Faux68March 25, 2013

I am reading a decorating book by Meghan Carter. I learned a lot from her. Her whole decorating process revolves around selecting a muse. I just can't wrap my mind around that. Have you used a muse?

If I use a muse I am going to use the building below. I think it is strong, glam, sleek, shiny, smooth, geometric, muted, and sophisticated. Do I understand the concept of using a muse? Do I need a muse?

What I like about a muse is that it will help me focus instead of pulling items into my room that doesn't fit the vision in my minds eye. I know what I want. The issue I can see is picking individual items that don't fit the overall vision and will hurt the flow.

My fireplace is rustic and staying. My furniture is comfortable but somewhat modern leaning and also staying. I think I can pick it up from there.

My other idea is to really pick apart a room that I love. I can really look at the patterns, textures, accessories, color variance (or lack thereof) to help me design my room instead of a muse.

What are your thoughts? What did you do?

This post was edited by Faux68 on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 13:42

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I would describe that building as ugly, cold, disjointed, earthquake ruins, sinking into a Florida sinkhole, etc. Things would be pretty boring if we all had the same taste!!

Have never used a muse. I pick things that I love and they end up working together. I avoid buying placeholders and will keep looking and wait quite a long time to find the item that "speaks" to me. It took me 2 years to find my dining room table. I still love it 13 years later.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:22AM
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Another way to have a muse is to have an inspiration piece. It might be a rug, a painting, a fabric, etc. that evokes the feeling or style you like and contains the colors you want to use in your design. If it is fabric, it is often called a key fabric and is used as the basis for the fabric scheme for a room. Sometimes, you will also hear an inspiration piece be called a jumping off point, but they all serve the same purpose.

Looking at pictures of rooms that are good examples of the principles of design is a great way to train your eye to see how proportion, scale, color and texture can come together to create a room.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:21AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think of a muse as a person or a personal drive or spirit that is the impetus behind creative's what forces one to pursue their creative efforts.

I think of an inspiration piece as something that gives the initial kernel of thought behind the specific work such as a room or a painting. In decor, it's the jumping off point for the spirit and design and color scheme of the room.

My concern for you is that the "muse" you posted seems to have no match with your description of the pieces in the room that you are keeping. The muse looks hard edged, cold, angular, dark, disjointed....the rustic fireplace and comfortable furniture doesn't seem to match.

You can check out an old post of mine on how my inspiration became reality for the exterior of my home and my library, below. Other rooms were inspired by art or fabric which became the jumping off point for the color scheme.

Here is a link that might be useful: Inspiration to reality

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Hi Faux, I'm reading the book too. Have to go back to the old post and remind myself of the name of the recommender so I can thank her...

My inspiration, the thing that I try to cling to as I put the living room together, is a feeling. It's serenity, or calmness. Right now I'm (re) working upholstery for loveseats. I ask myself if a particular thing will wear on me because of color, if it will constantly call out to be cleaned. I have a lot of stuff already and am not buying all new, so I also ask if it will play quietly with my art, etc.

I have to say that I never understood the concept of movement before, and now I do. That is amazing; the author explained something that I thought was as impossible as the words people use to describe wine -- just kind of made up. But now it's real to me.

The part where she literally draws the lines of eye movement and pattern vibration -- really helpful.

But, and there's always a but, the huge complication of working window cover machinery? She just leaves it out.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Ok, I am going to regroup. I was having a hard time understanding a muse. I think it will work better for me to use a couple of pictures and try to pinpoint what I like about them and use them to inspire my design. Here are my top 3 looks. I don't know how to post more than on picture at a time.

This room is glam, sleek, sophisticated, and all those things I am looking for. I don't want the window treatments. I prefer a simpler look.

Annie, your house is beautiful and you are very creative.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:19AM
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I also like this room. It is clean and sleek yet cozy. I like the muted colors. Something I want to take from this room is the patterns. I like the circles. And how the pattern repeats. I also like the presence of black without it being Overwhelming. I think black can give me that sophistication I am looking for.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Hmm, I always thought a "muse" had to be a person. But your post inspired me to look it up, and it appears it need not be. Interesting.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:33AM
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And this is another photo I like. I think it is strong and sleek. The mantle and ceiling are more rustic than I like.

