Design Recipes: Finding inspiration for your decor

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Whether it’s in nature, pages of a magazine, a friend’s home, hotel or designer showhouse, design inspiration is wherever you find it. Recently, more than 60 top designers met at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York to create one-of-a-kind vignettes to benefit charity. The annual event is called Design on a Dime and is sponsored through Housing Works. All items are for sale and proceeds benefit those affected by homelessness, HIV and AIDS.

Showhouses are held in various forms throughout the country and are a wonderful way to be inspired for ideas for your own home. Other sources of inspiration include retail stores, restaurants, magazines, showrooms and even nature.

Inspiration everywhere

Often we ignore what is right in front of us. Whether it is a pretty flower, display or well-designed public space, the reality is you can find inspiration virtually anywhere. Many designers travel with sketch books to always document great design. Along similar lines, many designers also photograph any design element they find interesting. This isn’t for the purpose of imitating, but being inspired. Look for interesting color combinations, textures and interesting use of design. Visit museums, exhibitions, art shows and design events. These venues tend to not only attract talent, but the very latest in design.

What’s old is new again

Inspiration is not always about what is the latest and greatest. While newer items may be appealing, so can vintage pieces that may be capable of being refreshed and repurposed. Not sold on using vintage items? Consider mixing items that are new, bold or unique with those that are more vintage in nature.

Ask questions

Remember, whether it’s a piece of art you spotted in a restaurant, wallpaper on the wall of a room in a designer showhouse or display piece in a retail store, that piece is likely available for purchase or can be sourced and purchased from a manufacturer or artisan directly.

Cathy Hobbs is an interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at