mind. I decided on soft pastels, mostly white, with accents of black and silver. Much to my surprise, it was very easy to find the colors I wanted to use in local shops so the decorating process was an absolute breeze. I wondered though if decorating in pale hues vs. strong brights or earth tones would somehow be a problem. I once held strong to the belief that your home should absolutely reflect what is outside of your front door. That’s what you learn in design school, design books, magazines, you name it. It’s one of those rules of design you are told really matters. For instance, if you live on the coast, you should use colors that work with the natural palette outside. If you love in the country, you may want to go with a more earthy scheme. And while I still believe that to some extent that this is true since it can promote balance (spiritual, emotional, etc.) I believe that you can break the ‘rules’ and mix things up when circumstances call for it. The most important thing is that your home provides you with peace and fuels you to live a life you truly want to live. A home that nudges you to ‘go for it’ when it comes to all of your dreams and desires, it’s not a draining place but an inspiring one. I think the rules can be broken (and should be) if perhaps the colors where you live are not ones you feel comfortable living around in your interior space.

When I say “mix things up when circumstances call for it” I mean… well let me illustrate. Here in northern Germany the weather can be gray a lot in the Winter and Spring, and it gets dark now at 4 o’clock, so using a very washed out light palette gives me energy no matter what the weather is like outside. If I had painted my walls gray, plum, and beige as I had originally thought to, I may have felt sad because while those colors are gorgeous they may have made me feel depressed. Having lots of light colors and tons of white makes me feel like I’m living in Sydney on days when the sky is showing me nothing but storm clouds. It’s a good way for me to trick my mind and to feel like I’m living on the coast again too as I really do miss living beachfront and though I doubt I will again anytime soon, I am able to pretend that my city apartment is a lot closer to the shore than it really is because of the colors and textures I use.

It’s quite fun to experiment with this, using colors that don’t necessarily ‘match’ your place on the map, and I encourage you to try it in case you are totally bored out of your brain with your current hues or in case you feel a bit down or drained in your home. Try mixing things up a bit, pull in things that inspire you, if you are living far from your dream land try to bring bits of that dream to you no matter where you live.

Here’s another good example of this: my friend Petra from southern Germany currently lives in the north and despite being German she has created a home, shop, and work studio that feels just like Morocco the moment you step inside. It’s magical, amazing, transporting. She uses colors and fabrics that few here use, and she frequently travels to Marrakesh to pick up more fabrics and home accessories, notions, etc. to add to her home and shop and she shops online for silks and vintage suzanis and such from India and beyond. She has never lived outside of Germany but when you step into her ‘world’ here you’d swear she was born and raised in Morocco. She is absolutely inspired by this bohemian ethnic style and has been for years, long before it became trend, so I find her decorating style absolutely refreshing. Her colors are definitely outside of the lines so to speak. Locals flock to her shop to see what she’s up to and to purchase what she has created with her own hands using materials from all over the world. There is absolutely nothing in her life that feels typical German and this is for a reason, she isn’t typical and she doesn’t feel inspired by some of the design in the country in which she was raised so she decided a long time ago to build the world around her, at least her personal surroundings and what she can control, to look and feel like what is rooted deep inside of her heart and soul which is ethnic design and an oriental lifestyle. And why not?

I’ve said a lot here today, but looking at Trine’s photos I thought about how white has inspired me lately and well, all the words above that spilled out onto this page is just what ran through my mind as I thought about white, how I’ve used it successfully in my own home, and how no one has to feel confined by decorating rules – if you like a particular style or color then GO FOR IT. I think the days of interior design as it existed in the past up until a few years ago are OVER. I don’t think we need to be told to do this or that in order to achieve the perfect space. I’m so over the whole minimalist chic, with perfect symmetry here and $10,000 designer sofas there with $600 per roll wallpaper. Aren’t you over it? I pick up design magazines these days and unless they are showing realistic and somewhat affordable design, fun projects, well written articles, and inspirational homes, I don’t even bother buying them. I once spent $150 a month on magazines. Now I spend around $30! Why? I’m not inspired by $4,000 chairs in a million dollar home. I am inspired by being totally original, loving your home, decorating in a way that supports you and your lifestyle (and wallet), and not stressing over impressing others – the key is to IMPRESS YOURSELF. This pride and happiness doesn’t come from decorating to impress your friends but comes when you sit back on your sofa, look around, and feel extremely pleased in your nest because everything around you is 100% your style.

For more beautiful lifestyle and interiors photography, visit Trine online here.

(images from trine thorsen via the graphic exchange)

Posted in Decorating Tips, design, inspiration on December 10, 2008

Inspired By Photographer Polly Wreford

Last Friday I shared with you the cover of an upcoming book from Atlanta Bartlett called Easy Elegance. Did you notice that? Anyway, the book I’m eagerly awaiting will release in April 2009, you can pre-order it on Amazon (US) like I did for only $19! (the ISBN is: 978-1845978501 in case you want to hang onto that for future reference.) Okay anyway, I noticed today on the book cover that the photographer is Polly Wreford who I’d not heard of before so I googled her to learn more. And learn I did!

Polly is a lifestyle, still life, and interiors photographer and nothing short of excellent. I also found out when I googled her that Ez showed her work right here on decor8 a few months ago pointing to Polly as an inspiration in an interview I had with her. Funny how Polly’s name was mentioned on this very blog and I did not even recall it. Shame on me. But it was when I was when I was on vacation so I think that is how I missed it. Polly’s complete portfolio is online where she is represented by Sarah Kaye in London. I think it’s really important to look at the photographer’s name in your favorite interior books, google them, and learn more about their work and what other projects they have or are currently working on. I started doing this and have discovered so many talented people online this way, and in return have so much beauty to refer to for inspiration – as these portfolios are only a bookmark away!

