Getting personal with photography

One of the most important things I strive for when designing any interior space is to have a beautifully designed and functioning room but I also want the home to reflect my client’s unique personality. Often times I look to accomplish this by reusing or re-purposing  beloved family heirlooms, art work, or by displaying a collection that is meaningful to the homeowners. 

Sometimes though, there are no family heirlooms or meaningful collections to work with. In this case, one thing I like to do for my clients is to create something special for them using my photography skills. Today I want to share three different photography projects I did that were very meaningful for my clients yet all three were very simply executed, and might give you an idea for a project in your home.

The first photography project I did was actually for my very first “big” design job back in 2012. I was only about nine months into my business and I was hired to completely furnish a condo for a recently divorced man who was literally bring nothing but his clothes. The dining area of the condo was part of the kitchen and the homeowner had very specific requirements for a dinning table. It had to be of a certain length and width 99% of the time but twice a year had to expand to accommodate a large crowd. After searching for WAY longer than I should have, I finally convinced him we needed to have the table custom made. 

This is where the story gets interesting…and quite long. The short version though is that the furniture maker sourced the wood from the old Birds Eye Freezer factory in Gloucester Ma. This is the very place where flash freezing was invented and produced America’s first frozen vegetables. The factory had been abandoned since the late 40’s and was only weeks away from being raised to make way for a new boutique hotel. The completely freaky part of this story is that unbeknownst to either myself or the furniture maker was that my client had an ancestor who had worked in the factory back in the 1930’s. 

Linda Holt Photo

So, the table shown above sits in a condo by the sea and is made from the wood which once lined the freezer of the Birds Eye Freezer Company (aluminum was eventually used and the wood freezer became obsolete. Here’s where the photography part comes in. Shortly before they knocked the building down I took a series of photos of the decaying factory and chose three to frame and hang next to the table. (I also gave him several unframed ones as well.)

At the time I had no idea I would one day be writing a blog about this so unfortunately I don’t have a better image of the photos themselves. I can report that my client was very moved by my surprise.  He found it so meaningful to own a table made from the wood of such an historic factory, that an ancestor had worked in, and that next to the table are photos of the factory itself…Cool right??

My next photography project was just recently completed. On my first meeting to discuss a new client’s project, the husband pulled out these six books. He said he didn’t know how or if I could incorporate the books into my design but his recently deceased dad was a well known Indian author and had written the series. These kind of family items are gold to me. I placed them all directly on the existing black leather sofa and took a quick iphone photo. These treasured books became the inspiration for my entire design. The colors drove my color scheme and although the books were only small paper back sized, I knew I wanted to bring them to prominence and give them a place of honor in my client’s home.

Client’s book collection written by his dad

Once my design plan was approved, I asked to borrow the set of books. I  took a photo of each book on a white back ground (white construction paper) and had them blown up by one of my favorite companies called Fracture. Fracture prints photos directly on glass and they arrive ready to hang. I enlarged them to a 20″ x 16″ size and the day of the install hung them on a tall thin wall just off the entry. Boy were my client’s both surprised and thrilled!

Fracture glass photos

Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography

My final example is not yet installed so I don’t want to give too much away but I am working with an awesome client/friend on her “piano lounge”. I asked her to give me several of her absolute favorite and most meaningful sheet music cover pages. This is one that she chose as being very meaningful. I especially like the hand written notations as it makes the piece even more personal.

I photographed each sheet cover and then imported the photos into Photoshop. I’m really not a Photoshop expert and I didn’t know exactly what I was even going for but after playing around for awhile I settled on the image below.

sheet music pixelated and colorized

Art work created by Linda Holt

This piece along with two others will be hung above the sofa. Each one is a different color based on the room’s color scheme. I used Fracture to print my images on glass for this project too and at the moment they are sitting in my office waiting for our install day.

Three very different clients, three very different projects and three very different “stories”. That’s what I love most about design. Every client and job is different yet everyone has a family story that is a part of who they are and it’s what makes a house a home. I feel honored I was able to by bring three stories out into the open in my client’s homes through photography.

