Monday, March 28, 2011

Two design tips

For more inspirational finds, please visit www.quatrefoildesign.com

Last week, Circle of Moms notified me that I had received enough votes to make it into the top 3 blogs on the list of 'Top 25 Home Design Moms'.  Thank you so much for your support and your votes!  To see the entire list, visit http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/home-design-moms - I have discovered quite a few new blogs through this list. 

As part of the top 3, Circle of Moms asked for me to provide them with two design tips to share with their readers.  As any regular reader of my blog knows, my blog is not as much about specific tips as it is about sharing my point of view.

Herringbone pattern in a firebox

Case in point: the herringbone pattern.  I have admired this style for a long time, and have posted about it herehere, and here.  I have received many emails from my readers saying that every time they see a herringbone pattern, they think about my blog - the greatest compliment that can be given to a blogger.  I have also received emails from at least a dozen readers saying that my post on a herringbone pattern in the firebox inspired them to redo their own firebox with a herringbone pattern.  And, naturally, I am doing a herringbone pattern in the fireboxes of the three fireplaces in the new house (as well as herringbone floors in the living room). However, in these posts I was not giving specific tips, but was sharing my admiration for this beautiful style, illustrated with both words and pictures.

So, back to the task on hand - two design tips.  Perhaps characteristic of my approach to design, I am going to give two design tips that are applicable to everyone, and are based on my experience over the past 4 years as a blogger, and over the past two years as a client to a great architect, designer, and landscape architect (for those of you new to my blog, I am in the process of building a house in Atlanta, which has been an amazing life and learning experience).

Tip I:  There is truly not just one right answer, or just one correct style. Going with what you love will probably serve you best in the long run.
My first 'design tip' is one that I have come to realize over the past two years, primarily through the experience of building a house, but also by reading some of the amazing design blogs that share the inside details of the design process.  Blogs in particular have enabled me to be able to experience design on a more real level (not just the glossy and perfect magazine layouts), and also gain insight into the decisions behind the designs.   

In design, like in art, there are literally thousands of ways a room or a vignette can come together, all of which would be equally beautiful.  To some of you, this might seem very obvious, but many of us struggle with the sheer number of choices out there, fearing that the faucet or fabric, tile or countertop, lamp or lighting fixture that we pick is going to be wrong, or that we are going with a style that is not really us.   The good news is that never before has it there been so much inspiration and 'how to' at our fingertips (most of which is free!).  There are so many options available these days that are reasonably priced, and available to everyone,not just designers.  In my current house, I have changed things around (with items I already had floating around the house) simply by seeing an inspirational picture on a blog, or even admiring the way a table was set up in the Restoration Hardware catalog.  Although it seems trite, if you really love something,  more than likely it will work somewhere in your house (I particularly feel this way about art).

Although there are hundreds and hundreds of blogs out there that have inspired me, there are a few in particular that have really been pivotal in teaching me about design, providing me with amazing inspiration, and giving me more confidence in my own sense of style.

Tip II:  Open your eyes to the details.  They are literally all around you, waiting to be noticed.  

Even as a child, I remember being transfixed by the details. I would beg my parents to take me to the National Gallery to visit my favorite paintings, in particular A Girl with a Watering Can by Renoir (1876).  In early March I visited DC, and made a pilgrimage to visit this painting, which is like an old friend to me.  Every time I see it, I see different things, and appreciate it on new levels.  This time I marveled at the vermilion colored bow, which is the perfect contrast to the blue in the dress.  I would never think to put an orange bow on my daughter if she were wearing blue, and yet this small detail is one of my favorite details of the painting (and I love how the color is repeated in the flowers in the background). The power of contrasting colors!

On that same trip to the National Gallery (which I have visited dozens of times), I noticed an amazing stone staircase for the first time.  I love seeing familiar places with new eyes, a result of constantly learning and opening my eyes to the details.

Even in school, when taking Biology as a teenager, I remember being truly mesmerized by the sheer beauty and complexity of the DNA that resides within every one of us. Truly, God is in the details, and it is amazing to live in an age when we can unearth some of these mysteries.  Is it strange that the sight of a double helix brings tears to my eyes?

One of the greatest compliments I get about my blog is that it causes my readers to see things in a new way, to notice that details that have always been there, but never really registered.  Although I have always been one to notice the details, writing my blog (and building a house) has caused me to notice the details as never before.  There is no special skill or talent to noticing the details - it's all a matter of opening up your eyes to the beauty that is around you (in whatever area that captures your attention), and learning something new every day.  There are so many resources available to all of us, through magazines, blogs, books, the world around us.  One of my favorite sources of inspiration is google images - if you want to see a picture of just about anything, do a search on google images and you will have more inspiration than you can take in at one sitting! 

Over the past four years, I have posted many times on the details that inspire me in art, architecture, and interior design.  Here are some of my favorite posts about the details.

I hope you enjoyed my 'design tips'!  If you have a favorite post or a favorite tip that you have gleaned from my blog over the years, please post it here.  And again, thank you for your support on the Circle of Moms Design blog vote!

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.
Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.


  1. Holly,

    This post is one I'll save on my computer. Very interesting and wise points were made here.

    Congratulations for being on top 3!!! That's huge and you deserve it. :-)

    Have a wonderful week!


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  2. I'm with you all the way: Blogs make me look and help me see. So much talent, training, and experience go into the details. We don't have to recognize the details to know we're in a great space but they are certainly there for us to enjoy.

