What Inspires My Design

April 11th, 2022 | Tracey McKee

I’m asked this question by friends, clients and family members all the time. Where do I start when I begin designing a room? What’s my style called? First, I would respond that I work in many styles. Of course I have favorite colors and themes that I return to often, but most of us are drawn to a lot of different styles and color palettes depending on the situation — and I’m no different.

The one thing that remains constant is that I try to work consciously from a specific source of inspiration on any given project. Using a photo or other source as an anchor helps me pick a direction and build from there. I recommend this to all my clients, because unless you have multiple homes, you do ultimately need to pick a vision and go with it. Plus, seeking inspiration is fun! In the past clients would come in with big piles of magazine pictures. Now we all have our Pinterest boards.

Bike Living Room

Sometimes I see a photo and feel like the overall mood is so cool, or the color mixture is so pretty, I just have to develop a room around it. Using inspiration in this way makes the design process way more creative than simply copying a room found on Pinterest. I find working this way helps me create a home that is original, cohesive and tells a fabulous story.

Living Room

This photo (below) is my most recent source of inspiration; a vintage, very cool car (not sure what model!) with the top down, headed to the slopes with beautiful old wooden skis and a suitcase mounted on board. Looking at it reminds me of a time when people used to put effort into their clothes, but it looked effortless because they weren’t showy, but well tailored. Remember the old Sean Connery movies?

Skis Dining Room

The house I would design from this would have polished nickel fixtures with rich wood cabinetry the color of the skis. I might even go with a higher sheen than normal on the cabinetry, inspired by the luster of ski wax. Working from inspiration like this drives more original thinking and design than copying what others have done. It’s a balance because there’s definitely value in studying other people’s design work, too. But I encourage all my clients to seek out imagery and scenes for inspiration that will drive ideas that are totally unique and personal.

I like to keep images like this around too. I’d use this type of color and texture story to accessorize a neutral room and incorporate accent colors. I can also imagine a gorgeous tablescape inspired by this composition.

Leaves Wood Cut

One of the best parts of my job is studying people and finding out what beauty looks like to them. I look for stories in the pictures my clients share to help me understand their unique aesthetic, then design around what I learn.

If you have a particular scene or image that moves you, I’d love to see it! Go see more inspiration on our instagram feed.

- Tracey McKee

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