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Adele Barrett Interiors

Interior Design Blog

Design Inspiration

February 17, 2016

Design Inspiration



Our clients’ carved birds, collected on a trip to Africa, inspired fabric and rug choices for their family room

Design Inspiration comes from many places, but there are far more sources today than there were 20 years ago.

Today we have Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, Blogs, and on-line articles that we have had access to only in the past 10 years.  We used to rely on nature, fashion, travel, magazines, literature, art and movies.

Reflection, meditation and imagination always were, and will always, be the best way to channel design inspiration.  Perhaps dreams should be added to this list.

I used to have a recurring dream about a home accessory that I invented. I used a gnarly tree branch as a holder for an original painting, mounted on the wall.  This dream is perhaps 30 years old, much older than the reclaimed wood and branch trend that has been popular in the last five years.

I have designed incredibly colourful and intricate patterns for wallpaper in my dreams.  This was one of my most thrilling dreams; it is right up there with flying, which I used to do regularly, and now I lift off only about once a year.

I wish that I had documented the wallpaper design from my dream!  Better yet, if only someone would let me design wallpaper!

Here are two examples of new wallpaper designs that I love.  They are from Calico wallpaper:

I know, I know, I said that I would never design with wallpaper again, but these are so great!  Grasscloth and cork remain favourites, and there is a mural in a marble pattern that we sourced for a client recently. 

Nature remains a powerful inspiration for the design industry.  It informs some of the best wallpapers and fabrics and allows designers to have both glamour and earthiness in our designs.  This creates the perfect balance in an interior, no matter the budget or style.

So, design inspiration may come from many places, and every year there are more and more.  If you have the desire, as we do as design professionals, to be excited about what you do, you will look for inspiration everywhere. 


bird-companionThis little critter is keeping me company today while I work at my kitchen island. I am not in my office because the entrance floor is being retiled, and so I can’t move in and out of my office as I am accustomed to.

The floor tile is part of a renovation that includes my guest bathroom/powder room. The same herringbone format, dark grey, slate tile is going in both areas. I have always wanted something herringbone in my home, and finding this 6” by 12” slate tile gave me the opportunity.

I will post pictures of the before and after when both rooms are complete. In the meantime, I am setting up a temporary office using both my kitchen island and my dining room table.

Elisa, my assistant and I are managing very well. We both enjoy working from our home offices. Elisa has one of her own as well, and she comes here to mine when we need to collaborate.

There are so many advantages to working from home. There is no commute, and it is easy to book appointments and errands to avoid rush hours. Your office can be personalized and much more comfortable than the typical office. I have the paint colours, furniture styles and art that I love, and I don’t have to worry about offending anyone. The colour scheme is lime green, teal blue, and orange with touches of black and white. The distressed wood floor, desks and leather bench are orangy brown, my favourite.

I don’t have to share a photocopier, and instead of water-cooler gossip, I can phone anyone I like for a personal conversation, whenever I like.

I’m not tempted by boxes of donuts or home made cookies in the lunch room. Since I’m always stocked up on yogurt and fruit, there are always healthy snacks and lunches available.

I can take a break on my sunny deck and enjoy the sounds of nature, or I can take a stroll through the lovely walkable neighbourhoods of my home town, Dundas, when office work becomes mundane.

InstaSize_2015_2 _ 144547

I removed a closet to build-in a large desk and shelves in the den, and we don’t miss the storage, since we built a large cedar lined closet in the basement. This room really multi tasks. We use it as a shared office for Elisa and I, a TV room in the evening, and a bedroom for overnite guests. The lime green sofa bed is only 72 inches wide, but it has a comfortable double mattress.

I encourage every one to try working from home, whether it is from an under used dining room table, or a multi-tasking den/guest room like mine. Give Elisa and me I a call and we will show you how.


Colour Courage on the Home’s Front

 The front door of your home is telling the world a lot about you.  Is it saying what you want it to?  The following is a list of typical front door colours and what they may be saying about the home owner’s personality, or at least that of the person who chose the colour.  All colours are from Benjamin Moore.

  • RED—Rapture: worldly, friendly, open, outgoing, travelled
  • BLACK–Jet Black: sophisticated, cultured, educated, dramatic
  • WHITE–Oxford White: neat, organized, traditional, reserved
  • PLUM–Jester: arty, trendy, romantic, fashionable
  • YELLOW–Yellow Rain Coat: cheerful, welcoming, hospitable, relaxed
  • GREEN–Peale Green: loves nature, respectful, compromising
  • COPPER–Rusty Nail: down-to-earth, natural, friendly, casual

Colour is always more than just what we see, it has actual physical and emotional effects on us all.  And we can’t help but form opinions about colour, even those of us who can’t dress ourselves, and I’m not talking about toddlers.

