Finding design inspiration can be difficult, and the challenge is different for everyone – but luckily inspiration sources are actually everywhere. Might it be lurking in all those travel photos and mementos that you have stashed away waiting for a rainy day?
Right now we could all use some inspiration, and many of the clients that I’ve reached out to recently say that they’re using this “pause” to look at old photographs and finally organize them. What a wonderful endeavor - one that often gets sidelined after a trip or special occasion. It’s remarkable that even organizing today’s digital photographs can get set aside, even though our devices and computers make the task as streamlined as possible. Perhaps it’s that we take too many photographs with the magic of digital photography, and the sheer enormity of just deciding which of the 1000+ vacation photos to print becomes a chore for the “do it later” pile.
As you know, I love to travel with my family – to far-off exotic places, cities, national parks, grand vistas, historic sites all over the globe, you name it. Over the years, one of the things that I’ve found is that after we return home, our photographs become a marvelous source of inspiration for new design projects, both in our home and on my client engagements. For example, after we returned from a trip to Japan (you can see that blog post here – “Design Impressions from Japan”), my daughter and I embarked on a project to redesign our Massachusetts backyard into more of a Japanese garden. Ironically we happened upon more Japanese garden inspiration later that year on a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine where we found the beautiful Asticou Azalea Garden, a Japanese stroll garden built in 1956/57. I marvel at the peace and calm of the photo every time I see it. The ducks in the photo apparently appreciated the wonderful setting too.
Another inspirational trip for us was our journey to Paris, Giverny (Claude Monet’s home), Bordeaux, and Lisbon. In a previous blogpost (“A New Fabric Line That Is Perfect for Summer”) I shared some photographs from that trip where we marveled at the beautiful architecture of the churches, monuments, and all the gorgeous detail.
However, that’s not so say that you have to travel half way around the world to find inspiring sights. For example, here’s a photo taken inside a lighthouse in Maine that echoes the beauty of the architectural form I love so much, albeit in a much more rustic fashion.
In the Boston area, architectural splendor and design are all around, and in sometimes seemingly unlikely places like the Waterworks Museum in Boston, which I featured in a previous post (“Waterworks Museum: Worth Visiting for Industrial Design Inspiration”) and in trips to local area parks and preserves which have also produced an abundance of design inspiration for me. Who can dispute the beauty of the natural form in budding branches that are so welcome outside our windows right now? Here’s a photo of the Kanzan Cherry tree in my front yard from last year:
I can’t wait to see what this Spring’s display will be this year. Blossoming branches are a terrific way to refresh your interior, as shown below in a Pottery Barn photo of their Faux Sakura Cherry Blossom branch in a kitchen setting. Are your forsythias in bloom right now? Are your local pussy willows peeking out their fuzzy buds? Is your lilac bush blooming? To brighten things up you might take some of these budding branches, put them in vase with water and celebrate the resilience of Springtime inside your home right now.
Of course I’m also fortunate to be surrounded by numerous nature preserves. During a trip with my daughter to a local park in Marlborough last Fall we saw a line of trees that struck a design note with me since it reminded me of Monet’s painting “The Four Trees”.
So my message to you today is clear – if you’re looking for design inspiration you already have inspiration at your fingertips in the photos of the people and places that you hold most dear. If you see a pattern in the things you photograph (like seaside scenes, or branches, or interesting doorways) you can use these images as design inspiration to make wholesale changes in your home (e.g. paint, wallpaper, furniture, light fixtures, window treatments, etc.,) or, on a much smaller scale, you might consider developing a photo montage for a gallery grouping in your home.
But that’s a topic for my next blog where I’ll give you my advice on composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself; a great project that you can easily accomplish while you’re stuck at home. Needless to say, with all the on-line resources for printing your photos to any imaginable size and medium these days (like Shutterfly), it’s an easy DIY task to move your inspiration from your computer screen to your walls so that you can be surrounded by the images you love.
