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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Wenger

Design Dilemma - Where To Start?

So, you want to freshen up your space with a new look. But where do you start? There are many ways to go about it, but what really gets my design juices flowing is one thing - inspiration. I know, that seems lofty and huge, but it doesn't have to be.

What I mean by inspiration is this - What is one thing you can start with to build the design around? Here are some examples and ideas for different approaches to find your inspiration:

Is There A Given?

What in the space is staying or has to go in the room? Is it a piece of furniture, the floor covering, a piece of artwork? All of these are givens - something we know already. Anything new will need to coordinate or incorporate the given in order to have a cohesive design.

This client wanted a window treatment as original as she is. There is a very energetic piece of artwork in this space that she wanted to draw inspiration from for this and the rest of the room. The walls and accent colors were pulled from the painting, but this window treatment moved the life from the artwork around the room.

Hate Your Given?

It happens - you want a new look, but there's something that just can't be changed. I have a client/friend that has green shag carpet. Yep, avocado green shad carpet. Although it was still in pretty good shape, and could be considered fun and retro, it was something she hated. However, it just wasn't going to be changed anytime soon. To update the space, we have to keep the carpet in mind, no matter how much it is loathed.

So what did we do? When she wanted new window treatments, we picked fabrics that had just a touch of that color in it, but had lots of other colors to give the room a brand new look and express her fun personality.

Blank Slate?

Wow, the world is your oyster! You can start with just about anything. This is probably the most overwhelming situation. It pushes you to ask yourself what your personal style is. Try not to get hung up on labels like traditional, contemporary, transitional, modern, vintage, country, etc. They all have so many layers to them that fit within them infinite possibilities, so it doesn't really help in my opinion. Focus most on the style of "You"!

Try to focus your energy to find just one thing that you love. Is an area rug? Perhaps it's some lovely fabric for window treatments. Even a quirky accessory can be used as the basis for a design concept. I'm planning to design our future kitchen around a retro Big Chill refrigerator! Whatever that one thing is that you fall in love with, pick the other elements for the space to coordinate with it.

What Do You Need?

"Necessity it the mother of invention." This saying applies to design as well. Maybe you have a specific storage need. Or perhaps you have a a struggle in the room, like too much sunlight or not enough seating. Take that need and find the solution. That solution will often lead to a fresh new design outlook for the space.

Here, this homeowner had wanted a custom built-in entertainment center for years. It was a challenge to get functional storage with the high ceilings, make it cohesive with the stone fireplace, and have it situated for the best TV viewing angle. We decided to coordinate with the the adjoining kitchen cabinetry to unify the space. Once we came up with the final concept, she was energized to decide on the furnishings for the rest of the seating area.

What is your design challenge? Having a hard time figuring out what your given is? Or maybe you want to wipe the slate clean? Whatever your dilemma, I'd love to help! Post your question in the comments or feel free to shoot me an email at

Thanks and Have a Creative Day!

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