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A Dose of Inspiration

Dropping in on furniture, design markets are an excellent way to snap you out of your creative rut and get you back on track to showcasing your home’s pieces in fun ways

Just as fashionistas love going to Fashion Week in New York, designers and furniture buyers love the thrill of markets on the Mainland. Yes, many of us do go to buy, but many of us also go to be inspired.

When you’re watching couture designs coming down the runway, so over-the-top and out there, you’re not thinking you’re going to be wearing them at the next party. But isn’t it a blast? I feel the same way feasting my eyes on the uber creative furniture vignettes — definitely inspiring!


I want to share with you three displays from my recent trip to Las Vegas that really got my creative juices flowing. Probably the most creative was this window that is genius in its ordered chaos, and very smart from a marketing standpoint. The walls and floors were made of boxes holding random items, probably collected from a junkyard. There were shoes, candlesticks, telephone parts, fishing poles — you name it — all painted white with glass on top, so they were almost like shadow boxes.


So what became the focal point? The furniture and accents. The black bookshelf, red picture frame, reclaimed wood table and tabletop accents were the only pops of color. Totally interesting, completely unexpected and fabulous marketing!

Next, for the first time this year, I strayed from the furniture and accessories show to check out The International Surfaces Event, which is miles and miles of floor and wall coverings. Carpet, wood, stone, glass tile — anything and everything you can think of. There were manufacturers from all over the world. Just imagine the local home show on steroids!

With the products they have to showcase, the displays are not nearly as diverse, colorful or interesting. Many were very basic with just racks of materials. But there were some that were almost as creative as those at the World Market Center.

One that I absolutely loved was a flooring vendor. They were clever enough to realize that the best way to showcase their product was to add a style quotient. So they partnered with a designer to highlight their flooring with furniture, an accent wall, art and accessories, creating an overall look, and then they took it one step further by severely angling the floor. They had several displays of furniture where entire vignettes were tilted — it was so cool! It simply made you stop and take note of their beautiful flooring.

 Another flooring company had a giant color fan deck that was about 18 feet tall. This huge vertical element was made of pieces that incorporated the flooring. Again, it totally made you stop and look.

So how can you get inspired by these? Sometimes, by making a creative backdrop that’s not simply a blank canvas, you enhance whatever you’re trying to showcase. Or even positioning something at a different angle can give it a fresh excitement.

For your home, you don’t need to be quite so over-the-top. These are just a few ideas for creative ways to showcase your pieces. They’re inspirational, they’re fun, and they could be just the sort of nudge you need to push the envelope.


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV

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