Asheville Interior Design Blog
Objective observation can produce ‘inspired’ interiors
Jean: OK, it’s a fair question. There is no easy answer, though, because every interior design assignment comes with a set of job-specific challenges. Inspiration often comes from associations, whether it’s something special about the house and its owner’s personal interests—or from an association we make with previous experiences.
Richard: True. Some people may consider our obsession with observation a blessing, but it could just as easily be considered a curse. Jean and I both examine a new restaurant’s interior features more closely than we do the menu (except the wine list). I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.
Jean: We are not necessarily judging it, but rather studying how another designer solved layout problems, or measuring the effects of a lighting scheme on the room’s ambiance. The next time we encounter a dark corner in someone’s dining room, we have hundreds of mental references to help overcome that. The client thinks the design is inspired, and who are we to argue?
Richard: Well, in your example, the client may not have even noticed there was a problem until we made an improvement. And that’s part of the observation I was talking about. For do-it-yourselfers, it’s much the same process that offers success. Pretend you’re entering the house or room for the first time, and try to see what your guests see. Are the colors welcoming? Are you greeted by an intimate seating area or by your dog’s shredded chew toy?
Jean: Hey! Not fair. Inspired interiors may include chew toys. If I remember correctly, your very nice house has a couple of doggy reminders lying around.
Richard: If I remember correctly, you have bird poop on your front porch.
Jean: That’s because there’s a nest in the light fixture, and it’s going to stay there until the babies fly away.
Richard: The point is, in a person’s own nest, she might not see what’s obvious to others. One of the questions to ask of yourself is, what about my foyer/living room/house makes it unique? If the answer is “nothing,” consider what was special about the last home you visited that felt inspired. A bold color scheme? A giant vintage poster? The furniture layout? Whatever it was, or at least whatever you remember, chances are there were other interior choices made to accommodate it, and that’s a valid way to approach an installation. For example, if a room contains African artifacts, it may “inspire” heavy textured fabrics or contemporary Ikat fabrics.
Jean: Laugh if you want, but for my money, a great chandelier can be inspiring.
Richard: That would inspire me to hang it over a rough, natural dining table for contrast. Susanne, I once heard an artist complain there’s been nothing new since the Greeks. If an interior seems inspired, chances are something that already existed provided the inspiration. The trick is to translate the inspiration to fit your home and lifestyle. But don’t fit too comfortably in your box. You might suffocate from unoriginality.