Let yourself be influenced by your surrounding’s inherent vibe, but don’t let it rule your design-that’s when it becomes cliché.
When it comes to interior design, it is important to be conscious of trends, but you can’t let them rule your space. Just because something is “in” now does not mean it will be tomorrow. To help you craft your own vision, I’ve collected some tips and guidelines that I use in my work for you to follow when you are pursuing your own inspiration in the world of design.
Remember, trends are fickle. To ensure your space won’t become dated quickly, I always recommend mixing styles and periods of furniture and accessories. The most diverse and entertaining dialogues are the most timeless.
As you try to work through your own timeless dialogue, the first things to know are some “don’ts.” First of all, buying all of your furniture in one place is a big no-no in my book. It’s like wearing the same designer from head-to-toe-while each piece may be beautiful on its own, wearing them together creates a very flat look. That’s a cardinal sin. It’s important to inject a little personality into your style or into a room. Vintage items are a great way to add interest and depth to a space.
Some are lured to thematic design, but I prefer a multi-layered style, which offers more interest, more depth. Plus, there is less of a likelihood that you will tire of a space quickly if the inspiration is more layered.
Let yourself be influenced by your surrounding’s inherent vibe, but don’t let it rule your design-that’s when it becomes cliché. It is important that there are hints of the city in which a project is situated-soft blues, greens, and tans in a beach environment, for example. Otherwise, there is little frame of reference. There is nothing worse than experiencing a themed hotel where you feel like you could be staying in either Paris or the Caribbean.
Take two areas that share a warm climate, California and Florida. From a design perspective, they are worlds apart! There is definitely more of a casual, laid-back vibe endemic to southern California with a dash of classic Hollywood glamour thrown in, whereas South Beach has more of a distinct Latin influence with an Art Deco twist, due to the city’s rich cultural history. Both are equally inspiring places, just different!
My work can be so divergent because my inspiration varies daily depending on where I’ve traveled, which vintage store I’ve visited, which artist’s work I’ve just seen. There are so many rich sources of inspiration in every location; you just have to be open to them.
It’s also important to think about the scale of your space; you don’t want to overpower it or make a room feel too cluttered, a big problem in many spaces. For example, when displaying a collection, try containing your collectibles in a single étagère. In my own home, which I am still in the process of redecorating, I have a collection of vintage china in two glass cabinets flanking the entrance to my kitchen. I love the effect.
I also like to play with scale in small or large space. If you are decorating a smaller space, go with larger scale furnishings. It can actually push the feeling of the space into a larger realm. Do not be afraid; it works! For example, I have a nine-foot sculpture by Ettore Sottsass near the entry of my house with a baroque chair from the 18th century next to it. It creates tension, which makes the setting more visually interesting. Timidity doesn’t pay off.
If you are deciding where to splurge, if I had to choose just one thing, I’d have to say artwork. It’s an investment that can make such an impact in a space. If I had to choose a second thing it would be finishes. You experience the floors, walls, and ceilings in every room. (Although I tend to splurge on everything!)
In the end, everyone has their own design narrative, although it’s hard to pinpoint a specific hallmark of my style. Living in North Carolina, my mom’s style was what I call “Country Cute,” so I rebelled against it, which led to my love of all things modern. While I have a passion for antiques, I prefer when they are juxtaposed with über-modern pieces. For me right now, I’m really into metallics. Both brass and chrome, I don’t discriminate! Also, patinaed copper, chucky semi-precious stones, tortoise mirror, marble-basically anything inspired by Mother Nature. I always say she is the mother of all interior designers!