  3. Watson and Crick are my heroes. The double helix is a marvel to behold.

  4. Love your advice and totally agree. Entering the blogging world opened up an entirely vast new source of inspiration and information. And as a detail freak I can relate to your interest in that aspect of design as well. And of course congratulations on your Circle of Moms award!!

  5. I have to agree that there is so many amazing helpful blogs out there, many that have opened my eyes to new things. I've also learned that even if you love something, I'm mad about your herringbone pattern, if it doesn't go with the style of your home no matter how much you try to make it you'll never be happy with it. So listen to your home it won't steer you wrong. Congratulations on being in the top Mom blogs.

  6. Really great thoughts, and I for one will never forget your herringbone posts, the fireplaces and flooring!

    Holly you are always an inspiration to me, congratulations!
    I have a new giveaway up I think you will love…from The Zhush!

    Art by Karena

  7. You are so right about not just one solution in a design. There are a myriad of ways to approach a project and every designer will give you a different take. It's an art not a science and therefore there is no wrong answer.

  8. Holly, you mentioned in your post about the email comments from your readers. As a busy mom, blogger and as one in the middle of a major home building project, do you answer all of your emails and how many do you receive from readers? I am amazed at how you manage your time.

  9. I too think of your blog each and every time I see herringbone! I loved your tips, Confidence in your own style and taste is key to great design, and the details matter like never before! Thank you for always inspiring me and making me notice new details Holly!

    PS: Congratulations on the nomination, you truly deserve it =D

    xo Linda

  10. Thank you for the nice words, everyone!

    Anon, I am definitely busy these days, but I also have a lot down time waiting in carpool line and such. I try to answer reader emails if possible, and mostly do so on my iphone, but if someone has emailed me and has not received a response, feel free to send the email again - sometimes they get to the bottom of my inbox and I forget to respond!

  11. I love your tips and thank you so much for the mention Holly. I adore your blog, one of my absolute favourites!!
    Can't wait to see your new house!

  12. Holly..congratulations. Excellent post and well taken points. I will be back here to reflect on this post for sure. As a new blogger.....its quite a world, this blogging world...so many lovely people and my gosh, I am learning so much about so many different things..its like an online education! Renoir is my favorite artist of all time and I was at the National Gallery a few weeks ago......a very insprirational place indeed! Always enjoy coming here and good luck in the finall stages of the house!

  13. I just had to comment on the whole herringbone thing, because I just ordered a new couch in a gorgeous herringbone fabric and I. love. it. Thanks for the post - given all that is out there to browse and admire, sometimes you can get overwhelmed when trying to figure out what your own style actually is. I'm still learning on a regular basis, but love every minute of it!

  14. Congratulations, Holly! This a a lovely accomplishment!
    Keep up the beautiful work.

  15. Gosh, thank you so much for mentioning us...we're honored. Your site is absolutely one of my favorites (and that goes for all the rest of us at Tracery too). Thanks :)

  16. Holly...this was truly amazing! And every reader that commented said something about what I was thinking as I read this post...so glad you commented on taking in the details...so happy to see the Renoir painting...truly...my favorite growing up! When I was young and went to any museum wherever we were..I always had to buy a print or something of this! I love it! and I never understood why until I was grown! It really is the details in life that make us who we are! Good luck on your house and I look forward to many more wonderful blog posts from you! Oh...and congratulations on being in the top 3! I voted several times! :)

  17. I second Doug's comment. Thanks for including us. You are in our top reads!


  18. Congratulations! Yours is truly one of the best blogs out there - I am always amazed at things you've noticed and brought to my attention - things I never saw before. I count you as a friend, from the early "Sarah" days to now, with a new house designed by someone we used dream about together.

    I feel honored to make your list.


  19. Congrats on being in the top 3 and thanks for the tips...love following your blog!!

  20. Wow, Holly! I am truly honored to be on your list.
    As I've mentioned to you several times before, TTI is such a beautiful blog and perfectly named. I never miss any of your posts.
    Congratulations on being in the top three, although I'm not surprised!


  21. Congratulations on your achievement. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips. Great post!!

  22. Incredible tips!Congratulations for being on the top three!what a great post!Love your site :)thanks for sharing.

  23. Very interesting and wise points were made here. Congrats on being in the top 3 and thanks for the tips

    Homeowner Insurance

  24. Congratulations Holly, well deserved. I love your blog and find it very inspirational.
    Thank you so much for a kind mention, what a honour.

  25. Congratulations, Holly!
    PS: Watched the animated movie 'Tangled' the other evening and thought of you: they 'drew' herringbone-patterned fireboxes!

  26. Congratulations, Holly! Your blog is always refreshing, inspiring, and filled with great beauty, but more than that, it makes me notice details I hadn't before. {and if you can make Joni notice things...that's a true coup!}xo Lidy

  27. Dear Holly,

    I am new to your blog and this was a wonderful post as a first introduction. I particularly loved what you said about a room coming together in several different ways, with several different but perhaps equally beautiful outcomes. Sometimes we get so caught up on the "perfect choice" when to just surround ourselves with what we truly love is really the only "right" way. I loved what you said about the double helix - very insightful. Thanks for a lovely post.

  28. Congratulations! Such well deserved praise. Your blog was a real inspiration to me as I embarked on the blogging venture. Your posts are informative, detailed and well documented and it is a learning pleasure to follow you through your style and inspiration

  29. Congrats! I'm off to check out the entire lis!

  30. Comepletely agree with your tips. I think when we relax a little about design and decisions, the real magic happens.


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


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