Traveling is the best source of inspiration for almost any design project. Great designers know how to “borrow” an idea from one place and transform it into something quite fresh and new.
When traveling throughout the country and around the world, it is almost impossible to notice that certain colors are a kin to certain places. For example, in the southern United States, white is a staple for many a colonial and plantation style homes, as well as most pastel colors. In New England, on the other hand, barn red, colonial gray and Newport blue are common shades for home walls and shutters when trimmed in black.
Regional Influences pervade all aspects of design from architecture to landscape to interiors. What may seem like too bright a shade of yellow in New York will seem right at home in a beautiful Texan interior design. Conversely, a shade of taupe will look chic and sophisticate in Virginia that in Florida will seem sad and muddled. Colors are affected by the brightness and intensity of light that vary by location and the type of architecture.
Historical traditions also take a roll in the selection of colors. For example, in New Mexico, the homes in historic districts are rooted in color that emanate from the desert…sand, bark brown, pale rose and sky blue. By the same token, Mediterranean architecture shines in amber, rust and the dark bottle green used in their shutters.
Keep in mind that you can create new design ideas simply by keeping attuned to how others have solved colors schemes. While your background may not be the same, certainly there is room for your inspiration to flourish. Putting all the elements together so they will work for you is part of the fun of seeing new places. Take note of interesting color combinations from anything from shop fronts, homes and local street furniture. Look carefully at how windows, porches, walkways and doors are colored and how planters and flowers are used as accents.
Like fashion, presentation is everything. There may be projects and homes that benefit from using liberal amounts of the same color on everything from windows to walls, for example, in a contemporary home where walls, windows and trim can be all white, or a traditional foursquare home all in battleship gray. Other homes where the architectural detailing is more complex, the painting schemes can be used to highlight the architecture and all its components.
It’s been a long time since anything has been completely new or fresh. Emulation has always been the very best compliment and the source for new inspiration. Often what is expected and predictable in one location, may be outlandish and exciting in another. Try experimenting with just a portion of a wall. Experimentation is another component in any new creation or design. Adjusting or modifying a color scheme you liked while traveling may just be enough to call the combination your very own. Remember that your building or interiors are only one part of the color scheme; all of this is completed by the furnishings, accessories and plants that are needed to call a house a home.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. His website is www.josephpubillones.com.
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