Tag Archives: kitchen design ideas

9 Unusual Sources of Design Inspiration

fashion inspired nautical design

Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The Amazon Rainforest. Guitars.

Have you ever been inexplicably inspired by something unusual?

When we’re looking for interior design inspiration, most of us look to Pinterest, home design blogs, or maybe even a Home & Garden magazine. Inspiration comes in many forms though. Today, I’ll show you 9 unusual places that might just unlock your inner design genius.

1. Your Favorite TV Show

Did you ever wish you could live in Monica’s apartment from Friends? The Dunphy house from Modern Family? Or even Downton Abbey itself?

downton abbey interior design

Image: homestilo

One great thing about TV shows is that they usually offer you the opportunity to look at a room from many different angles and really get a sense for the whole space. That makes it easier to closely examine the design and figure out which elements are inspiring you. If you were looking for an excuse to rewatch a few episodes of your favorite show, this is it!

2. Fashion

People often look to the fashion world for inspiration for their homes, usually by copying colors and fabrics. Sometimes that works, but the colors and textures that work well on clothing don’t always have the same effect in your kitchen.

My favorite way to draw inspiration from fashion is this:

  1. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like when it comes to personal style.
  2. Think about the “feeling” or overall aesthetic that appeals to you.
  3. Try to translate that feeling (rather than a bunch of specific elements) into your interior design plan.

Here’s an example.

fashion inspired nautical design

Photo: Třebíz

This photo clearly has a nautical theme, but it’s not just their clothing that gives that impression. It’s the backdrop, the way the photo was edited, and the way the models are standing. It feels fresh, cool, and light. You can bring the same feeling to your interior design plan without copying the exact elements from the photo.

3. Your Interests

It just makes sense to surround yourself with things you like. Are you a crazy sports fan? An avid reader? Don’t fight it!

Here are a few examples of people who used their interests as design inspiration:


living space trail blazers fans

Photo: Lincoln Barbour




4. Home Staging Companies

Good home stagers are great interior designers, but staged homes have a reputation for looking “empty.” With not much furniture or decoration, they sometimes end up looking pretty minimal. Home stagers don’t want to overwhelm prospective buyers with too much stuff; they want to create a space where people can start envisioning their own design preferences and lifestyle. Is that the same thing you’re trying to do now? Think about it: If you’re feeling stuck, a minimally decorated space may be just the inspiration you need!

Some home stagers have figured out a way to create this effect without leaving rooms completely devoid of personality. Here are a few who I think do it well:

5. Movies, Photos, and Paintings from the Past

Johan Zacharias Blackstadius Interiör salong med läsande

Johan Zacharias Blackstadius, Interiör, salong med läsande flicka, 1850

Are you a bit of an old soul? Do you love watching classic old movies? Old paintings, movies, and photos are full of design gems.

I love the openness in the room above and the way those big windows let in the light. That’s an oil painting by Swedish artist Johan Zacharias Blackstadius in 1850!

breakfast at tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s and North by Northwest are also known for their great interior sets.

A little digging on the Internet will uncover some great old interior design photos. Here are some places to start:

6. Your Friends’ Houses

If you have a friend or family member whose home you love, think about what it is you like about the space. What is resonating with you? How can you apply some of the same ideas to your own space?

Ask your friend about it too. What went into the design/remodel? Which elements came first in the process? Who did they go to for advice?

At the end of the day, your home is yours. It should reflect your lifestyle and design preferences, but it never hurts to get some sage advice from someone with great style!

7. Overseas

I recently wrote about design trends from around the world. Getting inspiration from another culture is a great way to add a new flavor to your space. It’s fun to bring in a little piece of another culture you love (or maybe a piece of your family’s heritage).

Check out these two examples:


This mid-century modern kitchen is in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mid-century modern design harks back to the clean, simple, nature-inspired designs that were popular from the 1930s to mid-1960s.


This Moscow kitchen is extremely traditional (yet very cozy) with warm inviting colors. It also incorporates several industrial elements, such as the light over the table and the metal over the stove.

8. The Wild

It turns out Mother Nature can inspire some pretty amazing designs. If you’re an adventure seeker who loves the outdoors, bring the outside in! The colors, textures, and artwork you choose can help create the feeling of being in the wild.

