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!

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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.

Thoughts on Kids & Online Privacy

To share or not share? That’s the question. I’m a blogger with a child, but I think almost every parent can relate in a world that is increasingly operating online. Thinking about how to be intentional with the way I choose to share and what my boundaries are is something I’ve dedicated a lot of time and mental energy towards, starting even before our daughter was born.

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photo by Laura Metzler Photo for Zestt Organics

You might be wondering why I haven’t posted monthly updates about Sage (or you might not have noticed or cared - cheers!) and the answer is complicated. I’m still figuring out how I feel about parenting and blogging and social media. But I’m taking some time to get my thoughts out because I think this is an important conversation. What happens online matters and it is real life. I want to make it clear that I’m not judging any other parent for how they choose to handle this issue! It’s hard because I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong, but I wanted to make that clear before I move on with my own thoughts and how I’m handling it for the time being.

What’s Working for Me Right Now

In general, I am open to sharing my experience as a mother and the transition to parenthood here on the blog but I am less comfortable with sharing Sage’s life in such a permanent and public way. Partly because I feel that even though she’s only seven months old, it’s still her life and not mine to share. But even more than that, I don’t want to feed into comparison. As a parent, I think that every single thing Sage does it amazing and worth celebrating. Even though her physical development has little to do with me, it’s very rewarding from a personal sense. But I worry that sharing monthly posts about Sage would make me too aware of what she is or isn’t doing and how it stacks up to other babies her age. Babies develop at their own pace and the range of normal is so wide. But somehow it all evens out by the time they are toddlers. So I wonder if it’s really worth worrying if your baby is ahead or behind on milestones anyway? Outside of conversations with your pediatrician, family and close friends at least. I’m documenting these types of things in her baby book and that feels right to me.

As far as social media goes, I have a private Instagram account that I created for Sage and intend to use to make one big photobook after her first birthday. On my personal/business Instagram account, I share some day-to-day stuff with Sage through Instagram Stories and will share about her periodically on my feed but almost never in real time. In general, I choose not to post about Sage on Facebook. I’m using my personal Facebook less these days - outside of Messenger, which I use a ton! Anthony and I each joined Facebook in 2006 so that means there’s already 13 years of our ramblings and photos floating around the internet forever. I’m not a stickler about it. I’ve broken my own rule a few times and I don’t mind if someone else shares a picture that Sage is in. There’s a big gray area between the sharing and not sharing, you guys. But I’ve found it easiest to make general rules for myself so that way I don’t have to make the decision everyday about where my boundaries are with sharing online. As a parent, there are more than enough decisions you have to make everyday already!

Overall, my thinking is if I start sharing real-time updates of Sage now, by the time she’s old enough to Google her name she will have 100+ pages of search results. And that feels a little scary and overwhelming to me. It may not to you, and that’s fine! I guess having a child has shown me even more that I am kind of a private person, despite sharing some of my deepest, most vulnerable thoughts and experiences with you here in this little corner of the internet I’ve made for myself. How I feel about sharing Sage may change and evolve as she gets older - in fact, I’m certain it will! But in this first year of her life especially, I feel very protective over her and her babyhood.

How do you choose to share or not share your children online?

Reminder, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer! The best solution is the one that feels right for you and your family. But that being said, I would be interested to hear your thoughts and how you choose to handle this issue! Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

DIY Laundry Detergent

Shortly after our daughter was born, I decided to try making my own homemade laundry detergent. I realized how much more laundry I would be doing with a new baby (especially once we started cloth diapering!) and was intrigued by the idea of saving money and also just using one type of detergent for the whole family instead of shelling out for fancy baby detergent. Well? That first batch lasted me SIX MONTHS and cost less than $25 to make. I just made my second batch this weekend and figured I’d share how I make it for anyone else out there who’d like to try it!

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Ingredients

1 Box of Borax

1 Box of Washing Soda

3 Bars of Fels-Naptha

1 Container of OxiClean - optional

Some people make their homemade laundry soap without the OxiClean to keep it more natural, but I wanted the extra stain fighting boost since I’m washing cloth diapers and Anthony’s dirty work clothes. Making the detergent powder is simple enough! The hardest part is grating the Fels-Naptha bars. I use a fine cheese grater because the smaller pieces dissolve better in the wash. It takes some time and muscle, but I don’t mind since I only have to do it once every six months! You just pour all of the ingredients into the container you plan to store it in. Stir or shake the mixture until evenly distributed and you’re done!

I store mine in a 2 gallon glass jar and it lasts me 6 months. I’ve heard it recommended to use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of powdered detergent. I just use 1/4 cup every time, but you could experiment with using less to see how long a batch will last you! I’ve also read that it’s best to use warm or hot water with powdered detergents. I usually wash our laundry on warm with a cold rinse.

Another tip: You might have to do a little looking, but all the ingredients should be available in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. For my fellow York County folks, I found that my closest Giant doesn’t carry the washing soda but the Weis across the street has everything you need to make this. I have seen the washing soda at other Giant stores around town though.

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent? Do you use the same ingredients I do, or have you had better luck with others?

I’d love to know what works for you! Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram!

