Our Interiors Have Taken On New Meaning

A note from Inspired Interiors Founder Emily Mackie on exciting changes and updates for the future of Inspired

While news of the current state of the world has been flooding your inboxes, the Inspired Interiors team has stayed ahead of the curve! At the end of February, we closed the doors to our brick-and-mortar location in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and took our entire operation remote and virtual, hallmarking a new era for our almost 17-year-old company. 

This was a huge and thrilling year-long undertaking that just happened to coincide with decisions many companies of all sizes are now facing. As luck would have it we had incredible foresight.  By thinking outside of the box or the office, as it were we have been able to harness opportunities that we otherwise couldn’t have reached. We are flourishing in ways we could have never imagined! Our risks were rewarded during a chaotic time for this country.

inspired interiors team

The results have been nothing short of astounding for our team. For me personally, I have captured an additional 10 hours a week that I used to spend commuting from my home on the North Shore into downtown Chicago. This gift of time has been game changing, optimizing our workflow and allowing for unprecedented growth and expansion for the business.  Not to mention my daily relationship with my children has been incredible!

By becoming a completely remote and virtual company, I have been able to add designers to our team who are working in other parts of the country. We now have designers located in North Carolina, New York and Mexico, as well as a native Brazilian who now resides near me on the North Shore. These remote designers are additions to our existing team that has been working on our virtual platform throughout the last year.

home office ideas

For our clients, this means we are able to assist you from anywhere using the power of collaborative technology. One example, we can set up a GoToMeeting to view your home virtually and advise you on taking photos of your space. Using these photos, we can digitally enhance them, recommending products and reconfigurations that transform your interiors! Our virtual design platform will remotely redesign your rooms and even provide expert product recommendations. 

While we’re all currently spending more quality time at home, you are likely to identify new interior design needs, such as a workable home office or an expanded kids’ play area, so that we can all live, love, work and function more meaningfully. To further fuel your creative spark, we’ll be filling our social media feeds with inspirational images and would love it if you posted your design aspirations, as well. Our team is here for you — we encourage you to engage with us to rethink your own home’s future.

Still Counting: Inspired Interiors Marks a Movement at SOFA CHICAGO

I am endlessly inspired by the power and passion of women working together. It’s why, as an entrepreneur and a mother of three, I founded Inspired Interiors as a place where work-life balance takes precedence and women feel supported to succeed. 

Over my career, I have helped coordinate and have contributed my work to several exhibitions focused on women’s empowerment, an endeavor I find most rewarding in my work. This week, I will have the incredible opportunity to showcase an assemblage of works by 21 influential female artists, all representing indelible moments in the fight for women’s equality, at SOFA CHICAGO, the premier gallery-presented art fair dedicated to three-dimensional art and design. The exhibition has an opening-night preview on Thursday, Oct. 31 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 3 at Navy Pier.

Honoring the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote, “Still Counting” brings together personal, powerful works provoked by the number of years it has taken to receive equal rights in a list of categories essential to living in true gender equity (think everything from Supreme Court appointments and Presidential nominations to the right to economic identity). Each art piece is showcased in a vignette designed by Inspired Interiors and is paired with a bold red number representing the length of the fight. 

As part of the exhibition, I have gathered a group of thought leaders to participate in a compelling panel discussion from noon-1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3. I am honored to join these esteemed professionals to deliberate on our personal experiences and goals for our industries in this era of unprecedented change. The conversation will be moderated by Sally Lou Loveman, former audience producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show, and will feature Audarshia Townsend, a food and culture writer, editor and on-air personality; Shaylyn Cullen, founder and president of Cullen Construction Management; Anuja Gupta, a physician and real estate developer; and Michelle Rivas, a Latina healthcare writer and adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Communication.

Each of the thought-provoking pieces from the “Still Counting” exhibition will be auctioned off via an online art auction site, open through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting a women’s rights organization. A live onsite painting during the event will blur the lines between artist and attendee, with silhouettes of guests continuously layered over another, illustrating how we’re all connected in this ongoing quest for equality. 

Top Tips for Curating an Art Collection

The pieces of art we collect over a lifetime illustrate who we are and what we value perhaps more than anything else we own. Sure, furniture can speak to our preference for traditional or contemporary design, but the paintings, sculpture, photography and objets d’art we choose to share in our homes offer glimpses into our soul.