For example, the Pacific Northwest offers some pretty spectacular inspiration…


Or you can get a little more exotic and create a Safari-inspired room (and make yourself feel like you’re actually in a tent!)…


Or you could pay homage to the Amazon Rainforest with cool greens and relaxing indoor plants…


Master Vanity rainforest green marble countertops

Master Vanity with Rainforest Green Marble Countertops, Photo by Shelley Sims/Thrive DesignSearch eclectic bathroom design ideas

9. The Mall

Believe it or not, your local shopping mall might just give you that creative spark you’ve been waiting for. Have a look at furniture stores, kiosks, and more. Anthropologie always has great displays:

Design Inspiration Can Come from Anywhere

Memories, dreams, restaurants, your favorite childhood spots: all these things can be sources of inspiration for your home. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

If you need help incorporating any of these ideas into your design — or you’re struggling to get inspired — Mosaik Design & Remodeling can help. Give me a call at (503) 726-2222 or contact us online to get started.

How to Feng Shui Your Home

outdoor patio fire elements feng shui

how to feng shui your home

Feng shui (“fung shway”) is the ancient Chinese art of arranging your home so environmental elements are balanced, which will supposedly bring you good luck. (It’s Chinese for “wind water.”)

Some are dismissive of it. Advice like, “To attract more money, keep the stove clean” doesn’t help, either.

But others take feng shui very seriously. In 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland moved the park’s entrance 12 degrees after consulting with feng shui experts.

Rather than obsessing about compass directions, my take on feng shui more relaxed. Let’s use its principles to make your home feel more balanced. After all, who doesn’t want a harmonious home?

Keep reading for easy ways to apply feng shui.

What Is Feng Shui?

First, feng shui is not about putting lucky bamboo everywhere. “Good feng shui decorating will never scream for attention…but rather create an energy that is vibrant, happy, and harmonious,” writes KnowFengShui.com.

Feng shui’s general principles are similar to the KonMari method: Get rid of clutter and embrace minimalism, but hold onto things that bring you joy. Fresh air and good lighting are vital. And your home should be easy to navigate, so keep plenty of open space.

Ultimately, if it speaks to you, do it!

feng shui kitchen open modern

© Mosaik Design & Remodeling

Where Do I Put Everything?

Feng shui is all about how energy flows through your room. Here are some popular feng shui beliefs on how to arrange furniture. Try them out — or not! Feng shui should be a helpful tool, not a rigid mandate. So take these with a grain of salt.

Your bed: Feng shui has a lot to say about bed placement. First, there should be a good solid wall behind your bed (not that many people float their bed in the middle of the room). Balance both sides with nightstands or something similar. And if possible, your bed shouldn’t be right next to your door. “Doors usually have a strong flow, or rush of incoming energy. This energy can be very unsettling and too active,” writes feng shui expert Rodika Tchi.

Your sofa: As interior designer and feng shui master Catherine Brophy told Real Simple, your sofa should go “against a solid wall — ideally, the wall farthest from the entry — with a clear view of the door. Leave a few inches of breathing room between the sofa and the wall.” Apparently we should have a good view of the door both from where we sleep and sit!

Your electronics: Keep the television, cell phone, and laptop out of the bedroom — their energy can interfere with sleep. Bonus points for not placing your bed against a wall that has your TV or other electronics on the other side.

Your living room furniture: Your goal is to facilitate communication in your living room. It should be a place where everyone feels comfortable. So instead of pushing chairs back against the wall, cluster them facing your sofa, perched at the edge of your living room rug.

Plants and water: Natural elements like plants and fountains are symbols of positive energy. Just make sure there aren’t any dripping faucets or stagnant water, both of which are apparently bad for feng shui. And avoid water imagery or mirrors on the wall behind your bed.

feng shui kitchen open airy

© Mosaik Design & Remodeling

Your kitchen: Keep your kitchen airy and bright, with several lighting sources. Minimize clutter and gadgets — keep only ones you love and use regularly. Any natural element like a bowl of fruit or vase of fresh flowers in your kitchen will boost the positive energy in the room.

