Mar 07

Four Sources of Inspiration for Your Interior Design Project

If you are at a loss with where to start with your interior design project, a little research can work wonders. If the interior magazines and homeware catalogues aren’t getting you anywhere, leave the house and start looking elsewhere.

1. Nature

The great outdoors is a clear source of inspiration for many product designers. The swirl of a shell, the leaves of a plant, the aerodynamics of a bird, all contribute to our technology and our design landscape. When perfection is at your disposal why not learn from it? The essence of beauty comes from our appreciation of nature so why not use it as a starting point for our ideas? Take a camera with you and get some pictures of the different textures you come across, the types of wood you like and the colour palettes which naturally work so well together.

2. Museums

Visiting museums is an excellent source of inspiration that will not only delight and entertain us but also broaden our minds. If someone has gone to the huge effort of creating something magnificent and worthy of a place on our museum floors then surely it could be the spark of an idea for your home. Take the kids and visit the Wallace Collection and the V&A, they’ll love it once they’re there! Remember to buy some postcards or take a brochure home with you so that you can begin stock piling the beautiful things that inspire you.

3. Restaurants and hotels

Go to restaurants and stay in hotels that have been decorated in ways that might appeal to you (it’s all in the name of research you must tell your husband!). Enjoy tea at the Ritz or in the Glaswegian tearooms that Mackintosh designed. Remember to take photos not just of your food but of your beautiful surroundings, and ask the proprietor where they got their furniture and where the inspiration for their interiors came from.

4. Period properties

If the past intrigues you and you want to understand how interior styles have changed across the years, visit some of the country’s many fantastic historical houses. Or go one bigger and visit the Palace of Versailles for a peek into the world of Louis XIV and experience the famous room of mirrors. Go to St. Paul’s cathedral for an understanding of the ‘Restoration period’. See the Royal Crescent in Bath and admire the Georgian style of architecture. Pop to Paris for a saucy weekend and check out the Arc de Triomphe with its Empire style. Have a weekend by the sea in Brighton and enjoy the Royal Pavilion for its unique spin on Chinoiserie. And celebrate the Arts & Crafts period at the Red House in Kent.

All these sources have so much to teach you. Some you will admire, some you will not, but this is the essence of working out what your authentic style is – working out what you like. Sometimes I find just understanding it, appreciating it in its own context, makes it more appealing. So maybe you’ll learn to love things you haven’t previously even noticed.

Feb 27

Finding Inspiration for Unconfident DIY Designers

Are someone who doesn’t consider themselves ‘arty’ or ‘creative’, and finds themselves at a loss when asked ‘what inspires you?’ When you start planning an interior design project you need to start with inspiration, and trust me – you have as much inspiration for creativity in you as anyone else. It’s just that you haven’t been practicing recently and your creative muscles are probably a little flabby. Being inspired takes practice and the ability to look in the right places.

The right place to start looking is actually in the mirror. After all, how can you be happy if you don’t know what makes you happy? How can you be stylish if you don’t know what style you like? Marcus Aurelius said “Look within. Within is the fountain of good and it will bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.” I think he has a good point.

How to find your inspiration

Get yourself a pen and paper and start reflecting on who you are. The powerful mix of understanding your past, taking a close look at your present and considering the future will help you create your authentic style – the style of your home and the style of your life.

1. The Past

Who were you before you are now? Which bits of you have you forgotten? Are there any parts of you that could be worth bringing back again? I’m sure there are plenty of bits that you’d rather leave behind but what about the gems of the past? Don’t leave them behind if they’re worth taking with you.

Go through your old albums and look at who you used to be. Remember how you used to think, how important places and people were to you. What made them important? Bring back memories of what made you happy. Can you bring any of that into your life now?

2. The Present

Which part of you do you want to embrace? There are so many parts of you – I suspect some more fun than others – which bits do you want to highlight and which bits are you happy to keep in storage? Don’t you want to see your efficient side in evidence around your home? Don’t you want your eclectic taste to be seen somewhere – even if it’s just the utility room?

3. The Future

The future – who you want to become: the Spanish you want to learn, the trombone you want to play, the home you want to retire to, the investments you want to make, the car you want to drive, the wedding anniversary you really want, the holidays with the kids you dream of, the solitude and tranquillity you imagine.

Now to make your vision board

Vision boards are about surrounding yourself with visions of who you are and what you want – which will help you to start noticing the goals or ‘things’ you aspire to. In this case, your vision board will serve as your interior design concept board.

By putting together a board of items, you can see how they ‘work’ – how they look together, whether any stand out and whether that’s a good thing or not. They’re a brilliant way of letting your brain make up its mind about whether it likes things.

With your concept board in hand, you can start making decisions about ways in which your interiors can give a nod to your loves, hopes and dreams in your day to day. Perhaps an aquatic wallpaper that reminds you of the pool you like to lie by. A bright green fabric that looks like the padi fields in Asia you’d love to visit. A vibrant painted blue wall in the utility room that looks like the sky in Greece; your white goods against it reminiscent of the white buildings on the Greek islands.

Your vision board of your past, present and future self is the perfect inspirational starting point for your new interiors. Remember, inspiration comes from within, so get thinking, reflecting, collecting and sticking and see what design genius springs out at you!