- Friday, October 03, 2008

Well, I went and did it. I joined Facebook. Don’t ask me to explain it.
I can’t really.  But, before long I was connected to college friends for the first time in ions. Catching up has been a lot of fun - especially comparing notes about families and the different paths our careers had taken us since graduation.

Yet, I have learned that email doesn’t always serve to adequately communicate with these formerly long lost friends. Sometimes I have found I do something really crazy and old fashioned. I pick up the telephone.

The other evening I was speaking with another interior designer who lives in Richmond. She inquired where I find inspiration for design after doing it for so long? “It’s not always easy,” I explained. “But, after 18 years in the profession, I feel I have ways to understand what a client needs. But sometimes the spark that ignites the whole creative process is a simple as just opening your eyes and looking around you. I often find I take a cue from my surroundings.”

“You sound like Professor Norton,” she chimed in referencing one of our most engaging and demanding professors in college. “I feel like I am back in our color theory class again.” 

“Exactly,” I said. “That’s how I approach it.”

I am constantly fascinated by color and light and how they interact with each other. Like the great Venetian painters of days past, countless artisans have recognized that their environment is filled with a dazzling array of colors to draw from.

Not too long ago I was on my morning walk with my dog Louie along the leisure trails of Moss Creek Plantation. At one point, I became intrigued by the complexity and variety of color on a particular palm tree along the path. The morning light was hitting it just so. What we might easily call a gray/beige tree trunk was, upon closer inspection, a complex symphony of cool, soft, mossy greens over a driftwood-gray background, with hints of golden amber and burnt sienna.  I was in awe. (Professor Norton would be proud of my color assessment.) It was beautiful. I snapped a close-up with my digital camera to be included in my inspirations library for future reference.

The following week a client and I were in the studio and talking about the color palette for her new home. After having worked with her over the past few months, I feel I understand her stylistic tastes. She has an easy-going personality and quiet demeanor. A Chinese red dining room was certainly not in the cards for her.

“I want to show you something,” I said as I pulled up the photo of the palm tree on the computer. “Just look at these colors! You love the coast, the beach and want a casually elegant home. You must have 30 palm trees on your lot. Why don’t we take some direction from this?” We had our inspiration and were off and running.

A trip to a stone and tile vendor was our first stop in search of some special granite to top the central island of her (soon to be fabulous) kitchen. We found the perfect match with green mearsk. The composition of colors in the crystals embodies all the colors we wanted to use throughout the house and look surprisingly like those in the inspiration photo. 

From there we looked at paint and textiles. The paint selections were easy, I just pulled out some of the subtly contrasted ivory, moss, amber, and driftwood hues from the photo. For the fabrics we went a little bolder with color and pattern including a wheat and mocha colored zebra print and a teal and amber coral-pattern chenille. Looking at all the samples assembled together gave us a great idea of what the final installation will look like.

“Well, it sounds like you’ve got the inspiration aspect nailed-down,” the Richmonder said. “I’m so glad we have reconnected with each other. Facebook is great!  But, before we hang up, I have one other question. Where do you get ideas to write your column?”

I laughed to myself and then replied, “Oh, I’ve often found I can count on my wonderful college buddies for that.”

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