Would love to hear from you! Which of my three projects is your favorite?



Friday’s Photo: Is it wall art or wallpaper?

While visiting the London design shows in September, I discovered so many inspiring and innovative products. One product that caught my attention was this 3D art form from King Kong Design based in Barcelona Spain.

King Kong Design merges traditional manual paper folding techniques with the latest in digital technology to produce objects in a variety of design fields, mainly architecture, furniture and lighting.


King Kong Design: Linda Holt Photo

The design above is called MODUULI and can be used as 3D wallpaper or wall art. It was created from individual modules folded in to shape from Canson paper.

Depending on the designer’s vision and the budget, MODUULI can be used as a single piece of decorative art or used to cover an entire wall. Everything is custom to size, color combinations and applications.

I thought it was fabulous. What do you think?

A brilliant new way to print and display your photos

It seems today everyone is a photographer. The cameras, even cell phone cameras, take AMAZING photos so we all look like professionals. We post our best on Facebook or Instagram but then we move on. The images live in the cloud, on the computer or on the phone, but they are more or less forgotten. I am completely guilty of this as well. I rarely do anything with my photos once they are posted.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you know that last Spring I made the trip of a lifetime to Italy. I took some beautiful photos, posted them on social media and then I forgot about them. I kept thinking about my trip though and wanted to enlarge some of my favorite images so that I could have a daily reminder of my trip and be filled with that same joy I had while I was there.

I remembered I had seen a new product from one of the vendors at the Design Bloggers Conference. The company is Fracture and they print photos directly onto glass. It’s the picture frame and mount all in one and their photo display was gorgeous. They had an almost luminous quality and the rep asked me if I would like would try them out. Ummm, yes please! I chose the images I wanted to enlarge and sent them off.

The glass printed images arrived last week and I could not be happier. They came safely embedded in sturdy cardboard with a screw attached for the embedded mounting hole on the back. (They are very lightweight so I ended up using a simple nail rather than the screw).

fractured detail3

They easily pop out of the card board protector and are ready to hang. Below is a close up of the glass and the black backing.


These blog photos do not convey how beautiful the images are but they appear to glow. I could not be happier. Below is a close up of two of my pictures.

Photos mounted on glass

Linda Holt

The photos are hung on a wall adjacent to my kitchen so I see them everyday and it brings me joy remembering my trip. The price point is also good so if I tire of looking at them I have no issue with replacing them with something else. The best part is that I didn’t have to frame them which as you know, is usually more expensive than enlarging them in the first place.

Photos printed on glass

Linda Holt Interiors

If you are interested in printing some of your photos with Fracture, here is the link. I chose to print my vacation photos but any image can be upload and printed. It could be your kids artwork, a cherished letter, a sheet of music, anything that can be photographed can be printed onto the glass. Fractured also sells ready made images on glass if you want to purchase something unique or you can choose something from one of their artists.

As you can tell, I am a fan. I have already told one of my clients about it as she was complaining about how expensive it was going to be to frame her images that she plans to enlarged.

My experience got me thinking though, do you print and display your photos or let them live in the cloud?

The most beautiful art you’ve never seen

For those of you who have been to Italy, you already know there is incredible beauty everywhere you look. Our Wine and Design travel group first spent time in Venice where the canals and architecture are picture postcard perfect. This image was taken at just about sunset after a day of rain while on my way to the hotel. I mean seriously…does it get any more beautiful than this?

Venice from the Grand Canal: Linda Holt Photo

Venice from the Grand Canal: Linda Holt Photo

Well yes, it does because then a few days later we traveled by bus to Verona and drove past miles and miles of lush green countryside and vineyards. This image was taken right out of the bus window while driving down the highway. Imagine my angst that we were driving by all these picturesque towns and I was on a moving bus shooting through a glass window. If only the window had opened I would have hung right over the side of the bus and risked my life to get a better shot.

Italy:Linda Holt Photo

Italy:Linda Holt Photo

Then of course there were the many vineyards we visited. Can I just say, this must be what heaven looks like.

