Hey guys, I am so excited to show you the results of an interview the Dutch interiors magazine vtwonen did on me and my blog recently. This six page feature is what followed after winning the vtwonen Best New Blog Award at Meet The Blogger last fall and I can’t express how grateful this kind of recognition makes me. I shot all the images in this spread (snippets of my home and my home town of Delft) except the profile shot of me, which was captured by Hanke Arkenbout. The author of the feature, the lovely Flory Hartog, did such a wonderful job of documenting my story that I had it translated it into English for those of you who don’t have access to the magazine to read. Enjoy!
Light, Organic and Feminine
Holly Marder from Avenue Lifestyle is secretly rather proud of what she has accomplished thus far. On blogging at 2am, the line between public and private, and about perfectionism: “When I style I become a different version of myself, one that takes photographs of a messy, slept-in bed!”
Who: Holly Marder (29, stylist, photographer, and blogger)
Blogging since: 2011
About: Interior styling and projects
Why: “The blog is mostly about my own house or projects I do as part of my work as a stylist and interior design journalist. In this way I reach an audience with a similar aesthetic and new potential clients.”
Style: “Feminine and light, natural and basic with lots of organic forms.”
The seven sins of Holly
Lust “Pinterest is definitely a source of lust for me. It started as a guilty pleasure, but it has grown into a tool internal to my work as stylist.” Gluttony “I’m always on the look-out for special and unique pieces of art, for myself and for my clients.” Greed “Ceramics and stoneware for the kitchen. Plates, vases, mugs… if I spot something beautiful – especially if it’s artisan made – I have to have it. And the worst thing is that my husband isn’t allowed to use them, I’m just so in love with these delicate items.” Sloth “I wish I could be lazy! I can’t stand mess, so I spend very little time relaxing on the couch. I’m always tidying something up!” Wrath “An untidy home makes me very anxious. I like things just so, which drives my husband nuts!” Envy “I envy people that have a lot of time to practice their talents. At the moment I am juggling my work load in two days a week so often feel short on time. Soon however my little girl Lola will be attending school and I’ll have more time on my hands. All the things I’m going to do!” Pride “I’m very proud of what I have accomplished over the last few years. I came here six years ago with nothing but a suitcase full of clothes and now have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter and a home that keeps getting lovelier on top of an increasingly successful career as a stylist, photographer and blogger. A major accomplishment was recently winning the vtwonen blogger award, and it’s just getting better and better!”
Pictured above: Superfront sideboard | Ikea table | Vintage Thonet chairs | Iumi lamp | Matisse figure study artwork | Bij Marlies vintage rug | See more of the studio here
Things I love
>> What do you enjoy about blogging?
“Blogging is not the primary part of my job and I usually do it late at night, when I’m by myself in my studio. I love to share, and the blog is a platform for me to share what I do. It’s very important to me that the blog is unique, with my own work as much as possible – using my own photographs or images by a photographer capturing my styling work. I love to inspire people with my ideas and images that were born from my own efforts.”
>> Give an example of your work with which you inspire people?
“The makeover of my bedroom which I blogged about went all over the world! From vtwonen to My Scandinavian Home in Sweden, SFGirlbyBay in San Francisco and on Pinterest, I have seen images of our bedroom all over the place and it has been extremely humbling. The bedroom also featured in COUCH magazine in Germany.”
>> Why do you think that post went viral?
“The before and after situations were dramatically different from each other, and the end result was simple, calming and light, with pure white walls, a few vintage pieces and linen bedding. I think the simplicity of the space is what ultimately appealed to people. People wan tot know how they can transform space with little effort and expense, which is something this space achieved.”
>> How does your work as a stylist and decorator make you happy?
“I always feel so honored when someone trusts me with the styling and decorating of their home. Saying to me, ‘do what you would do in your own home’ is a huge compliment.”
>> How would you describe your style?
“I really love the light aesthetic of Nordic interiors, clean with loads of personality. What I find most important is a sense of cohesiveness a space, that everything in it belongs. A home should feel welcoming to everyone, young or old, and it has to be liveable!”
Things I Share
>> What do you and don’t you share on your blog?
“There is a very delicate balance between public and private on my blog. I generally only share things that have to do with my work. I very rarely share images or stories about my daughter Lola or my life as a wife or mother. I try to share posts that directly have something to do with style. We recently took a family trip to Paris that was combined with work (I went to shoot an interior and we added a few vacation days to the trip), which I shared on the blog. This level of sharing I feel is fine, but I would not go into detail about my personal life for the sake of my own, and my family’s, privacy.”
>> Do you show everything that concerns your work?
“A lot, but not everything. I’m careful about sharing projects that are still in development. I’m happy to share things when they are complete, but am careful not to give my readers false expectations or give away the information and advice that my clients pay for. I share many of my daily adventures on Instagram, but complete projects make it to the blog in full when they are ready to and not before. I have lots of projects in the works that I can’t wait to share!”
>> Why is your blog ad-free?
“My blog isn’t my main source of income, but it does generate work for me. The blog is an extension of my creative life and a peek into my aesthetic and inspiration as a stylist. The majority of my clients that ask me to design and style their interiors find me through my blog. I prefer to keep my intentions pure and not connect my name to commercial parties that are not a genuine fit with Avenue Lifestyle.”
