Bohemian Season at Brocante...

Good morning housekeepers, welcome to the first of my introductory interviews with my lovely new guest bloggers. I am kicking off with the very gorgeous Valerie from Bohemain Season, and over the next few weeks will introduce you to A Thrifty Mrs and Danielle from Housework Blues... all scrumptiously talented bloggers with their own specialities, who I have sweet-talked into sharing their unique takes on the Brocante way of life. So without further ado... meet Valerie.

Tell us about yourself ...

By day, I'm a marketing professional... but by night I'm writing a novel!  I like to think of myself as a creative, bohemian free spirit who loves the little things in life.  I adore my laptop and my Kindle, but I'm a bit of a Luddite.  Sometimes I'd like to ban all technology and just slow everything down.  I love all sorts of stories - I've been accused of being a bookworm, and I never fold laundry without watching a movie on the weekend.I'm attracted to things that are quirky, beautiful, one of a kind and sometimes, dare I say it- stylish.  But for me, inner beauty is just as important.  I don't want to live a life of faux gloss - I crave realness.  I sometimes tend towards melancholy, but I always pick my head up and look for the sun.

How long have you been blogging at Bohemian Season?

I've been blogging for ten months.  For some reason it feels longer than that! I started blogging at a turning point in my life when I was ready for change and I wanted to use my blog to explore and discover what that change would be.

What difference has blogging made to your days?

I think blogging has made a bigger difference for my overall life than my individual days.  Blogging became a catalyst for figuring out what really matters to me.  When I started blogging about something I got immersed in it and in that immersion process I made discoveries. For example, when I started my blog, I thought maybe I would become a photography buff, or post about my outfits, or write about food.  That didn't work out as planned. I discovered pretty quickly that wasn't where my passion lies.  I still love a lot of those things - just not enough to be all about it 24x7. Some of these discoveries have gone pretty deep.  I'm amazed how much has changed with me since I started blogging.  So I think blogging helps me discover what matters to me, what I'm feeling, right now - and what pieces of that I want to share.

Tell us about your blog...

My blog is called Bohemian Season because it started as a personal exploration for me.  I saw it as my season of wandering... of becoming more like the person I've always wanted to be.  I wanted to use it to encourage myself to try new things and figure out what I want to do next in my life.  I'll get a wee bit personal here, but I'm at a strange part of my life.  I'm 36 now and I've long wanted to have children, but I'm just not sure if it will actually come to pass for me.  I've been through a lot of ups and downs over it the last few years, but I'd finally reached a point where I said, no matter what happens, I'm not waiting anymore.  I'm not putting my life on hold anymore.  I'm going to pursue my dreams.  I don't want to look back in life and have regrets.  I want to seize whatever happiness can be mine. So starting a blog was one outcome of that.  I just wasn't sure what my dream was!  I wanted to use the blog to figure that out.  I envisioned a year of exploration.  The funny thing is, shortly after starting the blog it came to me clear as day that I wanted to be a writer. This wasn't a new thing - but it popped it's head back up and I "just knew".  Since then, I've been a little less focused on trying new things and more focused on running after that dream.  But I still write about all sorts of odds and ends from fashion to decor to books to philosophical musings.  Some of my favorite things to write about are movies and oddly enough - nail polish.  I like to play with color by creating my own color collections inspired by something like a movie or a season. I share what I love and what's speaking to me at the moment!

What kind of housekeeper do you consider yourself to be?

An aspirational one. ;-)  I'm a bit like a roller coaster.  Some days I seem to have it all under control and then other days I feel as if the mess is reproducing.  It seems to be tied to my routine.  If my routine gets interrupted that week, things fall into a downward spiral. Routine keeps me sane and happy.  But there are always interruptions now and then.  I'm trying to learn to stop the downward spiral as quick as I can.

Do you have a favourite housekeeping "bible"?

Oh yes.  The book to end all housekeeping books for me is Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson.  I've had this book for a long time - it helped me make a lot of decisions when I was setting up house as a newlywed.  It's a great manual for housekeeping miscellany, but it's also inspiring.

Tell us about your house?

My little 1980s house is an exercise in patience and gratitude! I have moments when I'm all whiny and feeling sorry for myself about my plastic handled bathroom faucets and then I suddenly look up and see my house through the eyes of someone who lives in third-world country and I just want to give myself a good smack! My husband and I have been fixing it up here and there over the years and there's still so much to do. If you don't have loads of money, it's all about time, and there's only so much of that too. It's taught me that it often takes much longer to build a lovely home than I imagined. And it's always teaching me to just pause and be grateful for what I have right now. Being part of the blogging world I can get impatient to have a fabulous, impeccably decorated house. And then I bring myself back down and say "whoah, whoah, your home is a place for you to live and love - not a place to impress others" - which is what I've decided about it for myself.

I've been an avid thrift store shopper, so over the years my decor has changed often. I've had a distinct "shabby-cottage" phase, which is not where I'm at so much at present. But I'm still attracted to a bold floral from Cath Kidston, or a vintage lamp, or a gorgeous venetian mirror or a satiny eiderdown. Vintage and feminine will always charm me. At the moment though, my pendulum is swinging to a more minimalistic aesthetic. Not harsh, or purely modern, just a more spare, flowing space - think Atlanta Bartlett.

My decor is a bit of an eclectic hodge-podge, with furniture from many different styles and time periods, many of which I've made over with a paintbrush. I keep it light on knick-knacks and try to go for a few bigger things that have more impact. At it's core I've gone for a light beach house feel - white paint and light flooring - keeping things simple and open with furniture and accessories adding layers of personality on top.

One of my favorite rooms in my house right now is my bedroom. I found matching nightstands at a thriftstore and painted them smoky gray and added crystal handles - I love that they have drawers so I can hide things inside and keep the outside clear. And I recently re-made my 1970s headboard with a soft grey colorwash and bought this Dwell Studio duvet in a very modern gold shade. It's clean, spacious, and relaxing, but it's one of a kind and doesn't feel store-bought.

And finally, your favorite puttery treat?

Changing out my inspiration board over my desk every couple of months. It's a seasonal thing. I suddenly find myself in the mood to see new colors, new inspirations, and it soon gets switched out. It's my little corner to privately express myself and what moves me. My other favorite puttery treat is having luxurious liquid hand-soap at all of our sinks - Savon de Marseille smells like heaven.

Isn't she wonderful?? Go say hello to Valerie at Bohemian Season and look out for her column on Brocante very, very soon. She's an absolute treasure and I am honoured to have her here.