For love: This one’s a little out there. Many feng shui experts say that if you’re single and looking for love, make sure you have physical space for a partner. So buy things in pairs, like two accent chairs or nightstands instead of one. And consider leaving a little space in your closet or dresser as a symbolic gesture that you’re open to having someone else in your life. Kooky, I know, but some people swear by this!

Feng Shui Elements

Feng shui consists of five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. To make these elements work for you, look at an area of your home that feels off. Try to figure out what it’s missing…and then add that element. The goal is balance and harmony.

If you need more calm or abundance: Water

feng shui decorating water element

Photo: Jennifer Worts

Water is inherently soothing. When you see a photo of a tropical beach paradise, you can practically feel your blood pressure drop. Adding a little blue decor, wavy or curved design elements, and mirrors can bring some calming energy to your home. Or add a small fountain for the sound of running water.

If you need more clarity, freshness, or structure: Metal

Metal is no-nonsense! If you’re feeling frustrated or lazy, metal can help. And not only actual metal elements, but also the colors gray and white, or a silver accent pillow. Round shapes are also associated with metal in feng shui.

If you need more passion, fun, or creativity: Fire

outdoor patio fire elements feng shui

Photo: Escale Design

Feeling cold and lonely? Feng shui to the rescue. To add some warmth and romance to your home, incorporate sunset colors like red, purple, orange, and pink. Triangular and star shapes and candles will help too. For instance, many people have blue bedrooms. This is calming but can lack the zest and sensuality associated with the fire element. So consider adding some red candles or even a star-shaped lantern to cast some mood lighting around your bedroom.

If you’re sick, low-energy, or need a breakthrough: Wood

You guessed it: Wood symbolizes growth. It also represents strength and rebirth. For more energy and health in your space, add plants or other green and brown decor. Consider art that depicts a forest or garden. Cotton textiles, wicker furniture, and wooden picture frames can also bring the outdoors in.

If you’re disconnected, overwhelmed, or stressed: Earth

Think of the earth element as a calmer, more maternal version of wood. Earth is a grounding, peaceful, stable influence in your home. Think stones, pottery, and canyon imagery. If vivid colors dominate your furniture and art, you might need to balance them out with muted desert tones like dusty mauve, beige, and tan. They’re innately calming.


Feng shui can be a fun way to mix things up in your living space. Try the parts of it that appeal to you, and don’t let it feel overbearing. And of course I’m happy to help if your home needs a little extra oomph, that decor touch you can’t put your finger on. Let’s set up a time to meet!

Further Reading

HGTV Presents the Elements of Feng Shui


How to Create Kitchen Color Schemes

Kitchen Color Schemes 101

Welcome to the next post in our interior painting color series! Last time I talked about choosing an interior painting color palette. We covered the color wheel, analogous and complementary colors, and how different colors affect your mood. It’s worth a quick skim if you missed it.

Today we’ll focus on what color you should paint your kitchen. There’s no one perfect kitchen color, but some are better than others. (The short version: White, cream, and light citrus and blues work well; avoid navy, black, and bright yellow.) I’ll suggest a few kitchen color schemes based on what looks good as well as how the colors affect your mood.

kitchen color

Let’s start with three questions.

1. What Color Are You Working Around?

Most people have a dominant and/or neutral color in their kitchen. To figure out yours, look at your cabinets or flooring. (Or think about the new ones you’ve already chosen.) They’ll usually dictate the rest of your kitchen color scheme. If you’re still struggling, just look at the biggest surface in your kitchen.


2. Is Your Palette Warm or Cool?

Now that you’ve identified your kitchen’s dominant feature, determine if it’s more blue or red. For instance, if your cabinets are bright white (blue undertones), a cream-and-yellow color scheme will look off. You’ll want to use cooler hues like silver and black, with touches of something bright like red as an accent. Blues and greens are excellent choices as well.

If your cabinets or floors are a warm mahogany (red undertones), you’ll want to build a sunny color scheme. Pale banana yellow, burgundy, cherry tomato, and pumpkin are all strong choices. Cream, beige, and tan paint will look better than a chilly white. The same is true if copper, brass, or gold dominate your kitchen. Save cool tones for small accents.


3. What’s Your Color Trend or Scheme?

Now that you’ve figured out what your main color is, whether it’s warm or cool, and one or two possible coordinating colors, it’s time to figure out your overall color trend. The main three color trends popular today are pastels, brights, and monochromatic colors.