Italy Vineyard:Linda Holt Photo

Italy Vineyard:Linda Holt Photo

So with all this scenic beauty I didn’t think there would be much else that would wow me…until we went to the Antolini Stone Yard. Oh…My… Goodness. If you think you’ve seen granite and marble, you haven’t seen anything unless you’ve visited the world’s largest stone yard. It was one of the highlights of the trip for many of us. The stones are sourced from all over the world and initially cut into 8′ blocks. I had never seen anything like it. The variety was endless and the stones were every color imaginable. They had the more common granites and marbles but it was the rare and semi precious stones that knocked my socks off.

Antolini Stone Yard:Linda Holt Photo

Antolini Stone Yard:Linda Holt Photo

As we were guided through the showroom it was the same feeling as if we were being guided through an art gallery.


Linda Holt Photo

Every single slab was unique and every single stone was a masterpiece of nature created through time, pressure and elements. I took a couple geology classes in college and as our tour guide was giving us a little history of the stone and how it was formed I remembered how much I loved those classes.

orange marble

Linda Holt Photo

Many of the stones were very “busy” and would be statement pieces for sure. We were told many are used in commercial application such as for flooring or a focal wall in a lobby or as a bar top.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Our entire group was oohing and awing over each and every stone.


Linda Holt Photo

This one below looks like cracked ice. Imagine how beautiful this would look as a bar top or used in a spa or bathroom.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

One of my favorites was this one below. It is from an ancient river bed in Brazil and is embedded with thousands of tiny sea fossils. We were shown a few “concept rooms” while on the tour and one of the rooms was a home bar that was made entirely out of this stone. It was the most beautiful application. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos but imagine the counter top as well as the cabinets of the bar were all created out of this stone.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

This stone had fossilized nautilus shells embedded into it. It was hard to even comprehend how rare and special this stone is.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The other thing that wowed our group is called bookmarking. This is a process where the stone is sliced from the block then “matched” to one another to create a mirrored or almost kaleidoscope effect. The slabs can be matched horizontally or vertically and in any number of pieces. The one below is matched horizontally. Doesn’t it look like a rug or a painting?


Bookmarked marble: Linda Holt Photo

Here are a few members of our group standing in front of another bookmarked example. This is four slabs bookmarked together.


Kyle Hoepner, Sherri Adair, Adam Japko, Jeremy Parzen

Can’t you just imaging this as the floor in an entrance?

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

I think this one below looks like a tribal rug but I can also imagine it as fabric. It has that “tie dye” look that is so on trend today. It also looks a little like some kind of stretched out fossilized animal.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

The other stones that were amazing to see were the semi precious stones. This one below is Rose Quartz. They make jewelry out of this so can you imagine having a counter top, floor or a wall made from this? CRAZY!

Rose Quartz:Linda Holt Photo

Rose Quartz:Linda Holt Photo

and this is Blue Lapis with gold.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

If that’s not impressive enough, the slab below is for the very high end client (most likely Middle Eastern we were told) who has the budget for this composite of sliced agates set into 18 Karat gold. This would most likely be used for a wall treatment or a bar top and then lit from behind. All I could think of when I saw this stone was that old Paul Simon song that goes, “she wears diamonds on the soles of her shoes”. It’s almost too much of a good thing but if you want to flaunt your wealth then this is the slab for you.

Agates set in gold:Linda Holt Photo

Agates set in gold:Linda Holt Photo

I know the photos don’t do the stones justice but I hope you get an idea of how much is out there besides carerra marble and the run of the mill granites we all see over and over….and over. If you live in New England you are very lucky because you can see many of these stones in “person”. Cumar Marble and Granite in Everett was one of the sponsors for our trip and they source many of their stones directly from Antolini. It is so worth a trip even if just for fun (or to take some amazing photos) to check it out. Be sure to ask for Dawn Carroll or Stephanie O’Brien who were also on the trip to give you a tour. They are both very knowledgeably and would love to show you around. I can’t wait to schedule a time myself.

Which stone is your favorite?



