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.
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.