Finding inspiration through Instagram

The renovation of my third floor has hit a typical and dreaded stage. I see these projects like this:

Stage 1 – The vision.

Stage 2 – The plan, including sourcing and hiring professionals.

Stage 3 – The beginning, which is filled with excitement and camaraderie.

Stage 4 – The much-longer-than-anticipated execution, where patience begins to wan.

Stage 5 – The last, painful slog through the end of it, which is taking longer, costing more and fraying nerves to a greater extent than anyone involved anticipated.

Stage 6 – Completion and recovery.

I am very deeply mired in Stage 5. My two-month project is now in its fourth month, my house is constantly coated in a fine film of white dust and I have begun to feel as if I’ll never truly be alone with my family in my house again. It seems there will always be a craftsman walking through my front door, lugging tools, a QuikTrip cup and other mess behind him.

Oh, I know, I brought this on myself. I know, too, as dozens of people—including my family—remind me, that once it’s finished it will be “worth it.” Of that I am sure. But right now I am mired in project purgatory and feel certain I will forever be in this renovation limbo between heaven and hell.

The project entails the finishing of raw attic space for my office, a bedroom, and a bath. There are windows on all four sides and the light is remarkable. The steep pitch of the ceiling is, honestly, half of the appeal.

Still, it’s not large and I’ve had to think through layout carefully. Knowing my limitations, I asked my friend and local designer, Kurt Knapstein, to help with the design of the bathroom and storage, a general floor plan and consulting. This was a very good idea. It allowed me to begin with a good foundation and a clear shopping list. Shopping has never been my problem.

I selected and ordered all the tile and bathroom fixtures and fittings once the plans were in place, so we have not had to wait for product delivery delays. I tackled lighting next and it waits, more patiently than I, in boxes in my bedroom. (No room is left behind in the disruption.) The rest of the decoration of the space has been a rewarding escape during Stage 5.

From the beginning, I have relied on Instagram more than any other single source for inspiration. The app is perfect for me—far better than any other social media app—because it is nearly entirely visual. While I have been saving images to my collections folder, I’ve noticed that the third-floor space is affecting my aesthetic. I don’t think it’s only because I’m weary of the mess and the chaos that I am liking and saving images with cleaner lines, less pattern, and color.

The third-floor design relies largely on black and white and, I’m pretty sure, a bit of red. I’ve always used modern pieces, but they show up more heavily here. Hopefully, the serenity and simplicity of this space will ease me through Stage 6. If we ever get there.

We Met Online

Design has never had a broader range of opportunity for inspiration. No longer limited to print, enthusiasts can now scour Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram for product information and decoration ideas. I abandoned Pinterest when it became so ad-heavy, but I can’t get enough of Instagram. While I just pared my follows to 632 (I love everyone) here’s a list of ten of my favorites:



A Ukrainian designer who always hits the mark with crisp, elegant interiors that are primarily black and white.

Ashley Hicks and Kata Hicks

@ashleyhicks1970 and @katahicks

Ashley Hicks is a designer and artist and son of the legendary designer David Hicks. He was introduced to his wife, Kata, via Instagram. They recently had a baby boy and, honestly, the interplay of their romance is a shear delight to follow.

Cle Tile


Handmade encaustic tile with rich glazes and just-off traditional patterns and shapes.

David Dowell


Kansas City-based architect and principal with el dorado and an enthusiastic traveler and art lover. I always enjoy his perspective.

Farrow & Ball


I am a huge fan and customer of this English paint company. I find their feed a great balance between traditional and modern. And their paint colors are beyond.

Golden & Pine


A retail pioneer in East Brookside, this warm and welcoming spot focuses on sophisticated handmade that never strays to homespun.

The Object Enthusiast


Kansas City- designed and produced ceramics with subtle glazes and metallic accents that make this very much not your grandmother’s porcelain.

Porter Teleo


Some of the chicest, most original handpainted wallpaper in the business, made right here in a very unassuming studio. Their feed features their process as well as product and I always wish I could paint for them.

Schoolhouse Electric


Updated traditional lighting, furnishings and plain fun stuff based and manufactured in Portland, Oregon.

Young Huh


This New York designer’s posts are a lovely combination of clean and feminine rooms. Plus, she seems to have a delightfully generous and positive personality.

To see the rest of my list, you can find me on Instagram @patricia_mrsblandings.