~ Blogging her way ~


You probably already know this amazing woman from her fabulous design blog, decor8,
but for those of you who don’t I’d like to introduce you to Holly
Becker, interior design consultant, uber blogger and now teacher too.
As if daily blogging on all things style-related for her 25,000+
readers wasn’t enough, Holly is now sharing her (quite formidable)
knowledge of blogging in her online class, Blogging Your Way.
I was lucky enough to get a place in the first class and not only were
Holly’s tips and advice invaluable to novice and seasoned bloggers
alike but the warm and supportive atmosphere of her classroom made for
a truly enjoyable four weeks. You also want to hear this lady on a
podcast – such a velvety voice!

Okay, enough with the gushing – let’s meet her!

* * * * *

SC: As well as being an interior design consultant you are the editor of a hugely successful blog – how did decor8 come about?

HB: I attended a writing workshop in Boston in January 2006 called The Perfect Pitch
because I was representing a friend who sold handmade goods and I was
trying to learn how to write a good press release for her sake. The
instructor said, ‘If you don't have a website in this day and age, you
don't exist’ and instead of applying this advice to my friend I applied
it to myself immediately because I thought, ‘Hey, here I am a new
design consultant and I have zero online presence!’ My clients always
wanted access to my brain as they said and so, feeling like I
needed to be more accessible to them, wanting to demystify the world of
interior design (back then it felt very closed and pretentious), and
with a desire to showcase the unknowns out there like my friend
along with other indie artists I had met at the time (these were the
days before the big craft fair and Etsy
boom), I went home after the workshop and took a blog I had registered
eight months prior in May 2005; I wrote my first post and called the
blog decor8, a play on the word decorate because I love names
with letters and numbers combined for reasons I'm not so sure of
really. :) So that's how it all happened. Plus, at that time there was
little inspiration to be found online from blogs anyway as few existed
that spoke to me and my personal style.

Did you have a dollhouse as a child? In other words, was this path an inevitable one for you?

I had a dollhouse – I constructed rooms out of shoe boxes left over
from my mother and her thing for pretty high heels, and my aunt
handmade a wooden dolls house for me as well, complete with lighting,
wallpaper and handmade dolls. My mother and aunt spoiled me with lovely
handmade things and both of them gave me a real appreciation early on
for the handmade arts and crafts. My aunt (who sadly passed away) was
an art teacher and a fine-art painter who lived in several countries
and spoke four languages, and my mother – who was trained as a floral
designer and who also painted – was constantly decorating and crafting
and helped me to become the Holly that I am today; I am forever
grateful to these two ladies for all these did for me growing up. So
yes, I had several dollhouses, dolls, toys; I was either playing
teacher, writing and illustrating my own books, playing with my dolls,
rearranging the furniture in our home or pretending to be a realtor or
shop owner at a very early age. One thing I was always obsessed about:
decorating my bedroom and arranging the top of my dresser perfectly. I
had to have things neat and pretty, always.

Describe your perfect room – what does it look like, what’s in it, where is it?

ceilings, large windows, a transom window over the doorway, ceiling
medallion with a large modern light, wide pine floors with
imperfections, fireplace with an ornate marble mantel (or a Swedish
corner ceramic stove), crown moldings, and tons of sunlight. I'd have
to be in a city, but not a huge city — around 500,000 occupants suits
me fine. I need to be within at least an hour or two from the sea as
the idea of being landlocked disturbs me. I also need to be very close
to a forest for daily exercise. My room would be a creative studio
where I could listen to music, write, paint, take photos, do some
freelance styling work, etc. I also need to see trees from my window
and sky. :)


You must be bombarded by so many new ideas every day – how do you organise your inspirations?

Most of my ideas are in my head but the ones that come out to play end up on my blog, decor8, where I organize my inspirations as I feel them on a daily basis. I also use a site called StumbleUpon to organize random bits that I collect online. Haus Maus,
my other blog, is another spot where I organize things but mostly
random feelings or things relating to German life and culture in
Germany/Europe as I see it since I live in both New Hampshire, USA and
Hannover, Germany part-time.

I love the concept of Kindred and it truly looks like a labour of love for both you and Ez (from design blog Creature Comforts)– where did the idea grow from and where do you see it going?

day I was thinking of how much I enjoyed Ez and her pretty blog and so
over a year ago now I emailed her and asked if she wanted to work on a
project together and that I had some ideas. We had several phone calls
and Kindred was born and now it's in full swing and we both love it and
contribute equally to everything about it from the artists we select to
how the site looks and feels and the themes we select for the quarter.
We want Kindred to be a true reflection of us both, combined vs.
looking more like Ez or too much like Holly. It's all about being
equals and partners and friends and not so much about who does what –
that’s not important to me at all. The focus is on the work of the
artists we showcase, not on our individual talents, which as it should

What constitutes great style to you?

