January 17, 2011

Get excited

When designing a room- whether it’s for myself or for someone else- I’ve realized that I need to be excited about it to do it well.  That’s just how it is.  I might not be excited about all projects at the get-go (ie my laundry room) but once I find something to do to the room or put in the room that I feel a strong emotion about, I get really excited and into it…  And then it all just sort of seems to flow together into a full idea.

{my laundry room… I didn’t like it until I gto a handle on the vibe I wanted.}

If I don’t find that “spark,” that catlyst that excites me (whether it’s because I think it’s beautiful, highly personal, new to me, or fun or odd or whatever) then working on the room can feel like homework & drudgery.

In this industry, when what you’re doing is helping people create a home they will love, it’s easy to get into a groove.  You form opinions about what you like and don’t like in a room and even though your homes for different clients should all be different and personal to your clients’ tastes, you begin to carry these views with you.  You know what works and doesn’t work/  what you agree with and what you disagree with.  For example, how you generally like your rugs sized, proportions concerning items like chandeliers, lamps, furnishings, etc.  You kind of form “rules” in your head for yourself, realizing it’s okay to break them when need be.  For me though, if I follow all of my “rules,” it can get dull.  It can feel like clockwork or connecting the dots.  Things have to feel fresh to me or it feels as if we’re following directions instead of creating.  The juices that flow are totally different in those two tasks.

I used to wonder why artists would go through “periods.”   Picasso comes to mind here:


