The world is filled with incredible design be it as large as a hotel or as small as a child’s outfit. Each and every day I find something new and inspiring that effects my work and creative input. On this page I’ll share images from designers, architects and intellectual minds, both historic and current, who inspire me with their innovation. Check back every week for a brand new entry that will hopefully inspire you as well.

Roy McMakin

Orange sills + yellow tinted window = design brilliance.

This is a very famous shot of a pool terrace in Beverly Hills. Back when I was a wee lass just getting started in the magazine industry, I catered an event here. I was blown away. Party Down indeed.

Amazing juxtaposition of a squat concrete structure with traditional paneled doors. The stone work in the drive is art in and of itself.

The coolest stair support, ever? I think so. If I was a teenager growing up in this house I’d have my prom picture shot under the stairs.

Dream house (and not just because it has a two-way door).

Amy Sedaris

Called the “baby’s room” this is where Sedaris crafts. Highlights include the presidential seat cushions, a mobile of nails and pile of pot holders, which she crocheted herself. Design wise, the different colored knob accents are so cute and I love the ruffle drape in the doorway.

Great combination of green and pink here. The hair sample lampshade and cup with fake tea = super creative.

The silhouette wallpaper is actually a favorite design or mine from Osborne & Little. Sedaris really makes it her own though with the wooden bats. I also find the wigs on the hat hooks quite hilarious…..

Love the frame painted right onto the wall here. Clever!

*Dancing on the Ceiling*

While this Inspired Ideas entry focuses on Elizabeth Gordon’s treatment of ceilings (as seen in the image above as well as the ones below) it should not be left unmentioned that all of her Studio’s work is truly inspiring. Gordon’s mix of colors and materials, her layering techniques, her extreme attention to detail – all are superb executions that I hope to mirror in my own work.
This room truly illustrates Gordon’s incredible attention to detail. From the ebony floors to the (faux?) wood ceilings, not one inch of the room was left unattended.
You can just barely see  it, but the red ceiling is textured and reflective – note the mirrored image of the trees. What a clever accent!

A bold use of “neutrals” You’ll see in many of these shots the molding along the ceiling was left a crisp almost like a picture frame for each treatment.

While the Cole and Son wallpaper might be the most exposed paper of all time, it looks totally fresh paired with a pretty green ceiling.

Ok so the above shot doesn’t show the ceilings, but I do love the wall color. It’s so close to hue I used in Dave’s guest bedroom and it’s fun to see a different color combination. Also, the millwork on the bookcase is gorgeous.

*The Ruins of Detroit*

Michigan Central Station, built in 1913 and currently scheduled for demolition.
Michigan Theater, built in 1926 and currently operating as a parking garage.
The Farwell Building, completed in 1915, vacant since 1984.
The William Livingstone House, by architect Albert Kahn, constructed in 1893, demolished in 2007.
The Vanity Ballroom, designed in 1929 it opened shortly after the stock market crash.
The United Artists Theater, built in 1928 in the Spanish-Gothic style.

*Fire Sale in Philadelphia*

For $599,000 you could be the proud owner of this very cool former fire house in Philadelphia.

**Hotel Boca Chica**

Architects Frida Escobedo and José Rojas present incredible inspiration with their respectful renovation of Acapulco’s Hotel Boca Chica. Staying true to the hotel’s 1950s roots, the duo kept key architectural features such as brick balconies, flat low roofs and concrete-block screen walls. They then updated the look with accents like midcentury inspired furnishings, unusual concrete and wood patio umbrellas and pops of neon outdoor upholstery. The credit for one of my favorite aspects of Hotel Boca Chica belongs to Mexican artist Pedro Reyes. He created the giant raft that bobs in front of the hotel. Not only does it look incredibly cool, the faux island serves practical purposes as well. In addition to providing respite from the sun, it houses a small pool in the center of it’s belly.
**Photography by Undine Pröhl


Featured on Liz Arnold’s blog Homebodies in April of 2009, this little bungalow in LA’s Echo Park neighborhood profoundly effected me and in many ways influences my work to this day. Back in 2006 my colleague and friend, Jessica Fleischmann, offered to rent me her mother’s summer apartment on the ground floor here. At the time I was in between places and going through a bit of a tough time. I saw the space and fell in love, but turned her down to live closer to friends in Santa Monica. They’re still my friends, but the decision’s always been a big regret.