In fact, the online systems have grown so sophisticated that I’m happy to say that my very artistic daughter has been putting her own artwork and designs on-line via Redbubble.com so that other people can also enjoy her paintings, drawings, doodles, colorful "word art" and photographs by having them made into products. What kind of products - well almost anything to include: coffee mugs, stickers, phone cases, wall art prints, T-shirts, pillows, acrylic blocks, coasters, postcards, greeting cards, tote bags, drawstring bags, water bottles, shower curtains, and spiral notebooks. She even edited her photographs in Photoshop and uploaded them to as large format photos (~25 MB each) so that they can made into large products such as throw blankets, shower curtains, pillows, laptop cases and skins, scarves, notebooks, etc. The Redbubble website is really nice since it shows exactly what the product will look like with the selected artwork. So check it out! She is an amazing artist and entrepreneur. As you might guess I’m so proud of her. Here’s the link to my daughters Redbubble Shop and a few of her photos as they would look transferred to various products:
In closing, here’s a little design inspiration for you – a photo of my daughter’s latest oil painting: “Old Keys and Flowers”
One thing’s for sure - we could all use some inspiration, encouragement, fortitude and togetherness-in-spirit right now. Hang in there and God bless all of you.
Since many of you are currently either "working from home", or housebound from all the Government dictates, now might be a good time for you to address some of those home decorating projects that you have been pondering for a while. After all, Spring is arriving and that's a great time to refresh your nest - especially since you and your family are undoubtedly spending more time inside than usual.
An important note: I hope that you and your loved ones are all doing okay in this uncertain and scary time of medical crisis. I also hope that you are okay with me putting out a business blog post that deals with a very non-emergency thing like interior decorating at this time. In my business, there is no such thing as a decorating emergency, and we all know (and appreciate) that. However, like you, I’m trying to get my family through the day in a productive way, abide by all the social distancing and health rules, and support my community and neighbors during this mess. So I think this blog post is reasonable – I hope that you do too.
Thanks for understanding. Now here’s how we can work together - at a distance – over the next few weeks.
My interior design business has always supported “shop-at-home,” and my design studio is located in my home, so I am already very well postured to help you with interior design activities “from a distance.” This means that we don’t have to interact face-to-face to get things that have been on your list for a long time accomplished! Because of how I’ve always operated, I have all my tools and resources at my fingertips right now, including fabrics, paint swatches, samples, sewing machines, woodshop, and my digital rendering software. So I’m ready if you are.
Meet and Home Walk-through via Electronic Means
Normally, I would come to your home in the Boston area, meet you, and discuss the scope of your interior design needs in person. Well, with Facetime and Zoom, we can still accomplish that task exceptionally well, just from a remote stance. After these discussions, to let you know how the proposed design would look, you can email me photos of your home, and I can email you back digital design renderings so that you can envision your home in a new way.
I'm a firm believer in American manufacturing, and my 3 main fabricators of blinds and shades (Lafayette, Horizons, and Comfortex) are all located in the US. Two of these manufacturers, and 95% of my fabric vendors remain open, operating and sending out products as of 27 March 2020; so that part of the interior design pipeline is very much viable and strong. Because they are great, I would very much like these companies to stay in business (and employ their fabulous workforce who always “speak with a smile” on the other end of the phone) during this time of uncertainty. In addition, my furniture vendors are all working remotely, and I have been in contact with my representatives to keep the ball moving on designs for my client’s current projects. For more information on my support to American manufacturing, you can check out my previous blog post.
Working out the Details
Once we have sorted out a design and plan, we can move on to implementing your design vision by taking the next actions remotely:
Samples My fabric vendors are still sending out samples, so I can order samples that can be directly delivered to you. That way you can see, touch and feel whatever fabrics we determine together are contenders for your project.
Taking Measurements Well, that might be a tad more difficult to do remotely, but we can work this out via Facetime and/or Zoom. I know that we can be creative!
Fabrication I am getting lots of sewing/fabrication done while at home! You would not believe the amount of “inventory” of fabrics I have that are just waiting to be made into projects (e.g. valances, pillows, cushions, etc.,).
Dropoff and Installation I am happy to deliver items to your doorstep like the UPS or FedEx driver. I can even install your items in your home (with appropriate social distancing and sanitization protocols) – or we can get everything made and install it after the crisis wanes. Alternatively I can guide you to install them yourself – by providing you with online installation instructions and by walking you through the installation via Facetime and/or Zoom.
So, if you want to make good use of this break from “normal” life, give me a call at 978-440-7264. As always, I offer a free initial consultation, and that can be via electronic means. During our call we can chat about your needs and set up an electronic walk-through. It’ll be nice to talk to you, whether about decorating, or how fortunate we are to be in Massachusetts in the springtime, or our families, or that “elephant in the room.”
As a note of encouragement, this morning my Lafayette representative, Jackie Ibarguen, sent me a quote that I liked:
A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn."-- Helen Keller
Stay healthy! Personally I’m looking forward to our country and the world making the turn to safer times together with compassion, spirit, and dedication.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.