So, can I take these 3 pictures and pull out what I like in them to create my great room? Are they cohesive enough? My room will have a little more glam. I think I can easily do that with accessories and the tables.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Faux, what you are describing is a concept in architecture called the parti.

It's the idea, distilled to a statement or list of words that guide every decision in a design project. You arrive at your parti by a process of elimination, distilling what you need, love, and long for into as few underlying ideas as possible.

For instance, a parti can be "Colors of beach and sky, simple shapes, calming images, perfect circulation, integrated storage." Once it's decided that those are the most important things, then any choice being considered would be held up against those things.

An ornate red table flunks the test. A big painting of galloping horses or a battle scene fail to make the cut. A room with nowhere to put the tools used in that room also flunks, as does a furniture arrangement that hinders movement through and within the room.

From a site called, one of several explanations of the term:

"What is a Parti?

It's the basic scheme or concept for an architectural design, represented by a diagram or sketch from which an architectural project will be developed. In other words,it's the main underlying idea behind any work of architecture. The word Parti or Parti pris comes from the French Prendre parti which means" to make a decision. It means the big idea or the big organizing thought or decision behind an Architect's design presented in the form of a basic diagram or a simple statement, or both.

Parti is the essence of the project. It's not abstract. A post structuralist diagram is abstract. Parti is only capturing the essence of the project at large.

-Danielle Shows"

Here is a link that might be useful: What is a parti?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Here is my room now. I am not using the rug and the furniture is closer now. I think I want a rug with the pattern in the circle room above. I want a console grouping behind the sofa on the wall to the right with the ottoman like the first picture above. I am not sure if I want an ottoman, coffee table, or nothing in the center of the grouping. I like a clean minimalist look and I don't want to overwhelm my room with stuff. I don't think the pillows work. The two black tables will go on each side of the fireplace. I will either put a table between the recliners or get two between the sofa and chairs. I think I want a sofa table behind the sofa on the left with a few well thought out oversized accessories and orchids. I like symmetry. I will probably put a floor lamp in the right corner and a tree to the left side of the windows.

I still want art like Geoffrey Johnson's that I posted before without the handsome price tag. That might work better in the entryway.
I think I can pull off a transitional look and mix traditional with modern and sleek.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:02AM
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It was Fun2BeHere who suggested the book. She gives it to first-time homeowners.Thank you Fun. Ha! Where were you when I needed you, Fun, 5 houses ago?

Our first-time home realtor gave us a big, beautiful speckled blue bowl. Seems like we have so many BIG things, and now we have a little house.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Thank you fun2behere! I got the book based on that post also. It has helped me a lot.

Jamie's, how long ago did you get the book? I just finished it this weekend and I have printed out the worksheets. I am going to start filling them out and re-reading the highlights as I try to pull together my look. I really like the lesson she gave in graphing the room and elevations.

BrownysMom, I think that is exactly what Meghan is trying to get us to do. I haven't found a parti or muse that gives me the feelings I am looking for. It confuses me frankly. I might do what Jamie's is doing and make sure every item gives the emotions I want the room to have. I can grasp that concept but the muse alludes me.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:11AM
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I'm happy that Meghan's book has been helpful. Jamies, even if I had been around for you five houses ago, I don't think Meghan's book was out!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

They seem to have a number of things in common, clean lines, contemporary, low slung upholstery, brightness and's contemporary without being cold. Very doable.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:30AM
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The pictures remind me of another complicated thing that Meghan will undoubtedly address in her next book, after she gets a degree in physics -- lighting. Right now it strikes me as the most important thing in the room.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:37AM
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What Annie is saying is what you need to do.

Your parti is something you develop yourself, rather than something you find ready made. It's based on all those photos and things you are attracted to. You think about each one, look at them side by side, shuffle them about, and begin to write down the characteristics that attract you to them. And you can include things that aren't rooms - like a painting you love in the museum, or a piece of painted china, or the view out your window, or a photograph from a trip you took.

And you also think about your life in the house, and write down things that you need, like "easy to keep clean" or "sturdy for teenagers" or "safe for babies" or "seating for 10 at the table" or "room for 6 people comfortably in the family room" - whatever is important in your own way of living.

It's a process that takes some time and thought, but it is so worth doing. If you are confused, don't be discouraged. That just means you aren't there yet.

