DECORATE Book Review

Jul 06, 2011

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The founder of the successful decor blog Decor8, Holly Becker, has teamed up with Joanna Copestick to release her first book titled DECORATE: 1000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home. Full of more than 280 pages with photography by Debi Treloar who has worked on publications found in Elle Decoration UK, France, Italy and Germany, readers will be impressed by the beautifully designed rooms demonstrating an array of styles – simple, modern, eclectic, natural, flea market, colorful, floral, and modern glamour.

Walking the reader through the entire process from beginning to end, Becker shares her secrets of how to begin a project by revealing rules of thumb for creating the best lay-out for your space, along with basic guidelines that will help lay a groundwork for a successful project. From small compact spaces to grand scale rooms, no matter what living situation you may find yourself, you will receive valuable tips to incorporate and “create a space where spending time is a pleasure.”

DECORATE is most certainly a resource I am thrilled to now have in my book collection and you will be happy to have on your shelves as well whether you are in the middle of a remodel or plan to spruce up a room or two down the road as it provides inspiration, reputable advice not only from Becker herself, but other respected interior designers such as Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler, Amy Butler, Celerie Kemble and many more.

But speaking of Holly Becker’s advice, she has very graciously volunteered to be interviewed, so I asked a few questions that I thought you, my readers might want to know a little bit more about:

SL: When did you realize you had a passion for interior design?

HB: That’s a great question, very interesting… I’ve never been asked this before! Well it’s funny really, I never had a moment when I suddenly realized it, it’s been part of my life since I was a little girl decorating in our family home, shopping flea markets with my family, revising floor plan magazines in my bedroom when I was 8 years old, I guess it’s just like taking to a certain color. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “Oh I have a passion for red”. I’ve never had that moment with design, it’s always been around me – and I’ve loved it since I decorated my bedroom when I was only 6 and love it more than ever now that I’ve developed my own personal style over the years and took design classes, read a million books and now author a design blog.

SL: Where does your trained eye for decor come from? Is it instinctive combined with training, etc?

HB: It’s really instinct and training combined. But the training came from a very unexpected place. I thought it would come through working in people’s homes but it didn’t. It came from blogging about design everyday. The more I wrote, the more I saw this golden thread throughout my posts that was very much my own style and it excited me to see it coming to life before my eyes. I can truly say that the exercise of blogging from the heart, meaning only writing about things I love from my core, is how I trained my eye. The consistency and the exposure to so much online and off, coupled with the daily exercise of gathering images and writing, has had an enormous influence on helping me to define my personal style and to train my eye. It’s like anything, the longer you work at a magazine, the more your eye is trained. Same goes for any creative exercise where you challenge yourself on a regular basis – if you have an instinct for it the training only helps you to become sharper.

SL: How would you describe your signature decor style?

HB: Casual, quirky, cozy, friendly, approachable, clean and feminine.

SL: What is your favorite room in your home and why?

HB: My dining room because it’s very sunny all day and natural light is what I love more than anything else in a home – well, big windows and natural light.

SL: What are some of your favorite shops, websites and places to find items to decorate a space?

HB: All of my favorites are in Germany and Denmark currently, so I doubt those references would help your readers. So I’ll stick with where I usually go for my stuff – local small stores, antique dealers, junk shops and flea markets. In fact, I go to those places first, then I search the web.

SL: For someone who is just beginning to contemplate the idea of giving their bedroom a makeover and creating a sanctuary, yet has never picked up a paintbrush before, what three pieces of advice would you give them?

HB: Put together a mood board using tear sheets from magazines to identify what you love – write on the sheet WHAT EXACTLY you love about the image. Maybe it’s just the bed or the bedside tables. Once you have your tear sheets on the board, see if any colors or patterns are popping out at you. Make sure the colors are restful and soothing, I don’t suggest red paint or overly patterned walls (like massive floral prints) in the bedroom, at least not on the wall you face when you open your eyes in the morning. Spend more money on a great mattress over anything else in the room – I know, not what you’d expect to hear but sleeping well is one of the keys to good health so save for the dresser you want and use the money in your budget for a good mattress if you don’t already own one, and great bedding with lush, comfy pillows.

SL: The concept of your new book Decorate to include images from designers’ own homes and organize it in such a way as to simplify the process of how to tackle such the big project of interior design is beautifully done. What inspired you to include more than just beautifully choreographed home decor images in your book Decorate?

