Finding inspiration

Sometimes we all hit a mental block when it comes to designing a room. Once we’ve searched pinterest, instagram the web, interior mags then what? I say look at commercial installations like hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants for inspiration. Why well because stepping away from places we normally seek inspiration from makes us think a bit differently.

The key is to look outside your normal comfort zone. For example most hotels – the blander of them use lots of creams and whites, sleek furniture, neutral toned accessories that kind of thing. It’s a no brainer and it’s not particularly inspiring, decorating by numbers I call it.  I don’t know about you guys but I see no point in finding inspiration from a look that has been done to death and doesn’t particularly inspire. Yes it may be luxurious and beautiful but is it inspiring enough? I’m talking stopping you dead in your tracks inspiring, making your heart skip a beat inspiring!

Now you may say that is all very well but we do not have the bank account to pull off the look. I say you’re looking at it a little too practically. The whole point is number one find a place that inspires and number two drill down into why it inspires. Is it the paint colour, is it the different use of materials, maybe it’s a piece of upholstery?

One thing I should point out is that all these commercial spaces have to be practical, which believe me, as a designer is the biggest pain in the butt. I hate practical and if you can make practical look cool you’ve nailed it. The cool guys do this by creating impact through colour, texture, scale, and pattern. For my inspiration I’ve chosen Kettner’s restaurant in London – designed by Ilse Crawford.

Right now we are in the champagne bar. I adore this space from the restrained but luxurious palette to the lighting.  Note and double note how the light actually blurs and fades into darkness (remembering that when we light spaces we never want to over light them as shadows create mystery and drama). It is a space that wraps you up the squishiest of blankets I think its beautiful.


Look at how traditional the space is below, knocked out of the park by that ultra modern, ultra blue sofa. Colour palette is retrained again; I love the use of scale from the oversized wicker chair to the lighting fixture which is way to small for such a grand space.


Lastly we’re literally knocked out of our seats by this shot of eclectic blue (again note the size of the pendant) teeny tiny tiny!


Pretty inspirational don’t you reckon?


29 thoughts on “Finding inspiration

  1. I was in a restaurant / club called House in Dublin at the weekend. It’s based in an old Georgian house in town. I saw hints of Abigail everywhere from dogs on the pillars on the way in to your neo baroque chandelier, reclaimed wood panelling, vintage bar lights and fab wallpaper in the loos. It was class to see your chandelier in person!

  2. Gosh I haven’t been to Kettners for donkeys’ years! Used to be my local haunt. Will make a point of checking it out- looks brilliant.

  3. took some photos the other day when i was in a bar/restaurant in Newcastle as the decor was so interesting.

    i’ve also been inspired by window dressings if done really well. sometimes they mix a colour you just never would have thought of on a large scale and looks fab.

  4. Blue is USUALLY inspirational to me! The scale of the lighting IS interesting (and – if I’m reading you right – you’re saying it’s a good thing).

  5. Color, texture, scale, pattern.
    Four keywords I shall keep in mind when trying to dissect how a room works, dissecting it in the way you have shown us. Thank you!

  6. Abi, talking about inspirations, I find your blog and your out-of-box against all functionality thinking pretty inspirational. I wanted to use one of your pics on my blog as an example of a squishy interior. Tell me if that’s ok with you, please! I’ll provide a direct link and use your name in the post as well. I’m a beginner beginner blogger, excuse my ignorance. I don’t know how it all works yet. Thank you! And keep inspiring!

  7. I never get bored with my daily AA emails. I have been getting them since attending one of your brilliant courses about ?18 months ago and it never ceases to amaze me how much you are on my wavelength. Really appreciate the fact that you are willing to share your thoughts. Would love to find a fashion adviser (for the older women!) that equaled you…

  8. I have been receiving your daily emails since I attended one of your brilliant courses about ?18months ago and never cease to be amazed at how much you are on my wavelength.. It is wonderful having my thoughts endorsed by you (even though I only knew I thought that when you voice it !) and has really helped me in my decorating. Wish I could find a similar fashion mentor (for the older women!!) to help me with my style!!

  9. Thanks Abigail, I have a corner in my living room which is bland and boring. Come Easter I am planning to get inspired in the meantime I am on the hunt for inspiration too. Happy Days . Shell – A Darlings Nest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s