It will come clear to you if you work the steps (I sound like an AA meeting ...), and then the project itself will be so much easier, more efficient and cost effective, and so much more fun.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I bought the same book, because of Fun!

I did not have a muse for my recent LR/Dr paint job, and it made me nervous. Rightly so, because while some elements worked out the way I planned, I have decorated myself into a corner with my rushing.

I plan on living with it until I have absolutely every other item in place, which means it will be a long time!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:39PM
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I think my own imagination is my muse, if that's a possibility. I look at pictures of course, but don't design complete rooms around them. If you will, I allow my 'emotions to dictate' my likes as well as dislikes from the color of paint to the smallest of accessories. I don't immerse myself in the process, nor is there a time frame, it just takes it's course

I feel trying too hard defeats the purpose as well as takes away from the enjoyment when you're creating. Afterall, isn't creating about using one's own thought or imagination? ;o)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 2:59PM
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**I have decorated myself into a corner with my rushing.**

anele - you just described the story of my decorating life! Well, maybe not quite that extreme and not in every room every time, but I've sure had my moments!

bronwynsmom thank you so much for elevating my thinking and hopefully practice of design/decorating in my home. Your explanation of parti is simple and direct and so logical. It probably is not easy to implement and I want to read more, but it certainly is making my wheels turn in a different direction. I'll come to your 12 step meetings....... my name is Deb and I'm a decor-aholic. (and before anyone gets twisty on me, please know I am NOT insensitive to addiction issues, I live with the fallout on multiple fronts)

Faux I now have to find that book! All your inspiration rooms are lovely and I love what you've done so far with your space - you are well on your way.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Patty, I get what you are saying . . .I agree that the point (at least for me) is NOT to copy a room, but to be creative. The "muse" is really more about narrowing down what I want without spending money and time on mistakes.

Here is my example of my latest "problem" (not really a problem in the real world). And DLM, this is my decorating myself into a corner move ., I just had my LR and DR repainted. In the DR, I thought about what accessories I would use and how. Tested them out. I like my furniture well enough, too (table shape isn't what I want, but it's gotta do), and the floor plan is fixed. It is just the color, then, that was needed. I am happy with it.

But then, the LR. I don't really like any of my furniture. The room is awkward, and no matter how often I move furniture or think of new pieces to add (or remove), the "best" it can be is just OK. I really, really HATE my FP. (As in, it pains me to look at it.) I wish I could just change my brain so that I do not notice these things. So, I picked a color that would work with the FP and make it sort of blend in. I thought any dark color would be OK with the bookcases and did not test it out. It does help with the FP, but it clashes with the bookcases. Yuck. I did not think of what colors would work with it as accessories, since I was so fixated on the FP problem. Turns out, the colors that work with it are ones I really dislike.

This is why I think it is needed (for me) to have a plan. In comparison, my DR is just about done . . .floorplan and furniture in place, accessories chosen in my head, so paint was the right move. With the LR, I still have major issues, which is why I needed the plan. But, I was tired of the splotchy walls!

The book we are all talking about (for anyone who does not have it) is VERY detailed and seems like a lot of work. However, since I know I want to do my LR right, I am going to take my time with it and make my plan. Certainly, because of time, money and inconveniences (for example, it will be very difficult if I do get the floors done), it will take awhile even when I have everything picked out, but at least I know the direction I am headed . . .

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:07PM
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browny's mom: that really helped me. I think that works a lot better for me. I just couldn't find a muse that gave me the emotion I want in my house.

Annie: you have created a cheat sheet for my parti. ". . . clean lines, contemporary, low slung upholstery, brightness and's contemporary without being cold. Very doable." It is time to start shopping. (: Thank you!! It means a lot to hear that I am heading in the right direction .

Yes, Patty Cakes, that makes sense. I am not sure my imagination is consistent enough--I like a lot of different looks---so I need something to keep me from going off the path. I am worried about rushing. I don't want to rush and pick "good enough" or it "kinda works" just to have something.

Deb, I am a decor-aholic in training. I really think you will like the book. Meghan has worksheets on her website that can be printed if you want to take a look before you buy the book. I am in the process of reading the chapters again and filling out the worksheets this time. I feel pretty confident about how she is making me think about the space and every single item I put in the space. Thank you for what you said about the start I have on the room.

