Thursday, July 7, 2011

CooCoo Interview: Holly Becker

Just take a glance at the decor8 blog and your already inspired. Holly Becker has been the voice behind this blog for 5 years. Her good taste for interior design is very evident, alongside her her love for it. Seems like she lives, breathes and eats design.

This love for design has recently spilled over to book form. Her book "Decorate: 1,000 Inspirational Ideas For Every Room In Your Home" is already a success in the US, Australia and Europe. Don't forget to get your copy of it on Amazon.

Somehow between all the business going on in her life she found the time to answer some CooCoo Interview questions. Enjoy reading through Holly sharing about where it all started and her decorating process.

Your life is surrounded by interior design now. Have you always been interested in decorating?

Yes, ever since I was little I had strong opinions about how my room was decorated - my parents let me pick out my bedroom furniture when I was 7 years old - it was white with cane accents on the headboard and the front of the drawers and around the mirrors. It was very Hollywood Regency come to think of it! Ha! I also had strong opinions about how our home was decorated, I would move around our sofa and chairs and even the bookcases while my parents were working and my mother said she never knew where the sofa would be when she got home. I was constantly shopping with her at pottery stores, flea markets, fabric stores (she loves to sew), garden shops (she was trained as a floral designer) and so I've always been into decorating and I always will be, I love it. I started picking out wallpaper with her when I was 5 years old, it was at Sherwin Williams and I remembered it was there that she met and hired an interior designer to work on our new house and I remember sitting in on the consultation when the designer came to our home, I was so curious and loved how much this lady enjoyed decorating. I even remember her name, Cindy Winger, isn't that funny? That's how much this lady impressed me!

There seems to be a particular style of decorations and interior design on your blog. How would you describe the style that is particular to your blog? Is it planned or did it just happen?

The style on my blog is simply my personal style - it's not planned and I don't try to write posts that will work together aesthetically speaking when readers scroll down my blog - it just happens and I can't explain how or why but I have this golden thread that runs through my work that gives it a sense of cohesion and I'm quite proud of that because it's rewarding when you get to the point of having your style figured out. My style is eclectic, happy, fresh, quirky and very true to my personality - it's playful as well.

To what degree has your move to Germany influenced your work?

I've discovered tons of new design studios, designers and artisans here that inspire me to think outside of the box and to experiment more and be less afraid to take risks. People in Europe, as a whole, are much more personal when it comes to decorating their homes and the style is much more homespun to a degree - I find lots of homes here with handmade elements or things that were personalized like IKEA furniture painted in wild colors with fun hardware, for instance, or antique furniture painted and lined with vintage wallpaper. There is no "wrong way" of decorating and people are quite relaxed about it. I love that there are so many different styles and trends emerging and that Germans are so open to new ideas and change. We also don't have known gurus here, there is no celebrity culture around decorating - no Martha Stewart or Jonathan Adler - who are on television teaching or sharing decorating ideas so without that influence, in some ways, people are less guided by trends and gurus and more guided by what they see in print magazines and books and in the homes of friends -- they just jam it all together to make it work for them. There are also tons of affordable flea markets and junk shops here where you can find real treasures that are marked up 10 times in other parts of Europe, like France, so it's so exciting to live here as so many are just exploring and having fun with decorating. When my book releases here in German in September, until the title "Lust auf Wohnen", I'm willing to guess people will really like it because it is so fresh and different from what you find on bookshelves here and since Germans love change, especially those my age and younger, I feel confident that it will do well in Germany.

When given a space to decorate, what is usually the first step you take and how do you continue from there?

I always ask the homeowners a million questions about their style, the function of the space, favorite things, what they currently dislike about the room - I really draw them out and lay bare all of the faults, strengths and the areas of improvement in the space and then I gather from them what they really want - I help them to find their vision if they don't already have one and I guide them in this process gently but I'm not afraid to tell them that they need to relax and enjoy the process if I sense they're getting to uptight about it or suffering from analysis-paralysis as I call it - analyzing things so much that it paralyzes them from making progress. Lately though, I've not been seeing clients as I find that I really enjoy teaching decorating classes to larger groups, leading guided shopping trips and writing about design so that I can help more people in the same amount of time. I love to work in groups so people can learn from me but also together and often people are more excited to decorate and try new things when you put them in a small group because then they all start to challenge one another in a healthy way and this electricity is created - it's like group decorating therapy! I really love working this way much more than one-on-one consults these days.

What would be your advice for someone that would like to add more creativity into their home?

Ask yourself what you could create by hand that you could use at home. Maybe you sew and can make drapes or a cushion cover, or perhaps you've always wanted to learn how to cover a lampshade using wallpaper, you can buy a book and give it a try. You have to start with yourself, do things that are creative and that build your self confidence so that you can continue to be creative and do things that make you smile. It's a good feeling to show guests a pair of curtains that you added trim to yourself, or to talk to friends about the craft night that you had at home with your children. There is a sense of accomplishment and healthy pride that comes from making things, even little things, you don't need to become a skilled seamstress to reupholster a seat on a dining room chair - usually you just need some fabric and a staple gun. You'd be surprised at how easy and fun it is to make things and the more creative ideas that you implement, the more creative ideas start to flow and before you know it, you'll be overflowing with them!


This was the last for the CooCoo Interview series. Planning to bring it back again later this year. If you missed any of them, here they are in a row:

* Erin Loechner
* Terri Thompson
* Emily Grandin
* Holly Becker (this one)

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