Sunday, April 19, 2015

Evolution Of A Wall

The British online magazine Heart Home just republished a house tour they did back in 2013, featuring our rented home in North London. We'd only been living in this house for a few months and I really wasn't ready for a photographer to document things (story of my life?) But me being me, and never wanting to say no, I said yes. 

Since then, I've published two books, I've started working with Anthropologie Europe and A LOT has changed. Judging by these pictures, one of the main things that's changed is my personal interiors style. Granted, we had no furniture, having sold it all to move back to London from LA, and I was in full on make do and mend spirit (here and here), but I have to admit that it's hard to look at the photos now. I reeeeally don't like much of what I was doing back then and I really don't think it represents my style. Having your home photographed repeatedly over the years is a bit like opening up a very personal diary and letting everyone read it. All my mistakes are exposed for everyone to judge! (And they do)

The photo above is from Heart Home Magazine. The following images show the evolution of the exact same wall since that shoot, and they really tell a story about the way my brain works: Start with nothing. Attempt to make something from nothing. Overcompensate for having nothing by adding too many little bits of - you guessed it - nothing. Get overwhelmed by clutteredness of all the bits of nothing. Tear it all down. Start again. 

Image one, above: I had no furniture, but found some frames and a weird shelf on the street, made some bunting (Ugh! Really?) Faked it all out by adding flowers and veg to make it look lived-in - honestly, imagine it without all the greens - blander than bland. I've since donated anything remotely vintagey/kitschy to Stoke Newington's finest charity shops, slowly replacing them with things I actually like or - God forbid - leaving an empty space until I find something I like.

Image two, above: The day before photographing my home for my book Bohemian Modern I panicked, having spent 6 months working full time and travelling Europe in every spare moment photographing amazing homes for the book, and completely neglecting my own little hovel. I unearthed some wallpaper scraps, added decades worth of embarrassing family photos, lots of plants, and boom! Bohemian Modern in a flash.

Image three: Last Friday. I'd worked an overnight shift on Thursday so had Friday off. I took a nap, woke up refreshed and was buzzing slightly from the huge coffee I'd just had - I needed a project! I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the messiness of the wall so I took off all the pictures and wallpaper, realised that blue-tac is rubbish and does in fact leave little marks even though it says it won't - there were hundreds - and realised I had to paint it. I bought some magnetic chalkboard paint and quickly slapped it on. Suddenly got inspired by the pattern on the dutch wax fabric I'd stapled onto the chair seats, attempted to copy it with chalk, with a plan to cover the whole wall. My arm started to ache at the tediousness of it. Gave up after one row.

And that, my friends, is how my brain works. What can I say, planning is for suckers! All hail, the queen of slap-dash decorating (Er, that's me).

For the full house tour head to Heart Home magazine. Just promise not to judge too harshly. Particularly the shot where I thought crazy Dutch wax fabric curtains and painting the words "What are you waiting for?" on a frame would be calming for a bedroom...

And to see yet another incarnation of my home, buy Bohemian Modern and look for the chapter called Urban Bohemian.

Top image by James Balston for Heart Home Magazine, second image by Katya de Grunwald for my book Bohemian Modern. Last image by me and my iPhone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Macrame Workshop Part Two

There's still time people! If you missed the sold out macrame workshop and Bohemian Modern book signing at Anthropologie's flagship store, there are still a few spots left for Bath on April 14th from 12-2pm, and Guildford on April 18th from 10-12. I'll show how ridiculously easy and satisfying it is to make your own macrame plant holder with some very bohemian modern neon green string. You'll get to take home a cute little potted plant and your £10 fee will go towards a signed copy of my book (that makes it only a tenner, ok??)

I've even made this nifty little contraption for the table for your knotting ease. What can I say, I'm a giver. Hope to see you there! x

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Super Secret, Can't Spill The Beans Yet, I Hope It's Good And Doesn't Suck Pet Project + Book Giveaway.

