The Secret to Decorating is the Inspiration Piece

For years, Matt and I have been teaching how to decorate using an inspiration piece,and if you havne’t heard of this, you need to start reading now!

It makes decorating so much easier because you select an item that guides you through all your decorating decisions.  What could be better than that?  An inspiration piece can be anything that you love, from a favorite placemat to a scarf or area rug.  It doesn’t have to be something from the room you are decorating, it just needs to be something that has color, pattern and emotes a feeling or atmosphere. But most importantly, you have to LOVE it – absolutely love it –and you’ll end up feeling the same way about your finished room!Learn Inspiration Piece Decorating -

Let’s say this quilt is something you have selected as your inspiration piece and you have loved it for years. After you have made your selection, take note of everything you like about it – from color to pattern to what it represents to you.  For instance, is it the blues against the yellows that sparks your interest, or the entire group of colors that reminds you of a lovely floral garden. If you then give your inspiration piece a theme name such as “Summer Garden”, it will make decisions for the décor of the room much easier.  The more specific the theme name, as in “Traditional Midwest Summer Garden,” the easier the decorating will be.

For example, think about a traditional Midwest summer garden and what that conjures up in your mind.  For me it’s the summer flowers of lilacs, daisies, black eyed susans, and hydrangeas come to mind.  For me, this is when the room starts to develop.  I see soft blue or gentle green walls, cool linen or cotton upholstery and great floral colored pillows.  The wood furniture seems like it should be white or at least light with either a cottage look or a traditional feel.  At the window either white wood shutters or sheers with a bright summer floral window topper finish off the look.

This is what I’m talking about when I say an inspiration piece and a theme name can make your decorating decisions so much easier!

Artwork as Room Inspiration -

Let’s take a look at another example, this piece of art.  It’s a cityscape done in some neutrals but also some vibrant colors.  Looks like a piece of art a young couple or teen might be interested in, or anyone who prefers a contemporary design style. And, those are things we can tell just from looking at it.  It has a style statement built in, colors built in and a feeling all at the same time.  That’s what using an inspiration piece can do for you.  So, with your inspiration piece in hand – go shopping!

Bedding to Fit With Inspiration Artwork -

Let’s say we’re working on a bedroom.  I think, just like the designer of this piece of art, that a neutral colored bedroom with bright accents would be a great way to go.  I like to start with the bedding first since the bed is a major focal point in any bedroom.  So how about starting with a neutral coverlet like this one?  Nothing fancy, a simple design that fits the sleek feeling we get from the artwork.

Paint Selection For Inspiration Piece -

My next color choice would probably be the walls.  Now I need to decide if I’m going to go bold and bright with the walls or stay with my first instinct to go neutral with the room’s backgrounds.  For my room, I would stick with the neutral walls so I could have a calm and relaxing background that could be punched up with different touches of color that could change with my mood!

Bright Sheets to Support Inspiration Piece - MattandShari.comNext how about sheets?  This is a great place to add some bright color.  And look at all the color options we have – everything from teal to burgundy and just about everything in between!  Just walking through the bedding aisle I was able to pull at least three different sheet sets that would be great with the coverlet and pick up the bright colors in the cityscape.  And remember, they don’t have to be exact matches to the artwork.  Lighter or darker and same color family would be perfect and probably more interesting than exact matches.

Co-ordinating Accent Pillows -

Once the sheets are chosen, its accessory time and throw pillows, benches, lamps, even throws with the right colors can be great additions to the room’s design.

Now it’s time for a test for you.

Which of these two lamps would fit better in the room we are designing?

Contemporary Lamp -

They both have a simple more contemporary shade, but their bases send different messages.  The top lamp is very rectilinear with sharp corners.  The dark color of the base gives a strong, bold presence.

Transitional Lamp -

The second lamp has a very feminine look to it because of the soft curves.  Its color is more welcoming and perhaps more transitional than contemporary.

I think the better lamp for the room is lamp number one! It looks like a skyscraper itself!

What about these window coverings?

Inside Mounted Roman Shade -

This is a simple roman shade created out of a very plain fabric.  Don’t consider the color so much as the design of the treatment.  It’s simple with a strong horizontal line.  Imagine how it would better blend into the walls if it were outside mounted instead of mounted inside the frame allowing the trim to show.

Dramatic Window Valance -

This geometric window topper has very strong lines and makes a real statement at the window.  Of course, the fabric used in our imaginary room might be different, but could the strong diagonals work in our room?  Would you put something under this for privacy?

If I were really designing this room, I would choose the roman shade over the dramatic valance.  I would mount it on the outside of the trim and select a fabric that was perhaps a shade darker than my wall color.  I would have no problem adding an upholstered cornice to this treatment, not as dramatic as the dark one, but subtle and there just for the layering effect.

And let me just say this – just because I would select one treatment over another doesn’t make the other treatment or lamp wrong.  If you fall in love with one of the choices I didn’t make, perhaps just alter something else in the room to make them work.

For instance, the lamp would work better with the addition of the roman shade – another item in the room with soft curves.  Maybe the throw pillows would have to be round or cylindrical to complement the lamp?

The geometric valance would work better in the room if the wall color was a bit bolder, so the shape wouldn’t stand out as much as it would against the neutral.  Or, if the valance was more neutral with an accent trim in one of the building colors it might look nice as well.

Give this Inspiration Piece Decorating a try and let me know if it helps you.  I’ve heard such positive feedback from so many people that I’m pretty sure it will also have a positive effect on your decorating projects!



  1. wanda says

    this story fit on of my problems only in the kitchen. I am going to add a decorative valance to spark up my small outdated kitchen. Thanks

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