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 5x7 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

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.


Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Lauren girl...whether it is an offshoot of the synesthesia...or what...But I have a feeling our brains are really similar.

What you describe is exactly WHY I did not want a proffession in design. I was afraid I would not get that A-Ha moment if I was being paid and HAD to commit and DO.

Love hearing/reading your thought process. I swear ya could be my kid!

sarah k said...

I love reading your thoughts and reflections about design and personal style. Until a year or so ago, I shaped my personal design ideas solely from the mainstream catalogs. I was a very Pottery Barn kind of girl, and my rooms were largely neutral and simple (which in some ways reflects my personality, but in some other ways was just me conforming to what I saw). Then I discovered design blogs (as a young family, we can't afford subscriptions to design mags right now, but I look forward to that day sometime in the future!) and have been slowly sorting out what is really "me" and what is just the image I took from all those catalogs. I subscribe to quite a few blogs, and slowly whittle down what I like and don't like--but I still keep reading some of the ones that don't seem as much my style, because I like having my horizons broadened a bit! Btw yours is one I LOVE! :) I'm no professional, just a girl slowly decorating her own house, trying to make it reflect our family and our priorities and our personality--and your images, and your comments on them, have been so informative and inspiring. Thanks for sharing! Please keep it up--I love reading about your philosophy of design!

A Perfect Gray said...

lauren, another GREAT piece. I'd put it right up there with the one you wrote on 'undesigned spaces.'

We all thank you so much for sharing your insight... donna

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Great post. I think we all need a little push when it comes to decorating. I love neutral, however it really does need some punch somewhere and you've shown some great examples of using color to make a room so interesting and inviting. Hugs, Marty

L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys said...

Hi Lauren,

This post was just what I needed, I love it! A lot of times I question myself and my ability to decorate a space. But once I get into the doing the project, things jsut flow and at the end I love what I created. I also have a hard time chossing different fabics and furnishings because I think about what other people may think and then I'll read some blogs and see someone else do it. When that happens I feel even worse because I feel like my chance is gone.

I wrote a post about being daring when it comes to design. A lot of people had a hard time seeing my vision when it came to my boys bedroom. Its a sports car "theme" and I went as far as gluing cars on the wall. I had my doubts, but then I thought about my boys and what they would like for the room and I went for it. I must say that the cars on the wall are perfect and I can't wait to finish!

Here is the post if you have chance to read it

Free Art Printables said...

I totally agree with you. Those magazines are great, but more and more I see blog trends for a year or two ago in them than something new. I think decorating is all about taking risks and trying new things. You have a great style I really identify with, BTW I love your laundry room curtain fabric.

Comeca Jones said...

Two words You Inspire

Dixie Redmond said...

This is interesting - the whole period thing. I'm an artist who is trying to change my home. So I get how you can't keep doing the same thing over and over. If you're creative, there has to be an element of newness to the process each time or you get bored.

I'm a painter and choosing colors for a painting is way different than choosing it for my house. I'm not quite sure what to DO in large scale 3D. But I took the plunge and ordered a happy feeling bluish green sofa this week.

I like some things in the catalogs, but if we all copy those rooms where will the originality be?

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

This was a great post. One of my favorites actually, because it struck such a chord. I am so tired of all of the cookie cutter all white or creme or gray rooms. Now it will be pink because we have been told it should be. Way to go Lauren!

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

What a great way to explain the creative process. There is so much circular motion before the pot becomes soup and THEN yum-- that is just right--and the moment is great.

Unknown said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog for the past couple of months, your work is fresh and exciting and I like that you share so much about the process and your thinking. This post really struck a chord with me, because "excited" is how I feel when I'm inspired as well. I took a great art class in college which was all about being inspired and how to get the creative juices flowing. We spent the entire semester keeping a visual journal of things that appealed to or inspired us and then build on those themes. The final project was to create a piece of art from something in the journal. I find that while I don't keep an actual journal, I do approach projects with some of the steps I learned in that class.

Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!


Linda in AZ * said...

* I so enjoyed your interesting, and IMHO, "SPOT ON" thoughts n' ideas, Lauren... (you reeeally hit the proverbial nail on the head for so many of us!)...

I'm no pro, so have always been honored to have been asked to help others w/ their homes over the years. I was offered, on two different occassions, to open a small business w/ backing ("silent partners") from these 2 different, financially independent, couples... for a variety of reasons (mostly because my husband's career required us to MOVE sooooo much/many times & HIS career required MY heavy involvement), I never pursued it. ANNND, quite interestingly (& importantly to me), my husband innocently asked, after the first offer, "Would it still be as much 'FUN' for you as it is NOW, if you DID do this, & for a 'living'? Would you want to go independent, or pursue the formal, back-to-school education?
I'll support you on WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO WANT TO DO."... (Yes, he's SUCH a PRINCE!)...

ANYhooo, I did NOT pursue it (ME? WORK on a DEALINE?!?! Perish the THOUGHT! Grins!), knowing that I am way too sensitive, too much of a perfectionist, have NO patience "waiting" to complete projects, ad nauseum... SOOOOOOO, what's I'm T*R*Y*I*N*G to SAY IS:
.....From the bottom of my UNprofesssional heart: I ADMIRE A*L*L OF YOU PROFESSIONALS SOO MUCH!!! (And I KNOW it's not as "EASY" as many laymen/women THINK!)...

