Q + A with Holly Becker

As promised, we're back today with my interview with Holly Becker of Decor8 about her new book Decorate Workshop and also to announce the winner of the book giveaway we posted Monday hosted by Chronicle Books.  So sit back, grab your favourite beverage of choice and enjoy and I'll meet you at the end of this post with the winners name. ~ Jan

Q: In your new book, you share design secrets and an 8 step process into transforming your home to reflect you. Can you tell me what style reflects your home and what you really are drawn to when decorating your own space?

My style is very eclectic and liveable, spontaneous, friendly, feminine and welcoming – at least that's my goal! I love making guests feel at home. The biggest complement is when someone says, “This feels so much like you!” when they arrive. I'm really drawn towards making my home as personal and interesting to me as I can – I'm already planning out my next decorating project – wallpaper and paint in the living room and in my office and foyer. Writing Decorate Workshop inspired ME to decorate again! In fact, I learned as I was writing the book because I really had to THINK about the advice I was lending and whether or not I could stand behind it so I had to test a few ideas and move stuff around and so writing was also a learning process for certain bits as I went along. A very unexpected surprise!

Q. Why did you write Decorate Workshop as your second title?
I wanted to be the sole author this time around (my first title had a co-author) since my goal was to use the same “voice” as I do on my blog decor8 - chatty and friendly, approachable and most of all, encouraging. Also, I'm frequently asked what my process is when I approach a creative project, whether it be decorating, writing a book, teaching my workshops - even blogging - so I sat down and gave it some thought and soon realized that before approaching any creative project a person needs to be in touch with themselves and their feelings and needs first. From there, having a game plan can help you to make progress towards your goal – whether it be to decorate a room or redecorate your entire home. Writing a book with steps felt “right”. I also thought about what was missing whenever I browsed decorating titles and for me, I sensed a need for a down-to-earth workbook that readers could use (and write inside of) for decorating and styling with heart while guiding them through a practical process to break decorating into chunks so projects are approachable. I also encourage readers to take some of the steps, leave the others behind, depending on where they are at in the process, and to mix the order if they'd like – and I guide them along the way through by book but also they can visit me daily on my blog, decor8, for ideas and inspiration as they go along.

Q: I love the French Fold book jacket included with your book that you can iron and then frame for your home or pin to your inspiration board. What a lovely idea, what sparked it?
Thank you so much Jan! The french fold as a poster was an idea that popped into my mind one night after I wrote my first book – I remember brainstorming about what I could add to a future book that would set it apart and make it more unique to my audience. Since I hadn't seen a french fold that opened out into an inspirational poster before, especially in a decorating or design book, I thought this was an idea worth pitching to my publishers and they loved it. I hoped through the idea that it could encourage a bit of a movement so other authors would feel more inclined to try something similar too – but most importantly, it was meant for my fans to receive something special that they can use in their home from me. I strongly believe that authors need to push the envelope and get more creative – not relying solely on publishers to figure this stuff out, rather to work together as a team to incorporate fun features and add ons to make printed content more interesting. Most authors know their market well and bloggers who become authors really know their audience. Let's face it, publishing is doing better but it isn't where it was before e-books and digital content came on the scene. Look at the music industry for an example of what not to do. I believe that one reason the music industry has suffered is because fans aren't inspired enough to buy CDs - why would they be, most are in clunky plastic jewel cases that haven't evolved with the times. Why aren't artists including special content, artwork, signed copies, beautiful cases, a free concert voucher in some “surprise” CDs (maybe issue 1,000 worldwide, like the Willy Wonka golden ticket) I don't know, a reason to buy a physical CD versus simply buying it online. To reach people and inspire them we have to think outside of the box, especially those of us with influence from authors to bloggers... Complaining doesn't solve problems, proactive thinking does.

