Inspiration

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

May 30, 2017

While in Milan last month on assignment for Kvadrat, my mission was to spot the trends and let my inspirations be my guide. Not a particularly hard job after you’ve been in the design industry actively for over a decade, especially in Milan! I recall quite a few experiences there that left me breathless, but the first was Sé Ensemble and the work of Founder/Director Pavlo Schtakleff which I’ll share with you today. Pavlo is such an inspiration – you must know more about him and Sé Ensemble! But first, some visuals…

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

In warm, sunny Milan on a beautiful terrace complete with sunshine and birdsong, I chatted with Pavlo to learn more about his background, his brand, and the rooms he’d created with his team for Galleria Rossana Orlandi, his second year in a row. Under his direction, an inspiring and gorgeous “show” apartment in Galleria Rossana Orlandi was beautifully designed and curated with Sé Ensemble furnishings along with contributions from some of his dearest friends to include wallpaper, artwork, mobiles, rugs and more. When I walked in, I was instantly aware of my senses – the way I felt, the way the space felt, the dazzling display of color and pattern, texture and the overall beauty of it all… Ahhhh. I’ve included a glimpse of what this apartment looked like inside as I walked around… Dazzling!

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

Pavlo and I on the terrace

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

The front sitting room

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

The fitting room

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

Dining room

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo Schtakleff

It was a genuine “experience” to see the collections of Sé Ensemble in a series of four rooms. The overall atmosphere made you feel like you had stepped into someone’s private space. I loved the idea of this apartment, to not only show one collection but also to bring in other designers who inspire Pavlo to be part of this curated apartment. I’m always proud to see creative people in the interior design sector collaborating and finding success together. This is not so common in the world of fashion, to see designers supporting other designers, people who are happy to bring smaller labels into the light. Pavlo’s genuine community spirit was obvious when we spoke, his ego doesn’t drive his work – his passion and interest in design and creative people push him forward.

Pavlo was one of the best interviews I’ve had in awhile because he was so genuine, down-to-earth and open-minded – his relaxed nature the sign of a confident man who knows what he wants and even when he doesn’t, he is confident he’ll figure it out. A true entrepreneur. He was warm and welcoming to both my assistant and I; we even had the chance to join him, his wife Amalia and his hilariously funny French agent Daniel Cuzon-Verrier for dinner on the same day. Long story short,  we were roaming the center of Milan searching for a restaurant that wasn’t fully booked, when we spotted one that looked perfect and in the doorway was Pavlo! He recognized us, asked if we’d like to share a table, and the rest is history. Once you break bread with a someone, you definitely see “them”, which made me even more determined to share  Sé Ensemble with all of you.

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo SchtakleffLet’s revisit the apartment and the memorable time that I spent in Sé Ensemble‘s universe for another moment, shall we? The sheer experience of walking through each room was one I’ll remember for months to come as the overall vibe was warm, cozy, glamorous and eclectic but with a definite red thread that ran through each object connecting them to the overall scheme. As a details person myself, I instantly noticed the attention to detail placed in the overall decor, from the scented candles to the gorgeous overflowing arrangements of fresh flowers, decorative objects and plants. The result was a sensual, tactile experience that didn’t feel pretentious or too posh. The color palette was stunning and on-trend in rust, teal, brass, blush, salmon, blue and black.

My favorite room was the dining room and the first living room in the front, with the ivory sofa. I still dream about the series of three marble sofa tables in that room because I have been hunting for the perfect sofa table for so long and there it was in the most unexpected of places! My next favorite room was the dining room – the mobile twinkling in the sunlight, the massive floral arrangement, stunning artwork and those chairs! The chairs stole the show. I could have moved in to this space without hesitation. You know that feeling, right? It was that kind of space – cozy AND glamorous, two words you rarely hear in the same sentence when describing a room.

Along with the collections of Sé Ensemble, rooms were filled with La Manufacture Cogolin rugs, artisanal wallpapers by Calico Wallpaper in Brooklyn, and metal sculptures by Ane Christensen whom I had a nice chat with last year while attending a craft fair in London. I’ve linked a complete source list below if you’d like to view all of the designers and artists who were part of this collaborative design experience.