How’s that for gorgeousness, am I right? I can’t take myself away from this dreamy palette of pale gray, lilac and blue lately… I wonder if this will change once I’m back in America next week? I leave on the 18th for the states and won’t return to Germany again until May so I’m looking forward to seeing how my inspirations change (or not) once I’m in a different country around new things. I can’t wait to pick up my mail, although 5 months of mail will be a bit overwhelming, the Domino book and the past 5 issues, including the one I was mentioned in, will be there waiting for me and I cannot wait to see them!

What color palette has you swept away these days? I have a small inspiration board that I pulled together recently showing my current color inspirations and images and objects that I’m into lately. I will photograph it and show you tomorrow morning. :)

(images copyright polly wreford and sarah kaye

Posted in Decorating Tips on December 09, 2008

Robins Egg Pink {Pillows Under $25!}

It was so nice to learn about Robins Egg Pink via an email that owner and Canadian designer Angela Falcao was nice enough to send announcing her soon to launch shop (coming in January, so bookmark this one!). Angela currently creates lots of beautiful things for babies and also some gorgeous pillows for under $25 that I want to show you that are available in her Etsy shop.

Most of her pillows are around $22 which is a great deal for a handmade cushion. I can imagine lots of them on my big white sofa! :) The net proceeds from the sales of many of her products will be donated to The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario; and the Ontario Humane society. Angela will soon add pendant lights to her collection – yay!

Robins Egg Pink on {etsy} and in January you can find more including lighting on {Angela’s website}.

For some reason they remind me of beachfront living in Australia. Maybe it’s all those Aussie mags I’ve been reading and of course the influence Miss Anna Spiro has had on us all in bloggyville. I can see one of these pillows in her lovely home or shop. Here’s a little idea of what I’m talking about…

Anna’s gorgeous shop, this is a recent shot of a display there. Total wow factor. More shop photos here.

(photos for robins egg pink by sarah hartill photography)

Posted in Decorating Tips, kids, textiles on December 09, 2008

Etsy Take Five Tuesday

Hello everyone! I hope that you had a really nice weekend and that you are enjoying your week so far. I have been busy working alongside of Thorsten fixing my bloggy blog (yes, again – more trouble) but most of the issues are not ones you’d see so no worries, more behind the scenes stuff. I want to ask a favor though… if you have decor8 on your blogroll can you please update the link to point to decor8blog.com and NOT to my old blog addy on blogspot. Ah, that’s just swell. Thanks so much.

Okay so with that being said, welcome to another decor8ing week. :) I am happy to be here, I love showing up to visit you and to see what’s going on out there in blog design land as it’s an exciting place to be. It’s our space, you know? I’m grateful we can all meet online each day and share our ideas through blogs and sites like Facebook (by the way, I’m a Facebook addict and if you want to be my Facebook friend you can simply click here.) I also have a decor8 blog network over there if you feel like joining. I’m not sure exactly what the benefits are to having a blog network on Facebook but I reasoned since most of my friends have their blog listed I should join in on the action too.

It’s time for Etsy Take Five Tuesday! Yay! Here we go with an eclectic little mix of five sellers with everything from cupcakes to crochet creatures, postcards, and a dash of Victorian charm.

First up, Sweet Nellie just because I think little soft creatures are cute and who wouldn’t want to be gifted with such cuteness, adult or child? {etsy} {blog} {flickr}

Next, let’s visit more handcrafted goodness over at Yardia in Seattle. Yardia is Brigida Swanson (I love her name, sounds like an author) who is a teacher and an artist who received her degree at the wonderful Rhode Island School of Design. I really love her paper products, the colors that she uses, and her simple sweet illustrations. I think that you’ll really love her work, too. {etsy} {blog}

Have you heard of The Holland Fabric House based in Rotterdam? Oh it’s so colorful and happy, with textiles galore. The fabric wreaths for newborns are charming, what a pretty welcome prezzie to hang when baby arrives! The cheery pillows, iron on transfers, fabrics, notions, and patterns are great – what variety for those who craft. {etsy} {2nd etsy shop} {website}

Everyday is a Holiday at Jenny’s Bake Shop is an etsy store that I found via Facebook of all places. Jenny loves old fashioned bakeries and sweet shops, along with retro style, 1950’s ice cream parlors, and vintage party decorations, evident in all of her work. Postcards, candles, prints, ornaments… she is a painter so all images are based on her original works and handmade by Jenny Heid and her partner Aaron. Hooray to couples who craft. Awesomeness. {etsy} {blog}

This little Kansas girl has the cutest clothing & such and lucky for us, she’s not going to Oz anytime soon. Her shop name is Folk and I think this handmade crafty girl style is cute as a button. It’s absolutely unique and cozy, a little Dorothy combined with Victorian and that Steampunk style which is only growing in popularity these days thanks to our Japanese friends. Those Japanese are constantly kicking our butts with cool style, don’t you think? {etsy} {2nd etsy shop}

I hope that you liked my Etsy Take Five Tuesday today! I tried to pull together a variety of things to appeal to as many of you as possible while still staying within the lines of my personal taste. :)

(images linked to their sources above)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, Etsy Take 5 Tuesday on December 09, 2008

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.

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