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Real Spaces {Share Your Thoughts}

Let’s talk about decorating and have a little discussion about it today, shall we? I’ll start and then you can pick up with your own thoughts in the comments section. Ready? Okay. When I was a little girl, I would beg my mother to take me on night walks around our neighborhood so I could see what homes looked like inside. I really loved to catch glimpses of the magical places where people lived, and though I didn’t press my nose against any windows, I certainly loved admiring the many homes from the sidewalk as we strolled by. I particularly liked to see what was in the window. Sometimes a little cat relaxing on a blanket, or I’d notice plants and flowers in pretty pots, stained glass, and window decorations like glass animals or paper mobiles. It was always a treat to take night walks and today nothing has changed. Whenever I’m in Boston, I like to walk around the Back Bay (especially in early December) to see the twinkle lights and to catch peeks of the gorgeous brownstones that line the streets.

via Candi Mandi. She made her own headboard with fabric paint creating the word, Love.

In Germany, my vacation apartment is in a small city the size of Boston in a neighborhood with many gorgeous Jugenstil style buildings from the 1800’s. Our night walks here are always a delight, from sparkling store displays to a glimpse of someone’s apartment, even if only their window decorations. Many of you are the same, it’s not so unusual to enjoy seeing how real people live. That is why I love Flickr. I find so many homes there of some pretty creative people who live all over the world, and I never tire of viewing them because I see so many things I like and feel inspired by.

via Nestled In who has a lovely blog too.

When you view the magical world of interior design magazines it can often be a double edged sword. On one side you can become seriously inspired. On the other, if you take what you see too seriously, you may find yourself depressed, feeling as though your life will never be as glamorous, wondering why ‘they’ have it and you don’t (and let’s face it some of us will never live in a posh flat in London or on the beach in Malibu). I call these rooms “smoke and mirrors decorating”. Sure, these places are real in most cases but it’s important to remember that they are often designed by pros, styled to perfection by pros, photographed by pros, with some of the most expensive and luxurious products and furnishings on the market, and then presented as though this “perfect” home is absolutely normal and attainable — like we should all live in the rooms that the magazine presents as ‘the’ lifestyle. In America it’s often sold as the “American Dream”. In this economy some of us may need to learn to appreciate what we have and not lose our joy focusing too much on what we do not have. Goals are good to have, but many who become obsessed with trying to mimic what they see in a magazine are often disappointed with the end result because they forgot that what is in a decorating magazine (in most cases) is much like what you view in a fashion magazine, it’s a “model” of what part of society views and the other part should be viewing (in other words, what we are being sold to believe as the perfect body, the perfect room, the perfect products to buy, etc.) as completely normal, the lifestyle we should all be aiming for. Am I making sense yet? I’m trying… I’m trying… :)

The work studio of Lovely Design in Vancouver.

I think that it’s obvious when you read certain magazines or even blogs, sometimes it’s as though everyone is decorating in somewhat the same way and professing to be unique and not “mainstream” yet they are all unique in exactly the same way, you know? I’m guilty of this as well, I often fall into seeing something on a blog or in a magazine and hopping on the wagon incorporating a look into my home that isn’t really “me” but because I saw it elsewhere I decided that I should try it out. I’s normal to do this and certainly nothing wrong with it, but it’s important to remember that no one should be given the authority to tell you what is “good” decorating and what is “bad” decorating, just as with art it is open to personal interpretation (to a certain degree of course, skill is something you can measure to a certain extent but that is an entirely different conversation). There are those naturally born with very good style and this translates into their home and by good style I mean that they possess the knack of pulling things together in a way that is visually appealing. Like the home owners featured in this blog post, they’re all extremely talented with such a gift in my eyes. I think though that it’s important to keep in mind that the most commonly accepted style is usually considered the ‘best’ style but it doesn’t mean it is truly THE BEST, it’s just the most commonly accepted style during a certain period of time.

Nicole – A habitat of being, also a blogger.

In the end I’m simply trying to say to create a home, a room, a corner of your home, any space that belongs to you (even half of your dorm room) into a space that has your fingerprint on it — something personal and special, a place that supports you, the invigorates, refreshes, inspires. If you like it, that’s what matters the most. The homes that I enjoy most are those real spaces that I recall seeing as I strolled hand in hand with my mother many years ago, the rooms I see as I walk at night now with my husband, and the homes I see of my friends, family, clients, and those on sites like Flickr. Warm, lived in, special places where there is a sense of pride, history, present, and future. It’s hard to describe in words so the photos I’ve placed in the post are a visual interpretation of what I’m trying so hard say.

Moline, aka Yvonne, a neighbor of mine here in Germany who lives about 30 minutes to the north. Her home is utterly breathtaking. More here and here.

From Christianna’s Earthly Delights.

From ZAI Couple in Latvia. They also blog here.

Kleofea in Switzerland.

From -Haust-

From the amazing Herz-Allerliebst in Germany who has a lovely relaxing home.

An entry to a beautiful New York home, Door Sixteen does decorating so, so right. She blogs too.

Via Posidriv in Norway, her blog is here.

Jasna Janekovic in Germany, who sells things that she creates here in her DaWanda shop. She even hand painted polka dots on her fridge!

Alex The Girl from Girl At Play based in Santa Monica, CA. Her former living room is to die for in my opinion.

Do you have your own opinions on what defines a real space? I’d LOVE your thoughts so please share them below…

(images linked to their sources above)

Posted in Decorating Tips on December 01, 2008

Artist Leslie Oschmann & Swarm Home

I was invited to attend a gallery breakfast tomorrow at Anthropologies Rockefeller Center location but of course being in Germany it is not possible (obviously!) I hope that another blogger will attend and blog about it because I’d love to see how the event turns out. It features the work of former Anthropologie visual director (for 8 years) Leslie Oschmann (full bio here) and after you view her website I think you’d also want to see her work up close and personal. Wow. Great stuff. I think it will make you look at vintage paintings a little differently, especially the ones that you find at flea markets that could use a little love… Why not add some of your own creativity to them like Leslie does?

Leslie relocated from the states to Holland and now has an Amsterdam-based studio called Swarm Home where she gives new life to old furniture and paintings found in local flea markets. Have you seen her work before? It’s just lovely. I’m quite impressed with her painting, I wonder if she is also doing decoupage in her work? I do see some needlepoint on a dresser door below that I think is exquisite and I really like the application of silk on vintage portraits because it makes the painting feel much more current and fun.

I adore mixed media art and enjoy viewing how Leslie uses many different materials to create art, combining unexpected materials takes so much talent and skill. Leslie is just one of many artists out there doing exciting things with found objects… have a look around her website and see for yourself — it is quite a fantastic visual trip!

Tip: For those who cannot paint like the talented Leslie, no worries! Have you thought of decoupage as an option? It can be done really well and seems to be gaining popularity again here in Germany (and northern .Europe in general) I love seeing decoupage, stenciling, and stamping making a comeback because it was somewhat snubbed in the interior design world and referred to as being, “Soooo bad 1980’s” or “Craft store kitsch” but if done right (take Wary Meyers for example), I think that it can be lovely. I had this feeling that the decoupage ‘trend’ could come back but when my friend gave me the current copy of the German Elle Decoration and I saw a complete spread on decoupage (used on bespoke furniture) my suspicions were confirmed. Decoupage can be done right.

(images from leslie oschmann and swam home)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, trends, vintage on December 01, 2008

Fun Gift Idea Video From Little Brown Pen

IDEA: A cute video on $10 gift giving!

Posted in uncategorized on December 01, 2008

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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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