Simple and austere the house is located in the steep hills of LA and offers beautiful views over the hills of an incredible garden. I love this place because it’s so unique, so basic and such a reflection of the person who lives there. Jessica marries high and low, old and new, natural and man made with such ease it’s hard not to be inspired. In many ways this is my dream house and while I don’t plan to move back to LA, one day I hope to live somewhere similar with a bright door and a colored stove too. Kudos to Liz for all of the great shots.
above: An Ikea sink in the bathroom

above: Jessica’s studio and work space

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**Alive Structures**
Lewis’ roof features two incredibly large (roughly 9′ long x 4′ wide) skylights that look down into his main living space. Over the winter, while dreaming about what the roof deck could become, Lewis mentioned how nice it would be to look up and see grasses and flowers swaying near the glass. Instantly I thought of the Highline and from there we came up with a plan.

Alive Structures, a Brooklyn-based urban landscape design, will complete the design and installation. Specialists in Green Roofs and Ecological Gardens, Alive Structures believes in utilizing native species to benefit the environment through saved energy costs, absorption of C02, reduction of urban heating and mitigation of stormwater runoff. Even better they specialize in the beautification of urban areas, making vast concrete jungles a little more in touch with nature while providing much needed habitat for birds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. How nice, right? Below are some images from Alive Structure’s past projects. Check them out….and maybe they’ll inspire you to go green. Even if it’s just through a planter or two.

**Tim Burton**

Over the weekend I went to see the amazing Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA and was blown away. I’ve always appreciated the mastermind’s movies, but I have to admit I never really thought about the amount of work that goes into making each film. I also never realized what an incredibly diverse artist Tim Burton is. In addition to writing and directing, he illustrates many, if not all, of the characters in his movies. On display were literally hundreds and hundreds of sketches and sculptures. From among everything, the one piece that really caught my eye was the water color/pencil piece copied above. It’s part of a small series he created on suburban life. Of course it’s of an interior and yes that’s pretty obvious that I would select it for this site, but I love how Burton captured this suburb setting in such an eerie and mysterious light. Not to mention, I’ve taken a rendering course or two and know how incredibly difficult it is to just draw a room……

Unfortunately photography is not allowed at the exhibit and after shooting this image on my cell phone I had to run away before the guards tackled me. I didn’t take down any of the info on this work and since I don’t think I’ll have a chance to get back so soon, if you happen to know the title, date, etc. please let me know. Until then, take inspiration as I do from a simple sketch that Burton transformed into so much more.

**Ashe and Leandro**

Based in New York, designers Ashe and Leandro work on diverse projects all around the world. While perusing their web site recently, I was drawn to the Carpenter residence for two reasons. First, it epitomizes everything I miss so very much about California living: greenery, outdoor space, early-twentieth century architecture complete with high ceilings, french doors, stucco. And second the project excels in an area that many designers struggle with, the use of bold color. I really must say that the duos balance of white space, nature and vibrant color is some of the best work I’ve ever seen. What do you think?

**Miami Vice**
Picture 35
Picture 36Picture 37
Picture 39
I’m dying to check out Kelly Wearstler’s design for the Viceroy Miami, which opened in March, as I’m thoroughly captivated by her use of marbles, precious stones, and a Miami Vice color scheme as well as the 80s vibe of the furnishings, the retro artwork and the perfectly captured old-time Florida feel…really the list just stretches on and on. But what I’m truly in awe of is how Wearstler manages to transform her hotel designs into an experience…one I’m certainly hoping to have very soon.


There’s a lot of talk these days about the measure of fashion’s influence on design and while my opinion on that subject isn’t exactly concrete, I do have to admit a fanatical addiction to The Sartorialist’s photography blog,, which showcase his intriguing images of street fashion and personal style. When it comes to home design personal style is a big influence as every project is meant to reflect the tastes and dreams of the person living there. This young hipster with his crazy style and cool confidence would be a dream client. If a nursery was inspired by his spirit, can’t you just imagine how incredible it would be?

**White Top**
This recently came to my attention and I love how it makes the point that little changes can lead to dramatic results. According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Americans in warm climates have the power to drastically effect the environment by simply painting roofs white. The conversion of 30 billion square roof-top-feet would be the environmental equivalent of taking 75 million cars off the road for a year. Since light surfaces reflect sunlight while dark surfaces absorb it, white roofs keep interiors cooler and AC usage down. Imagine how great it will feel to make such a positive change while also saving money on your utilities. Now a white roof may seem a little out of the ordinary, so hopefully Wolf Kahn’s lovely painting The White Roof (Emily’s Studio) will serve as inspiration for the idea.


5 responses to “Inspiration

  1. Pingback: Baby It’s Cold Outside « affordable decor

  2. Pingback: Mexico Makeover « affordable decor

  3. Pingback: Dream a Little Dream « affordable decor

  4. Pingback: Dancing On the Ceiling | affordable decor

  5. Pingback: “I Decorate As If I Owned A Child” – Amy Sedaris | affordable decor

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