Q: You suggest in your book to seek out what one's likes and dislikes are in various aspects of your life and then to work out what it is you love about things, eg - a coffee shop, a movie you think is beautiful, etc. If you could live in a movie set, which one would it be?
I can't think of any movie sets recently that caught my eye, but there's this cute American television series called Once Upon A Time and I really like the apartment that Ginnifer Goodwin's character, Mary Margaret, has. It's very tactile with lots of character, some brick exposure, eclectic furniture – it's a bit country and very feminine. I wouldn't necessary live in that set, but there are many nice bits that I'd love to have in my own home someday – like transom windows between rooms and a more open living space.

Q: When did you realize your style for your home, and since then how has it changed evolved? Like many people, I never sat down and tried to identify my style because decorating was always a very natural form of self expression that I did to relieve stress, have fun, or unwind after work. I just did what felt natural to me and what I could afford to do and if I couldn't afford it I would try to make something out of very little as a creative challenge. For years, that seemed to work but the thing is, once I did figure out my style, I began to shop smarter and I didn't bring home so many pieces that ended up in the spare bedroom over time as a “someday I'll use this” item. I also liked how I decorated more and more because it felt like me the more I practiced. When you are really in tune with your aesthetic, the better you can shop – it's amazing how you start to look at stores so much differently once you hone in on what works for you and your home.

Q: You share over 250 photographs of interiors in your book. Which spaces are your most favourite and why.
I love all of the photos and locations – they each have their own special vibe and memory attached to them since I was the location scout and stylist. However, the photos that were a collaborative effort between my husband, Thorsten, and I make me feel so proud! Towards the end of the project, Debi Treloar (the photographer) ran out of time and had to begin a new project so my husband volunteered to work with me so I could meet the publishing deadline. We had so much fun! We did all of the mood boards, I styled them and he took the photos, and he took some of me for the book and a few of our home that were needed, too. In the end, we were thrilled when both editions, the US and UK, used his photograph on the book cover. In the US edition, they even used a photo he had taken of my sitting area on the back of the jacket. Considering this was the first project we'd ever collaborated on where he was the photographer and I was the stylist, to get the book cover... Well, that made me so happy! I'll forever look at Decorate Workshop with a special spot in my heart for this reason.

Q: Whats your most favourite way of seeking inspiration?
Books, magazines and definitely beautiful blogs that are written with passion and conviction but also that have a very clear sense of style that is consistent. I also love Pinterest (pinterest.com/decor8) but find that I can only pin so much without eventually feeling demotivated and uninspired – I need to do something with inspiration or else it overwhelms me. It's best to be balanced when it comes to inspiration – try to find things that can inspire but then do something with it that can build self confidence and make you feel good.

Thank you Holly!  Congrats on your new book - I'm looking forward to starting my personal decorate workshop soon!  

Photographs for Decorate Workshop by Debi Treloar.

And now for the winner!  Thanks to everyone who commented and tweeted to enter! There was over 200 of you!  The winner of the signed copy of Decorate Workshop is the 74th commenter on the blog, Meghan of Involving the Senses!  Congratulations Meghan, please email me by clicking here (poppytalkblog[at]yahoo[dot]ca) so we can make arrangements to mail you your copy!

Thanks also to Chronicle Books! And just a reminder the book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Chronicle Books.  (A great gift idea for the holidays)! Happy decorating! 


Jan Halvarson


lyndsay said...

great interview jan!

i totally feel holly's "pinterest" overload feeling sometimes - i couldn't get into it for a while because it completely overwhelmed me, and yes, i think "deinspired" instead of "inspired"..

love that herringbone floor, can't wait to peak through the book!

homelealass said...

Thanks for sharing such an insightful interview. It's so true that "Complaining doesn't solve problems, proactive thinking does." (as Holly says). This really struck a chord with me, I love Holly's attitude and images!

pip lincolne said...

I bought this lovely book (Decorate Workshop) for my sister for Christmas! Holly is really such a great lady: full of energy and bright ideas! Thanks for a great interview! x

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everkelly said...

What a great interview! I just finished the book over the holiday and really enjoyed it. Loved your thoughtful questions!