How I Create My Client Inspiration Collages

Over the years of running my own interior design business, I’ve refined a process for my client work that includes making Inspiration Collages. I create an Inspiration Collage after each new in-home Design Consultation as a part of the overall Project Guide and Proposal that is included with my consultation fee. I find they are a great tool for communicating my preliminary visions for the project and making sure designer and client are on the same page from the get go. I’ve gotten a few questions about how I make my Inspiration Collages lately and thought it would be fun to dive into my process and share some favorites that I’ve made recently!

Donecker Inspiration Collage.jpeg

I make my collages using Keynote for Mac, but there are tons of program out there: Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, there are even some phone apps that you can use to make something similar.

First, I hit Pinterest to source some inspiration images. I actually prefer to start with images that are more conceptual in nature and not necessarily an example of the type of room I will be designing. I have a board I titled “INSPIRATION” for just this purpose. It includes little furniture vignettes, flat lays of materials, lots of photos of floral arrangements and gardens (I get so much color inspiration from these!), fine art, textures, fabrics, architectural photos and landscapes. Really anything I come across that I want to hang onto, whether it portrays a mood and feel I’m drawn to or a color combination that I find really striking. Then I’ll go through my boards that relate to the type of rooms I’ll be designing, like “LIVING ROOM”, “BEDROOM”, “KITCHEN”, “DINING ROOM”, “ENTRY & FOYER”, “HOME OFFICE & LIBRARY”, “CHILDREN’S ROOMS”, etc. I like to look through images I’ve connected with already to see what that sparks in my mind. Then I’ll use Pinterest’s search bar to find more specific things to add to my collage, like “historic tile flooring patterns” or “rust velvet interiors”.

Next, I pull out my fan deck and start choosing paint colors as references for the overall color scheme that’s in my head. Not all of these colors (and sometimes none of them!) will end up being actual paint colors for the room. If I was a graphic designer, I would probably pull out my Pantone swatches. As an interior designer, going off of paint swatches is just what makes sense to me! Sherwin Williams and Farrow & Ball are my go-to paint brands. I choose about 5-7 colors for each collage, including at least 1-2 neutrals in the mix depending on the project. I then copy color swatches off their websites and resize them to fit in my Inspiration Collage layout.

Lastly, I play around with the layout of the Inspiration Collage until I’m happy with it! My goal is to make a collage that feels cohesive and visually balanced. So if I have two inspiration images that are similar in color tones or content, I try not to put them next to each other in the collage. For example, I won’t put two photos that include a couch right next to each other or if I do, I make sure they are from different angles. Another example would be two photos that have a strong color as the background. I try to dot these evenly around the collage instead of creating blocks of that color by putting them all in a line. The paint color swatches can also help balance the design out. For example if one corner of a collage has a lot of images with red in it, I will make sure to put the red paint color swatch in the opposite corner.

The collage format I use is pretty simple to recreate! I make all the inspiration images and paint color swatches the same width so that I can fit them into a three column layout. Sometimes I end up cropping the individual images a little bit to make the arrangements work. So each of my Inspiration Collages are the same width, but they can be slightly different heights depending on how everything fits together.

Here are a few favorites that I’ve designed recently. Click on any of the Inspiration Collages below to view them larger! And if you’re feeling super inspired by one, feel free to pin it to your own Pinterest Board!

Would you try making an Inspiration Collage for your own home design projects?

Let me know if you have any questions about my process! I would love to see the collages you make. Tag me on Instagram @steviestorck! To learn more about my interior design services, click here.

My 6-Step Design Process

If you’ve never worked with a professional interior designer before, you may be wondering how the whole process works. While each designer has their own methods, I want to share the steps my full-service projects go through, from start to finish in completing a room makeover. You may know I also offer E-Design Minis and E-Design Consulting to clients nationwide, but this blog post is focused on my in-person services which are available residents of south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.


