Breakfast with Benita
I am so excited about this week’s Breakfast guest! We’re off to Sweden to meet Benita Larsson, blogger behind the insanely popular Chez Larsson. Of all the dozens of blogs I read regularly (I’m up to 52 in my Google reader), Benita’s is an absolute fave. She blogs about organization, creative hobbies, and domestic life with an inspiring, original flair. I can’t read her blog without itching to go clean out a cabinet. True, I happen to be an organization junkie — but this stuff is so good! Since my birthday arrives in a few days, this interview was a gift to myself. Birthday cake for breakfast? I’ll take a big slice, please.
CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family parameters.
BL: I’m 43 years old, the visual merchandiser of a chain store in Sweden where I’m in charge of the look of the marketing campaigns. I buy the props, the promotional materials, and the gift wrap for 150 shops. I live in small house in a Stockholm suburb with my husband, 14-year-old son, and two cats.
CC: What prompted you to start blogging? Are you surprised by your blog’s popularity?
BL: I had a Flickr account and people were noticing my photos and commenting on them and blogging them. I got Flickr mail requesting house tours and quite a few questions on whether I would start a blog. I resisted for a while thinking I don’t have that much of interest to share but then thought I might as well give it a go. I’m completely overwhelmed at the popularity! To think that people all over the world are reading what I write and find it interesting amazes to me. I get the sweetest e-mails from readers who say I’ve inspired them to become more organized and I love that!
CC: You have many creative pursuits, in addition to a talent for organizing (to which you bring much creativity). Can you tell us about your various creative hobbies and interests? What does “creativity” mean in your life? How does your design background figure in?
BL: I always take on way too many creative projects… Most are to do with our house. I love renovating, organizing, decorating, and gardening. I sew pillows for my home and my Etsy shop, screen print fabric, gocco print card for my shop. I wish there were more hours in a day to fit it all in… Creativity to me means seeing possibilities in everyday items and being able to turn nothing into something. I don’t really have much professional training in the design field. I started out as a trainee at Ikea more than 20 years ago and I think that Ikea influenced me in thinking economically about design and decorating and keeping things simple. I worked there for three years and have since worked for many companies but I think the simple Ikea way is probably my biggest influence. Although I don’t think of my home as an Ikea home. There are not that many Ikea pieces in there. I guess I have a sort of love/hate relationship there…
CC: You clearly like to be busy and productive. How do you prioritize among family life, work life, blogging, domestic work, and creative projects? What are your time-management strategies?
BL: All of it at once! I’m very impulsive when it comes to doing things. I think of something and want it done immediately and finish it off quickly. Problem! Like I said there are not enough hours in the day. The way I’d love to prioritize is 1) Family 2) Creative projects 3) Blogging 4) Domestic work 5) Work life. That would be ideal. The truth is more like this 1) Family life, domestic work and work life in a jumble 2) Creative work 3) Blogging. I so wish I didn’t have to got to an office five days a week but at the moment we can’t afford to cut down. I’d love to come up with something which would allow for me to work from home…
CC: Where do you do your creative work and blogging?
BL: I blog at a standing desk in the hallway of our house. The creative work is done all over the house, depending on what it is. Carpentry in the garage/workshop, sewing in the living room, papercraft at my craft desk etc. There are usually projects going on in all of these spaces.
CC: Challenges: What do you struggle with most?
BL: Lack of time!
CC: Where do you find inspiration?
BL: I read design blogs and housy blogs. I love foreign interior design magazines and books and I occasionally travel abroad, which is inspiring too.
CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs—the ones you check every day?
BL: That’s a difficult one. Only five huh? I love these, but many, many more too…
CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
BL: Getting somebody to clean my windows twice a year. I hate doing them as I can never get them perfectly clean and this guy arrived and swoosh, they are perfect! I love it!
CC: What are you reading right now?
BL: I just finished reading a nostalgic coffee table book about candy and ice cream. I also love crime novels…
CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to be more creative and find time for their interests?
BL: Please try to fit it in somehow and skip something that’s less important to you. I skip going out in favor of staying in to do my creative projects. To me a movie and a meal out or a party is of less importance than finishing a project I’m on. That’s me, but you may want to skip doing your ironing and get somebody to do that for you to free up that time for some creative project.
CC: Tack så mycket, Benita!