Sé Ensemble Interiors + Meeting Pavlo SchtakleffBefore I wrap up, let’s chat briefly about Pavlo himself now that you had a virtual visit to the Sé Ensemble apartment (if you’d like to download the apartment tour as a PDF, click here). Pavlo founded Sé over a decade ago after working in furniture sales in New York for Flou, where he established their first US store, their largest worldwide. He then returned to Europe and connected with a man who would become his new business partner, Marc Sharifi, who wanted to partner on a furniture venture together. Pavlo had a vision to start a furniture line so it made sense to work with Marc and jump on the chance. He thought to bring some of the world’s most talented designers together to build a single brand of gorgeously curated design objects – Sé was a result of that vision. Through his company, he works mainly with French designer Damien Langlois-Meurinne, Slovenia-based Nika Zupanc and Spanish-born Jaime Hayon (who was one of the most talked about designers at the Salone this year) and his small staff, including his wife Amalia, based in London where they have a new flagship showroom on Fulham Road.

As Director, Pavlo works closely with the London team and his satellite design team on a collection and simultaneously employs the best European crafters and artisans (read more about their production here) to form each piece using the best materials, most recently in Slovenia. The strong lean to Hollywood Regency is clear but to my American eye, much fresher as he and his team bring their unique European design sensibility to the collections through a “less is more” aesthetic, clean lines, fine craftsmanship and that forever coveted casual European elegance.

In summary, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this brand today and are inspired by what you see, along with the apartment, and that you’ll visit Sé Ensemble online to peruse their beautiful work. Before I went to Milan, I was suffering design burn-out. I felt like I’d seen it all and was getting really bored with the direction interiors seemed to be taking (overly minimalist or super brashy/color chaos) but Milan was the cure and I have Sé to thank for being a big part of that since I’ve been buzzing around with new creative energy and vision ever since. Grazie Milano.

Apartment Resources:

(images: with permission from sé ensemble)






Decorating Tips, Tabletop

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

May 24, 2017

Hello friends! Do you want to see a room in my house that I never, ever show? MY KITCHEN. And even now, I’m just giving you a behind-the-curtains peek. Maybe I’ll show more on my Instagram soon… But for now, this is my blue, Nordic-inspired, kitchen. And the best part? I’ve filled it with things that I love like the new Emma Pitcher from Stelton along with their glasses and concave vases, all linked at the bottom of this post.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

I love combining budget pieces with nicer, well-made ones to create a space that works for me and my family. Take for instance my kitchen. I have affordable cabinets from a big box store, a custom counter from a local kitchen store, inexpensive shelves and paint on the walls from a very exclusive paint brand. I think the paint was more expensive than the countertop! And the countertop was more expensive than the shelves. While it may seem my priorities are whack, I know what I want. I can get white cabinets from anywhere but I can’t always find the perfect paint color that speaks to my heart. My heart leads when I’m decorating, always.

Maybe you are the same? Even when it comes to my wallet, I don’t mind spending a little more on things that make me happy, even if it means saving up for them. That is why my next investment will be a home that I own so I can build the kitchen of my dreams. Fingers crossed. But until that day, I take pride in what I have and make my urban rental my own. One way I do this is to only purchase what I plan to use and love, but also things that I can see loving a year or two from now. I’m trying hard to be less wasteful when it comes to everything in my life, especially with material possessions. I don’t need 20 bottles of perfume and 200 vases stored in my home, do I? But I do need functional objects in my kitchen that I use each day and enjoy, and if they are not cheap, even better – because then I will keep them for longer and they won’t break and end up in the trash can.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

This is why I love Danish design and always go back to it, even after periods when I get a little tired of seeing it, I return again and again. It seems the Danes have a keen eye for detail, beauty, all things natural, craftsmanship, simplicity, and functional.

If you’ve not heard of Copenhagen-based brand Stelton, then you have to check out their website and see for yourself how right the Danish do it. I have many Stelton products in my kitchen and enjoy them year after year. I given Stelton as gifts to friends for special occasions, my friend who recently bought her first home was gifted a copper Stelton copper EM77, for instance. I know she will love it for many years and use it. I know it won’t break in a month or even a year from now.

If you notice in this post, you will see my current favorite product from them – the Stelton Emma Pitcher. It was designed by Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft, who met while attending the Danish Design School. A decade after school, they founded their own design studio, HolmbäckNordentoft, and collaborated with Stelton to create products like the Emma Pitcher, available in gray and blue. The Emma Pitcher has a 50s Danish vibe but incorporates modern materials like stainless steel and a coated beechwood handle. I love how these designers have made this classic design fresh and new.