Step 1: Your Design Consultation

When I receive a new inquiry, the first thing I do is spend some time getting to know you! I usually ask a few questions in that first email and then will often schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation where we talk through your needs and I answer any questions you may have. Next we will schedule your in-home Interior Design Consultation, a two hour appointment where we will lay the ground work for your room project, from defining your style to problem solving tricky areas and practical considerations that suit your family’s lifestyle.

Step 2: Your Project Guide

After your Design Consultation, I get to work preparing a custom proposal I call your Project Guide. This will include a visual inspiration collage that captures your style goals, a project budget sheet to help you plan your investment, a floor plan and summary of my design notes from your consultation and a quote for design services moving forward. Your Project Guide PDF will be delivered via email, typically 2 weeks after your consultation date.

Step 3: Design Concept

The next step is to pinpoint the direction we want to take your project. I design 2-3 Mood Board concepts for you to choose from. These Mood Boards will have photos of real items you can actually purchase for your space, with a focus on just the main furniture and key accessories to get started. So for a living room, that might be the sofa, chairs, rug, coffee table, etc. I order samples and research materials where applicable and compile the options into a Specification List with product info, pricing and sources. I’ll present all this information to you at our first Design Meeting, where we can talk through the options and settle on one favorite concept to move forward with.

Step 4: Design Development

After the Design Concept has been approved, then we can set to work finalizing the details. In this phase, I’ll create more developed drawings of your room design and source things like accent furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories. Depending on the size of your project or if it includes renovation, we may have one or two more Design Meetings before we move onto the implementation stage of your design. I will finalize your project Specification List and total up the costs for furnishings and assist you with getting estimates for any work involving the trades (i.e. electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc).

Step 5: Implementation

Next up is shopping! I provide full-service purchasing, order management and implementation for local interior design clients. We start with custom orders, which take the longest time as these items are made to order, then work down the list completing online orders and shopping in local stores. I follow up after orders have been placed, keeping track of estimated delivery dates, being on-site to accept deliveries if you can’t be, troubleshooting any issues with shipments or making returns/exchanges if necessary.

Step 6: Project Completion

Once all of your orders have arrived, we’ll schedule an Install Day where my team and I will arrange your new furniture, load-in new accessories and accents, hang artwork, install window treatments and style out your room. While we’re there, make a punch list of any last items we need so we can come back to put the finishing touches on your space and photograph it!

There are many variables that make each design project unique, but all of my client projects more or less go through these same 6 steps! I hope this was helpful in illustrating a bit more of what I do and how my design services work.

Have a question? Comment below or shoot me an email at

Upland Project | Family Room

I’m super excited to introduce the Upland Project to you guys! Since last fall, I’ve been working with an awesome family here in York to design their home. When I first met with them they had recently painted their family room and purchased new furniture but needed some help to finish the room. Their home is pretty traditional and their style is a mix of classic, transitional and luxe elements with a bit of rustic/antique mixed in.


After our first meeting, I got to work on their Project Guide which included an inspiration collage to establish their style, a sketch of the room and an itemized budget with price ranges to help with planning their project. Here’s a look at what the room looked like when they moved in, and then when I first met with them after they had painted and gotten some new furniture.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 2.17.36 PM.png

A great base, right? Their rustic coffee table is a family piece, a cut-down work bench from a local Piano factory. I love how it plays against the more elegant textures and materials in the room. My clients have great taste, they just needed help with figuring out that “top layer” of textiles, accents and accessories. Here’s the sketch I included with their Project Guide with my vision for the room. I wanted to create a space that felt very elegant and put together, but also livable, layered and cozy for a young family as their main hangout and TV watching spot.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 2.07.03 PM.png

The star if this room is definitely this Gold Olive Leaf Ceiling Chandelier from Shades of Light. It makes the perfect statement and looks lovely with the lights on or off! This room had no overhead lighting before, and I’m so glad my clients were willing to run electrical so we could use this fixture. And a big thank you to Shades of Light for providing us with a nice press discount!

Shades of Light is a lighting company based in Richmond, VA. They are also the home of Young House Love’s lighting collection and have a bunch of other exclusive designs along with tried-and-true industry favorites. They are a smaller company, have great customer service and are definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for any new light fixtures for your home. Request a free catalog to see for yourself!