In our ongoing Dare to Live series, we invite you to reveal yourself through your interior design. Here we’ll discuss how to curate and display those pieces of art that mean so much to you to give them the careful consideration and care they deserve.

Three-dimensional artwork blurs the lines between the piece and its viewer, inviting the eye and the mind to come closer. From free-standing sculpture to pieces that require hanging and mounting, 3-D art demands a precise attention to detail. Aspects to consider: optimal environment for viewing, availability of natural light and proper placement to appreciate the tangible qualities of the art from all angles.

The first question we ask when engaging with a client is to view their existing art collection. That allows us to make strategic decisions that create a cohesive design that lets the pieces really shine. We don’t subscribe to the tired notion that bold artwork should always be offset by stark white walls and nondescript furniture. Sometimes, a vibrant background is the best way to bring forward and showcase the hues of a vivid painting. Apparently, the Louvre agrees; the museum is known for pairing complementary interior wall colors with its priceless works of art.

You know what they say: Location is everything. We work with clients to assess the available vertical real estate in their homes to perfectly pair with their art collections. Make an opening statement about you and your lifestyle in a foyer. Hang something sultry and romantic in a bedroom. Provide guests with something contemplative in a powder room. It’s that thoughtful planning that makes a home interesting and worth living in.

Nothing throws off the presentation of artwork more than improper use of scale. Considering the size of a piece in conjunction with where it will be displayed is paramount to its overall effect. Large-format works look striking above a staircase to continue the upward motion. Gallery-style arrangements of detailed pieces tell an ongoing story in a living room where the viewer can take their time to ponder. Intimate settings call for small, intriguing pieces that could get lost elsewhere.

Finally, your artwork should evoke a feeling or emotion in each area of your home. To make a lasting impression on all who enter, choose subject matter that stimulates the senses and illuminates your intentions.

Artwork is such an integral part of not only a person’s home but of their beliefs, their dreams and their desires. The Inspired Interiors team is here to help you showcase your collection so that it’s truly a masterpiece of meaning and artistic vision.

The Art of Seduction: From Bedroom to Boudoir


Your bedroom should not only serve as your home’s sanctuary and your escape from the outside world, it should also be the place where you feel your most sensual. As such, your bedroom deserves thoughtful attention to the design and decor to set a seductive mood, whether you’re single, dating or happily coupled up. Follow the below interior design tips to create an enticing, enchanting ambiance that no one will be able to resist.

 

Put Away the Family Photos

For obvious reasons. As one of my clients once stated: “Don’t put my family photos in the bedroom; they don’t need to see what happens in there!” Rather, cover your bedroom walls in tactile coverings, paint with plush, thought-provoking colors and hang alluring artwork that portrays how you want to feel when ensconced in your luxurious lair.

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Set a Sexy Stage

I’ve seen many clients, particularly bachelors, make the mistake of not properly outfitting their beds. Make it the most inviting destination with proper (and plentiful!) pillows and soft and silky sheets. Obviously a high thread count is nice, but bamboo sheeting is a less-expensive but still-sensuous alternative. Top with a fluffy duvet that feels like you’re both sleeping on a cloud.

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Breakfast in Bed

An essential in the art-of-seduction arsenal? The breakfast-in-bed tea tray. Bringing your partner breakfast in bed on a beautiful tray shows appreciation for the activities of the night before and, perhaps, anticipation for the morning ahead. Coffee, tea or me?

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Keep it Red Hot with a Fireplace

If you have the opportunity to install a fireplace in your boudoir, by all means go for it. Nothing stokes the flames of desire like a fireplace, especially when paired with a Mongolian sheepskin rug and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Hey, if it worked for Burt Reynolds…

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Watch for Emily’s appearance on Fox 32 Chicago this Saturday morning, Sept. 29, for more inspired interior design tips for the bedroom and beyond!

Our Tips for Hosting an Unforgettable Party

There are really only two types of holiday hosts: the one who researches recipes during an August heat wave, has a linen closet perpetually stocked with freshly pressed holly-embroidered tablecloths and obsesses over individually placed pumpkins at each place setting (we’ll call her the “Monica Geller”).