When I use the Pitcher at home, I like to place the optional top on it (made for refrigerator-use) and store herb-infused or fruit-infused water. My goal is to drink one pitcher per day now that I have Emma in my life. Today, I have mint in my water with some fresh ginger and lemon. Tomorrow, I may opt for raspberries and mint. This Pitcher if perfect for me to meet my goal to drink more water each day.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

You can see in my kitchen, complete with my generic inexpensive cabinets, what happens when you mix in well-crafted and beautiful things to your interiors like Stelton products, the overall look goes from budget to personal and even a bit classy. Plus, these iconic brands make an impression on you and your guests each time you use them. They just feel better. People notice them when they visit, and you can tell them a little about them. In some ways, it’s the difference between owning a fancy car and very inexpensive, no-frills car – the fancy car gives you a lot more to talk about – not brag, just to discuss. I like that about owning nice things.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

It’s not about showing off, because my friends know me better than that anyway… But it is about showing that you care about having a few good pieces because they make you happy to just own them and share them with guests, too. I also like having some things that not everyone else has. If it sounds pretentious, well fair enough. But being pretentious is to pretend you have something better than you really do. But if you DO have good things and you’re not pretending, then you are not pretentious are you? You just like what you like and quality, long-lasting pieces come with a price. They don’t have to be expensive, but they also won’t be from the dollar store. The older I get, the more I require good products in my life. I don’t want to be surrounded by things that break easily or end up in the trash in six months. Quality over quantity wins.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

 Shown above from Stelton:

On my wishlist from Stelton:

More glasses because 4 isn’t enough, a press coffee maker and the coffee grinder – would love to start making coffee at home like this vs. using the Nepresso.

For a limited time, you can WIN the #EmmaPitcher by signing up for the Stelton newsletter here (wait for the pop-up in the lower right).

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a view of my kitchen and these products that I love so much.

Psst: Need some Kitchen inspiration? Here you go: IKEA Kitchen Hack, 8 Design Tips For a Modern Country Kitchen, A Kitchen I Designed At IMM Cologne.

(Note: This post has been sponsored by Stelton, a friend of mine for several years who is very supportive of decor8 and the work that I do. It’s through occasional sponsors like Stelton that I can keep working full-time in a creative profession that I love, support my family, and keep decor8 ad-free. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only review what I own, use and love.)






Shopping + Products

I Am Enough

May 10, 2017

Hello everyone, I have a little story to tell you today. I was thinking recently about my trip to Zurich last November, when I worked for Blickfang, and how I fell in love with a very special little owl. Would you like to know more? It’s short, and sweet, and just may make you feel all the feels but my goal is that maybe my story will make you see that you are enough, too. So there I was at a shop in Zurich, I cannot recall the name of it but it was so well curated and honestly, one of the best I’d seen in all of Zurich for interiors. In a corner, there sat a little owl and many of his friends. A real owl? To me, yes. But to everyone else, he was only porcelain and merely a decorative object for the home.

I Am Enough

That little owl represented more in my eyes though, so I looked a bit more closely to examine his details. Why was this little figurine calling to me, beckoning me to take a closer look? Upon closer inspection, I understood why I felt a heart connection with this lovely little bird. Let me explain.

Do you see the little mouse he is holding under his wing so gently? In nature, the mouse would have been devoured in a moment, owls are not vegetarians! They’re hunters and must be in order to survive. The artist who made this owl though, Babette Maeder, is of course allowed to tell stories through her creative expressions; to alter reality to create a new idea, a new way of looking at the world. That is the only job of an artist, if you can even call it that – to spark a reaction. If someone is drawn in, the artist accomplished a goal.

When I stood before the little owl, I was a little girl again. Not a strong woman with a family and a company. I thought about the owl as if it were going to start moving about on the table, making its way over to sit on my hand. It had a magical quality, but again, most likely only to me because the other shoppers walked on by.

I realized in that moment that the owl represented me but I couldn’t quite figure out why. I thought some more. Perhaps it was tied in to my desire to heal, protect and show love. To be liked, to please others. To be kind. I am a caring person yet I often forget to show it and can come across as very headstrong – like I have no fears or problems, like I have it all under control. Yet, I have suffered from feelings of self doubt since I was a child. I always wanted to be protected and loved but losing my father when I was 18 was devastating. Not because he died, he didn’t, but because he divorced my mother and started a new life and I never saw him again.

Over the years, I wanted to protect and heal everyone as a result so they didn’t hurt as much as I had hurt. I didn’t realize that getting hurt was character building and if faced and resolved, getting hurt can be a huge stepping stone. Guarding people from getting hurt emotionally is less important than helping to support them through the pain. It’s like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, pushing its way through a tiny hole, the force of it all, the struggle, is making it stronger so once it emerges, it can fly. Did you know that if you cut the sack right before the butterfly appears, it will be limp and just lay there and most likely, die? This is because the force of pushing itself out is what the wings needed to become strong.

