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The Best Source of Inspiration

If you’re like me, you love to travel. Next to design it’s my other true passion.

Although I do try to relax on vacation, one passion coincides nicely with the other so it’s hard not to consciously and subconsciously notice every design & décor detail. This past week of long overdue vacation at the Paradisus Palma Real in Dominican Republic was no exception.

Here are a few things I found inspiring while away in the hopes your home and design projects will benefit as well:

Budget Wisely

Paradisus is a huge resort so it wouldn’t be difficult to blow through the largest of budgets. What they did extremely well was pick and choose where, when and how they spent or didn’t spend money.

The flooring throughout the resort was Crema Marfill Coto – a light coloured marble from Spain where Melia (the resorts owners) are headquartered. Although not the most inexpensive option, choosing a natural product like marble ensured long-term durability, multi-functionality and beauty. Choosing the same neutral colour throughout ensured consistency and no doubt economies of scale.

Flooring is one of those things you don’t notice when done properly but notice immediately when done poorly. This particular choice also helped set a tone and establish a sense of quality for the resort. Note to self – whenever possible having a good foundation is key to any designs success.

Another area the resort didn’t scrimp was their high-end patio furniture that lined pools, walkways and filled balconies. Instead of replacing it every few years, they invested in products that could stand the test of time and a fair bit of abuse. I’ve mentioned this before but it was a good reminder you can’t fake comfort.

Choose a Direction

Although usually a fan of mixing styles and time periods, when it comes to commercial design or larger projects it’s important to set a clear direction. Each of Paradisus’ thirteen restaurants had its own unique theme and décor. Instead of blowing the budget on every detail the resorts designer invested in comfortable seating, sturdy tables, quality dinnerware and layer upon layer of lighting. The rest of the décor – be it a theme or predominant colour – was mimicked throughout but sparingly. This way, should the resorts needs change, a restaurant change location or a re-fresh be required it could be done quickly, easily and inexpensively.

This is something I always strive to achieve for clients for practical reasons but also to avoid unnecessary boredom, something that’s equally important for homeowners as it is returning guests.

Use Materials Differently

At one point during dinner I was drawn to a decorative wall towards the back of their newest restaurant. What looked like brass was actually intricately laser cut plywood they’d painted gold and lit beautifully. Even the lighting in this particular restaurant was custom made from inexpensive metal they’d laser cut, assembled into Finish designed Secto-like fixtures and faux painted to resemble oil rubbed bronze. Pure genius! Other restaurants used fabric to line walls for texture, wallpaper for pattern or a bold paint colour to feature some but never all the walls in the space. Mirrors were used strategically in lieu of more expensive artwork quite often as well.

By using inexpensive materials wisely and expensive materials sparingly they managed to achieve a high-end look despite each rooms large size and scale.

When in Doubt, Light Beautifully

If you haven’t noticed I’m a huge fan of good lighting – both for functionality and beauty. Never have I seen it done so well as at Paradisus. Every architectural detail including ceilings, walls, pillars, banisters, walkways, even the underside of mattress style tanning beds, were lit beautifully. Using inexpensive products like resin, hand painting it to look like onyx and lighting it from within the resort achieved a high-end look and feel with an ambience all its own. Fun accents like glowing rocks or poolside spheres helped add to the whimsical feel carried outside to highlight gardens and walkways.

Design is in the Details

Little touches like cloth napkins throughout, quality wine glasses and tableware, sculptural seating, lush greenery, orchids and coconut branches styled strategically, even fruit infused water from readily available chrome & glass dispensers helped create a high-end feel at every turn.

Although it’s often hard to find time to relax let alone travel these days, I was reminded how important it is to take time for yourself in order to see things in a new light and encourage creativity.

I hope these tips inspire some changes in your home or encourage your keen eye of observation on your next trip. Good design is all around no matter where life takes us once we slow down to see it!

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