Sunday, June 5, 2016

How to Translate Inspiration into Rooms You'll Love to Live In




Because a) I am crazy, or b) because I don't have a project currently on the go at the moment, I've decided to write a little series on How to Decorate. My mind just won't quit! This is the first part of the first step in the five step series. The Introduction is here.




So, you want to decorate a room.

You're not happy with it, something isn't working. You want to change it.

Where do you begin?

Where do you start? What's the very first thing you need to consider?

The feels.

For real.

You need to know how you want to feel in your room.  

Decorating is really about emotion. Yes, really. It’s about capturing how we want to feel when we’re inside our homes, inside each room. Cosy. Warm. Sheltered. Full. Loose. Joyful. Sexy. Calm. Creative. Whatever.

So, how do we do that? How do we translate how we want to feel into furniture and rugs and light fixtures that make us feel the way we want to feel?

It's not hard. Here’s how:

4 Steps to Creating D├ęcor with all the Feels

1) Begin at the beginning. Answer the question: how do you want to feel in your room? List out the adjectives.

2) Find things (or more accurately, pictures of things), two or three no more, which make you feel that way.

3) Analyse the characteristics of your inspiration pieces

4) Translate them into your rooms.


I’ll walk you through it.

Step 1. Identify the Feeling

Let’s say I have a sitting room that functions as a guest room from time to time. Let’s say I want it to feel cosy. More than that: enveloped. I want to feel full, like I lack for nothing: abundant. I don’t want anything austere. This is full on fecundity, ripeness, comfort.

2. Find Your Inspiration

So, what might evoke those emotions?

There are all sorts of possibilities.

Flowers, a garden at harvest, lots of food--maybe fruit, . In fact, I immediately thought of a fruit stall where the fruit is piled high.  So, I went looking for one.

This is what I found:



I love it. It is lush. Abundant. Full. Energizing, yet peaceful. It's gorgeous, too.


Step 3. Analyse its Characteristics.

Let's break it down.

Colours: Blues, greens, yellow-greens, purple-pink and the tiniest bit of orange. Opposites are quite energizing.

Shapes: There are actually two shapes, here. Mostly, everything is a smooth round or oval. Roundness = comfort. Yet, the way they are grouped--more or less in stacks--creates rectangles. There is order and security.

Patterns: The rectangles, one on top of another form a grid, in this instance, a checkerboard. It reminds me of a quilt with each group of fruit reminding me of a patterned fabric. There are even stripes in one of the stacks. For someone else, this may put them in mind of a gallery wall, window panes, or a bookcase.

Textures: The apples are smooth and shiny. The berries are smooth and matte, almost frosted. The canteloupe is rough. The citrus fruits are mottled, kind of soft but nubby, too. Like a knit throw. There’s lots and lots of softness. All these textures is another reason I love this particular picture of a fruit stall.

Materials: This image doesn't really have any materials we would use in a room, per se, But the whole image makes me think of natural materials: like wood and cotton and naturally, growing things.


Step 4: Translate

From now on, everything you place in your room must have one or more of these characteristics, broadly defined. Like this room.

I think that if I were to spend any time here, I just might feel all the feels:




Colours: There’s a good mix of warm and cool.

Shapes: The individual pieces of fruit in the inspiration piece are expressed in the patterns of the fabric on the pillows. Their round shapes are loosely interpreted as the softness in the pillows. The rectangles are expressed in the window panes, the couch, the bricks and the pillows themselves.

Textures: The windows are smooth and shiny. The wood table is smooth and matte. The rug is rough. There’s even a knubby knit throw.

Materials: It all feels very natural, doesn’t it? The wood. Cotton. Brick. And, of course, the plant.

Let's take another example of translating some inspiration into another room--this time a bathroom.


1. The Feels we want to feel: sophisticated, modern, classic, crisp.

2. The Inspiration:




3. The Characteristics:

Colours: Black, white, grey, tan/brown and pale blue. Do we count the orange? Up to you. 

Shapes: Curves! And something round. Rectangles.

Patterns: Stripes, if you can call it that. Brick.

Textures: Soft. The straw hat could be considered semi-rough. Smooth. Hard. Shiny. Rough.

Materials: Fabric. Concrete. Paper. Brick. Leather. Metal. Whatever a Rolls is made of.


 4) Translation:

This is one tremendously glamorous option:



Colours: Black, white, tan/gold.

Shapes: Curves in the veins of the marble. The round tub. Rectangles: the bench, window panes and mirror.

Patterns: There's more of a colour block effect happening with the black and white. No stripes.

Textures: Soft towels. Smooth, hard. and shiny marble and porcelain. 

Materials: Fabric. (window shade). The marble reminds me of the Rolls.


But this is just one style. And it may not be yours. In fact, you and I could have the identical inspiration photo of the woman in the black dress and hat--and use the same characteristics--yet come up with a totally different room.

Bathroom II

Colours: Black, white, grey. I wish they had painted that stool blue!

Shapes: Round lampshade, round stool, round towel rack. Curves in the floor tile. The round tub. Rectangles: tiles, window blind, mirrored medicine cabinet.

Patterns: Another colour block effect happening with the black and white. The brick tile subtly stripes the room.

Textures: Soft towel. Smooth, hard. and shiny marble and porcelain. 

Materials: Metal fixtures. The tiles remind me of the brick.



Using inspiration pieces can be a really useful way to get at the emotions we want to feel in our rooms. When we know how we want to feel in a particular room, it isn’t all that hard to find something that inspires that particular feeling. Then, it’s just a matter of analyzing the characteristics of our inspiration piece to ensure we include those very same characteristics in our finished rooms.


But it has its limitations. To wit, this kind of inspiration only tells us what general characteristics to use. It doesn't tell us how to use them--how much, where to put them, that sort of thing. In the bona fide design world, these characteristics are better known as design elements. And the specifics of their use is a matter of our own personal style--and Part 2 of the first step: Create A Vision. 


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