There is no better way to get freshly inspired than to travel. We recently spent a week in Arizona and man oh man did I bring home a whole lot of Southwestern design inspiration! A whole new color palette has cracked my head open!
It turns out that seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon is not like seeing the real thing (not at all), but I'm going to show you a couple of my favorite photos to illustrate what I learned:
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #1 - look at the Earth.
Have you been to the GC? Please go as soon as you can. It's unbelievable. So beautiful, so big and endlessly amazing. Look at those colors! I've got a whole new respect for rusty reds, sagey greens, dusty grays and BLUE!
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #2 - don't shy away from the edge.
I wasn't afraid of heights when I was a kid, but as an adult, when I'm on the edge of a cliff, I have to sit down on the ground or I get dizzy. Here I am--VERY close to the edge (and it's a very long drop), so I'm sitting on the ground. A design translation would be to create ways to be brave, but also feel safe in your surroundings!
Southwest Design Inspiration, Tip #3 - the importance of shape
You know I have a thing for trees. Many trees in Arizona are very twisted, scrubby and kind of tortured looking. Very sculptural and poetic. I think I'll frame this picture.
Southwestern Design Iinspiration, Tip #4 - use complementary colors like Mother Nature does.
Of course I seek out houses, even the 900 year old ones. This is the Wupatki National Monument--a 100 room pueblo in the middle of the desert. Can you imagine what this was like when a whole community of Native Americans lived in it? LOOK at the intense rust of the rocks against that blue sky (complementary colors!) makes it a sight to behold. It's jaw-dropping.
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #5 - always include texture.
Another stop near Flagstaff was the incredible Walnut Canyon where cliff dwellers built homes after a volcanic eruption forced them to seek a new way to live. Look it up, it's a fascinating story. And look at all the neutral earthy colors in this dwelling--they're all mixed up together, with a ton of stony texture. And out the "window" is an enormous canyon with incredible trees and plants. NOTHING is smooth out there--except for the incredible sky.
Southwester Design Inspiration, Tip #6 - Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
Remnants of the volcanic lava flow that came from Sunset Crater down a huge path showed the long-term devastation that a volcanic eruption brings. It's huge, black, brittle, prickly and kind of scary looking. Yet now trees and flowers can be seen growing in little pockets of space amidst the lava.. Mother Earth is something else. I felt her power at every turn. Standing in the midst of this thing felt cosmic.
Here's the love of my life, leading the way on one of our hikes. We walked and walked and walked. And then we walked some more. My Merrell hiking boots came through with flying colors!
Southwest Design Inspiration, Tip #7 - include a variety of plants.
Desert vegetation is very different than the plants in North Carolina. I missed my lush, leafy trees, but the cacti and other plants were stunning. I guess plants don't have to have leaves to be beautiful.
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #8 - use the chipped plate-no one cares!
Based on a NY Times recommendation, we stopped at Macy's Bakery in Flagstaff for an afternoon snack. Here's my peach brown sugar cake and Cappuccino ala San Francisco. Shaved chocolate is sprinkled on top. It melts, then cools to a crust. Life will never be the same. I never noticed the chipped plate. Lesson learned.
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #9 - use Indian rugs.
Gorgeous! I'm going to remember these when I next think about rugs in a project. This collection was in a shop in Sedona -- an incredible place, known for its red rocks and awesome shopping. I'm not a big souvenir shopper, but I made an exception in Sedona. SO much art, jewelry, pottery and clothing! It's fun to bring back things to scatter about our North Carolina home. Nice reminders of a special place.
Tlaquepacque is a shopping area in Sedona that is beautifully designed. It even has a small chapel! A nice reminder about what's really important amidst the enticing shops.
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #10 - mix the masculine with the feminine.
We stayed in 5 hotels over 7 days, so I got to see a lot of hospitality design. This leather chair caught my eye. Don't you LOVE the floral pattern on the fabric, the leather and the nail head trim combo? I won't be surprised if a client ends up with a similar chair in the coming months!
Southwestern Design Inspiration, Tip #11 - when you go home, create some trip reminders in your home decor!
I brought home the red, black, ivory and caramel wool pillow in the bottom of the photo and am using it as my jumping off point to bring Southwest colors and Native American patterns into my home. Fabrics have been ordered from Robert Allen that will adorn the pillows on our living room sofa. An easy way to keep the vacation glow going.
We ate delicious food, saw amazing sunsets, slept through awesome sunrises (vacation, remember?) and saw some of the most incredible views that I have ever seen in my life. We'll definitely go back some day as there's lots more to explore.
Plan your own trip today!