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Inspiration From California

You never know where your next great idea might come from. That’s why I always have my phone charged and ready to capture a moment of inspiration. When I travel, my design spidey senses are on even higher alert. Here are a few of the details that got me snapping pictures and thinking during my recent visit to Los Angeles and San Francisco with the #BlogTourCali group. (Read more about my trip in my previous blog post.)

I spotted this circular colour study painting by Don Suggs at the West Edge Design Fair in Santa Monica. I found it utterly mesmerizing. I’m interested in how masters of a particular craft can take something simple and make it sensational. This seems simple — circles painted in many different colours — and yet it has so much energy and movement. And the colour combination is very unusual. It inspires me to try something new — an art technique, a colour combo, something!

L.A. furniture retailer Graye had a minimalist booth at the West Edge Design Fair. But this prop vignette begged me to snap a pic. I love the mix of materials, shapes and patina. A display like this is a great idea for an off-duty dining table or a centre hall table. Time to pull some old things out of the china cabinet and experiment. My favourite takeaway is the idea of placing an object on a stack of books to give it more presence — classic styling trick.

After L.A. the BlogTour group hit the road up the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. The views are breathtaking. The ocean gets me every time. Awe in the true sense of the word. And how about those colours?

Have you ever tried the Sherwin-Williams online colour tool called Let’s Chip It? It’s so much fun. Go to letschipit.com, upload a photo, and you get a palette of five Sherwin-Williams colours pulled from your photo.

Click the Edit Photos button on the bottom right and five more colours pop up for you to play with. You can drag and drop the chips back and forth to customize a palette that matches your photo. It’s a no-fail way to devise a decorating palette because nature always gets colour right.

And speaking of great colours, I snapped this shot of tomatoes at the green market where we stopped for lunch in Monterey. Like I said, nature gets colour right.

We hit up a few design shops in San Francisco. I spied this credenza at the extraordinary Thos. Moser showroom. The furniture is all beautifully handmade. This little idea for cabinet pulls caught my attention. You can barely see these leather pulls when the drawers are closed. They are just deep enough for your fingers to grasp. And when you open the drawer you get a little treat — three perfect brass screws hold the pull into a carefully chiselled space so that the pull is flush with the top of the drawer. I’d love to try to replicate this concept on a furniture makeover project.

The Serena & Lily design shop is just a few doors down Sacramento Street. I loved the store’s super simple take on plantings out front — grass en masse. The mane-like texture is a fun alternative to the more expected choices of boxwood or other evergreen. The grasses sway in the wind beautifully and have a beachy vibe. Nice.

I took off on my own for a bit one afternoon to ogle the pretty houses. It’s one of my favourite things to do when I travel — wander a neighbourhood to check out the architecture and paint colours and gardens. Many of San Francisco’s Victorians are tarted up in several paint colours to highlight the intricate trims and adornments. I liked this place for its refusal to follow suit. What a beauty.

These homeowners also opted for a one-colour scheme, but with a very different effect. Walking by the house was such a strange experience for me. I’ve had it on my Pinterest board on Exterior Style for months. I knew it was in San Fran but I had no idea what street it was on and I certainly wasn’t even looking for it. I was walking and I just looked up and there it was! Amazing coincidence. Love the black.

Photo credits:
1-10. Margot Austin