I'm working on a new pet project that I'm pretty excited about. It's an idea I had two years ago that I'm finally doing something about. It may lead to absolutely nothing and no-one will be interested or it may be the best thing I've ever done - who knows? But it's something I'm certain someone else will do and I will be filled with bitterness and self loathing for not at least trying. And I reeeally don't want that. Here's an outtake from the first shoot for this hush hush, still secret project.

Just to keep it interesting, I'll send a signed copy of my latest book Bohemian Modern to the first person who is interiors savvy enough to know whose house I was at, just by these rugs and this floor....

Comment below for your chance to enter. And stay tuned for a full blog makeover in the coming weeks which will see me finally saying goodbye to blogger and moving to more sophisticated pastures. It will also include this new, and shall we say rather 'revealing' project. Thanks all! xx

Update: We have a winner - a lovely florist and stylist who creates the most stunning florals and images over at Ruby and the Wolf. I love how the internet introduces me to such incredibly talented people. Congrats Kirstie. Bohemian Modern is on it's way to you!

By the way, the answer is....
Abigail Ahern. Check back in late May to see what we were up to.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Macrame Workshops at Anthropologie

To celebrate the release of my second book Bohemian Modern, Anthropologie have kindly offered to host a trio of workshops where I'll be teaching macrame (beginners macrame I might add). The tour kicks off tonight at the flagship store on London's Regent St where we'll be making something similar to these plant holders below, as featured in my book and photographed in the Danish home of the lovely garden designer and author Dorthe Kvist of meltdesignstudio. Tonight's workshop has already sold out but pop by at 7.30 if you'd like to have your book signed or to just spy on the workshop. Otherwise, there are still spots available at the Guildford and Bath workshops in April. Check out the flyer below. Each participant takes home their own plant holder as well as a potted plant. (I bought beautiful succulents and I white washed some terracotta pots for tonight's workshop). The £10 fee can be put towards the purchase of the book as well which means you can get it for a tenner. A good deal all around.

Right I'm off to iron my flares and steam my caftan - gotta get in the seventies spirit I think.

Photography by Katya de Grunwald.
Bohemian Modern published by Ryland, Peters & Small.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Portfolio Update a.k.a. Sensory Overload

I spent a bit of time this morning updating my styling portfolio, since it's been a while. As I browsed through my images I realised that for someone who doesn't like colour or pattern, my work would be a major assault on the senses. Look at it! It's a neat freak, monochrome lover's worst nightmare. Well I never said I was a minimalist did I? Click here for the full collection of headache inducing images and don't forget to wear your sunnies.

I'm off to Paris again this afternoon for my job with Anthropologie, hence the Sunday blog post. Everyone keeps saying to me "you're so lucky" because I've been there so much recently. Lest you imagine I'm strolling the Seine and relaxing at cafes, let me enlighten you. I'll be working 12 hour days, getting covered in paint and dust, running around looking for the right tools, and saying the phrase "Je suis desole, mais je ne parle pas Francais" about a thousand times a day to customers who think I work in the shop. Follow me on Instagram or Twitter to see what I get up to while I'm there.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bohemian Modern has arrived!

2014 is over and despite feeling like I was going to lose my mind, I've come out the other side relatively unscathed. If you count being partly bald and having a serious teeth grinding problem unscathed (ignore the toupee and mouth guard if you run into me, ok?)

But seriously, 2014 was a pretty nutty and stressful year for me. In March I said yes to both a new book deal and a new job. I thought I could somehow do a quite challenging full-time job for Anthropologie at the exact same time as travelling Europe to make this book and oh yeah, be a mum to a teen and pre-teen. Add to the mix the death of my dad in March, and you've got a pretty intense month, followed by an equally intense year.

But here we are in February 2015, almost a year later and I didn't get fired from Anthropologie (in fact, they extended my contract to work on another project for a few more months), my publisher just sent me a fat stack of books that I'm really proud of, my kids are still talking to me, and my husband hasn't left me, despite me being a pretty unpleasant person to be around for the past year. So I think it was worth it. 

