We all have style heroes who inspire us in our design endeavours. They might be true celebrities – the glitterati of interior design. But these days they’re just as likely to be social media style-heroes-next-door: people a bit like us, with lives a bit like ours, only with cooler, better styled, better tidied homes.
They inspire us to make our homes spectacular, as chic, as enviable as theirs. But while we want to emulate, we don’t want to copy. Copying is bad, right – the hiding place of the unimaginative?
I have felt this pressure in every home design I’ve done. I’ve seen a look I love, but then agonised over how I can be inspired by it without actually copying it. That’s pretty difficult. Placing this limitation on yourself results in a whole heap of additional stress, adding further challenge to the (for some of us) already difficult process of design decision making.
Does originality matter?
Recently I’ve wondered what’s so important about being original anyway? If you’re trying to carve out a career as an industry leading, design-forward, interior stylist, yeah maybe it matters. But if your aspiration is to create a lovely home that says something about you, your life, your taste… well frankly, who cares?
This epiphany has proved to be remarkably liberating. Released from the tyranny of striving for originality, the design process has become easier. A less expected but very welcome outcome is that my designs have become a little bolder and more confident. I’ve seen an idea, a combination, a colour scheme, work elsewhere; I can make it work in my home too.
And guess what I’ve discovered? Even if you’re trying to copy, you can’t help but add your own spin. No one else has the exact same home as you, with the exact same combination of features, contents, layout, budget and so on. Inevitably you’ll adapt, refine and enhance the design to suit your own context. Elements that are all your own will sneak up on you even when your conscious self is attempting a slavish recreation of someone else’s design.
The image above is my recently redecorated bedroom. I saw the room design in a copy of Living etc magazine (below) and fell in love with it. Taking my own advice, I have copied it, quite unashamedly. I’ve copied the colours, the feel, the angel wings (Cox & Cox), the faux eucalyptus (TK MAX – not on the website). Quite without trying though it has grown into something that’s uniquely mine.
Robert Henri, an American painter and teacher, advised:
Do not worry about your originality. You could not get rid of it even if you wanted to.
Hold that thought when you’re next lusting after your style hero’s latest makeover. Want the look in your home? Go for it. Bear in mind though, while trying to be original might not be important, it is important to be authentic. Don’t use in your home ideas because you think they’re cool. Use only ideas you truly love. If you do that you can’t fail to design a home that’s perfect for you. And your originality will find you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on originality. Is it important to try to be original, or does it simply add an unnecessary pressure in making design decisions?