Anele, I am not sure how much the book will help you since you are almost done. It might help you brainstorm ways to solve what it is that you don't like about your space. Also, the book gave me advice that I sometimes have a hard time reconciling. If I have furniture that doesn't work for my space I can sell it on ebay or craigslist. I have 2 bedside tables that are too high for the bed. They are nice looking and good quality but I knew immediately they were too high and had 14 days to return them. My husband got rid of the boxes--he jumped the gun because he thought they looked so good. If I decide to sell them and only get a portion of the money back that is better than looking at them and thinking negative thoughts like--it is my own fault for not guarding those boxes, etc.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:52PM
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It looks like you have the foundation and textures, just throw in your style of great pieces ie. art on wall, floor mirror or artistic accents, something that says you, maybe a muted color on the wall? Great room!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:57PM
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Your room looks wonderful, Faux! I think you are almost there.

2 elements I would look into more (based on your inspiration pics) are lighting and a few items that make a stronger statement re: darker contrast.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Thank you Karen and Anele, that is the second mention of lighting. What are you thinking that I need? I will put a floor lamp like my inspiration picture in the left corner. I also will add a sofa table with 2 lamps if I can figure out how to plug them in. I am definitely adding some black. My new rug will be darker. I really like that circle rug and could get a darker color than the warm grey. Maybe charcoal. It has to have a hint of green like the recliners. That will be the challenge.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:58PM
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Re:plugging in lamps. If the sofa in not close to a wall, having an area rug to 'hide' cords under is a great idea~under the sofa first. ;o)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:37PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Just beware that it is a safety hazard to have electrical cords running under a carpet that is walked can fray the wires leading to an electrical short and fire. Better to have an electrician come in and make a floor outlet for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Electrical cord under no.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:25AM
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The ceilings in the second 2 pictures seem very important to the overall feel. They are specially lit to create shadows and depth in the ceiling -- there is a lot going on overhead.

Notice how photo three uses lights right in the window wells to create the sense of more light coming in at the window, making more of a contrast with the ceiling than you might get with "mere" daylight.. Drama comes, too, from the lights that wash the fireplace. There is little actual color in the room, but the lighting creates interest, or even excitement.
The first picture looks more like a typical room, but there is light coming from somewhere I can't identify -- probably the photographer. I think the dark crown makes some overhead drama in this room, which would look more washed out if the crown were light-colored.

It's hard for me to really know because my rooms have standard height, flat ceilings with a small crown.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:53AM
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I think I will look for that book too!

Bronwynsmom- thanks for your tutelage. I sent an email to you last week thanking you for sharing your vast knowledge. You continue to educate and amaze me.
copying and pasting this thread to add to my Bronwynsmom book of knowledge!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 9:59AM
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Ok, now I understand, Jamies. Now I have to determine if the lighting is strongly related to why I am drawn to the last 2 rooms. I like it but I don't think it has as much to do with it as the clean lines, sophisticated, patterns, rugs, etc.

I have recessed lighting. I put them on a dimmer so, for a party I can create a mood. Also, I am adding a floor lamp and table lamps. I think I will use an extension cord for a while until I am sure of the placement. I don't want holes in my wood floors especially if they are in the wrong place. Thank you, Annie. Have you seen the flat extension cords? I saw it on Pinterest and went to do some research and came across quite a few articles about the dangers of extension cords. Also, most people think those flat extension cords are a fire waiting to happen. Darn!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Cooperbailey, I got your message, and I thank you for your very kind sentiments. There is certainly a vast amount of knowledge here, and mine is only a fraction of it, but I'm happy to know you've found it useful.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Annie, I guess I was thinking when they're *not* walked on, and mine is not. The sofa is about 2' from the wall outlet, and don't walk behind it. I just looked, and actually the cord is only under the sofa, so no worries. In my condo I did have the cord under an area rug, but again, in an area near a wall, which didn't get walked on. The actual connection(lamp-to-cord) was fastened to a table leg. It was quite a concoction, but w/o an outlet in the floor, it was my only alternative unless I wanted all the furniture lined up against the wall. The things we won't do in the name of decorating.

All said, thanks for the link, and making me aware. ;o)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 5:08PM
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What is your ceiling like? Would it be possible to center a light fixture (something dramatic and dark) over your seating area?

Maybe something to price . . .

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 6:32PM
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