From Design Inspiration to a Designed Interiors – San Diego Interior Design.

From Design Inspiration to a Designed Interiors – San Diego Interior Design.

Article by Helen Keating

Every design has been inspired by something, Whether it’s a, “brand,” theme, favorite locale. It can even be a favorite item like a rug, vase, piece of furniture, fabric, a photo from a magazine, or even a place you visited. Something has to be the inspiration. From there, the function of the space needs to be determined. i.e. How many people will be using this space? What kinds of activities will occur here? Will there be secondary, “special” uses of the space. If so, how will that look? Once the inspiration and functionality have started the ball rolling, it’s simply a matter of layering and finding the pieces, and a color story, that will support the vision for the space.

Evaluate the space thoroughly to find out if your expectations for the space are reasonable for the size and location. Lay it out on paper, or even better, use painter’s tape to lay out the zones you want to create. Another trick is to cut out footprints of furniture from a roll of craft paper or cardboard boxes. It really does help to see how pieces fit into the space. One should also think outside the box. If you want built-in flexibility, try to visualize what furnishings can help with that; for instance, you may want to provide extra seating for large gatherings. How can that be achieved? Can you borrow pieces from other rooms or even outdoors? Maybe you want to expand the dining area for large gatherings… can that wing chair in the living room serve as a, “host” chair and the bench in the foyer, can provide additional seating. These are far more comfortable than folding chairs and it’s simply a matter of moving things around a bit.

Once you’ve settled on the space plan for furniture, begin to build your color story. If your inspiration is a rug, fabric, or other colorful object, you can obviously pull colors from those. If your inspiration is a mood, consider how color will impact that mood. If you want a soothing room, red wouldn’t be a color to achieve that. Look through magazines or images in paint brochures that might reflect the mood you’re trying to achieve. If it’s a theme, you can draw on that to build the color story.

The next layer is texture, which will provide depth and interest. If your room is devoid of variety in texture, it can read, “flat”. Texture can come from tactile and reflective materials, and patterns. It can be found in wall treatments, window treatments, upholstery, metals, woods, etc. Texture will often provide interesting shading or shadows in different lighting which brings us to the next layer: lighting. Ambience is literally created with lighting. Think of all the ways this can be done, other than the obvious. Lamps and light fixtures are the first things that come into mind, but consider how natural light will read during different times of the day. As for artificial lighting, consider up-lighting behind furniture and in plants, washing walls with lighting, lighting of art, cove lighting with a dimmer, etc. Be inventive!

I could go on for hours about taking projects from inspiration to realized interiors that clients love and feel comfortable in. It’s often a harsh and unfriendly world out there. Our homes, and those of our clients, should be a refuge and a place to feel at home.

About the Author

KeatingDesignStudio is a San Diego based interdisciplinary design practice founded in Palm Springs CA in 1989 by Helen Keating, an interior design professional, graphic/fine artist, with more than 30 years experience and a variety of clients from coast to coast, from luxury residential, and model homes, to religious facilities. Contact Helen today at for your F*R*E*E initial consultation.

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