A reader recently asked us where we get our information. How do we know the information we’re getting is actionable and reliable? Meryl does more of the design stuff and I do more of the building stuff, so we each have our own sources.
Here are Meryl’s sources (and Thursday we’ll post mine):
Truthfully, I don’t have a ton of sources, which makes sense because I’m not some crazy designer. I don’t read too many blogs (you can see our blog roll is fairly small), I don’t read very many magazines and I don’t spend too much time on Pinterest. But I’m also not someone who likes overly designed spaces. I’m not an accessorizer and I find putting things in places to make them look staged or “lived in” is a little ridiculous.
That being said, there are 3 magazines I do read: House Beautiful, Better Homes and Garden and Elle Decor
Now, I subscribe to these, but I don’t actually read them very much (hello stack I still have to get to)
Mostly I don’t read them because they piss me off. Yes, that’s right, magazines make me mad. I know they’re meant to inspire us and not actually work as functional spaces, but I get so annoyed at how “perfect” they make them look that it just makes me feel bad. I’ve talked many times before about how I know I’ll never have a home like that, and it’s okay, but still, there’s a part of me that hurts a bit when I see pristine homes. I don’t really know what it is. I don’t think I’ll resubscribe to Elle Decor when that one runs out (it makes me the most mad), but if anyone has any magazine suggestions that don’t make you mad, suggest away!
I use Pinterest from time to time, but it mostly comes in rabid spasms. As in, I won’t go on for 3 weeks and then all of a sudden I think, “What should I do in the hallway for art” and I’ll type something in, pin 9 items, and then not look at them for another 6 months.
I was an art student in college (I majored in studio art with a concentration in sculptural installation) and from a very young age I loved to draw and make things. It’s always been something that has interested me. I think where my art comes from is the way things take up space. I’m not into color theory, I’m into how spaces and shapes function together
Which makes sense because my idea of fun is space planning. My favorite part of renovating is always planning out a room. Figuring out how furniture will be arranged, how art will go on the walls, rearranging how you use the space and making sure that it’s functional. In a way I think that might be why I’m not as interested in conventional studies in decorating because I’m more interested in actually living in a space instead of being concerned with making it beautiful. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want my bedroom to look nice or my kitchen to be pretty and bright, but I want to make sure that it’s comfortable for the way Chris and I live. I’ve had the chance to design spaces for people and work as a professional organizer and my foremost concern is always understanding how people want their kitchens, bathrooms, offices, living rooms, etc. used.
I will say that one design rule that I try to stick to is to not choose trendy things as permanent or expensive items. I have broken that rule from time to time (glass tile in the bathroom), but generally I’m pretty good at following it. For example, I know Chevron and Ikat will phase out soon, so if I want to use them I’d go with something that’s easier and cheaper to switch out like curtains rather than a huge wool rug. I don’t think trends are bad, and I certainly love a lot of them, but following trends to a T is how spaces end up looking dated, and I prefer a more timeless look.
Generally, my brain ruminates on design ideas like it ruminated on art projects: I come up with an idea and I think about it constantly for a long time as I revise, revise, revise in my head. My teachers in college used to get so frustrated that I didn’t sketch out ideas, but that’s just not how my brain is creative. Sometimes I would seriously sit in my chair in class for 2 hours just constantly revising an idea in my head. At first my teachers thought I was dicking around and not being productive, but they learned that’s how my creative process works. When it was time to do my senior thesis I spent 3 out of the 4 months of the class revising the idea in my head. I would meet with my adviser to talk about it, and I might have only had 3 sketches the whole time (mostly to appease her), but I was constantly thinking about it. The nice thing about the way my creative process works is that once I’ve finally come to my final conclusion I am so sure of every decision, every color and every angle that I find it’s easier to execute because I’ve already made all the decisions in my head and obsessed about them forever.
I guess the point of my long discussion of sources, or really lack there of, is that it’s okay if you don’t have a inspiration board, a binder of ripped out images you like, or a Pinterest board that is overflowing with potential ideas. I think what’s most important is understanding how your creative process works and not to force it in any way. The worst ideas come out of forced ideas.