Linda in AZ *
(Sorry this is so lonnnnggg!)~~~

Megan @ Restoring the Roost said...

I seem to have a difficult time committing to color and like to go with neutrals because I'm afraid I will tire of the colors I choose too quickly. I have a lot of red accents in my home but find that I want something different at times. Do you recommend sticking with a cohesive palate throughout the home or varying from room to room?

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

Thank you for posting the picture of your basement and commenting that it had an 'inauthentic vibe' (your words) ... I needed that confirmation, yours is the second post in the same amount of days,that I've read, saying that we need to be true to the personality of our home, while keeping our surroundings in mind (my words). I'm currently trying to figure out a new decor scheme for our home with a tricky little fish nic-named Billy Bass (who is a keeper,btw) without decorating my house like a lodge (which it is NOT) or decorating it like a beach house (which it is NOT) -- So now, I finally have permission to be different! LOL and you're right it's scary!

You can see pictures here;

I'd love for you to pop over and give 2 cents worth... he he he...that's all I can afford!

thanks again for this post!

Windlost said...

Lauren, you have such a marvellous brain. I love reading your stream-of-consciousness posts like this one. We would really get along so well. I think about this kind of stuff a lot. I think your vision and your interest in risk and your passion for something kind of out there make you a great designer. You have a point of view, which is what others lack. You are not copying. You are 100% yourself, which is really wonderful since you have impeccable and very interesting taste. You can make anything look good. :)

P.S. I LOVE that orange sofa and your green sofa is mesmerizing - the first think I see in that room - it is a hit!

xo Terri

Laurie from Laurie Jones Home said...

I think you're onto something here, another great post where I think why didn't I think to write that because it's exactly how my mind work too!! I think alot of us designers work the same way, I come up with ideas the same way you do, I keep a notebook near by bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night, I can get inspired at any moment for any reason, it's why I keep a notebook in my car, in my purse, etc.! It's also one of the hard things about being a designer when their is a timeline because I'm always sure I'll never be able to come up with a design but it's crazy it always eventually comes and when it does I feel like I was given a shot of adrenaline, there is no great rush! It's great to be able to have a job like this isn't it!!

Stephanie said...

What an inspiring post! And I have a bright green velvet sofa...I felt the same way about mine until all of the other elements played off of it to create a fun space...and I have always loved your entryway! Beautiful!

Unknown said...

Will contact you soon! this is my first visit and the The Blue Period simply superb!

Social Styles Questionnaire

Kacey @ said...

Great post. I am glad to hear a professional like you feels the same angst over every decision. I feel this way about all my decor choices.

I can't believe people would write that they hate some of your work! I can understand some differences in opinion, but NOT to be so vocal!

(PS, I really want to try the canopy thing - I am in the love camp!)

Lynda @ Happenstance Home said...

Hi Lauren. Great post. Your home is beautiful and that is because you do what feels right to you. That's what makes it unique. Hope you have a great day - Oh, I'd love to know who makes your laundry room drape fabric. So beautiful and I'm just loving fern patterns!

Acquired Objects said...

I love that you aren't afraid to take chances and when something scares you, you run with it. Always trust your instincts and you'll never go wrong!


Excellent post. I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

PERFECTLY articulated! I think we design professionals all live for that 'spark'. After all, it is what we are addicted to. It is our passion. Without it we are simply going through the motions; and the rooms would reflect that. Although most clients cannot articulate it, they crave the little adrenaline rush of walking into a perfectly crafted space. To get that, they do need to be pushed ever so gently to a spot just beyond their comfort zone. Love that you shared this with us!!! As always, you rock! xo, Roxanne

LiveLikeYou said...

I really believe artists go through seasons of designs. Any designer has to continually stretch and morph their style to stay excited and fresh. My recurring series that I posted today "Think Outside of the box" proves just your point. We're being fed with retailers and catalogs view on how we should live and get stuck in "design and living rules" My whole aim with LiveLikeYou and my upcoming site is to BREAK all those patterns!! Great post Lauren!

Maria Killam said...

I love your bog, always read every single word, I would like to have a chat to catch up at some point busy girl that you are!!
Great post as usual!

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Don't you think it sort of goes back to buying what you love, too? That is why a persons hobbies, collections or background can help drive the design. I love what you said about going a bit outside your comfort zone...and your laundry room is lovely.
Mary Ann

elizabethripleyhorn said...

I feel the same way! I just told my husband, "when I'm painting a room, if I'm not a little bit scared of using the color I've chosen, it's probably not the right one."

sallyj said...

I think our clients hire us to push the envelope. They can do the copy-cat thing, but when they want a new vision or to be stretched, they call us! Like Mona said, I'm so tired of all the whispering neutrals. I'm ready for a color to speak out loud and bring some energy to a space. it's our "periods" that change design, and when they become mainstay, it's time to push in a different direction. You hit the nail on the head in this one!

Muffy said...

