8 Places the Experts Go for Design Inspiration

Designers look far beyond fashion mags for ideas on how to anticipate the newest trends and future desires of home shoppers.

January 25, 2013

There's no shortage of people with opinions about the designs that will influence 2013 at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas this week. But where do these visionaries get their ideas? Here are a handful of places to which design gurus admit to turning for inspiration.

  • Science: Sherwin Williams' color expert, Jackie Jordan, cites the developments in "bio-couture" as well as the use of fungal mycelium as a building medium and packaging material as inspiration for their "honed vitality" color palette.
  • Model Homes: Jerry Collin, design director at Kay Green Design Inc. in Florida, notes that companies such as his "separate models by color," a trick that can be helpful for home stagers who want house hunters to remember individual residences more easily in a crowded field.
  • Shoes: "When I'm looking at trends … I go to the shoe department," says Becky Spak, director of color marketing and design services for Sherwin-Williams. "My husband doesn't believe me, but that's what I'm doing. I'm working!" She suggests paying special attention to both shoe materials and decorative elements such as buckles and bows.
  • Technology: Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Florida finds that the trend of home buyers purchasing e-readers "sadly" has lead to a lessened interest in built-in bookshelves. As an alternative, he favors repurposing such spaces into "floating shelves" that function as "collection cabinets."
  • Pop Culture: Spak also notes that several of Sherwin Williams' 2013 palettes are influenced by movies and television. She noted that their diverse Hollywood inspirations ranged from Dark Shadows to Mad Men to The Great Gatsby. 
  • The Auto Industry: Ruthanne Hanlon, a design consultant for PPG National, says that the matte black seen in Kohler's new faucet designs (pictured) comes straight from favored looks found in the luxury car market over the past few years.
  • Custom Home Designs: Jane Meagher, president of the national design studio Success Strategies, suggests looking at "custom homes to see where the new trends are." Home buyers who are deciding what they want in their own new-construction homes can be a fashion-forward reflection of the market as a whole. 
  • Pinterest: Countless designers at the show cited the explosive growth of this image and idea-sharing social media site. "Make no mistake, Pinterest is here to stay," says Alan Daniel, CEO and co-founder of Texas-based marketing firm SmartTouch Interactive. "[But] be deliberate with your pin posts, because it's a reflection of your brand."
Meg White

Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.



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