Then there’s that rare creature who makes holiday entertaining feel effortless and stress-free by focusing more on creating meaningful moments than carefully crafting a five-course gourmet meal. (Editor’s note: We know there’s no such thing as “effortless entertaining,” only hosts who make it all feel effortless and, in doing so, put their guests immediately at ease. This is the art part.)

When we think back on the holiday memories that never fail to put a smile on our face, it isn’t the roasted turkey or Grandma’s china that we remember, it’s those times spent gathered around the dinner table laughing, connecting and reminiscing. In other words: It’s who’s at the table, not what’s on it. In our mind, the best hosts are those who take the time to set up those memory-making moments and allow that special brand of magic to unfold.

Here are our five favorite tips for getting the dinner party started and ensuring that the memories last long after the punch bowl is packed away.

1. Set the stage. Now’s the time to pull out all the stops. You don’t need to OD on red and green and tinsel, but if you’ve been collecting hand-blown glass ornaments or vintage decorations from the 1960s, make sure they get their chance to shine. Stage beautifully framed family photographs from past celebrations. Spin a festive playlist. And add generous dashes of plush textiles and glam sparkle holiday decorating is your home’s once-a-year chance to really show off.

2. Make your guests feel one of a kind because they are. Yes, gathering a diverse group of guests (especially if they’re related) carries a certain amount of angst. But, if you look past the differences and find the common ground, you’ll remember why you’re all there, together in one room. So, really, a lesson in navigating life itself.

3. Whip up a signature cocktail. Nothing says “this is a party to remember” than a cocktail crafted especially for the occasion. Have fun with it! Bust out those gold-rimmed martini glasses or Champagne coupes that have been gathering dust. Find a simple-to-prepare and easy-to-please recipe online. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or mini candy canes. Bottoms up!

4. Banish boring place cards. “Best smile.” “Class clown.” “Most likely to name drop.” Rather than seating guests by name (ho hum), choose stand-out personality traits (think of your high school yearbook) and let your guests suss out who’s who. This will surely mix up the seating chart in interesting and unexpected ways.

5. Craft creative conversation starters. Choose a question designed to draw out an interesting answer (“What advice would you give your childhood self?” “Who has been your biggest inspiration?” “What is the first thing you do in the morning?”). Write it on a piece of paper and tape it underneath one of your guest’s dining chairs. While you’re enjoying dessert around the table, ask everyone to look under their chairs for a surprise and let the chosen person have the floor. You just might be surprised at what you learn.

The Inspired Interiors team wishes you and your family a very happy holiday season filled with meaningful moments and once-in-a-lifetime memories. We’re looking ahead to 2019 when we will reveal our “Dare to Live” series exploring how design can help us all live life more fully. We hope you’ll join us on the journey!

Blending Historic and Modern Home Design

It may seem intimidating or even downright impossible, but blending historic and modern interior design in your home isn’t as tough to pull off as you might think. By taking into account your home’s essential interior and exterior elements, you can add furnishings, fixtures and other flair that introduce a more modern attitude and best represent you and your individual aesthetic.

In our ongoing Dare to Live series, we explore how to harness the power of interior design to create surroundings that are a true reflection of our personalities and lifestyles. Here we’ll delve into the myriad ways to combine traditional and modern aspects into one harmonious home design.

Europeans are far more free when it comes to embracing the juxtaposition of the historic and the contemporary. (When your buildings date back centuries, you tend to find creative ways to inject a sense of currency.) Design-minded travelers will find these bright, colorful front doors throughout the continent, and we love the energy they emit, especially when paired with traditional exterior masonry. Why not spark interest in your abode and stand out from the rest of the street?

It may seem counterintuitive, but a sleek steel-and-glass staircase can lend an appealing airy quality to a more staid space, such as in this English Tudor cottage. It’s a strategic way to not be hemmed in by a home’s classic bones and a brilliant use of space.

In the Midwest, we see an abundance of Prairie-style residences, often with coffered ceilings and wood millwork. Rather than attempting to cover up these decidedly traditional design elements, it’s more alluring to play off of them by introducing bold contemporary furnishings that imbue the space with fresh energy and positivity.

