From The Heart, Ramblings

From The Heart: Give Yourself The Permission To Grow

October 15, 2015

I love this time of the year when you wake up and it’s suddenly Autumn. It happens literally overnight – the air turns crisp, the ground becomes a blanket of burnt ember, caramel and gold and wood burning in someone’s stove conjures up imagines of log cabins, mountain holidays and foggy lakes… (I buy a candle to mark this time of year, every year, called Feu de Bois by Diptyque because it gives you your very own roaring fireplace at home.) I also love flowers in early Autumn… Rich, jewel-like colors and textures that melt your heart.
From The Heart: Give Yourself The Permission To Grow

I have a photoshoot this weekend so in preparation, I’ve ordered the most beautiful flower bunches to create a lovely scene with. I can hardly wait to go pick them up and get creative with my bundles. I had a photoshoot earlier this week on Monday outdoors, and I was lucky because it happened to be on one of those perfect October days when the air is perfect and the sunlight trickles
through the trees… I had no team with me, no photographer, but I had props and an open mind and my Canon 5D Mark III with two lenses, my trusty 50mm and my 35mm. I shot what I needed for over three hours, for my book (!), and walked away feeling better than ever. It was a real moment for me to not depend on anyone else and just do the work myself.

Have you ever felt an inner shift occur, out of the blue, that forever changed you?

That day was epic because I stopped being so damn hard on myself. I gave myself permission to not be perfect and to have fun. I allowed myself to extend the same compassion to me as I give to others who are unsure. It was when I found my voice and my confidence taking photos and now, I only want to advance and push myself in new directions so I can become better. I no longer have this negative voice in my head telling me that my photos are crap. When I sent my shots to my publisher in London, and my co-author Leslie, the replies were Continue Reading…






Books + Magazines

Book Review: The Shopkeeper’s Home

October 6, 2015

It was such a pleasure to learn that my publisher in the UK, Jacqui Small, signed new author Caroline Rowland because it’s always nice to have talented new authors in your circle. Caroline’s first book just launched called The Shopkeeper’s Home and so I had to offer to help spread the word to support her new book writing career. I had a virtual coffee and chat with her this morning and she gave me a few insights into her book and tips for those of you who may be interested in getting a book deal of your own. I thought I’d share our chat with you now along with some beautiful photos from her book that will definitely have you running out to buy The Shopkeeper’s Home. Ready?

Book Review: The Shopkeeper's Home

decor8: Caroline, can you please tell us about your background?

CR: I studied photography at university, then worked on picture desks mainly at the Financial Times. I set up my blog, Patchwork Harmony, in 2008 and 91 Magazine in 2011 while still working full time but finally went freelance in 2013. 

decor8: How did you get a book deal, what are some tips for those who want to get into books?

CR: Jacqui Small was aware of my work with 91 Magazine, and we had a meeting way back when I still worked for the Financial Times, but it was only after I went freelance that I approached them with my book idea and things went from there. I think it’s good to build a brand/aesthetic first so publishers can see what you are about. Think about unique ideas that might work as a book. It needs to be something you’re really passionate about too as you’ll be working on it for quite a while!
Continue Reading…






From The Heart

From The Heart: The Fear Of Being Judged

October 1, 2015

Hey there friends! OK so let’s talk about being judged because we all hate it right? But first, a little bit about why I am stuck on this topic at the moment… I recently watched a film called Dior and I, have you seen it too? Wasn’t it so inspiring? It’s the story of Raf Simons’ premiere couture collection at the house of Christian Dior. I was surprised and equally inspired by Simons – especially that he doesn’t sketch and that he didn’t speak a lot of French when he first started at Dior. I remember how held back and limited I felt when I first moved to Germany and today, how I still feel limited because I’m not fluent yet, so this film inspired me to see that the goal for Simons was simply to communicate in whichever way he could – translators, collaging images to show a final look he’d envisioned, broken French, French and English combined, through lots of mood boards, facial expressions, hand gestures… Even tears. Whatever worked, he did it. He communicated in many cases, beyond language.

From The Heart: The Fear Of Being Judged

So much of communication is visual and also “felt” through touch or the way someone looks at you, don’t you agree? Hand gestures, body language and eye contact are what you first rely on before learning a language but even during. When people get intimidated because they can’t speak a language fluently they should remember that communication is the single goal regardless of how that is accomplished. Get your message through no matter what! Who cares who judges you with your bad accent or horrible grammar? Just speak!