HB: I wanted Decorate to be much like my blog, decor8, to include a community of people and to make the book feel a bit interactive. To me, having photos and quotes sprinkled around is much like blogging and then readers leave their comments on your post. I don’t believe I am the ultimate voice when it comes to decorating, in fact I don’t believe any single person is THE guru of design. I think everyone has an opinion as so much of decorating is subjective – so I wanted to take the best advice out there from some pretty amazing people and pull it all together so that the text that Joanna Copestick and I wrote is just one part of voice coming from the book — so there are many inspiring thoughts to motivate a reader as they are flipping through the book from a myriad of creatives from my blog colleagues to other decorating book authors, interior designers and many others. By showing so many opinions the point becomes clear to the reader with the flip of each page – that there is no RIGHT way to decorate, that you just have to find what is right for you, your family and the function of the rooms in your home.

SL: What prompted you to begin your blog Decor8 and what keeps you inspired as you continue building such a successful platform of inspiration for your readers?

HB: I felt at the time that I needed to explore the web a bit and get online to connect with like-minded people. I was motivated to do it because I had just resigned and launched my decorating business 8 months prior so I was ready now, at the urging of my clients, to get online and blog about my favorite things. Back then, very few design blogs existed and those who did had authors with a very different style and personality from my own. I wanted to carve out my own space online to share what I liked. Plus, I felt that in order to make a living as a designer, I needed to supplement my income and that writing for design magazines would be a good way to do that and reasoned that a blog could be a nice way to introduce my writing style to editors and get my foot in the door somewhere. Not long after launching, I became an online columnist for Domino magazine, then Cookie, and now Real Simple and also worked for the Boston Globe and HGTV as style editor. Little did I know, decor8 turned into it’s own magazine in a sense with a huge global readership and within a year from launching, I was able to support myself on blog ad income and writing assignments so I felt less pressure to take on as many clients which was nice. I’m so happy things worked out.

SL: Where do you find inspiration for new design projects?

HB: I’m an idea generator and a connector. I have a million ideas in my head and I love people – so when I’m able to share these ideas with people it’s the perfect recipe for me to become inspired and to get moving! I also find inspiration from what I observe others doing – I don’t copy their ideas, but I just feel inspired by their work and that they took a risk or created something amazing and that gives me fuel to go off and try one of my own ideas. We have lots of role models available on the web these days, I always tell people to find people online who make you feel good about yourself and motivated to reach for your dreams, and keep reading those blogs and circling around those people because you can only become inspired by them. People can really make or break you. Be around those who make you.

SL: Having begun your blog Decor8 in 2006, you chose to leave the corporate world behind and have found great success. What advice would you give to someone who might be playing with the idea of leaving their salaried job and diving into their passion as you did?

HB: Before I left my job, I had an exit strategy. I didn’t just walk out. I told myself that in a year I would resign and I did precisely that. By that time, I had gotten out of debt so that was already out of the way. For the final year in corporate, I worked my 9-5 job but I also enrolled in design school, took additional decorating workshops, writing classes, craft classes, I started taking clients from placing Craigslist ads and also via word of mouth, I really took my nights and weekends very seriously and worked extremely hard in school and with my clients. I resigned after a year and stuck with school and my clients and just kept going – then 9 months later I started my blog so it was nearly two years after telling myself I wanted to leave my job that I started to reap real benefits from actually leaving. But again, I didn’t just walk off of my job – I gave myself time and I immersed myself into my passions for a few years and didn’t let fear of the unknown prevent me from trying. I figured if I failed, I could always go back to corporate – I had plenty of great contacts and I didn’t leave any bridges burned behind me so I had that safety net which made it less scary! You have to have an exit plan and an If I Fail Strategy. If you have both in place, just jump and as the expression goes, then the net will appear.

I can’t thank Holly enough for her detailed and very helpful pieces of advice. Hopefully you too find some pieces of wisdom to apply to your dreams and decor.

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74 thoughts on “DECORATE Book Review

  1. I’d love to have a copy of Decorate as I have just moved into my first home and I have no idea where to begin the task of decorating!

  2. I’d love to have a copy of Decorate! I’m moving into my first real place of my own – a town house – in about a month, and I need some ideas! Thanks for blogging!

  3. I’d love to have a copy of Decorate as I continue updating our home. We bought a home that was less than ideal because it’s all we could afford at the time. Gradually we’re making it our own and I’m always looking for ideas. I also love her advice on transitioning from a job that provides a paycheck to doing what you love you do. Very helpful advice. Thank you very much for this offer and chance, and for featuring a book I might otherwise have not known about. Valorie

  4. I would love to have this book! My husband and I just bought a lovely French-style townhome and are starting our lives over. We have a hodge podge collection of antiques, mid-century modern/contemporary and we could really use some help tying it all together. I have made many expensive mistakes while decorating and I am looking to educate myself to avoid too many of those in the future. I adore your blog and thank you very kindly for sharing with us.

