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An Inspired New Year

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Like many of you, each December I reflect on the past year, and gather my thoughts on how to make the next one better than ever. I begin this process by casting away all of the things I don’t need, and seeking out new ideas and muses that inspire me.

This “out with the old, in with the new” system is especially helpful when designing a new collection. To recharge those creative juices, I leaf through my journals, look at old magazine clippings, dream up enchanting new travel destinations, and use all of this to assemble creative inspiration boards. They help me to envision the new collection: the shapes and silhouettes of each pattern and the shimmering hues of each color palette.

In my book, I talk about keeping files, journals of inspiration, and other devices to gather and organize your ideas.

“Fashion designers call these patchwork-like assemblages ‘story boards’ and use them to organize the ideas that inspire them. [They] have two purposes. When they illustrate a fashion style, they offer potential ways to translate that style’s characteristics into home decorating ideas. When they accompany a home… [they] represent the multifaceted inspirations that led to the design of that particular room.”

“Organize notes, pictures clipped from magazines, photographs, swatches of fabrics, and small objects into tangible ‘style files.’ Make a file for each project you want to work on. That way you can add, subtract, and remix your inspirations until you find a combination that works. It really doesn’t matter how many different sources you have used as inspiration. What will make the ideas you borrow your own is the way you translate and blend all of the bits and pieces together.”

But this method of collage is not just for us grown-ups. It’s a fabulous way to plan and implement a design in your little one’s bedroom. Here are some examples from my collections. Notice the connection between this collage…

And this crib set…

The soft pinks and greens create the perfect atmosphere for comfort and growth, while the exotic elements influenced the hanging decorations. That collage was the inspiration for my India Toile Petal collection! Below is another example of how a collage can influence a room, this time for the boys.

I loved the dynamic between this bright orange contrasted with a family of blue hues, and I used it to create my Bingo Breeze collection. Using a collage gives you an idea of how all of your design elements will interact, and helps to make the entire room more cohesive.

Here’s an intricate storyboard for an African Safari-inspired nursery or child’s room, from a recent post on the design blog Ohdeedoh.

Polka Dot Peacock is another child and nursery design blog and shop that offers daily inspirations and fantastic products. I loved their story last month on this gender-neutral nursery below, complete with a detailed collage…

Will you use this technique in your room? Or have you used them before? I’d love to hear how it worked out for you!


Tuesday 18th of January 2011

Thanks for the tips, Annette. I really have problems getting organized and I usually lose great ideas because I forget to take note of them. I usually hoard lots of design and interior magazines at home because I feel the need to go back to them over time for inspiration. And you can just imagine the clutter. But really, thank you for the ideas you got here.


Friday 21st of January 2011


You're welcome, Renee!


Thursday 13th of January 2011

Annette: Thanks for this post! I am so thrilled getting a peek at the creative processes of one of my favorite designers. It's amazing how the collage helps, and I think that I would be implementing this style and process into my own projects from now on!


Friday 14th of January 2011


So glad you enjoyed it, Gracey, and good luck with your projects!