Bohemian Modern has so much of what I love in interiors: colour, pattern, textiles, plants, originality, creativity. It's not all kilim rugs and dream catchers as you might expect from a book about bohemian interiors. I featured a number of different styles including a traditional barn on the windswept coast of Morocco, a Victorian loft in Tottenham, London, a huge converted mechanics garage near Amsterdam, and a grand town house in Ghent, Belgium. All very different from each other, all unique, and all occupied by creative rule breakers, doing interiors their own way.

I really hope you enjoy it. I'd love to hear your feedback. If you do choose to buy it, I encourage you to support your local bookshop.

A sneak peek of a few of my favourite spreads. If I had the energy I'd style these shots up all nicely just for you, but I'm afraid I haven't got it in me today.

And my house below, including the sofa where I currently sit. The real world styling of the sofa upon which I am now sprawled features the little photographed hot water bottle/ pajamas/piles of papers/used coffee cups scene. Oh sorry, did you picture me sitting here typing in leather jeans and red lipstick? Talk about bursting your bubble, right?

I'll be putting a link up soon so that you can order signed copies of both Modern Rustic and Bohemian Modern, but in the meantime feel free to email me if you'd like to order either one. Otherwise head to any good bookstore to get your copy. And thank you!

Book photography by Katya de Grunwald. Published by Ryland, Peters & Small (RPS)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Be careful what you wish for...

My year in photos...
(See below for the who/what/where/when?)
Rooftop bar on top of the BHV department store in Paris

Me walking on water on a scouting trip to Nice, South of France

Anthropologie head office in Philadelphia, USA

Parisian graffiti (everything's cooler in French right?)

Me and my kids in Brooklyn for Halloween - Johnny as a baby, me as a nerd, and Ella as Wednesday

Christmas in Nice, France

I always look forward to the first few days of January as soon as the hussle of Christmas is over. If I'm not working, I have that mixed feeling of "make the most of it" and "oh god I should be working!" (Click here to be reminded of my never-ending fears of freelance life). I try my best to enjoy it and much like the rest of the planet, in early January I take some time to think about goals and dreams for the new year.

Every year I write them down and keep them in a box and each year I read what I wrote the year before. Sometimes when I come to writing it all down I get a bit overwhelmed. I'm always talking about dreaming big, not being afraid to aim high and all that, but when it comes to my own dreams, sometimes I get scared. "How dare I aspire to such big ideas?" "Who do I think I am?" "That's never going to happen". And all kinds of other negative, unhelpful thoughts, otherwise known as self-doubt.

This year I already know what I'm doing work-wise - at least for the first few months - and for that I'm grateful. I'll be continuing to work with Anthropologie Europe, consulting on the visual side of some new European store openings. I've also got a couple of shoots planned for IKEA and I have a new book coming out in February called Bohemian Modern (more on that soon). All really exciting, if a little nerve-wracking. But I still like to dream up other things - what else would I like to happen? Where do I want to travel to? What experiences do I want to have with my family?

This time last year one of the things I wrote down was that I wanted to travel a lot for work. I ended up travelling more in 2014 than any other year in my life, with at least 15 trips for my book, for Anthropologie, and with family, including Philadelphia, New York, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Marrakech, Ghent, Prague....I also wrote that I wanted go to Paris. Somehow I had gone my whole life without visiting the so-called 'City of Lights' and I felt it was time to rectify that. I ended up getting the contract with Anthropologie in March 2014 and went to Paris at least 4 or 5 times for them and also once for my anniversary. Madness, right? The phrase "Be careful what you wish for" has never felt so real...

Let's not get too excited though. I also wished for buckets of money and a flatter stomach. I guess I'll just pop those on my 2015 wish list...

I wish you all the best for 2015 and I hope you manage to make a few of your dreams come true. Thanks for your continued support over the years and for making me come back and write time and again.

Above are a few snaps from some of my travels in 2014: A rooftop bar in Paris, me walking on water in Nice, lush plants at the Anthropologie head office in Philadelphia, Parisian graffiti (everything's cooler in French), halloween in Brooklyn (baby, nerd, Wednesday), and Christmas in Nice.

(And here's what I was talking about at this time in 2013 and 2014).