Turning inspiration into reality

One of the first things I do when starting a new project is look for design inspiration. I like to talk with my clients and get a feel for who they are and what types of things they like. Once I have a grasp on their style I try to search for images that remind me of them. I think that doing research and gaining inspiration on the front end of a project is important because it gives you a jumping off point for your own ideas. Having inspiration pictures to look back on throughout the creative process can also be a huge help when you start to veer off track or get a case of "designer's block" later on.

Many times I will ask my clients to send me inspiration photos or pin images that they like. One thing I have noticed, however, is that many times clients will only look for inspiration within the parameters of the room they are trying to design. For instance: if we are working on a living room re-do, clients will send me inspiration images of only living rooms. But really, any image that you love can act as inspiration, no matter what room of your home you are working on...

Using inspiration photos | Sarah Barksdale Design

Take this image for instance. It doesn't necessarily have any relationship to a specific room. But an image like this could inspire the look of a room by adding brass and turquoise accents. Maybe you add some glass vases to a desk or incorporate some lucite furniture to achieve the clear-glass look. Inspiration isn't meant to be taken literally (otherwise it would just be called copying), inspiration is meant to, well, inspire a design idea.


Let me show you how it works. I love this living room scheme but I wanted to show you how it could easily inspire a bedroom design:

Using inspiration photos | Sarah Barksdale Design

I used the indigo pattern from the chair as inspiration for the bedding. Then I added brass lamps and rustic light-washed bedside tables. I found some cool old vintage books that could be stacked within the open shelf of the bedside tables. I incorporated a navy and white patterned rug and found a small starburst mirror to hang on the wall above the bed. Last, I pulled in a fiddle leaf fig tree to add some leafy greenery to the room.

Using inspiration photos | Sarah Barksdale Design


Fiddle leaf fig tree (you can get these at most garden nurseries) | Starburst Mirror | Lamp | Bedding | Nightstand | Rug | Books (these are vintage Reader's Digest Condensed books, they are AWESOME for decorating because they have such interesting spines and front/back covers. You can find them online or at used/vintage bookstores)

So the next time you are starting a design project, be sure to look for some inspiration photos to get your creativity going. And don't be afraid to look outside the box when you are searching for inspiring ideas!


Dream Rooms: The Perfect Porch

One of my absolute favorite things about the weather warming up is sitting on my porch in the afternoons. I love being outside so much that Matt likes to call me solar-powered. If you couldn't tell from my last post, I think that having a great outdoor living space is really important. Too often we overlook out outdoor spaces and don't really give them the thought or time to make them part of our home. Today I have come up with a plan for a really great porch layout. The key is to think about how you want to use your porch (lounging, reading, dining, grilling, sitting around a fire pit) and then source pieces that will best help you accomplish those things. For me; I like to sit and read with a glass of wine in the evenings, and during the day I like to lounge in the sun.

The Perfect Porch | Sarah Barksdale Design

Lanterns | Coffee Table | Chair | Pillows | Chaise | Garden Stool | Outdoor Rug


Dining Room Inspiration

Lately I have had the opportunity to work on several dining room designs. It seems work out a lot that designs come in spurts, like having multiple dining rooms to design at once. But I actually like it that way, it gives me a chance to come up with multiple designs and ideas for the same type of room which is always fun.

This is a dining room that I have been swooning over lately. I love the traditional-with-a-twos feel it has, and those dining chairs are AMAZING! I love, love, love the idea of upholstering the seat and back of the chair. Brilliant! Anyway, consider this my "inspiration."

Dining Room Inspiration | Sarah Barksdale Design

And here is a design board that i put together from this inspiration:

Dining room inspiration board | Sarah Barksdale Design

drapery fabric / chandelier / paint / Chippendale dining chair / upholstery fabric* / plates / table

*This fabric is Pindler and Pindler, 2709-Tudor, beige

I wanted to keep the look traditional while still using fresh, current pieces and fabrics. The key is to keep traditional lines while incorporating more current patterns or finishes- hence the fabric patterns, the smokey green wall color and the raw iron finish for the chandelier. I wanted to keep the table finish light in order to contrast from the dark mahogany finish of the chairs, but I didn't want it to be so light that the two wouldn't work together. I also wanted to keep a formal feel to the room without making it too uninviting. Who wants to eat in an stiff dining room everyday?

Now all that's missing are my dinner guests...