Art is subjective so great style to one may be boring to another. But you don't
want that answer, now do you? Ok, so I think to define something as
great I'd say it's classic or timeless, like denim jeans or a button
down pullover – these are examples of design that may be a bit mundane
in themselves but that are great in the sense that they are functional,
timeless, and, if modernized by individual designers, can be lovely to
wear and own if kept current  – for instance, in the States we have mom jeans
which are not really great style as the waistband is almost directly
above the natural waistline of a woman but some still wear them, so
again, it's about keeping things fresh and current. I think another
example of great style is being true to yourself and showing that in
what you do and who you are – not just buying something off the rack
and thinking that if you wear it you'll immediately be transformed into
this cool, hip fashionista. You should wear the clothes, the clothes
should not wear you. Same goes with the home, a truly stylish home is
one that looks and feels like the occupants and not the pages of a
catalog or home they've copied from a magazine.

Do you have any collections?

magazines, decorating and craft books, art prints, stationery and
paper! I also have a collection of vintage hats from the 20s-40s passed
on to me from my mother. I once worked in a millinery shop in Boston
where I made headpieces for brides, hair pins, hats and clips for
bridal party members, and lots of fun hats for older ladies who
frequently held events where hats seemed to be the theme of the night.
Too cute, right? I met some great customers! As a result, I started to
love hats (I was only 18 at that time) and enjoyed designing them, even
designing for Boston area bridal shows for models who wore them in
runway shows. I learned all about working with wire, horsehair, forms
and fabrics and when I got married, I made my own headpiece and veil
for my wedding. I no longer collect hats but I love the collection that
I do have. I tend to collect 'things' in general, which means that I
have a tag sale in my yard once a year in the summer when I sell lots
of what I've collected or inherited from others over the year. I have a
special room for my collection of things and when it starts to get
crowded, I throw a big tag sale. I guess it's the shop owner in me
coming out to play.


You recently taught your first e-course, Blogging Your Way – did you enjoy the experience of teaching and do you plan to run the course again?

I loved the experience of teaching, it was a lot of fun and the energy
was great — my students really put themselves into it from actively
participating in the forums to making a genuine effort to get to know
and offer advice to fellow students. The homework assignments were
especially fun, I loved seeing what each student had to report on each
week. My next class will be longer, six weeks, and will kick off in
September. I had planned to do another in June but realized that
perhaps some would like to take some time with their family this summer
(me included) so I thought that September would be a better timeframe
for all. I will announce more, including a link to register, on decor8
August 10th.

In your opinion, what three things can a blogger do to improve their blog?

1) Write from your heart and don't water things down by over-editing and worrying about what people will think.
2) Treat your blog like a magazine in which you are the Editor-in-Chief. Take your work seriously and so will others.
Think of what is missing out in the blog world and fill that void —
don't seek to copy what is already out there but instead, be yourself,
develop your voice and aesthetic, and show the world your unique self.

What books, music, art etc is inspiring you right now? Do you have any hot recommendations for us?

in particular with books, music and art – it's more 'themes' I guess
you could say. A lot of the things I was into in my 20s are resurfacing
again. For instance, I'm crazy into floral design (again), all things
French (I had an eBay shop for 4 years that I ran on the weekends
called Paris Mornings selling French linen, ribbons, trims and books),
Australia and Japan (dying to travel to both destinations), decorating
(as usual), mixed media art, gosh I could go on forever as I have a
running list of interests a mile long at all times.

I love these books:

Bazaar Style by Selina Lake
any of the jeu de paume books
Domino: The Book of Decorating by Jennifer Needleman
Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers
Midwest Modern by Amy Butler
At Home With White by Atlanta Bartlett
Indulgence Cookies and Indulgence Cupcakes (Murdoch Books)
IKEA has this great book that my friend Vanessa sent to me called Beloved Homes that is simply awesome.

Working from home can often mean you’re working 24/7 – how do you maintain a good work/life balance?

was working 6-7 days per week but April 1st I decided to change my
entire life/schedule and I've been so much happier because of it.
Monday-Friday I work normal business hours but I always break 30
minutes for lunch and 3 hours for dinner and time with my husband, then
I jump online again before bed to check email and then give myself
about an hour before bed to read a book, stretch, listen to music and
have a cup of tea so that my body and brain can start to power down so
as to have a proper rest. I notice that when I go from the computer to
the bed without this important hour of me time in between I am restless
and sleep so badly. As for the weekends, I always have a ton of plans
starting on Friday night until Sunday evening whether it's mundane
tasks like errands or cleaning my house/laundry to going out with my
friends or husband so I don't have much time for work then.  I check
email early Saturday morning but then I log off until late Sunday night
when I check email again to get a slight jump start on Monday. However,
on Saturday I allow myself ONE hour online and on Sunday ONE hour and
that is it — I'm very strict with myself!

