Finding Inspiration In Your Surroundings
Contributed By: Laura Hay
Designers are confronted with a myriad of design decisions every day, but what does not fall on the practical side, is left to our discretion and imagination. Clearly a creative pursuit, some might argue that aesthetic composition is essentially infinite in possibilities. Inspiration is everywhere…but when faced with a new design challenge, I like to start my research with a walk through the neighborhood. Yes, we’re still talking about interior design, but by exploring the exterior environment, I get a good sense of the design vernacular. With architecture, the vernacular is dictated by the availability of localized construction materials and reflects the local traditions and the environment. These elements are historically what creates a unified architectural style and essentially what gives neighborhoods their distinct charm.
The natural environment is the other key component in the exterior environment. The endless shades and textures of local and harvested vegetation provide a canopy of color and smells that can literally inspire so many wonderful design ideas. In the Bahamas, where I’ve had the pleasure to work on a number of homes, you don’t have to walk far to take in the ocean, a flowering bougainvillea, a 200-year-old cottage held together with bright white paint, and a straw-hat vendor. It’s literally impossible to not be inspired by something! The relationship of the settlement to the water is undoubtedly the greatest inspiration for the design scheme for Allamanda House, Harbour Island.
A gorgeous cottage setting in the heart of the old settlement, Allamanda is steps to the harbor and the beach. The coral-stone walls and walkways and soft pink sand beaches inspired me when I chose the cerused wide plank oak hardwood floors and the travertine tiles. Textiles are my favorite element in every design and with an endless world of options I narrowed down my search by color and then texture and of course durability for a salty and sun-fused environment. It’s only natural that the water and sky inspired shades of blue and teal for accents, whereas the tropical plants and their flowering bushes inspired playful pops of colors in the bedrooms.
Décor elements and the finishing touches that personalize a space are also inspired by the local lifestyle. These pieces are fun to collect over time if possible, but here I completed the space with some curated sand blown glass bottles and shells to pay homage to the ocean life. I also sourced handmade pottery and sculpture that speak to the artisans that are born out of life removed from urban civilization. I can’t say that that every working environment I’ve had has offered as much in the way of inspiration, but I can say that a walk outside is a great way to start a new project.
Laura Hay Decor & Design is a growing boutique design firm known for creating stylish, harmonious, modern and livable environments and vacation homes.