Inspiration Versus Actual: How Did It All Play Out?

I’m feeling pretty nostalgic these days. As we pull our North Carolina home apart, it’s only natural for me to reflect about our time here…all the memories made, holidays celebrated, challenges endured, and of course…projects made, photographed, and blogged! Three years ago, we moved into this house after living in our previous home for just a year. This home felt like my design oyster of a sorts, and I couldn’t wait to make over room after room and put all my ideas and creativity to work. And for three full years, I have done just that. Project after project and makeover after makeover. I literally hung the last thing on the walls just a few weeks ago.

When I realized it was just about 3 years ago to the day that I was sitting in a hotel room (waiting for this house to become available), immersed in plans, color samples, fabric swatches, and countless pins, excitedly designing out inspiration boards and project to-do lists for this home, I couldn’t help but want to look back and see how it all played out. While I referred to these inspiration boards a lot in the first few months/year in this home, I haven’t looked at them in a really, really long time. So today, I’m revisiting my inspiration boards from three years ago and showing you how they turned out in real life. I didn’t edit a thing from these original boards, and it sure is interesting (and fun!) to see how simple color, fabric, and project selections translated into real rooms in our home!

Dining Room. The dining room is one of our favorite spaces in this house, and it also came together the easiest. For not referring to the inspiration board for a long time, it’s pretty amazing how close the room result came!

Inspiration vs Actual | Dining Room

Living Room/Playroom. On the flip side, the combined living room/playroom was the room that took the longest, wrapping up just in the last few weeks. I wavered a lot from the original “plan,” especially in the beginning, completely changing the color palette to red/white/blue. After things were going no where good, I returned to the cobalt+turquoise scheme, also adding in lemon and kelly green. As I look now at my starting inspiration board, I don’t think I had a solid direction/mood for this space mapped out. Perhaps that’s why I had the hardest time pulling it together!

Inspiration vs Actual | Living Room

Master Bedroom. The master bedroom was the room that came together slowly, but came together easily. All of the pieces fit together just right, it was just a matter of finding the time to do them! Of all the rooms in our home, this final result matches the inspiration the closest. I think it is because the inspiration images reflected a total room feel, rather than isolated projects that I had to somehow puzzle together.

Inspiration vs Actual | Master Bedroom

Henry’s Nursery. Woah! Raise your hand if you remember Henry’s original nursery!?! Even though I pulled this room apart just over a year ago, it feels like ages since his room looked like this! This was a fun and whimsical room with a painted ceiling and stripes on the wall. I pulled this room together really quickly because 1) I used many items from his nursery in our previous home, 2) I had a clear theme, and 3) baby rooms are just too fun to work on! My only regret here? Painting the ceiling lime green. Little did I know everything in the room (from the toys to furniture to our faces) always looked putrid. Never again!

Inspiration vs Actual | Nursery

Henry’s Big Boy Room. Around March of last year, I had enough of the green ceiling and the baby nursery feel. So when we transitioned Henry out of his crib, I also took the opportunity to give the room a fresher and more grown up vibe. By this time, I had a better handle on how to create a truly helpful inspiration board by focusing on the overall, cohesiveness of the different elements rather than just a visual cluster of colors and project ideas. As such, this room came together quickly and easily and was never touched up after I proclaimed the room done. This room is still one of my all-time favorites.

Inspiration vs Actual | Big Boy Room

These last two room comparisons require a bit of an explanation. Both of these spaces were re-done several times with the final result swaying significantly from the original inspiration. (Sometimes you end up abandoning plans all together when the room is just not coming together the way you wanted.) As many of you long-time readers know, neither of this spaces finished up as I have them here. I am planning on putting together one final full house tour to show you the final state of every room, so today I wanted to show you how they ended up before I decided to change directions all together!

Craft Room/Office. This room is another example of how the inspiration board didn’t do me any favors in providing a feel, mood or solid direction for this space. While I did create many of the projects seen on my board, I floundered a TON in getting this room to a place where I felt productive and creative. I ultimately ended up abandoning the green completely (swapping it for gold accents instead) and concealing many of my craft supplies behind doors and drawers for a more streamlined look.

Inspiration vs Actual | Craft Room

Outside. As many of you long-time readers know, our front porch has had the most different looks of any other space in our home. This is partly because outdoor items in the North Carolina elements (sun, sand, wind, rain) take quite a beating. And as I replaced things, my aesthetic changed considerably. I also found red a bit difficult to decorate around and slowly but surely eliminated it from everywhere around our home. Still, my original front porch was an almost-perfect reflection of my inspiration board (and I still REALLY love that color palette)…in fact, I might even go back this direction for our deck/patio space in our next home! Good thing I have a lot of the fabric leftover 😉

Inspiration vs Actual | Outside

All in all, this little exercise and walk down memory lane was really fun and encouraging to me. I am certainly not a designer and don’t know a thing about the “right way” to design a room or put together an inspiration board. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and even abandoned some of my plans all together…but I also learned a ton about myself, what I like/don’t like, and what elements help a room come together well. Many of these spaces indeed turned out similar or close to my original plans for the space; and I can now see that the rooms I really floundered in didn’t have a good solid direction mapped out in the first place.

As we head into our next home for the next year, I’m not going to be able to re-design our entire home top-to-bottom (thank goodness!). However, I’m now super excited to pull together some fresh inspiration boards to help me put things together and continue to refine my style and our home in our new spaces!

I’d love to know…Do you use inspiration boards when you make over a space? Do you find them useful or restrictive? Do you ever stop and look back at your original inspiration for a space? What do you think of how my spaces turned out?

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend! If you follow me on Instagram, you know we have been soaking up some of our final days of North Carolina sun and sand. I can’t believe our time here is actually coming to an end!

See you back here Friday for my monthly writing round-up!

Megan

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