I read a quote once from Brene Brown that resonated with me, “You are enough”. When I met the little owl in November, he reminded me that I am enough. That being human is okay and to focus on others and to guide them, while also caring for myself, is okay. But now in my life, the most important thing is caring for my son, being a watchful owl, a guide, a consistent source of love. He is my little mouse, I am his mama. That is enough because to him, I am enough. This owl made me see that I don’t need to heal the world, I really just need to be there for my child and then, everyone else can come later as time allows. This was a refreshing perspective for me and a first, for sure.

I Am Enough

Flashback to Zurich in that little shop… So you won’t believe this… The next day after encountering the little own, unknown to me, I ran into the artist at the Blickfang fair! In fact, I was a jury member and we had to pick nominees for an award. As I roamed the fair searching for a winner, looking at hundreds of products, there was the little owl! It couldn’t be! And the artist was there with it and all of her other creations too. I was so shy to say anything to her, so I only grabbed her business card and later, returned to meet with the other jury members and told them, “I nominate Babette Maeder!”.

Months later, the little owl still stayed on my mind. I thought about it nearly every day. Then one day an email arrived and it said, “It was very nice meeting you at Blickfang Zürich. I would love to invite you to my open studio this Friday, if you are in Zurich!”. It was from Babette. How could it be? She remembered me? I felt that the little owl was working behind-the-scenes. I felt he somehow wanted to live in my home.

Guess what? The owl lives in Hannover now. He arrived right before the birthday of my son. Babette Maeder has a permanent spot in my heart now through this small bird. I’ve been wanting to tell you this story for months, but I’ve been so overwhelmed with travel in the past few months (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Paris, Milan, Cuxhaven, Berlin, Oberhausen…) that I couldn’t find a moment to type all of this out until today.

Thank you Babette for putting your work into the world and for touching hearts, like mine. Thank you for letting this owl remind me that to my son, and even to those I work with, and to my family and friends, that I am enough. What I give is enough. And that all of you reading are enough too. Focus on what matters and let the rest wait.

That feels nice.

Holly






Bloggers

How To Crush It: Working With Brands e-Course

May 9, 2017

Oh no! I got so wrapped up in sharing my travel adventures that I still need to tell you all about my current e-course, Working With Brands From A-Z,  that kicked off yesterday and wraps up May 22, 2017! The first lesson was a video from me for 15 minutes followed by 3 lessons. It’s only a two week class so there is no long term commitment or pressure on your part, yet it’s absolutely packed with EVERYTHING you need to know about how to crush it when it comes to working with companies from the smallest to the largest. We’re covering everything we can in two weeks (lesson outline at the bottom of this post) from the importance of engagement on Instagram, the different campaigns you can do, what to get paid and how to ask for money, tips on how to maintain clients, sponsored blog content, how to run your business like a pro. This dynamic, interactive class is packed with ideas for working with companies on campaigns and in other creative ways too that don’t involve social media.

Enroll here today!

How To Crush It: Working With Brands e-Course

I am thrilled to teach this class because I have invested the past eleven years obsessing over blogging and digital marketing while also having to earn a living. I had to learn how to work with clients in a way that benefited them, myself and my readers while still maintaining a good reputation and not compromising my values. I have read and followed everything about working with brands and social media marketing in general and I’ve applied MOST of what I’ve learned… Though at times I didn’t listen and I failed miserably, and had to pull myself out of that hole of pain — but I learned anyway and pressed on. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars not listening to some of the advice I was given by well-meaning family and friends who knew a lot more about working with brands and marketing then I once did. I have also generated a lot of revenue by applying what I’ve learned and from thinking of new, creative ways to work with people. I’ve seen all sides – the darkest nights of my business and the brightest days.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot and I’m sharing all of my secrets and tips with you.

I’ve also been on both sides of marketing – for my own brand (decor8) and for other brands to help to promote and grow them. I’ve tried Facebook ads, Instagram ads, affiliate marketing, campaigns for brands, Skype consults with brands, running ads on decor8, hiring ad managers, being my own ad manager, teaching myself how to work with clients, flying to big cities to meet with some of the largest companies in the world to teach their teams how to use social media to extend their brand, lecturing before hundreds of bloggers on social media-related topics, retargeting, polling, newsletters, reading reading reading… If anyone can teach you about how to work with brands, it’s me. But it has taken me 11 years and you don’t have 11 years to learn this – so learn it all in 2 weeks from me.

