Inspiration Boards As Art

To train for this weekend’s Walk To End Women’s Cancers, I ditched the car and my bike and walked to work as much as possible. What I found most interesting about it was how different the same streets and sidewalks can be when you can take the time to notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. I started taking a camera with me to capture some of these moments that were truly inspiring, which got me thinking about inspiration boards. It seems there is always a new way to use technology for filing and organizing, but there is something about the old-fashioned, tactile method of tacking images and mementos on a board that makes it like an ever-changing work of personal art.

Photo Colette Inspiration Board

I was recently in London visiting Colette van den Thillart, who is a principal in Nicky Haslam’s design office and one of the most stylish people I know. (Look out for her amazing house in the January 2011 issue, and be sure to watch this video tour of her cottage.) Her inspiration wall is in her office, and I love that she hung framed room renderings of Nicky’s from the 1970s on top of it. His renderings are so beautifully detailed; I just learned he was Princess Diana’s cousin!

Photo Colette Board Detail

Part of what makes Colette’s inspiration wall unique is that she has a section dedicated to silhouette cutouts of inspiring people. She includes design and life inspiration, plus things that make her smile — there are tons of shots of her kids. Check out the Queen in a McDonald’s uniform in the top left corner!

Photo Rachel Aswell Inspiration Board

Another pretty inspiration board is Rachel Ashwell’s in her Shabby Chic store on Mercer Street in New York. She’s a pioneer of the comfortable, flea-markety design aesthetic, characterized by chipped wood furniture, drippy crystal chandeliers, simple but luxurious linens and tea-stained florals. I love the mix of written words with 3D bits and bobs — everything from dried flowers and prize ribbons to lace hankies and paint chips.

Photo Thomas O'Brien Bulletin Board

Designer Thomas O’Brien’s bulletin board in his New York apartment is anchored by a teak bookcase and makes a wonderful vignette. He has a knack for beautifully displaying his collections. I love the underlying inky blue colourway that holds it all together. The mix of loose casual pictures, valuable framed prints, a Javier Marin bronze sculpture and a Gio Ponti two-spout vase, along with other objets, makes this inspiration wall part of the decor.

Photo Sabrina Linn Hallway Inspiration Board

Toronto stylist Sabrina Linn (her condo was featured in the August 2009 issue — see the tour here) also made her inspiration corkboard part of the decor by using it in place of a giant piece of art in her entryway. It becomes a design catch-all for all the bits you need to keep in one spot, making it a good cure for clutter, too!

Photo Blue Lamp Collage Wall

Inspiration collages are also a great way to fill empty wall space, like the one featured in our October 2010 issue. It goes to show that you don’t need an actual board and pushpins — your wall and a little bit of glue goop works just as well. I love the free-form pattern here that can easily be added on to as you collect new things.

Photo Painted Grey Ribbon Bulletin Board

This is design editor Joel Bray’s own DIY inspiration board in his office. He built the frame and painted it grey to dress up a simple piece of corkboard. I like how he’s used grosgrain ribbon to create different sections. (Joel demonstrates how to make it in this video.)

Photo Grey Display Board

I love the cool grey of this mood board and the mix of pendants and mementos hung from ribbons, letters and business cards, along with photos and paint chips. Continuing the display around the outside of the board adds to the effect.

Photo Suzanne Dimma Bedroom Mirror

I tend to use the frame of this oval mirror in my bedroom to stick pictures and mementos. It’s not really a proper inspiration board, but it’s a good example that just about anything can become a place for your keepsakes. And it adds a sense of personality and intimacy to your decor.

Photo credits:
1-3. Suzanne Dimma 
4. Martyn Thompson via Aero Studios, as seen in House & Garden November 2007
5. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
6. House & Home October 2010 issue, photography by John Cullen
7. House & Home March 2010 issue, photography by Leslie Williams
8. Jeltje Fotografie, from the Style Files 
9. Rob Fiocca

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