  5. I love home decor books! We are actually gearing up to give our home a much needed decorative overhaul…. We moved in 10 years ago and nothing has changed, that is how desperately we need to get it done. LOL

  6. What a delightful give-a-way! I’d be so happy to have a copy of Decorate. I’ve an old house that we are slowly (ever so slowly) remodeling and I am always searching and open to new ideas.

    What a lovely blog you have and you are always so generous with sharing your knowledge! Thank you for the chance at winning the book!

  7. It’ll be fantastic to get a copy of the book!

    I bought a townhouse 8 months ago and have only bought a sofa and a bed thus far. Ooh I’ve been researching and reading. But they are random ideas scattered across different pictures, blogs, books… There is no system or method. The way you described the book sounds like a great way for me to arrange my thoughts and thread them into an achievable final product.

    Additionally, I also liked HB’s design style you described. I want my home to feel, well, like a home – that means simple (approachable, clean, casual) yet luxurious (feminine, chic,).

    Last but not least, I love the last question you asked HB and how she answered it. It’s a great inspiration. It’s not just about how to manage one’s career well. It’s more. It’s about how to live your life to the fullest.


  8. I’d love to win a copy – we just moved into a brand new home and it’s a blank slate! But I’m also going to check out the list of blogs/dates to learn more. Thanks for the great interview with HB!

  9. A copy of ‘Decorate’ would be a welcome addition to our design library.

    We’ve owned our home for 10 years now and my husband and I have found that our tastes are very different from when we first moved in.

    It would be great to have another resource as we stroll the sometimes rocky shores of decorating our home together.

  10. After moving 18 times in 26 years of marriage, we are building our “last” home. Would love advice and ideas to decorate our dream home!!

  11. Great interview and great book, thanks for offering this chance to win a copy, I’d love to have a copy also in my reference library, a great place to go when your inspirations run out with a room or a new house renovation. Please add my name to the list !

  12. Last summer I moved to a new house, but still being a student and on a tight budget I can really use some help with decorating the place. The walls are painted & the large furniture has found a place, but that’s about it. I miss the “me-feeling” and beauty when I look around… so a book with diagrams and lot’s of inspiration, yes please!

  13. I would love to have this book so I can decorate our new home after were married! I read her blog everyday but having the book would be soooo nice to have on my coffee table!

  14. I’d love the book because I am in the midst of a decorating dervish in my new city, Seattle. Inspired by the book and my own creative energies, I hope to make my place a home I can relax and settle into.

  15. I would love to have this book in my collection! I am a second year design student and this would be a wonderful tool to use as inspiration throughout the duration of my education and beyond!

  16. I would love a copy of “Decorate” beause my husband and I just bought our first home! Any tips of how to make it beautiful would be great!

  17. i would be the happiest person if I won a copy of this book, because i am sure it’s full of inspiration and info which would help me to decorate my new home. Thanks for this opportunity!

  18. oh i´m wanting for this for so long! i love Holly´s work, she is amazing! and i must REDECOR8 my bedroom, it is a mess…mix of colors and styles, but i just don´t know how to start and creat my own style…so Holly would help me, with her unique and creative ideas 🙂

  19. I would love a copy of this book! I enjoy Holly’s blog and we just moved into our first home and I could use some help! — Queen Lucia

  20. I would love a copy of the book because I’m always looking for new ideas and could use some help as am hoping to redecorate my living room.

  21. I would just love to have this book in my library! I am currently living at the beach again, but may be moving to yet another city….So, this would be great to have in my arsenal for the next move 🙂

  22. I just love the decor8 and i’m sure the book is just as inspiring. I can’t wait to see it in person! Hope I win! Thanks!

  23. Such an inspiring interview! I too am fascinated with interior design and would love to educate myself further and explore the career possibilities. Thank you for the giveaway.

  24. I would like to have a copy of DECORATE as I would like to develop my taste in interior design on inspiring examples and get a sense of what is beautiful in home decor, and the book is just what is needed. Thanks!

  25. I’d love to win a copy. I’m living in a small apartment, so I relook it regularly. And in this book is a lot of inspiration.

  26. I´d love to a copy of this wonderful book because I’m moving to another city and I have to decorate a new home and I feel so afraid because I have to start again!!!! Thanks for this chance!

  27. I’ve made some recent upgrades to my apartment and I’d love Decorate for some extra inspiration for the finishing touches.

    elissa at iinet dot net dot au

  28. This book looks so inspiring! I’m about to purchase my first home and am in need of direction on how I can organize eclectic tastes into one chic household .. I think this book would do just the trick! Then I can proudly display on our coffee table for others to view and gain inspiration from!

