What are the things in your life you wake up thinking about and go to bed dreaming about? What keeps you going when you feel tired, worn and unmotivated? For me, that’s interior design and helping others. It’s hard to stop talking about the things we love so much, so today we’ll be diving headfirst into my favorite subject: making homes! But, that’s not the only reason I’m asking you to consider your passions and loves. When I do virtual and in-person consultations, I frequently talk to people who want a fresh start with their spaces, but have no clue where to begin. For me, the solution is simple. Start with what inspires you! It’s the best and easiest method for a personalized touch you’ll enjoy for years to come.

History Is the Best Teacher

Rudyard Kipling once said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” When we reflect on some of the author’s greatest and most well-known works of art, one can certainly say he had a point! Stories like The Jungle Book have made an indelible impression on our culture, and that just might be the best demonstration of that quote. When we can easily grab for images in our minds, they tend to stick with us. It’s why historical references often make such amazing muses for artists. How fitting is it that their work has also become my muse at times? When I am designing spaces and I’m unsure of what artwork to use, history is a great stimulus. 

Inspiration in Unexpected Places

I often find some of my greatest art in a place you might least expect: the library! I have hung gorgeous prints on the walls of my home, clients and even in commercial spaces that were secured from a library. Some of my favorites feature artwork that isn’t just beautiful to look at, it’s actually geographically relevant! Take this photo below for instance. I originally selected this piece for a restaurant I designed in Santa Monica, CA. It features an image of a woman in a restaurant feeding her pet lion, and even as outrageous as that sounds, it’s not the coolest part. 

The actual photo was taken in a restaurant in Santa Monica so many years ago! This art perfectly tied the history to the space. The restaurant was female chef and female support team driven, so I loved having a piece of decor that embodied a story of female strength and empowerment. I later hung it in my home for similar reasons. If you are looking for ways to personalize your interior design, consider historical references that have a special meaning to you. Do you love a certain decade for special reasons? Maybe your family history can be linked to a particular place or person that you can use as inspiration. These types of ideas make for unique art and decor that not only lend personality to a space, they are also conversation starters. 

Authenticity in Your Artwork

When I’m contemplating how to bring a space to life for a client who feels “stuck” creatively, I begin from a place of curiosity. I ask questions like, “where in the world do you feel most comfortable?” “Are there certain emotions you hope your space will evoke?” As I learn more about a client I acquire enough crucial information to create a design that feels both customized and authentic.

That’s precisely the core of this next tip. Authenticity will shine through the design if you are careful to include components that feel personal. Add decor details that connect to who you are, what you do, or even what you believe in. A skilled interior designer will be able to help you incorporate these in refined but imaginative ways. I’ll give you an example. In my home you will find several prints from the artist Arthur L. Reese. One of my absolute favorites is actually hung right above my bed. It’s an image I have affectionately nicknamed “My Ladies.” I love this print dearly for so many reasons. Mr. Reese was an extraordinary man who came to Venice Beach, California from Louisiana and was hired by Abbot Kinney to “decorate the city.” 

Keep It Connected

This very photo was shot in my neighborhood! I not only love the geographical significance, I feel especially connected to Mr. Reese’s drive to leave his mark on the world. Not only was he an amazing inventor, designer and businessman, he was also one of the first black landowners in the area. As someone with a career in real estate development and interior design, that has always resonated on a deeper level. I relish any chance to educate guests about “The Wizard of Venice”. This piece hangs above my bed and motivates me on a daily basis. I wake and glance up at My Ladies all posed with balls on their backs ready to run the race, and I remind myself that I can take on the day! That’s what interior design should do for our homes, in my opinion.

Travel-Influenced Design

If you have been a reader for any length of time, you absolutely know that my favorite place on earth is Ibiza, Spain. I detail my family’s many vacations to the island on Instagram regularly, because we spend a lot of time there. My adoration for this wildly beautiful island permeates so many areas of my life. I often incorporate it into my design choices. Ibiza boasts 100 miles of stunning coastline, and even from a distance you can recognize the dominant hues of the area: teal and white. 

I have long correlated my feelings of serenity and tranquility with the relaxation I feel when I’m in this area. I have allowed that powerful influence to guide what I do with certain design selections. You can see that in my love of white bed linens, white stone elements, white furniture and pops of teal. If you visit a spa or a luxury resort you’ll likely notice the prominent colors will be shades of blue and white. It only made sense to incorporate similar features in spaces I want to feel delightfully relaxing. 

Lean Into Cultural Influences

I talk about timeless design often, because it not only feels elegant and elevated, it saves my clients money! Following trends is fun, but having to switch out decor furniture and fixtures with every turn of the design tide can get expensive! If you love to travel, don’t hesitate to add pieces from your favorite destinations in your home. These additions will always feel classic. Think about the cobblestone streets of Rome. They are one of the iconic features of the region that immediately conjure up stunning images in our minds upon mention of the name. I like acquiring items that feel traveled. You don’t need a passport stamp to India to hang a beautiful tapestry on your wall. Textured neutrals made from organic materials are especially interesting to the eye. Culturally rich artifacts can enhance the design of a space in an unparalleled way.

I’ve always believed that interior design has far more power than we give it credit for. It can set a mood, tell a story, disarm a stranger or simply be a place of safety and comfort. To genuinely make it yours, don’t shy away from including bits of YOU in the curation of the spaces you call your own. After all, the things that inspire you will always be the best foundation for tailored design. Contact me on The Expert for tips on where to start. I’d love to help!

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