Lots of bloggers ask me if they should write their posts in their mother tongue and in English to reach more readers. I always say yes, do it. And then the next question usually is, “Do I still write in English Continue Reading…






Home Tours, Shop Tours

Studio Tour: Snug Studio in Hannover, Germany

September 25, 2015

Hello dear friends and happy Friday to you! So! I decided a few months ago to shake things up and challenge myself to a new project – to focus on my photography and build my skills in that area. I’ve been hiring photographers on projects for years but lately, I’m shooting more for clients and even for my next book which has made me happier than I had expected. My uncle and grandfather were both professional photographers so who knows, perhaps it’s a little bit of a calling? I’m not becoming a photographer but I thought I’d challenge myself to take better photos outside of my studio and home and shoot in other locations where I’d be forced to deal with different lighting, objects, people, work with others, make them happy, be in new settings… You know, stuff you need to do in order to push outside of your comfort zone.

Studio Tour: Snug Studio in Hannover, Germany

I made an appointment several months ago with snug studio, a local design firm that I’ve been following since they launched, and yesterday I visited them to put together this little story for all of you.  This creative firm consists of three friends, Berit, Kerstin and Heiko and their assistant, Bettina. Above is a glimpse of their Continue Reading…






Decorating Tips, Tabletop

Tabletop: Creative Ideas For Late Summer

September 24, 2015

Hi everybody! This is Anke Illner and usually I post about table decoration on my blog but today I’m both very happy and excited to be sharing my first new column on decor8 all about tabletop decorating. I’ll show you the same table in my dining room each month styled a different way to hopefully inspiring your next gathering. Entertaining is a big trend, wouldn’t you agree, and it will only become stronger since many have come to discover that gatherings at home are more intimate than meeting up at restaurants – and a lot more affordable and give you a chance to be creative. Okay, time to get started with my first installment in my tabletop series. For this look, I’m bringing you some late summer inspiration.

Tabletop: Creative Ideas For Late Summer

I always liked a table styling that tells a little story about the current season of the year. And I love the month of September. The warm light, fresh air, luscious colors and opulence make me happy all round. It is the best time of the year to ramble around the farmers markets, if you ask me. During my last visit, I could not Continue Reading…






Bloggers, Blogging, From The Heart, Ramblings

From The Heart: A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are

September 23, 2015

Call me dramatic but I believe this strongly — your blog is only dead when you, your content, your zeal for it, dies. It’s a strong statement but it’s worth chatting about for a moment because there is lots of talk online about the future of blogs. I see many of my favorite blogs changing, stagnating or simply selling out (I define this as when a blogger does things for fame and/or money that others find questionable or that they hide because they know readers wouldn’t support them). Due to some of these things, I often wonder if the practice of writing a blog purely out of pleasure has become a lost art. Other times I see certain bloggers who make me proud  – they are full of fire and life, they say what they want, their words aren’t diluted or disingenuous so as to please sponsors and clients, they are unfeigned and they don’t give a damn.

From The Heart: A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are

Those are the bloggers that convince me to carry on — they astonish with words, ideas, photography – some or all.  I rely on their voices and go to them when I need a dose of humor, reality or to really think and feel something again. I don’t look to Facebook updates or random photos posted here and there on apps and websites. These blogging voices remind me that having a blog can still be relevant, fresh and invigorating when the people authoring them are. Blogs can still electrify.

I’ve been busy and unfocused lately when it comes to blogging and truthfully, even ambivalent. A colleague told me that my blog has become boring over the past few months. I was mildly offended at first but then realized the truth in her words because it even bores me, which has lead to my highly irregular posts. Many bloggers are struggling currently, have you noticed? Content is boring, posts are few and far between, content is constantly sponsored, passionate opinions are few (or gone)… Many bloggers feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of social platforms that exist now. Others are struggling to make money since blog ads aren’t pulling in the cash that they were years ago. How do you maintain a blog and find enough time to produce engaging content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn? How can you also make money blogging when the entire revenue structure has changed?

I guess this is why I’m writing this post. To say that all of us can fall into the boring rut but whether we remain in it is up to only us. And I have decided to get out, and I’m starting with this post because it’s been awhile since I really said anything here.