Intriguing modern furnishings are a welcome breath of fresh air in a historic space. The seemingly paradoxical pairing is refreshing and highlights the more traditional elements of a home such as wainscoting in surprising, satisfying ways.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home, by all means, show it off! Incorporating modern mirrors, furniture and lighting into the room pays homage to the hearth but still offers a compelling contemporary edge.

We believe that anything is possible for your surroundings when you open your mind and, of course, work with an experienced design professional. Connect with the Inspired Interiors team to discover how we can collaborate on an interior design that embodies the historic and the modern in equal measure.

Lighting interior design inspiration

Some may consider lighting an afterthought when planning out their interior design, but we look at light fixtures as a key component in achieving your overall aesthetic. From sleek and modern to opulent and over-the-top, lighting interior design can be everything from functional to decorative, but is always essential.

For our ongoing Inspired Interiors Dare to Live series, we’ll illuminate the various ways lighting trends can make a style statement — while brightening our days and enlivening our evenings.

If your tastes lean to the ornate, you really need some Baccarat crystal lighting in your life. The renowned crystal connoisseurs create eye-poppingly extravagant chandeliers, sconces and other fixtures that positively drip with elegance. These pieces never go out of style and always hold their value, so consider them an inimitable investment.

From the timeless to the task-oriented: Don’t forget that lighting also serves a fundamental function. (But that doesn’t mean it should ever be boring.) This slim, sophisticated SEED Design light fixture sheds light over a table or desk without interfering with an abundance of natural light — or masking a breathtaking view.

Have a large space you need illuminated? A graduated, multi-armed hanging light fixture will throw light around the room, accentuating any natural sun you have coming in and casting a lovely halo effect.

Are you craving a more ethereal setting? These luxury handmade chandeliers from Manooi are one-of-a-kind objets d’art, conceiving a dazzling cloud of crystals that captivates anyone who has the pleasure of being beneath them.

A flickering gas lantern sets a distinctive mood, as any visitor to the French Quarter can attest. Bevolo has been handcrafting gas and electric lighting in New Orleans since 1945 and capturing the imaginations of Southerners (and Southerners at heart) ever since. These evocative fixtures have been a staple in upscale Southern residences but also add charm to homes everywhere. Make the neighbors ask: “Who lives in that house?”

Speaking of Southern Gothic style, can you think of anything more fantastical than a wax-draped chandelier holding court over a sumptuously decorated dining table? Nope, us either.

Simply put, lighting has the power to transform the interior design of a home. The Inspired Interiors team is exhilarated by the options we can share with you to light up your life. Let’s chat!

Areas for Adult Activities in the Home

Sure, a home serves many functional purposes — it offers shelter, comfort and warmth (and a place to put all of your shoes). But, in our eyes, it should also be an oasis, a place that provides pleasure, somewhere you look forward to returning to again and again, the ultimate hangout spot.

In our ongoing Dare to Live series, we have been highlighting what it means to make our homes true reflections of our personalities, passions and desires. Here we’ll explore the allure of adding areas dedicated to more adult endeavors.

What could be more decadent than having your own walk-in humidor to store your fine collection of cigars (or marijuana, as it were)? We have worked on several projects with in-home cigar libraries and vaults, which set the stage for a cozy lounge area for lighting up. These back-lit showcases for your home cigar bar are particularly stunning, especially when paired with cushy leather club chairs you can sink into and enjoy your smoke.

Make your home the hottest spot in town with a beautiful home liquor cabinet fully stocked with your favorite elixirs and accoutrements paired with fine crystal glassware. Picture this: You and your closest confidantes gathered around to enjoy a perfectly aged whiskey. You’ll never have to leave home for a luxe libation again.

We are major fans of finding creative ways to utilize unused spaces in the home, such as this clever walk-in home wine storage solution that maximizes the historically untouched area beneath a staircase.

In an idea inspired by the hospitality world, wine dispensers are ideal ways to keep cherished bottles fresh. You can even set the spigots to pour an exact number of ounces, perfect for sipping a fine vintage with fellow oenophiles in the comfort of your own kitchen.

We believe all of your favorite passions and pursuits should be the centerpiece of your residence. Connect with the Inspired Interiors team to discover how we can create a home for you that is a true haven.