For projects like this, I usually do a round of online ordering first focusing on bigger items like the rug, lighting, accent furniture, mirrors, large artwork, etc. Then I will go shopping at local home decor stores to fill in the small accessories and anything else we need to finish off the space. I usually get more than I think we’ll use on that trip so I can have some fun playing around with the styling and testing out different options. I really love the way this bookshelf styling came together! It’s the perfect combination for me - a few books, a little greenery, framed art, some ceramics and decorative storage/display. This bookshelf gets bonus points for having some more antiques and meaningful family heirlooms in the mix! Also, dominoes may be my new favorite bowl filler. I found the navy acrylic ones at Home Goods.


Since their family room is just about done (there has been talk of swapping out the wall sconces, painting the fireplace and upgrading to a more modern fireplace screen ), we are now working on their kitchen! It’s a generously sized kitchen with great bones, but at the moment its just entirely too brown for my client’s taste. I’m excited to update you all as that project progresses!

A New Look for Our Front Door

As an interior designer, I like to be experimental with my own home. When we first bought our house, I painted our front doors chartreuse, because I wanted a really bold and unexpected accent color to stand out from our white siding and black shutters. I really liked that look, but now that's it's been a few years I'm ready for something different. My personal style is always evolving but lately, I've been drawn to classic simplicity. And what's more timeless than a black door? Inspired by this color change, I've pulled together some classic front door decor inspiration - basically my wishlist for everything I want to do for our home! 

front door inspo.001.jpeg

1. Paint Color - For the black, I chose Sherwin Williams Caviar in Resilience Exterior Satin. One quart will be more than enough to paint a door! I love the richness of this shade of black, especially in the satin finish.

2. Tea Leaf Wreaths - We actually have two front doors, plus the kitchen door which is the one we mainly use. I love wreaths, but it's expensive to buy 3 for every season let alone storing that many! I have been looking for two simple, high quality wreaths I can leave up all year round on the front doors and I found the perfect ones from Silk Plants Direct. These are their 18" Tea Leaf Wreaths. They come in a pack of 2 and they are comparable in price to what I've seen at my local Target & Michaels stores but so much higher quality and more realistic. These are faux, not preserved so they will hold up better over time. I might add a bow at Christmas time, but regardless I think these work for every season. Now I can just change the wreath on the kitchen door out whenever I want to and it will be much more affordable since I won't be multiplying the cost times 3 every time. Silk Plants Direct has a ton of beautiful wreaths and faux florals to choose from. I reached out to them about a coupon code for you guys, and they are offering 10% off your order with the code BLOGGER10


3. "Please Ring" Doorbell - I ordered two of these doorbells from Rejuvenation when they were on sale a few months ago. I got the antique brass, but they also come nickel, bronze and lacquered brass. Right now we just have a white doorbell on the white siding, so it's not very noticeable. In fact, I think my brother is the only one who ever rings our doorbell! Hopefully that will change once we get these installed. 

4. Door hardware - I've locked myself out too many times to count, so a keyless front door lock set is definitely in our future. I like that the finish of this one coordinates with the door bell and will pop off the black paint. Also, if you look closely the black numbers on the white buttons give a bit of a vintage vibe which I like. The convenience of modern technology with a look that fits out 1903 fixer upper - a win win! 

5. Outdoor Wall Sconces - This is the outdoor version of the ceiling lights I chose for our hallways. I like the idea of bringing a little indoor/outdoor continuity to the house and the schoolhouse look of these Eddystone Wall Fixtures is so timeless. And seriously, at $20 a pop - you can't beat these!

6. Layered Door Mats - I think Studio McGee might be the mastermind behind the layered doormat trend and I love their Eucalyptus Bundle Doormat. It's a little pricey but the design is so gorgeous. I would layer it with this  charcoal stripe indoor/outdoor rug in a 3' x 5'.