>> You don’t do sponsored posts either?
“Sometimes, but more often than not I approach the company myself, and work with hand selected brands and designers whose style I admire and whose products I genuinely love. I recently worked with Superfront in this way, a Scandinavian company that designs elements for customising Ikea furniture. I approached them with the suggestion to collaborate because I love their concept so much and was in the process of decorating my studio space. I used generously sponsored items from Superfront in my studio tour in exchange for original styled images of their product and the exposure on my blog and through my social media network. We were both thrilled with the collaboration.”
Pictured above: Sofa Company couch | Vintage rug | Vintage coffee table | Abstract art by Lola Donoghue (similar in my shop)| Abstract art by Jaime Derringer | Art by Stilleben | Vitra cushion | Ferm Living kilim cushion | Wall sconce lamp by Schoolhouse Electric
Things I do
>> A day in the work life of Holly?
“At the moment, I work two days a week, while my daughter is at creche. That means that I work a lot at night, sometimes until two in the morning, to manage my work load. Sometimes Lola and I work together at my desk, she with her coloring pencils on one end, and me with my PC at the other. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I have my hands free. I try to spend one of those days in the studio, answering mails, editing photographs, designing interiors and placing orders for clients. The other day I’m out and about, meeting clients, shopping or photographing interiors. My clients and photography projects come first, so sometimes blogging takes a back seat. This is something I hope will change as I start to have more time on my hands, because I really do love to blog and share my love of style and interiors.”
>> You also photograph a lot abroad?
“I get on a plane to shoot an interior abroad every few months. I was in Madrid back in November to photograph two interiors and then in Paris in March. My schedule is always very tight during these trips: I fly out on a Tuesday evening, spend two days shooting on location and return home on Thursday night after a full day behind the camera. There’s usually no time for exploring, though I’d love to! My images are sent soon after returning to magazines (via two agents that represent my work) for publishing.”
>> Do you see and talk to other bloggers?
“If at all possible I try to participate in the bigger events that, for example Meet the Blogger and The Hive organise. It’s always a pleasure to meet and talk to the people that I mostly have online contact with in real life.”
>> Does the blogger community feel like a community?
“Everyone has their own story, but a love of sharing is what connects us all. You really understand each other’s struggle to keep a blog alive and inspiring, and there’s a lot of encouragement and support flying around the online world. That absolutely creates a sense of community and solidarity.”
Pictured above: Bed linen by Couleur Locale | Artwork by Puur Anders | Bedside table | Vintage artworks, blanket and harmonica wall sconce | See more of the bedroom here
Things I Want
>> What are your plans for the next two years?
“Right now I’m working on several projects which I’d like to wrap up so I can share them on the blog. I’d like to do more “before and after” features, as I know my readers love those. I’d also like to build a small team around me, to work and create with. I’m quite lonely at times! A little extra manpower behind Avenue Lifestyle would be welcome, so I’ll be working hard to make that happen in the near future. I love seeing my work in print, so I’ll be continuing to photograph interiors and share them with my network of magazines. I always get so excited when a magazine wants to publish my images, it really is an honour.”
>> A blogger that gets excited by paper?
“I think that the online and offline world complement and reinforce each other. Magazines and bloggers collectively cater to a very wide audience and it makes me happy that an influential magazine like vtwonen embraces bloggers and the work that they do.”
>> What’s in the works for your own interior?
“Oh, so much! I love change and am always brining new things into our home. I have my eyes on a new dining table at the moment and the kitchen, extension and garden are also high on our list for renovating and restyling. There’s always something to do, and I am sure once it’s done we will be on the lookout for a new project. All the more to share on the blog!”
“The most charming little antique shop in Delft, De Kaerskorf Antiquiteiten (Markt 2, Delft), is in a beautiful 16th century building. The owner is an enthusiastic collector and has a gorgeous collection of antique tiles. I love giving authentic tiled as gifts to special visitors.”
“I love shopping for vintage and use vintage a lot in my work as a stylist and in my own home. Deja Vintage (Markt 85, Delft) has a great selection in excellent condition and price ranges. I found our coffee table there!”
“Hills & Mills (Oude Langendijk 6, Delft) is a charming pure food cafe serving biological, healthy and delicious food in a former bakery located in the historical heart of Delft. The family owned business prides itself on exceptional quality food and service, offering breakfast, coffee, lunch, herbal teas, fresh smoothies, frozen yoghurt and dinner. Their naan-burger with mango chutney is to die for!
I’ll share more of my favourites from Delft soon, but that’s a quick selection that I highly recommend from the magazine feature!
Hope you guys enjoyed this interview and feature.
A big thank you to the team at vtwonen, who think my work and blog is inspiring enough to share on their beautiful pages, and to Flory for all the hours it took to get this interview written down (from a 1.5 hour interview on the phone in English, into Dutch!). I am so grateful.
Photography: Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle & Hanke Arkenbout / Words: Flory Hartog / Translation: Aukje Schukken, with thanks xxx