How Can We Get Inspired Again to Tackle New DIY Projects?


My girlfriend and I are do-it-yourselfers, but lately we've run out of juice. We feel there are many things about our house that we're not 100% happy with, but we've got no creativity left. What should we do? (Polly, Seattle, WA)


Polly, thanks for your question! The key to good home decorating and renovation is inspiration. We're inspired by visiting friends' houses, touring decorator show houses, and looking in magazines and books for rooms that thrill us. We found some dandy decorating inspiration in the book Design & Details: Creative Ideas for Styling Your Home by Candie Frankel, Michael Litchfield, and Candace Ord Manroe. It may be just what you're looking for to get your DIY mojo back.

We're attracted by the book's inspiring decorator rooms and a host of do-it-yourself suggestions for creating some fresh decor changes. For instance, in the photo at top, note how the turn-of-the-century Craftsman chandelier has been surprisingly placed just a few inches above the dining room table surface. Decorative chains make the hanging drop possible. This is breaking the rules of design to create a cool effect. We like rule breaking to escape decorating boredom - and how simple is this particular suggestion!

Here are some more projects from the book:

In the photo above we've got a red-saturated dining room. What a great color choice! Red is known to stimulate the taste buds and arouse the apetite, so it's the perfect color for dining rooms. The walls have been ragged and textured red, the large corner cupboard is stained a red wash, and the red patterned table cloth ties in the red to the tabletop scheme. The white ceiling keeps it cool and provides some nice visual relief. There's lots of drama going on here thanks to some great DIY projects.


You can amp up the artistic look of your living room or den with the addition of some fresh flea market or auction paintings, wall stenciling, and some eclectic furnishings. This room also has a special art fireplace surround made from chips of broken tile in a rainbow of colors. The shards are pieced together like a big mosaic, random except for the pinwheel in the center. Make sure the mosaic tile colors echo the room's color scheme.


In the photo above, the homeowners took a great cue from the rich tilework tradition of the Ottoman Empire. You can select small tiles in various patterns and use them to cover the wall, ceiling, and floor of your powder or bath room. It's a glam effect to have so many different patterns displayed side by side.


If you have an indoor area that fronts an outdoor space, try the trick shown in the photo above: make the transition seamless between the two spaces by using the same flooring materials. Here we see large squares of stone, and they're softened indoors by an area rug and upholstered furnishings. Look at how the stone was used in the upstairs bedroom, too!


Take a bank of ordinary kitchen cabinets and give them a fresh coat of paint, followed by some very selective light sanding. The result: it's like you have an oversize colonial dresser! You don't want to put antiques with flaking, peeling original paint in a kitchen where sanitary food prep is so important, but you can deliberately distress new finishes on existing cabinets or unfinished wood furniture to create an instant antique.


Salvaged materials are great for remodeling and restyling your home. In the bathroom shown above, an old claw-foot tub fits snugly into a new tub surround fashioned from a paneled door that's been cut down. The surround adds storage space, gives the room a finished cabinetry look, helps the bathwater retain heat, and hides any imperfections in the base of the tub.

Jay JohnsonComment