7. Faux Concrete Planter - Another thing I've been searching for are affordable urns for our front porch. These are cheaper than what I've seen at the garden centers and I like the warm, aged concrete finish. They also come in a browner color and a dark gray. 

Disclosure: This post includes some affiliate links, meaning if you shop using the links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting brands that support this blog!

How to Thrift Housewares & Home Decor

It's pretty common knowledge at this point that I love shopping secondhand. Most items in our house were found at a thrift store, yard sale or online classifieds like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. There are many reasons to love thrifting; whether it's the thrill of the hunt, trying to be mindful of consumption in regards to sustainability and the environment, or as an affordable way to outfit yourself and your home. My reason for thrifting is a combination of all three plus I love to decorate my home with unique items that no one else has. I've been a thrifter since high school and I am often asked how I find such good stuff secondhand. I wrote this post to share what I've learned over the years and my best tips for thrifting housewares and home decor items.


Every item in this photo is a secondhand find with the exception of our dining chairs.

Where to Shop

For smaller home decor items and housewares, I find that thrift stores and yard sales are really the best place to shop. For bigger items, I'm a fan of Facebook Marketplace and Craiglist (I'll be sharing my tips for shopping on those sites soon!) but in my experience the best prices and selection on smaller home goods aren't going to be found online. Familiarize yourself with the secondhand shops in your area and go frequently. People have told me that they would love to thrift but just don't have the time. Thrifting doesn't have to be super time consuming! After you've been to all your local spots once, you'll know which ones are worth making return trips to. I try to squeeze in a little thrifting if I'm out running errands and I'm going to be nearby one of my favorite shops. I don't spend hours shopping or look through every section every time I go. I've decided on certain parameters for myself that help narrow down what I'm looking for to save me time and make it more manageable to find what I'm looking for. 

Read: How to Shop for Thrifted & Secondhand Furniture

Have a "Wishlist"

So you can't really go to a thrift store once with a list and expect to find exactly what you're looking for. But I do recommend having an idea of what you might need or want for your house ahead of time for the simple reason that thrift stores are crowded and you won't see what you aren't looking for. Every time I think of something I could use for the house, I put it on a note in my phone. Right now on my list are new cereal bowls and wooden peg racks for our kitchen and laundry room. In addition to making it more likely that I'll find what I'm looking for, this list also helps keep me focused on buying things I could actually use. When items are priced at $0.99 it's tempting to just throw everything in your cart, but I'm still trying to be intentional about what I bring into our house from a clutter standpoint. And also, you're not really saving money if you're buying something you weren't planning to already, you know? That being said, there are some items that I always keep my eye out for because they are versatile for decorating and/or have some practical or organizational use. Pin this list to refer to the next time you're out thrifting!

thrift store shopping list.001.jpeg

Know Your Style

Another way I save time at the thrift store is by really knowing my style and the types of materials, patterns and colors I want to include in my home decor. I prefer natural materials like wood, wicker, ceramic, stone, leather, linen and cotton so I keep my eye out for those materials whenever I'm out thrifting. I like classic patterns, like stripes, plaids, gingham and vintage florals. I also have narrowed down the color palette I buy for my own house, sticking to mostly neutrals like white, cream, tan, brown and black with some blues and greens. For wood, wicker and leather I stick with medium red-brown finishes. For metals, I mostly buy brass and black. For you, it might be light/blonde wood finishes, warm colors, and copper metallics. Whatever your style is, coming up with a palette that you stick within for your home will make it easier to narrow down the selection while shopping secondhand and will also help your house feel more cohesive, and not like a thrift store itself! 

Thrift shopping has become a big hobby for me. In addition to being an affordable and environmentally friendly choice, shopping secondhand for home decor has helped me to refine my personal style and create a look for our home that's collected, eclectic and feels unique to us. If you've never tried thrifting before, I hope this post inspires you to hit up your local stores! And if you are into thrifting already, I hope my tips help you find more of what you're looking for. 

Do you have any thrifting tips to share? What's your favorite thing you found at the thrift store lately? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram