New York-based designer Tyler Wisler knows a thing or two about turning a design vision into reality. A finalist from HGTV’s “Design Star’’ and frequent guest designer on NBC’s “George To The Rescue,” Wisler works on projects around the world from Honolulu, Hawaii to Istanbul, Turkey. Here, he takes us through the often-intimidating process of moving from inspiration to execution on a remodeling project.
So, you have a project ahead of you, but not a clue as to where you start. No worries, there are so many sites like Pinterest, Houzz and even this site, ideas.kohler.com to help guide you from design inspiration to the next step of your bathroom or kitchen project. Plus, inspiration for a design project can be found in the most unlikely of places, like a trinket sitting on a shelf, or a memory from a trip you took 10 years ago.
I really like to pull inspiration from what I know, things I love or places I’ve been. This is by far the most authentic way to develop the bones for a successful project because it will have special meaning for you. So often we see a beautiful space that doesn’t resonate for us, perhaps because it’s missing that personal element.
Here are a few examples of how I went from desig inspiration to realization.
A Color Palette Inspired by Nature
As a kid, I had a slight obsession with gems and minerals. I thought they were the most amazing things on the planet. And, by the way, they are. I remember visiting the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. and wishing I could live there and purchase everything in the gift shop.
I revisited my love of gems and minerals to generate the color palette when a bachelor was looking to pull his apartment together. He made a typical bachelor move and bought a black leather sofa. Fortunately, he recognized the need for my professional help before he went down the wrong path.
Luckily, the sofa had clean lines and was actually quite handsome. It was easy to integrate into a number of design aesthetics. I pulled from my early delight in minerals and chose to celebrate the dark colors the client was gravitating towards. I punched that up with intentional splashes of the rich cobalt blue and touches of white and grey found in Lapis Lazuli.
Channeling Culture Through Color
The second example of design inspiration occurred while I was working on two residences in Turkey, one in Istanbul and the other in Bodrum. Designing has its perks. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. I explored Istanbul soaking in the culture, sights, sounds and smells. One of the places that I remember distinctly was the Spice Market. The individual vendors all proudly merchandising their products had a strong impact on me. It was spectacular.
A few years later, a client purchased a magnificent apartment, bathed in light. His family was from India, and in a very early conversation, we started talking food. I always tend to incorporate food into conversations. As he spoke of the vibrancy of Indian culture, my thoughts drifted back to my time in Turkey, a country equally rooted in its cultural flavors. I referenced my memories of the pottery, the vessels, the ground cumin, paprika and chilies as I worked through the design. The space I created is a nod to the rich heritage of my client and his family, but also my own travels.
Using Playful Patterns
Sometimes my point of inspiration isn’t as steeped in the richness of a culture, but just pure enjoyment and fun. I had the opportunity to transform an unused detached garage into a new playroom for a growing family. I thought of my son, who at the time was just outgrowing his toddler stage, and what might interest him. I asked myself what would be most exciting to kids. Candy was the resounding answer. I mean, I get it. I still feel the same way as an adult. Candy. Yum.
I wanted to create a space that the kids could grow into that wasn’t just a glorified nursery setting, but a space that was chic and punctuated with every color of the rainbow. I used black and white as a base to keep things grounded, and added very deliberate pops to keep things playful. The final result is a space that kids from 1 to 100 can enjoy.
Go Out and Get Inspired
These are three examples of how I took a physical object or a beautiful memory and used that as a basis for my clients' home renovation projects. But design inspiration is everywhere. You might find it in the smell of the ocean as you walk along a boardwalk, the silky texture of the bedding in your favorite hotel, or a photograph or piece of art that speaks to you. Once you have set your foundation, resources like Pinterest can help you expand and elaborate on your inspiration point. And for a kitchen or bathroom project, ideas.kohler.com breaks down design inspiration visually so that it’s easy to turn all those plans into reality.
Don’t forget that taking a risk or two isn’t a bad thing. I always applaud those leaps. After all, this is your space. Personalize it. Once you have the structure complete -- walls, floors, windows, cabinets -- layer in your accessories to really tell your story.
There are no rules with design. Just make sure you commit to it. If you love it, go for it. Kind of like an outfit: people can tell if you’re uncomfortable, but if you strut your stuff and own it, you win. I want you to win.