Bottom line: If you want to work with brands, you have to be willing to spend $129 on this class OR be willing to take the time to teach yourself through trial and error as I have done for over a decade. Think of education as a big part of your self-care ritual because it is – it’s good for your self-esteem because when you are successful at what you do, you glow from the inside out. When you speak confidently about your work, are sought after by brands, when other bloggers look up to you because they see your good work, you shine! Then, you can share that glow with others and make them feel good. Plus, learning is the only way your business can survive and thrive – you have to keep firing up your brain to make new connections, form new ideas and get yourself out of your ruts and routines that can sometimes cause you to stagnant and ultimately, stink at what you do. Don’t be stinky! :)

Because this is the first and LAST time I will teach this topic, I will keep enrollment open for the next few days in case you want to get started. Class JUST began yesterday and new materials won’t go live again until tomorrow, so you haven’t lost time.

Enroll here today!

Full course outline below:
Different Ways To Work With Brands
What Brands Look For In Bloggers/Influencers/Partners
How To Write a Sponsored Post
How To Know The Right Brands For You
How To Find Brands And Reach Out To Them (Pitch email templates will be provided)
How To Post a Sponsored Instagram Photo (or IG Stories, IG Gallery, etc.)
Finding Agents And Ways To Work With Them
When Brands Reach Out To You: How To Handle Them
Pitch Ideas For Bloggers, Instagram Users, and Influencers
How To Pitch To Brands
Red Flags To Watch Out For
Deciding Your Rate
Asking For Money
What Do You Do When Brands Don’t Want To Pay?
Legal tips
Negotiating Contracts
Continuing The Relationship With Brands
30 minute live chat Q & A with your teacher and fellow students (once a week on Fridays)

See you in class!

Holly






Events + Markets

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

April 26, 2017

Hello! Are you thinking a lot about plants and gardening at moment? How about fresh flowers? Well, this weekend, I’ll be in Berlin for the Garden & Home Blog Award event sponsored by Blumen 1000 Gute Gründe, Tesa, Toom Baumarkt, Venso Ecosolutions, Siena Garden, Mein schöner Garten magazine from Burda, Amano Group and Visit Finland, all in conjunction with the big garden show – IGA Berlin 2017.

I can’t wait to meet the many garden and home bloggers attending and to present the winning blog in the “Best Blog Design” category (see all of the finalists here).

I’ve been working hard behind-the-scenes as part of the jury for the past several months and now it’s time to go and award our winners! So Bonny & Kleid, The Nina Edition OR Dekotopia will win in the category that I’ve been selected to present. I wish you three the best of luck, along with the other finalists in all of our categories.

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

It will be so good to be back in Berlin for a few days, I’m taking the train Saturday morning and returning Sunday night so while it’s only a quick trip, I will definitely be out and about and sharing my less than 48-hour adventure on @decor8 Instagram – which by the way, I recently passed 100k followers – I am very excited about that! So if you would like to follow me to see what I’m seeing in Berlin, you are more than welcome to travel along. I’ll include some IG Stories just for you, too!

Thank you Simone, Julia und Friederike from PRACHTSTERN for including me in this wonderful and meaningful event for bloggers.

(Photos: Blumen’s DIY page)






Inspiration

IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness

April 25, 2017

I came across an ad on Facebook today and I clicked it (yes, horror!) and landed on the website for Reform, a company that hacks IKEA kitchens with custom cabinets, counters, etc. I really like what they’ve done to this Danish home in minty green so I had to pop in for a moment to share it. I’m currently pretty dissatisfied with my standard IKEA kitchen (quality is good but everyone seems to have it so it feels boring) so I would love to customize it. Seeing Reform made me feel a bit inspired and encouraged to perhaps give my kitchen a makeover. I am so bored with the shiny white cabinet doors and the standard metal hardware that my son sliced his head open on during the first year of his life and his scar is proof of those sharp IKEA handles – I am ready for safer hardware and something a bit more personal.

IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness
IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness
IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness
IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness
IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness

IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness

Shown: homeowner Tikkie Elsøe

IKEA Kitchen Hack Into Minty Green Gorgeousness

Great touches of black throughout this open kitchen, dining and living space too – don’t you agree?

Note: The kitchen is a Basis 01 design. The color of the fronts is S2005-G20Y (green), and the countertop and handles are in natural oak. Their fronts fit all the cabinets from IKEA’s METOD and FAKTUM kitchens.

(Photos: Courtesy of Reform, Taken by Karen Maj Kornum, Post processing/editing: Holly Becker)






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