It can be soul-crushing to stay fresh on every social channel while also trying to reply to those who want to network with you via these platforms, too. It can be hard to turn down a company with products that don’t interest you when they’re offering you thousands for a blog post. Blogging becomes all about survival, all about numbers – number of fans, number of dollars, number of page views, number of followers on other platforms. While some massive blogs thrive on numbers and love the push, the rest of us just don’t function that way. I personally have to believe in and love a product before I’ll take on a sponsored post but I have other ways to generate income that have nothing to do with my blog so I don’t feel pushed to accept every offer I get. I can’t judge those who do and who have families to support. I get it. But this all has changed blogging and how we once felt about it. .

Blogging, for many, gets pushed in the background because posts take time, in fact more time than posting a quick photo on IG or an update on Facebook. I loved blogging before massive online communities where everyone seems to throw out whatever pops into their mind without a single edit. All day you are bombarded with streaming random thoughts from “friends” which amounts to a lot of information that you really didn’t need (or care) to know about.

Then there are places where you only post and share imagery. And those places end up just showing the most edited, perfect, beautiful scenes imaginable. And they are at first inspiring but later, end up making you feel like you have to pump out equal or better content and if you don’t, you’re lame. In my opinion, there are two negative extremes online within these communities –  unedited oversharing and massive role playing (portraying your life as perfect).

Okay, maybe there is another negative and it’s called content overload. There is so much happening online making it impossible to focus and truly appreciate the hard work bloggers are pouring into their content. You find one great post and a second later, you’re reading ten more or liking ten more and so on. Same goes for the beautiful photography produced and shared on Instagram and Pinterest. In this sense, staying in a constant state of feeling oversaturated can be negative since studies have proven that too much choice stamps out creativity, causes depression, creates family stress and even alters our personality – we go from being humble sharers to hungry attention seekers at the cost of even our very own family life.

Limitation breeds creativity. My husband says this often. Being selective in what we’re taking in matters because it impacts our own work and voice. Which leads me to talk about this thing called power editing – not perfection, not role playing, not oversharing – power editing. Using a measure of self control in what we share to maintain both joy and sanity.

I sat in a bar recently in Amsterdam across from Leslie Shewring having a good chat. Her firm belief in power editing is quite inspirational. She believes that you have to power edit your life and not allow excuses or people or anything else to hold you back from doing what needs to get done. Leslie is all about power editing. And some of the book authors I read are into mindfulness, slow living and creating value. All good things.

With power editing, you ask yourself who are you the spending the most time with? Are they good for you? What are you doing for a living? Is it fulfilling you? Stuff like that. You really make your life choices intentional. For things that won’t work for you, that drain you, that aren’t rewarding – those are the deal breakers. You have to root them out or put your focus elsewhere if you can’t make them go away. And as for blogging, maybe we can all work to do the same. Only share what is left over when you’ve filtered out the loads of content you have taken in during the day – share what mattered the most to you personally. It’s a lesson in editing, that’s for sure – a lesson in holding back, in having self control. But that’s the good stuff and that’s why I will continue reading blogs – if I can tap into gems like that.

Power editing is also about making better choices for yourself quicker and with less emotion attached to the process. We crave intimacy, a sense of belonging and the motivation that only others can give through sharing how they’ve navigated their own struggles. You don’t get that by looking at pretty photos all day. You get that from conversations. You also don’t get that from overthinking everything to the point of paralyzing yourself. Blogging could easily become more creative, meaningful and special again if we all worked on this approach. Even therapeutic for us and others.

Power editing isn’t about being fake and presenting only the good, it’s about being genuine and presenting what matters most to you personally even if it ruffles some feathers. In fact, that is the only way blogs have a future in my opinion – if we start blowing minds again. If we break ourselves off from what’s comfortable, popular or trending… If we individually rise up and use our voice to create emotion, stir thoughts, stimulate creative thinking… Then blogs aren’t dead at all because we are very much alive.

What do you think, has blogging lost value? Will blogs eventually fade and die? Do you still read blogs? How do you think power editing can apply to bloggers in general?

(photography: holly becker for decor8. That is my little boy in the top photo examining the mushroom he found last week. Isn’t this something to do more as adults, to inspect what we are finding and value it? Maybe the same can be applied to the content our friends are sharing online. Take a moment to appreciate what treasures you find before you move quickly to the next thing.)






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