Friday’s Photo: nature inspired

Designers are often asked what inspires them the most. For me it has always been nature and I am especially drawn to trees. This is a close up of a tree trunk outside the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. I love everything about this. The pattern, the color palette and the texture.

textured treeRED

It reminds me of fish scales or maybe a super close up of a butterfly wing. I can just imagine this made into a wallpaper, fabric or carpet. What inspires you?

Have a good weekend everyone!

ORC week 4: All about the art

Well here it is week four of the One Room Challenge  hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. What had been a ticking clock has now become a booming drum constantly beating in my head. I have less than two weeks to complete my large family room before the photographer arrives on the 9th.

I did make some progress this week as those of you who follow me on Instagram saw. I am super excited about my newly lacquered campaign chest. I purchased it for a song at the Habitat Restore and then had my cabinet maker lacquer it in Sherwin Williams Indigo. It came out spectacular!

Lacquered Campaign chest

Lacquered Campaign chest

I was blown away by how good the refurbished hardware came out. If you saw the hardware “before” in last weeks post you know it was in pretty sad shape.

My cut and bound sea grass rug was also installed this week. I needed something that would wear like iron and handle the wear and tear from our dog.

seagreass rug

As you can see I had it cut out around the fireplace so that it wouldn’t look like a landing strip pad running down the middle of the room. Having a rug that fills the whole room has made such a difference in making the room feel more cohesive as well as cozy. BTW, it’s only curling up on the edge there because I took this photo right after the installer left. It will lay flat within a few days.

Still waiting on my furniture which will arrive hopefully the end of this week into the middle of next week.

So now my thoughts are on to the art for the room. I already own a fabulous oil painting that will be going directly above the campaign chest.

art piece

So the dilemma that had been keeping me up at night was what to do for art on the huge expansive wall above the sofa. It is almost 7′ of wall space! My budget is more than blown so it had to be something very affordable.  I do not like big box store art or what I call “staging art” because I only want to bring things into my home that have meaning or speak to me in some way. I needed to get creative.

My solution? I decided to create a gallery wall that could be ever changing as I find just the right pieces going forward. Since I don’t have the luxury of time, I decided to simply enlarge some of my photography and display some glass trays and blue and white plates that I love.

Here is my initial planning.

Preliminary gallery wall planning

Preliminary gallery wall planning

I purchased about a dozen white frames from Michael’s during a 40% off frame sale and played around with different frame sizes and arrangements on the floor until I found something I liked. I didn’t have much time to decide which images to enlarged as I looked at the lead time for delivery and realized I had about had about ten minutes to make a decision in order for them to arrive on time. I choose some photos from our favorite vacation spot and a few more abstract ones. Just like with the frames I ordered way more images than I need because I want to play around with placement once they arrive.

So all in all, if everything arrives on schedule, I am in fairly good shape. I still have a lot to do but now that I have decided on the art I feel a lot better.

I would love to hear from you. What do you think of my affordable wall art solution?

It has been eye opening following all the other ORC participants as some are doing great, and others have huge challenges to deal with. I feel very fortunate in that I have two friends, Meredith Bohn, and Kelly Rogers also participating in the challenge. When we need a word of encouragement or get stressed we have one another to lean on. This has made such a big difference in my stress level.

Be sure to check out everyone participating here.



Friday’s Photo: Is this art?

There is a video that recently went viral showing Joshua Bell, a world class violinist playing in the NYC subway system. Bell is one of the most celebrated and gifted musicians of our time but because he was out of context people just walked by as he played and gave little notice.

Years ago I walked into a modern art show at a Boston gallery. There was a drill and a tool belt laying on the floor in the corner. I looked at it for the longest time trying to decide if it was part of the exhibit of just left there temporarily by a worker. It really didn’t matter, the point is, art can be and is absolutely everywhere. We don’t have to be at a museum or art gallery to “see” art.

rusty mailboxWMI know everyone is in agreement that nature is the most amazing art of all but what about simple everyday objects? What if my neighbor’s rusting mail box is the most spectacular work of art the world has never seen? Look at the colors, the textures and the complexity of layers. To me it is a masterpiece…what do you think?  Is it art?


Page 1 of 3123

Subscribe to my blog

Browse by Category