What’s your motto?

with no regrets. Say yes more than you say no. Show love when someone
else's action would merit anger. Be the change you wish to see. Cherish
your family and friends and don't be so quick to replace them when
times are tough. Be loyal. Be honest. Be creative. Be yourself.

You're having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose?

skipping this one because I quite honestly don't think I'd be
interested in meeting anyone famous, dead or alive, at a dinner party.
I almost don't want to ruin the mystery, people can be so boring during
dinner parties anyway. I guess if you change the setting, I'd love to
do jell-o shots with Martha Stewart, have Tony Bourdain make the
appetizers, Morrissey to just sit there and complain, and see if Oprah
is up for some karaoke. I imagine famous people would be much more fun
and willing to share when intoxicated.

* * * * *

Thank you so much for joining us today, Holly! I'd write more but i have a sudden urge to go to Amazon and buy some books….

[Photo credits: Holly Becker]

22 responses
  1. Anita Dawoodi

    Congratulations Susannah! Fantastic interview with our amazing teacher. xo Anita, Austria

  2. B

    Holly did your course and you did hers! Everyone learns something! :) I missed the first blogging course but will keep an eye for the September one! This is a great interview!

  3. charlane

    I really loved changing up the dinner

  4. Holly Becker

    I am so appreciative of this opportunity to meet your readers Susannah, thank you so much. :)

  5. Anne @ The City Sage

    Holly is such an incredible resource–thanks for this great interview! I’ll be sure to keep my eyes out for sign-ups of her Sept. class!

  6. susannah

    what a great interview! loved it!

  7. Shanon

    Holly, I want to be at that Jello shot party! Oh my gosh! You are hilarious. =) I really have to say, I’m dying to see the head piece you wore for your wedding. Really. Dying. And I want you to know that everything you said as your “motto” made me teary. I believe them all, I might fail at them a lot of the time, but I believe them.
    Susannah, congrats on a marvelous interview. You posed wonderful questions and it felt like being a fly on the way, while you and Holly chatted at a cafe. Thank you!

  8. Holly Becker

    Shanon – I have to dig out the veil and headpiece and photograph it just for you. Watch my flickr….

  9. alex*

    Excellent interview susannah! heehee….jell-o shots with Martha & morrissey grousing in the corner. This is exactly why I love Holly Becker! haha.

  10. Laura

    Wow! What a wonderful interview – great questions, Susannah, and great answers, Holly! So many things I loved about this, it’s hard to name just a few… Hats for cute little old ladies, dolls houses & family history, jello-shots with Martha (I think we’d *all* love to be there for that one!), your life motto; what a treasure.

  11. Melissa de la Fuente

    This is a wonderful interview! I love the questions and I love what Holly had to say. Thanks sweet ladies! :)

  12. Lisa :: the red thread

    Susannah, what a lovely profile of Holly! I really liked your questions and enjoyed Holly’s answers. I loved the BYW course too and Holly’s warm and genuine personality really shone through there as it always does on decor8.
    Holly, what a lovely photo of you – I’m assuming t was done as part of Unravelling??

  13. samantha hahn

    wonderful interview. Holly is one of the nicest and most accessible bloggers out there. When I was getting started in surface pattern she posted my stuff and gave my great advice. I’m grateful to her for that and for being such a wonderful blog community organizer. She’s fab and your interview was wonderful!

  14. Federica

    Oh My! I just found your blog two minutes ago, it’s stunning! Great interview!!
    Greetings from Italy!

  15. Cookie Cutter

    I really enjoyed this read. It was honest and it was interesting. Thanks!

  16. Lisa

    I really admire Holly’s self-discipline when it comes to managing her computer time. I have such a problem with that!
    I was in the BYW class and really learned a lot – it was a great experience :)

  17. Paris Parfait

    Interesting interview, Sus. But surely Holly meant art is SUBJECTIVE, not objective? :) xo

  18. Aveen

    Lovely interview and lovely to find out more about the lady behind one of my favourite blogs! I’m hoping to do her next course too, I’ll be stalking her blog on signup day hoping to get lucky :)

  19. Juliet

    Susannah, I am a fellow “Blogging Your Way” classmate. I’ll admit I got to your site today from Holly’s post about the interview, which is terrific. But I think your entire site is awesome and I am so excited to learn more about your photography and to just dig in and read everything.
    Anyway, I was inpsired this morning to finally get around to some of the other blogs from our class. I’ve noted some of my favorites in today’s post on http://www.urbannestblog.com. Just wanted to let you know that you are included.
    I really can’t wait to dig through your entire site and explore your photography. Thanks for the inspiration today!
    Juliet :: Urban Nest

  20. fresh365

    Great interview! Holly’s answer on the last question gave me a good laugh!

  21. Anna

    great interview! you ask wonderful questions. thank you for introducing me to someone new and so creative.
    p.s. booo amazon. helping local bookstores go out of business world-wide.

  22. gina

    i enjoyed this interview alot!

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