  29. I NEED copy of this book because I have gotten so many ideas from the website so I’m sure I will find even more inspiration from the book. Plus, it will make a great addition to my coffee table. Thanks for the chance.

  30. I would love this book because I am getting married and have to decorate an entire house! AH! this book is so lovely and would help so much.

  31. I would love love love to win a copy of this, decor8 is one of my favourite blogs, i really need some inspiration for my quirky kitchen

  32. I would love a copy because after our place has been in the Brisbane floods in Jan this year, I would love to get creative ideas from your book, with the loss or memories of stuff we lost.

  33. I’ve been following Decor8 for a long while now and what I love about Holly’s approach to decorating is that for someone like me without a creative bone in my body, Holly makes decorating approachable and possible!!

  34. Good evening from Cairns Australia, yes it maybe winter downunder, but in Cairns it is the best time of the year, beautiful sunshine, warm breezy days and nights just divine. we have been here 12 months and are now building our home here in paradise, so that is why I would love a copy of Decorate. I absolutely love your blog and send it to my daughter in London such pearls of wisdom that she accepts from you!!!!
    Many thanks

  35. This book looks like just what I need.Her interview was interesting and I shall go to her blog. Have got my fingers crossed to win.

  36. Oma Lord, I would love, love, L.O.V.E. to have a copy of Holly’s book! I am a 24 year old single working gal in Nebraska and just found a home for my own…finally. It’s a classic, killer cute, and built in 1949 with loads of possibilities. But the only style inspiration I have is the miles of corn that surround this land locked state. I am overwhelmed, and need a colorful hand to guide me because I cannot afford to hire an interior decorator on my non-profit budget. Thank you for the chance … and my home would thank you too.

  37. I would love to win this book because I’ve lived in the same house for nearly a decade now and would love to freshen up its look a bit. Please enter me in the draw!

  38. My husband and I are moving into a new apartment in the city this September. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. This book would not only look great on my coffee table, but would provide wonderful inspiration.

  39. I would love to have a copy of this book because I am about to begin a major remodel of our custom built home.

  40. I would love to have a copy of this book as we have been in a new to us house for three years now and still have a lot of decorating to do! Any guidance/inspiration would help. Thanks for the chance to win a lovely book.

  41. I have recently started learning how to refinish furniture, which has led me to try to see the “good” in pieces that look ugly at first sight. This book would inspire me to think differently and give me ideas for rearranging items I already own.

  42. I am a design addict! A techie newbie, a retired corporate, a former teacher, a former antique dealer, a current color consultant and bed and breakfast owner..”Inntorestin” who believes you are never too old!!! I love to learn new things and have a huge design book collection..did I say addict!

  43. As a recent college graduate living on my own I would love to have this book! I feel like I don’t know how to organize my ideas and would love to use this for inspiration!

  44. I would love to win a copy. I could definitely use some new ideas. 🙂

    denise_22315 at yahoo dot com

  45. Decorate would be a blessing to us (my husband and me, 3 small kids, and 2 old dogs) as we have moved from a 1960s open floor ranch to a 1950s colonial with great bones that time and former owners have forgotten. We would use it as a guide as we begin restoring the home to its former glory and more.

  46. I would love to own a copy of this book, and will surely purchase won. My husband and I moved into a lovely Chicago Bungalow 12 years ago. We had one baby and another on the way. The following years included higher education, caring for aging parents (in our home), child rearing and a new business venture. I love our home and the task of keeping it true to its 80 year old charm, but for the most part we’ve barely kept our head above water. Tomorrow we are having a garage sale and purging our home of 12 years of accumulated junk. Excited to see our home anew and know this book would be a great inspiration.

  47. hi, great giveaway! i’d love to have holly’s book. i am a big fan of her blog, and i know it’ll inspire me in many ways. also as it’s my birthday soon it’ll be a like a birthday gift for me, so i can’t think of something better!

  48. I’d love to have this book! I’m in the middle of moving, so the book will inspire me to set up my new place with style!

  49. What a great giveaway! I’m about to redecorate my flat and need expert advice on how to do it! Many thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  50. I love this site, not just your words, but your IMAGES! So inspirational, so simple, it’s like they come out of the best version of my brain. I’m currently decorating my new apartment, and that living room picture at the top is what I hope my living room will become. We already have the base color on the wall coincidentally, and that picture is a peek into its hopeful future!

    Great giveaway, would LOVE to have this book!
    Keep up the great work!

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