Collection Display Interior Design Ideas

A collection can be whatever you make it — from vinyl records to vintage clothing. It doesn’t have to be something formal or forced, but assembling timeless items does offer a snapshot of your life and what you consider valuable. Whether it’s comprised of inherited heirlooms or lovingly acquired purchases, a collection is a sweet homage to what you deem important.

In our ongoing Dare to Live series, we have been exploring ways in which interior design allows us to fully inhabit our surroundings and imbue our spaces with life. Here, we’ll discover how designing around dearly accumulated items can be a particularly rewarding pursuit.

We hold this axiom close to our hearts: Everyone needs a china collection. But not just any collection — why not amass a riotous mix of patterns and colors that transform a dining table into a canvas fit for a living, breathing painting? Parties have so much more pop when the decorations are built right in.

Speaking of tableware, a quirky collection of teapots, cups and saucers sets a whimsical tone for any afternoon tea party. With a selection to choose from, you can pick the pieces specifically for each guest, making for a memorable soiree that will have your attendees talking.

Doorknobs might not come immediately to mind when thinking about an appealing assemblage. We beg to differ. Think about what a doorknob represents: a passageway, a pause where time passes, decisions are made and people progress through their days, their lives. They’re also often beautiful pieces that look rather enticing when grouped together.

When was the last time you looked at the time (and we don’t mean on your phone screen)? Nothing beats the melodic tick-tock of a grandfather or cuckoo clock perfectly positioned in your home. It creates a different atmosphere and literally transports you through time.

Speaking of the entrancing power of sound, a vintage record player, turntable or Victrola offers the opportunity to listen to music as it was meant to be heard. Imagine playing some DeBussy while relaxing on the couch or — even better — in the bathtub.

What could be more personal than a display of love letters, carefully preserved and affectionately assembled? One of our favorite interior design projects was for a woman who had a compilation of correspondence from her grandfather to her grandmother while he was stationed overseas during wartime. This touching tribute is now a centerpiece of her home and a beguiling glimpse into her past.

On a much more boisterous note, a spare space-turned-home-arcade is a sure crowd pleaser. A vintage pinball machine, arcade-style video games, a pool table — these are all invitations to check out of everyday life and lose yourself in the sheer joy of fun and games.

We all have various items we adore to have in our home, and our team loves to let those collections take center stage. We can help you display and showcase your collections so that your surroundings show an appreciation for the past while creating a captivating present. Let’s connect!

Hot Stuff: Summer Interior Design Ideas

You know the vibe: Summertime, and the livin’s easy. We definitely live for the hazy, crazy days of summer, but we also find endless outdoor design inspiration in this most lush, verdant time of year.

If you’re like us and live somewhere where relentless winters mean the summer season is met with nothing short of exuberance, making the most of our outdoor spaces is a way to connect to nature and bring more relaxed playtime into our lives. After all, we can all use more time in green spaces and fresh air to boost our mood and give us our daily shot of natural vitamin C.

In this summertime edition of our Dare to Live series, we’ll embrace the warm weather and all of the outdoor interior design ideas it brings to light.

Indulge your inner fantasies of PGA stardom and install a putting green in your backyard or even on your balcony. Working from home just got so much more productive when you can make deals while sinking a hole in one.

Never got that treehouse you dreamed of as a kid? It’s not too late! Utilize the trees on your property to construct an opulent abode in the sky that will leave your childhood memories in the dust.

Only have a sliver of space between your and the neighbors? No matter — a narrow custom lap pool will fit nicely, thank you very much.

Outdoor dining spaces can truly be a sanctuary — a place to retire to after a long day or to spend long, luxurious weekends. Even if your landscape doesn’t match this one, you can create your own piece of paradise with elegant tablescapes that bring a bit of elevated style to your outdoor escapades.

It’s a blessing and a curse for many city dwellers: You have a high-rise balcony or a petite patio, but the space is often restricted by its rectangular shape. Rethink the rectangle by mirroring its lines with a super-long picnic-style table that can host a sizeable soiree, maximizing what the real estate gods have given you.

Summer is a time to let your imagination run wild with outdoor design. The Inspired Interiors team loves to collaborate on interior design projects that dare you to live — indoors and out. Let’s connect on how to transform your outdoor space into a warm-weather haven where your fantasies come to life.