My Word of the Year & Tips for Choosing Yours

This is the third year I’ve chosen a word to summarize my goals for the new year. At this point, I have developed a method for choosing a word so I wanted to share a little more about mine and also share my tips for how to choose a word of the year for yourself. I first heard about this idea on one of my favorite podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In 2017, my word was “Steadfast”. In 2018, as I was approaching new motherhood, I chose the words “Growth & Grace”. For 2019, I didn’t have to think long for the word to come to me:

B L O O M

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Learning to be “Steadfast” meant finding alignment and cultivating a spirit of preparedness and follow through. My year of “Growth & Grace” was about devoting myself to improvement but only in the areas that were most important to me. Not hustling for the sake of appearances or glorifying being “busy” but growing deeper into my values while giving myself space to make mistakes and change my mind in the midst of challenging transitions. I’m dedicating my 2019 to learning how and creating space to “Bloom”.

Over these years, I’ve been dedicated to cutting out what isn’t working in my home, business and life, developing systems, simplifying wherever possible and planting the seeds for what the best version of these things can be. In 2016, I essentially blew up my life (in a good way!) by leaving my full-time job to work for myself and this year feels a bit like that energy is coming full circle. Before you get worried, I’m not envisioning any huge changes like quitting a job or starting a new business this year!

I’ve told Anthony many times that I feel like I’ve been waiting for this season of life for as long as I can remember. I was kind of an odd kid and teenager. I was definitely the “mom” of our friend group, making birthday cakes for everyone at our lunch table and giving out life and relationship advice like it was my job. I thought I was so wise as a 17 year old… but I didn’t feel like I fit in with other people my age. I thought college would be where things finally clicked for me. I found amazing lifelong friends at my small women’s college and felt more at home than I ever had before, but I still felt like things weren’t quite right. Even in the early days of our marriage, I felt like I was always looking for the next thing and never content with where I was.

The day our daughter was born, that feeling completely disappeared for me. Not once since that day have I wished time away or wanted to be anywhere else. For the first time, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in life and all I want to do is give my best to this season. I feel so grateful for everything I have and everyone I hold dear and I want to do them justice. I am feeling called to step into my full potential as a wife, mother, entrepreneur, friend, interior designer and homemaker. To fully bloom.


Tips for Choosing a Word of the Year

First and foremost, my advice is to listen to your intuition. If there’s a word that pops into your head immediately, that’s probably your inner self guiding you towards what you need most. There are a few things I do around the end of one year and the start of a new one that also help to guide me in setting intentions for what I want to work on in the coming months.

  1. Make a list of accomplishments from the past year. | First, I write a list of every victory from the past year - big and small. Things that I took and active role in achieving but also positive things that happened to me and my family by luck, fate or divine intervention - however you want to view it! It’s sometimes easy to dwell on the hard stuff and forget all the good things that happen to us. This exercise alone is so helpful in remembering the progress I’ve made and having a positive view of the year gone by. I love looking back on this list from years past and remembering all the ways life has been good to us.

  2. Make a list of things that didn’t go so well and - most importantly - how to fix it. | I always want to focus on the positive but that doesn’t mean I ignore the negative. I try to view every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, so this list is usually pretty short but at the same time, the few things on it can feel pretty heavy. My goal is to not write the same things in this list next year that I wrote this year, so I also think of an action plan. Taking steps to fix whatever didn’t go well may look like letting go of that thing or my expectations around it, seeking help from a friend, coach or therapist or most likely a combination of those things. Just a reminder that if you’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve worked with both a therapist and a life coach in the past and both helped me immensely in becoming a happier, brighter version of myself.

  3. Ask yourself what you want most for the coming year. | The last list I make is a list of what I want to achieve in the coming year. This is a little bit different than a list of resolutions to me because it’s based more on feelings I want to bring into my life than just a list of to-do’s. I think about my deepest desires and just start writing a bullet list. I try to keep this to one page because I want to focus on just my top priorities for the year ahead and not overcrowd my mind with things that don’t aren’t as meaningful to me. From this list, I start thinking about themes or common threads that could tie these things together.

  4. Listen to your intuition. | At this point, I’m guessing that a word or several words will have popped up for you that could be potential words of the year. If you are having trouble choosing, I recommend taking even just 5-10 minutes to meditate or journal about your thoughts on each word. What holds the most meaning for you? What captures your goals for the year in the fullest and simplest way? Don’t overthink this too much. Listen to the nudges your inner self is giving you and trust it.

Now, once you’ve chosen a word for your 2019, come back and tell me what it is! I would love to hear if these tips were helpful for you. Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

Favorite Posts from 2018

This has been a huge year for me in so many ways! Compiling this list made me realize even more just how much has happened this year and how much I’ve grown both personally and professionally. Most of all, I am thankful for our daughter Sage making me a mama this year! These last six months with my little family of three have been so wonderful. As a creative and entrepreneur, I also feel a renewed sense of purpose and direction because of the changes this year has brought. I’m looking forward to sharing more about that journey in the New Year! Here are my favorite blog posts from 2018, starting in January…

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June: Meet Sage

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What a year it’s been! Whether you found your way to my blog in 2018 or you’ve been here since the beginning, I want to say a big THANK YOU! It means so much to have your support and I’ve met so many kind-hearted, encouraging friends through blogging! I love creating and sharing in this little corner of the internet for you guys. Have a very Happy New Year!