Staying Focused and Inspired – by Carrie Oesmann

Photo: Staying inspired! I took this photo while visiting NYC.
Vermeer Foundation, Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you have read any of my previous articles, you know that my husband and I have been on a long and sometimes arduous journey to move our home and my business to the Lehigh Valley.

After a quick decision to move, and even quicker sale of our house in New Jersey, we were left still searching for that perfect home in the Valley to call our own. It took us seven months, three realtors and five failed bids until we finally found our “baby.”

As it turns out our “baby” was actually 150 years old and in need of a total renovation if we were going to turn it into the home of our dreams AND my interior design showroom. Fortunately this property and location offered the perfect combination of all the items on our “must-have” list.

Fast forward 18 months and we have reached the end of a long “Journey to Bethlehem.” I will chronicle some of the detailed work we had to deal with along the way, but it seems that all our hard work has paid off. We are happy to announce that our historic home has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of sweat and tears – not to mention what must have been close to 50 sheets of 1/4″ Sheetrock, 30 gallons of paint, five gallons of plaster, 400 feet of electrical wiring and 200 feet of PVC pipe.

You can follow this journey in more detail on my blog, but I don’t know if we could have survived the transformation if I had not been in the interior design business and able to stay inspired.

So how do you stay inspired for seven months of house hunting, (while living with my dear sister), four months of negotiations, and six months of back-breaking home renovations? You need to have vision, inspiration and a healthy dose of faith! Not to mention a really wonderful husband who worked the second shift after the contractors had left for the day and we sat alone in our pile of sheetrock and plaster dust.

The past two years have taught me to have more sympathy for my clients as I guide them through the changes to their homes. I have also come to appreciate how vital my role is in the design and renovation process. And I am so much more in awe of what we can accomplish when let God lead us on a journey.
Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Whether I am designing for myself or for a client, the process is always the same: seek inspiration and find a design source to reference your selections, especially those involving color. Otherwise you lose focus and have a hard time making decisions. You can find inspiration in so many ways, a photo on Houzz, a favorite piece of furniture – or like me, in art.

On a recent trip to NYC, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of my favorite artists is Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter whose skill depicting color and light are truly amazing! I found myself lingering at the painting “Young Woman with a Water Pitcher.” I was mesmerized by its subtle colors, rich deep undertones and by the beautiful lighting. In all my years of experience one of the aspects of interior design I have come to appreciate the most is the value of good lighting design. Lighting has become one of the first and foremost elements in any interior I design – so much so that the inspiration from this painting was not only about the colors in this painting but by the mood created by the lighting.

Most often I use the color combinations in fabrics to show my clients how colors can work together. And I love to take their favorite fabrics and find combinations of texture and pattern that truly inspire a room design. Knowing your color source helps you to stay focused.
Using my new found inspiration from the Vermeer painting helped me determine my palette and focus on lighting selections for each of my areas. For each decision I made, I referred back to this inspiration of Vermeer’s artwork and ask myself, “Does it make me feel the same way?”

I am currently working on an office design for a client who has a broad range of styles in his own home.  He found a photo on Houzz that we were able to refer back to on each of the decisions he made. We have introduced a new color palette, but the texture, wood and brick he found appealing in the original photo inspired his direction in his new office space and gave him the confidence to step out of the box.

You certainly don’t want to just mimic a design you see in a photo. You want to take it and make it your own. But if each component you add, each selection you make, can be judged against this same inspiration criteria you are well on your way to a cohesive interior design.

About the Carrie,

Carrie Oesmann is the ASID, CAPS and AKBD certified Interior Designer of Bailiwick Interior Design, a business she has owned and operated in New Jersey since 1999. Last year she had the pleasure of expanding her business and relocating to the Lehigh Valley, so she now lives in downtown historic Bethlehem with her husband John. Her “Journey to Bethlehem” inspired her to start a blog: You can also follow her on Facebook. Carrie’s home also doubles as Bailiwick Interior Design’s Pennsylvania office and unique lifestyle showroom, a place where her clients can experience a variety of options in a real home—it’s unlike anything we have seen in the Valley! Call Carrie for a personal tour of the lifestyle showroom.