Why We Start Every Design Project with an Inspiration Piece

Have you ever walked into a room and instantly connected with it in some way? Maybe the texture of the throw pillows reminded you of a blanket your family loves. Maybe the style of the bistro table and chairs made you feel like you were once again sitting in a cafe on the Champs Elysées.

Whatever the element, the fact remains that it evoked a joyful emotion. It made you smile. You instantly felt at home. This is exactly why we like to start every project with an inspiration piece. 

What’s an Inspiration Piece?

An inspiration piece is a single item that inspires the entire design. It ties the whole home together and helps establish its character. It can be nearly anything — a piece of art, a beautiful wallpaper or rug, an item you love, or even something you’ve brought back from your travels. 

In fact, our inspiration pieces usually come from our clients. That’s how we ensure that there’s a personal, emotional connection and sense of joy in your space. 

If an inspiration piece doesn’t immediately come to mind for you, we could also use an item that caught my eye in your space during our initial consultation. Or something from one of our initial conceptual ideas — a fabric or a wallpaper that feels like the perfect jumping off point for everything else.  

Whatever it may be, once the inspiration piece is established, we take that and and extrapolate all the other details to support it.  

The Inspiration Piece in this 1920s Tudor Redesign

Our team recently transformed a 1920s Tudor home in Oakland Hills (the Barrows Road Project), and, you guessed it, there was an inspiration piece. During the initial consultation, our client saw a particular wallpaper that he loved.

squid jellyfish floral wallpaper safe green olive coral inspiration dining room design

Tiny squid and jellyfish up close, elegant floralesque design at a distance! 

pale green squid jellyfish wallpaper dining room fun creative joyful inspiration

Who said a formal design couldn’t be elegant and unexpected? We decided to use the wallpaper in the dining room, but before long, it became the inspiration for the family room, dining room, and the kitchen. 

kitchen inspiration light grey white floral wallpaper joyful design pale sage cabinets

In the kitchen, we used a similar but much paler shade of sage for the cabinet color. Brass pulls add warmth and contrast to the wood accents and wallpaper. 

living room coral upholstered chair graphic pillow abstract art chartreuse
Project Photography by: Sen Creative

In the living room, we pulled the coral tone from the wallpaper in the dining room and created an entire sectional in that color. We also incorporated a few green accents in the wall art, the rug and the interesting pillow details (also a squid-like shape!). More brass and warm orange upholstery pull the look together.

All three of these spaces — dining room, kitchen, and living room — look like they belong to the same house but are completely unique spaces on their own. THAT is the beauty of an inspiration piece.

The Inspiration Piece for this 1950s Ranch Renovation

Our Don Jose Drive Project is another great example of an inspiration piece hard at work — in my own home! During the design process, my husband and I found this amazing artwork on our travels to Brazil.  We loved the rich hues and abstract design and thought it was the perfect inspiration for our living room. 

1950s ranch renovation san jose drive red blue yellow living room inspiration

We pulled out the colors in the painting and infused them into the rest of the room. Golden and yellow tones are seen in accent chairs. The royal blue bench makes the painting pop. A vibrant red coffee table breathes new life into the space. And all three colors are seen in decorative pillows placed perfectly opposite the artwork for balance. 

But an inspiration piece rarely keeps its hands to one room... 

kitchen inspiration cobalt island cabinets red stools inspiration piece

The colorful painting eventually became the catalyst for the adjoining kitchen as well, where we used navy blue cabinetry, bright red bar stools, and brass accents on the hardware and pendants.

The result of the inspiration piece is that the rooms came together in a way that is cohesive.

1950s renovation living room red blue yellow inspiration piece abstract art
Project Photography by: The IT Factory

The great thing about inspiration pieces is that they may end up playing a minimal role in the entire room when it is finished — a pillow on the sofa or even a vase on the bookshelf — but they inspire all of the other elements throughout. 

I’m constantly amazed by how one of the smallest design choices (like a piece of art) can become one of the most important choices in the whole project!

Can you think of an inspiration piece you’d love for your home? When inspiration strikes, we’re here for you. Or heck, if you’re not feeling inspired but you know you’re ready for a joyful space, we’ll bring the inspiration to you. 

Let’s create together.

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