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Incorporating Abstract Inspiration into Your Interior Design Vision

Architectural and interior design concepts are frequently inspired by the abstract - feathers and florals, photography and art, food and music.  The first time I saw a Roseate Spoonbill in person, Calvin and I were spending an overcast afternoon at our favorite dock bar in Savannah.  We were just finishing a bowl of roasted okra when the graceful pink birds took flight from the spartina. It is difficult to believe that colors like that exist in nature.  Seeing them contrasted against the late Winter sky hurled me into a pink design phase, drawn to all rosy hued textiles like a moth to a blush and bashful flame.

Drawing Roseate Spoonbills during family art time at Edisto

The best design inspiration strikes in the unexpected moments from the unexpected corners of our lives. For us, that inspiration is frequently found in the colors and textures of South Carolina’s natural environment.  From salt marshes to black water swamps to mountain forests, the flora and fauna have informed many of our favorite concepts.

As we considered the upfit of our new cottage studio in Greenville’s West Village, I was drawn to another wading coastal bird for inspiration, the Glossy Ibis. The deep green and aubergine plumage of this beautiful bird conjures images of mountain forests while the grace of its form reminds me of South Carolina’s salt marshes.  As a firm that strives to provide beautiful, functional, regionally inspired residential spaces from the mountains to the coast, this felt like an apt source of inspiration.  In today’s blog, we’re using the case study of our office to review the interior design process and how we use it to turn abstract inspiration into a fully furnished and finished space.

Glossy Ibis photo taken by Calvin at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge


The Mood Board

After the initial information is gathered and inspiration strikes, the next step in the interior design process is the creation of a Mood Board.  A Mood Board is a visual representation of the concept for a project, establishing a direction for style, color, and feeling of the space.  It is an invaluable tool throughout the design process to keep the design efforts on track and in keeping with the overall vision.

Mood Board for the Primary Suite in a project in Highlands, NC.

When we started planning for the studio, we knew that we’d use our main brand color, Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green, as the backdrop for the primary space.  We planned to incorporate the aubergine from the Glossy Ibis plumage in the form of textile, adding gold as a third accent color.

Our company portfolio represents a range of residential design styles.  We love layering the old and the new and we planned to accomplish this by bringing in furnishings ranging from minimalist high gloss whites to found or repurposed antique and vintage pieces. We sought art with natural themes and planned for lots of indoor plants to reinforce the organic inspiration for the space.  The result was the pictured Mood Board.


The Sample Board

The sample board identifies the materials that will be used to execute the concept from the mood board.  I recommend gathering all available physical product and finish samples during this step in the process. Physical samples allow you to get an accurate assessment of color and texture in a way digital images cannot.   

Our studio sample board grew out of the concept for the primary space, layering paint colors, textiles, wall coverings, light fixtures, and floor coverings.  We dove into our sample library and pulled favorites like the Bamboo in Gold by our West Village neighbor, Teresa Roche, for draperies.  We also incorporated new lines, styles, and trade partners, using our space as laboratory to better serve our clients.


The Schedules

Once a sample board has been approved, we put together schedules of finishes, furniture, fixtures, and equipment.  These spreadsheets ensure that every element has been considered and that all of the information is available to facilitate ordering and installation.


The Design-Build Difference

A coastal home that feels like Blind Lemon Jefferson’s music sounds; an urban retreat inspired by the photography of Slim Aarons; a mountain escape inspired by the palette of a rocky stream - turning client’s abstract ideas into built realities is one of the great joys of our work.  Our CW Design Works design-build team expertly guides projects from a concept through the hanging of the last piece of art.


Studio Drop-In

Our drop-in celebration is June 7 from 5-7PM.  Join us for food and drinks and to see the finished outcome of our design process!  In the meantime, we’d love to hear about your upcoming design projects and how we can help.

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