So true! This was a great post! I'm going to read it to my husband because he is always rushing me to finish rooms in our house before I have gotten my inspiration for them haha! When I rush, it's just never what I want & I end up redoing it. Love your blog!

{darlene} said...

I know exactly what you mean. That GULP that comes from investing in a gutsy piece... but it can MAKE the room, right???
Great post!!!
- {darlene}

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about needing that one piece to get the creative juices flowing. I purchased one of those old reproduction prints (from the '60's or '70's) that would hang above a sofa. Four feet wide and two feet high. It had a solid wood frame in a gilt finish with lovely plaster detailing. Not too over the top. Soon as I saw it, I thought "blackboard for the kitchen." That one piece will set the tone for my entire kitchen when I get around to the redesign. Something bistro-like with unfitted cabinets and a wooden slab for a breakfast bar.

As for our sofa, I now wish I'd stuck with my intuition. I saw one in a shop window in a nice buttery/creamy colour. I almost went with that one, but then settled on the usual "beige/brown."

And even though we don't live near water, I do have a set of oars. They don't match, but I won't be left up the creek without a paddle!

Love your posts, enthusiasm and ideas.

The Mitchell Family said...

Hi, I LOVE the fabric you used on your laundry room curtains? What is the pattern and who makes it?

Rachel said...

Great post!!
You have a knack for taking what is in my brain and translating it into words.
Your post has me saying "I'm excited!!" - thanks for the spark!!


the language of design said...

You said it so well! I know what you mean. Glad I read it, now I don't have to wonder what all the anxiety is about! Great Post!

Emily A. Clark said...

This is such a great post, Lauren. And, one I wish every potential client would read. It's almost a disservice to them if they're paying us to just do what they're 100% comfortable with or have seen before. I feel like they're just wasting money out of their decorating budget to pay a designer.

Have a great day!,

Holly Irwin Fine Art said...

Hi Lauren, This was an awesome post! Thank you! As an artist, I totally identify with your need to challenge yourself and find new ways to express your creativity.

Unknown said...

I loved this post! I'm an artist, so I can perfectly relate to this dilemma. I'll have people "commission" me to paint something for them that is copying someone else's style, and it is so not inspiring (or even ethical). Your home and all the work you do inspire me! I love that giant Albrecht Durer in your dining room! That's gutsy, but fantastic!

Shelly said...

What a wonderful post. I think it's what so many of us designers have a hard time gracefully explaining - but you nailed it! I wish you many more "I'm excited" moments.

Anonymous said...

your home is an expression of yourselfs... and having a designer who pushes you a little to find those areas of ourselves that maybe we lost sight of by having us take a chance with more daring decor is really sorta uncommon..
applause, applause Lauren..
it takes guts on the part of the designer to push us a little to discover this part of what we really like in our homes and to be daring in our decorating styles..
...good topic and post...

Sarah said...

I for one, LOVE that navy nursery! We did navy walls in a room and I had that "what did we DO??" moment right after. Once we put the lighting & furniture in, I knew we'd made the right choice. You are dead on about the things we're a little nervous about often turning out to be what we love the most. Great Post!

Unknown said...

I am absolutely with you about having to be excited about areas of my home I want to improve before I do anything to them. There are a few places where I am stuck, I don't know what will work, and what I will like. If I don't like an area, I will not use it.

Recently I remember David Bromastad from HGTV saying that one of the most neglected and impacting places to give some design attention is to the ceiling in any room. And now I notice it all over the place, it's totally my current phase -- Did they give architecture to their ceiling in that room? How did they do it? Can I do it at my apartment to cover that really large spot where the texture flaked off?

I like to use HGTV as tool to get ideas. And hey, who doesn't love to laugh at the Canadian accents on some of the programming. But I do want my house to not look terribly dated in the future, and I get nervous about trends. I much prefer classic, practical solutions to really work for a space. (Does anybody else worry that subway tile backsplashes will look sooooooo 2010s in the future?)

So all hat to say . . . Lauren, will please indulge me and do a post with "ceiling ideas"? I'd love to see what you choose.

Chassity (Look Linger Love) said...

Just a note to tell you that I really enjoyed this post. You're quite brilliant. And I love what you've done with your own home.

Fargerike Dagny said...

Lauren, this is such a good post! Such a good read!! Hope things are well, and that Justin is enjoying daycare!!


Gina said...

Omg that nursery is so chic. I lOOOOOOOVE IT!

Unknown said...

Well said! Great post! I am bookmarking this. ;)

casey at loft and cottage said...

Totally agree with you about "the spark"! I have felt this way sooo many times, and in the past I have really beat myself up over not having that inspiration right away. Now, I know that plugging away at a design without any excitement is a temporary condition, and I have more confidence that I will find that catalyst. And that moment is priceless--because then you're off and running. Thanks for writing about this!

Andrea said...

I see this post is a year old, but I'm wondering how that Durer print is on the wall?? Wallpaper paste? Is it canvas or poster paper??? Love that.

Andrea said...

I see this thread is about a year old, but I am wondering how you put up the Durer print? Is it paper? Canvas? Up with wallpaper paste? I don't think I see a frame or stretcher bars! Love it!