People often ask me where I come up with my design ideas. It can be something as simple as a pretty blouse, an old piece of pottery, an interesting door while traveling or even the plumes on a beautiful bird that helps tell the “story” of the room. I have found that in order for a design to be truly successful and filled with depth and soul, there needs to be a story behind the design. Typically, this story develops through the needs and desires of my clients, but sometimes I also use my personal experience.

In one particular design for a hotel I drew on my own memories of travels to Florida from the North when I was a child. My family would travel to escape the dead of winter to my Grandmother’s house in sunny Florida. My Grandmother was always ahead of her time. She was a working mom in the 50’s and a divorcé when it was unheard of. She played golf and tennis with the best of them and had great personal style whether it was her clothing or her home.

I remember when my family arrived in Florida how the colors of the sky, grass, and water were vibrant and crisp in bright hues not seen back home. I can even remember the fresh smell of the balmy breeze as I relaxed by the pool sipping orange juice from fruit plucked from the garden. There were bougainvillea and birds of paradise picked from outside, scattered around the home, kept fresh in the fridge as we slept. The windows were open and music from an old record player carried outside as we floated in the pool. My whole family relaxed – my father laughed, my mother chattered and my brother practiced casting his fishing pole in the yard preparing for his early morning expedition. We were in paradise.

Inside her home my grandmother combined vibrant colors, luxurious rich botanicals, glittering wall coverings, bold textures, classic refined pieces and a dash of whimsy. I remember capiz shells sparkling next to rich woods, glass tabletops and shiny black rattan chairs. It was luxurious. It was exotic. It was truly Florida style at its best.

In designing the guest rooms for the hotel the challenge became, how could we capture that feeling of both awe and relaxation my family felt so many years ago? How could the design evoke beautiful lasting memories for the guests who stay there?

What stories do your rooms tell? What feelings do your spaces evoke? Next time you are stumped for design ideas think of happy memories and beautiful places and then ask yourself how you can reproduce those visions and feelings for your own space.