So what is your front door saying about you?  Does it say that you are confused?  This can happen when there are too many colours on the house. Unless it is a Victorian, it’s best to stay with three, including roof, downspouts, brick and windows; everything counts.

Make sure the shade that you choose is either a compliment or contrast to the brick or siding, but also works well with the roof, window trim and downspouts.  For example, if the brick is rusty-red then a green, black, or white will contrast, but if the roof and downspouts are brown, black would not be the best choice.

I’m not very fond of the garage door matching the entry door, since this brings too much importance to the garage.  You don’t want your guests to be confused either, so make it easy to find the front door by painting it a stand-out colour.

It is no wonder that many people dread making a new colour choice for their own private portal to the world.  There is probably no other place in, or on your home that will show your shame as publicly if you make the wrong choice.

But, don’t be afraid to show off your personality on your front door.  Be bold, and have courage!

2013, New and Improved

January 7, 2013

Above:  I designed this backsplash panel for a small condo kitchen using 5 shades of green, including Pantone’s colour for 2013, Emerald, see picture below.

Is it just me, or does the number 2013 look strange and futuristic?  I was one of those kids that loved The Jetson’s cartoon and dreamed about flying cars in the year 2000–can’t help but feel dissappointed!

It seems like we turned the corner from 1999 to 2000, yesterday.  We are already in the second decade of the 2000’s, the “nineties” are invoking nostalgia and, heaven help us, shoulder pads and big hair are back for some.

So, as is customary for this time of year, let’s take a look at what’s new and what’s improved.  Of course, this is from my point of view, based on trends that I see in my design work, what my clients are purchasing, publications, and websites such as Pinterest and Houzz.

On her birthday before Christmas, my daughter Jennifer and I saw the art exhibit, Napoleon, at the AGH.  It’s worth a look.

It’s always a treat to visit the AGH, see what they are selling at the gift shop, including their great selection of local art for sale and lease (love the large Richard Herman landscape, pick up a gift, and have a snack at the cafe.

The exhibit is amazing, it is a thrill to see so many images of the iconic legend, and be inspired by the royal colours and classic Empire furniture designs.  I was moved to see one of Napoleon’s hats, it is in remarkable condition, and it isn’t difficult to imagine the man wearing it, felt almost like time travel.

The fabrics of the clothing and bedding were opulent, and again, in amazing condition. They made me want to add more luxurious materials to my home.

The regal blues, golds and reds in the paintings and artefacts are a reminder that rich colours are back. This year may be the time to cast off timidity and be bold with colour. Paint a room a saturated colour, such as the new emerald green.  Have a look at Pantone’s website for inspiration pictures and ways to use this colour.

If you aren’t ready to be that brave, you can always add new throw pillows to the sofa or bed.  Rearrange the bookshelves to make room for colourful vases and accessories. Browse Homesense, you will find some irresistible object in a bright new colour to bring home, and brighten up your world.

Here are some other small ways to update and improve your home, and give it a shot of 2013 chic:

  • Yellow gold and brass,  (brushed or satin finish) for cabinet knobs and handles, new lamps and light fixtures
  • Marble tile or art glass kitchen backsplash
  • Opulence: velvet, faux animal fur, patterns
  • Sparkle: crystal, silver, mercury glass, carved gold or silver leaf picture frames
  • Update picture frames.  Re-frame family pictures, add new pictures to replace outdated ones.
  • Replace small mats at entry doors, kitchen and bathrooms
  • Replace uninspiring larger area rugs
  • Remove wall to wall carpeting, and reduce flooring changes on the same level
  • Don’t be afraid to use hardwood throughout–even in the kitchen
  • Upgrade faucets
  • Plan to paint your front door a new colour in the spring.  Vow to be bolder, or darker–for classic drama, you can always go Black.

Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

September 28, 2012

Is your style classic simplicity, detailed traditional, rustic country or clean modern?  There is a backsplash for you.

Beautiful lime green pillowed glass tile.  Clean Modern, but can also be Tailored Traditional.

 Stained glass mosaic.  Traditional or Modern.

Aqua glass tiles, stacked format.  Modern.

Love these mirror tiles with antique buttons.  Traditional.