Pastels are calm, Easter-egg colors: light blue, chiffon yellow, and dusty lavender. (An extreme version is a baby nursery.) Brights are high-saturation hues that make an impression. Designers often use them in small doses or tone them down with neutrals. And monochromatic colors are all in the same family, just lighter and darker variations of each other.


kitchen color schemes

Source: CertaPro Painters using Sherwin-Williams colors

So if your cabinets are a creamy white and your floors are warm wood, you have several paint options for your color trend: 

  • Pastel: sunny yellow or coral
  • Bright: tropical teal or a similar gemstone
  • Monochromatic: tans that are a lighter tint of the flooring or a darker shade or tone than the cabinet

If you have a hard time choosing paint colors, you can return to complementary or analogous color schemes.

If you remember from last time, analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They express “consistency and uniformity.” If you’re new to kitchen color schemes or feel overwhelmed, analogous colors are a safe choice.

Continue reading to learn about complementary color schemes…
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Green Living Begins in the Kitchen

Burke-PDXMonthly-9Mid Century Signature

The kitchen is the heart of the home… and it’s also where eco-friendly living begins.

With an increase in environmental awareness and social responsibility comes a deeper commitment to setting up healthier, eco-friendly living spaces.  This begins with some simple practices like recycling, reusing, and composting.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started…


Get the whole family to recycle by making it easy and convenient. Consider earmarking one area in your kitchen where items can be easily sorted for recycling.


Are worn or broken materials creating an eyesore in your kitchen?   Consider this a wonderful opportunity to go a little greener by selecting recycled tiles, countertops, or flooring option.  There are many options available.

Reduce Waste

Consider stocking your kitchen with reusable items that come in bulk, rather than individual servings. For example, try replacing paper towels and napkins with reusable dishtowels and cloth napkins.  Make sure they are easily accessible to family members.

Avoid using plastics

Plastics are filling our oceans and landscapes, a situation that won’t improve until we reduce our use. We can do this by avoiding commercially packaged foods, by buying in bulk, and by employing reusable materials, such as glass containers, whenever possible.

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

Thanks to energy efficiency standards, newer model dishwashers use far less water and energy than their earlier counterparts.  There are plenty of great energy efficient models to choose from when it’s time to replace your dishwasher or washing machine.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency,  the average American produces 4.6 pounds of waste per person, per day, which adds up to a huge, cumulative waste of resources and money.  Composting allows food scraps to be reused in your garden or taken out with your curbside yard debris which will later be repurposed as well.  There are many container options for countertop or under-counter composting.

Use non-toxic paints and cleaners

Many paints include volatile organic compounds, called VOCs, which off-gas fumes that release toxicity into your home and into the environment. Fortunately, almost every paint line now includes low and no-VOC paint options that deliver great results without the toxicity.

The same goes for kitchen and general cleaning products.  Living green means avoiding the use of harsh chemicals whenever possible. Thankfully, more manufacturers are now offering green cleaner options. And, nature offers its own line of effective household cleansers including white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.

Here’s to greener living!

Designing a Family-Friendly Kitchen


A good kitchen designer will always create the best design by collaborating with the client and getting very specific about the family’s needs and wants for the space. This involves asking a lot of questions about how they live and what their lifestyle is. Do they have kids? Dogs? Do they entertain? Is it casual or formal? How many cooks will be working in the kitchen at the same time?

It is important to create one or two spaces to eat, do homework or crafts, and gather as a family. We have found that adding an eating bar on an island in the kitchen is one attractive and practical solution. Adjustable stools are always a good idea to accommodate growing kids at different ages. Eat-in nooks and banquettes are great too, since they provide a cozy space for casual family meals. Brightly-colored cups and plates add to the mealtime fun.

Also, the kids and parents need to have a place in the kitchen to organize daily life and to display the children’s artwork. Chalkboards and bulletin boards are handy and fun options that are available as clever built-in features.

If you have the space, why not add something just for the kids like a drinking fountain? This allows the kids to drink their water out of the way of the main kitchen, and also conserves on washing glassware. They may even drink more water because the fountain is a novelty.