{The Blue Period}
{The Rose Period}
It seemed to me that he’d achieved perfection so early on;  Why go through these periods?
…I think it’s because if he’d continued on where he’d started (with realism/ perfection) it would have felt like following a formula.  He’d mastered it and needed to move on to master something else.
I think many of us in creative fields do this.  I think we have to or we get bored.  I go through periods of loving bright, white and neutral rooms with little clutter and then I get into moods of loving cozy, warm, richly colorful rooms with lots of things in them.  Of course every project is most influenced by the client, but it’s also influenced by what I’m working out in my head at the time.  (Many times a client’s personal style drives me to research & I learn to appreciate yet a new perspective.)
{My client Malinda’s dining room was extremely traditional & we needed something fresh & exciting in there to get it to where Malinda wanted it and to keep it from feeling typical.  The framed ikat fabric panels did this for us.}
Personally, I need to be constantly broadening my perspective & my appreciation for alternative viewpoints or things start to feel static and elementary.   I think it’s why I’ve been branching out into furniture & fabric design.  I need to keep things fresh for myself.
But back to finding that “spark” in each room and getting excited…  Today I believe there’s what might be called a general “current” style in mainstream America.  What I’ve noticed is that while much of the general population does not subscribe to interior design magazines – like Elle Decor or House Beautiful- or blogs, they do receive catalogs from stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Ballard Designs, Arhaus, Z Galleries, Ikea, West Elm, etc.  I would say that what these stores are selling ends up strongly influencing what people generally view as “in style” and “current.”  I know many of the design-obsessed (like me) may be totally “over” something once it’s hit the mainstream stores, but we have to realize that it feels “of-the-moment” to the majority of the people out there.   {My dad thinks anything HGTV does is gospel and contantly argues with me when I mention something I want to do to his house if it’s not HGTV-approved.}  So while people want something highly personal and created just for them, they are understandably, highly influenced by these popular big box stores catalogues & TV shows.  Many of them fear doing things they haven’t seem done before or recently in the “big box” stores or on TV.  (I don’t think they think this consciously, but I’ve noticed it.)
{Ballard Designs}
So, although most people have their own personal styles, they are being influenced by what’s for sale in the current marketplace and how it’s being displayed, used, etc.  I appreciate so much of what’s being done in catalogues like Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs, etc.  I see that they’re grabbing ahold of interesting items and displaying them & selling them creatively…  There are talented people behind these companies.  But, I also see it as my job -when I’m hired by someone- to come up with different solutions.  To try something new.  To not just do what’s being done.  If my clients wanted exactly what they see in the catalogues, they could simply purchase an entire room and be done.  (Honestly, If someone really loved a catalogue room this much, I’d say go for it.  You just got some of the most talented people in the industry to design a room for you free of charge.)
{Ballard Designs}
When I’m working on a room, I need to feel that I’m pushing the design a bit or I’m not 100% happy with the results in the end because it never really excited me.  I often mention to clients that I want to push them a little bit outside of their comfort zones because that’s where they’ll truly be satisfied.  My happiest clients in the end are the ones who were presented with designs that scared them just a teensy bit when presented and went for it.  They often have to sit on the plans for a couple of days before comitting to them.  What may start out as “really???  seriously??” ends up being their favorite part of the room.  I live for this.
{My clients, Aimee & Dave’s orange overscaled floral sofa}
EVEN when it’s my own home…  In our house, I was really afraid to push the button on our bright green sofa.  When it arrived in the house -prior to anything else- floors, art, chairs, pillows, shades,  etc.) I was “oh my gosh- Oh my gosh- Oh my gosh” nervous.  I was scared.  It suck out like a sore thumb in a sea of white:
{At this moment I remember thinking eeeeeeeek I need to get to work!  The sofa scared me but excited me.}
{Now it’s one of my favorites parts of the room}
When we decided to do a 5×7 Durer print blown up on the entire wall of our dining room…  I sweated the entire time we installed it.
Then I was psyched.
…When we hung the DaVinci frames “randomly” I debated about hanging them in a grid:
The dark navy nursery & canopy?  Probably one of the rooms people have had the strongest opinions about (lots of love lots of hate) but I loved it even more.
These are the things that now make me love my home.  They were the “risks,” the “sparks of interest” the truly personal statements for me in the rooms.  It was what got me excited about these spaces & what got the juices flowing.
I have spaces in my home that I don’t feel this way about.  Rooms I just sort of tossed together things that we had.  They work okay but I have plans for them:
{In my basement I threw together a bunch of old seascapes I’d collected and mixed it with aquas and warm tones.  I love being in the room and it feels good in there but I don’t feel that it’s really very appropriate to our home.  I don’t live on the coast and it’s giving off a kind of inauthentic vibe…  even if only to me.}
I frequently have clients who ask me to recreate my entryway gallery in their home or who want to do a large blown up print or a bright-colored sofa.  It’s because they’ve seen how it can work and they trust what they can see.   Of course, I can’t just go around doing the same designs in everyone else’s house right?  For my sake and for my clients’ sakes, I need to be working on new ideas, keeping their homes fresh & interesting.  Finding those “sparks” in even the most traditional of homes is of utmost importance.
To truly do a home justice, you need to feel for it.  Be passionate about it.  Have a strong point of view and go for it.
I need to be excited about something in order to really do it well and the sparks keep me excited.  There are some projects that I’m so excited about the moment I walk through into the room and there are others that take more time.  (Ie my laundry room… over a year.)  I will often sit on projects like these for clients for a couple of weeks, researching, looking through books, the internet, blogs, fabrics, rugs, objects, etc. before finding that piece of excitement & tension.  Sometimes it happens when I’m drifting in & out of sleep and sometimes I’m full awake & consciously searching for it.  But when it happens, I know it and I just love that feeling.  It’s like an “ah-ha” moment.  And I get excited.  {When I’m alone, it’s not uncommon for me to stand up and dance around or squeel or begin furiously writing my thoughts down when this moment happens.  If I’m in public when it happens, I’ll typically just say -more than once, often over & over- “I’m excited.” …  I’m sure the people around me (often clients or showroom reps) are like “ok, we get it.  You’re excited.” OR, if I was trying to sleep, I finally get to sleep because my brain can turn off.}
I think this can be applied to almost any creative endeavor: planning a dinner, a party, taking photos, creating art, designing houses, products, etc.
{One of my recent “I’m excited” finds frpm Schumacher}

I often write about things to try to figure them out.  This was one of those things I hadn’t really consciously thought about or pinpointed.  I  guess it’s good to know.   I need to get excited and although I might sound like a ditzy girl when I proclaim it, that’s okay.  I’m fine with it because I know I need it.

xoxo, Lauren

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