Interior Design

Design Inspiration From My Travels Part 1

When my husband and I first moved to Germany four years ago I had mixed feelings about it. I didn’t realize what an adjustment moving to a foreign country would be. It was a bit of a culture shock, the majority of people weren’t overly fluent in English. Communication was definitely the hardest part, but getting use to the food, the road signs and driving and learning to parallel park wasn’t easy either. (Who am I kidding, I still can’t parallel park)

Overtime instead of wishing I was back in the states with fast food, parking lots and targets I learned to embrace Europe and all that I could learn.  Since I couldn’t work I had plenty of time to focus on getting my masters. I used what I saw while traveling and living abroad in my school work, which has now carried over to my actual work in interior design and architecture.

One major aspect of european architecture is all the use of natural light. Almost every room in a house or apartment has at least one large window. There is no need for lights during the day. All the windows make for great airflow and since it doesn’t get too hot in the summer there is no need for air conditioning. They are very environmentally friendly. Keeping the environment in mind and being green should always be a priority when designing.

Anyways, the hockey season in Germany has two breaks so we get to do a lot of traveling. I’ve learned so much and seen so many different kinds of design and architecture while traveling. Here are a few of my favorite places and what I’ve learned from them. 


What I learned… Spare no detail.  It is the detail that makes a room or piece stand out from the others. The detail that makes it astounding.

The intricate detail in Notre Dame is magnificent. No detail is spared, which is something I always remind myself when designing.

I’ve traveled a lot of places, but Palace of Versailles is by far my favorite place…ever. Pictures don’t do the palace justices. Seeing it in real life was the most amazing, surreal experiences. It was immaculate in every way.

While I don’t go as far as King Louis XIV while decorating, I still try to have at least one regal item in a room.


My favorite part of The Louvre was Napoleon III apartments. The dining room really fascinated me. It is dark with its black-stained wood adorned with sparkling bronze decorations, a massive table and huge windows with rich velvet curtains made the space fit for a king. The ceiling is painted a brilliant sky with exotic birds. It is definitely somewhere I would like to eat.

​It was four years ago now that we visited the Louvre and besides the upset that the Mona Lisa was the other part I really, clearly remember is Napoleons apartments.

The architecture of the building itself is stunning. The detail in every part of the building is breathtaking. In 1682 Louis XIV left the Louvre Palace for Versailles leaving the Louvre to house the royal collection and later becoming the museum it is today.


The immaculate design and decor of the Palace of Versailles is unmatched by anything I’ve ever seen. Gold decorates the entire palace. The Queen’s Hamlet, The Gardens, The Hall of Mirrors and The Petite Trianon are just a few of the other design wonders that are part of the estate. Plan to spend an entire day there gawking over the grand and regal estate. 


What I learned… Do like the Romans. Be daring and innovative in design. See the art and beauty in everything.

Romans were very innovative when it came to architecture and design.  They would adopt new construction techniques which lead to them building amazing looking aqueducts, bridges, basilicaand amphitheaters. 


Rome was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. History (old, old history) was everywhere! The use of columns and arches gave the buildings such grandeur. These two elements are something I took note of and try to work into my spaces because I love the look of them and I love the way they make a room feel.  I also love how the romans used a lot of marble.  In a way to show their power they used extravagant amounts of the rock.


​Even roman bridges made use of the arch. The buildings really have stood the test of time.

​Romans were the first to take architecture and make it an art form. 


What I learned… Don’t let obstacles get you down, learn to work with them. Work with nature and keep as much of it untouched as possible. Mixing styles from all over the world is okay.


Talk about learning to work around nature and over come obstacles. This city is a prime example of working with what you’ve got. Venice consists of 118 small islands connected by numerous canals and bridges.
The buildings in Venice were not built directly on the islands. Instead, they were built upon wooden platforms that were supported by wooden stakes driven into the ground. To make a long scientific process short, because the wood was underwater and not exposed to oxygen it didn’t rot.
​Venice was born when the Venetian population escaped the mainland in order to avoid raids from the barbarians. They went 
to the nearby marshes, and found refuge on the sandy islands. What was meant to be temporary became permeant and thus we have the floating city.


The entire city has a gothic look to it (Venetian Gothic to be more specific) An important lesson learned in Venice is it is okay to mix styles. I don’t have to stay with just one style while designing. Venice has gothic style, but also has influences from the Byzantine and Moorish styles that were popular with traders who visited Venice from the East. The pointed arches used all over the city are from the Moorish culture (Muslims from northern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula)


Because Venice doesn’t have a lot of space the buildings are tall and elegant with floor-to-ceiling windows to let in tons of light and plenty of balconies to let residents enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of the surroundings.


What I learned… Use nature as a primary influence (or at least a little influence) for your work. Be creative and don’t be afraid to get gaudy.
When I think of Barcelona the first thing that comes to mind is Antoni Gaudi. His works are one of the main attractions of Barcelona. I personally believe his work is where we get the modern-day word gaudy. All of his masterpieces are flamboyant and extraordinary. They are like nothing I could ever dream up.

You will see that most of Gaudí’s works have an organic look to them, meaning they blend in with the natural surroundings. They curve and twist like you see in nature.

Park Güell is a magical place where Gaudi used bright-colored mosaic tiles, sculptures and amazing buildings to create an enchanting experience. 



Gaudi’s life work started the in 1883 and it won’t be done until 2026!
The Sagrada Familia is arguably the most famous building in Barcelona. Guadi wrote the story of Christianity in stone on the walls of the church using exaggerated imitations of biblical stories. The sheer grandeur and uniqueness of this building is unmatched.

​When you are standing next to the building is when you really see  how magnificent it is. The figures carved in walls are so intricate and detailed. It is no wonder it is taking so long to be completed. 



I haven’t even touched on all the marvelous architecture in Barcelona. I could do an entire blog on just Barcelona architecture. Not only Gaudi designs but all architects and designers seem to take more risk and use more color than in other cities. This makes Barcelona one of the most unique cities for design.

There is also the 
Traditional Catalan Gothic architecture of the old town (Barri Gótic) with tall dark ancient looking buildings. They are not to be overlooked or overshadowed by Gaudi’s work. They are eerie and archaic and definitely worth the time to visit.
Part Two and some of my other favorite places is coming soon.
Until then I will always be learning and finding the art in everything.

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