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Emma’s Inspiration: Lively Designs in Clean Spaces

By Emma Sheppard

Here at French & French, I am lucky to be surrounded with designs that are very similar to my own aesthetic. Heather’s brightly colored, patterned, layered, and downright beautiful designs inspire me!


Her designs create a fun and cozy atmosphere that’s also luxurious and engaging. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to design an entire home myself, today I’ll share more details about what inspires me and work on defining my own aesthetic.


Breaking Down the Process


fabric tray process interior design


I am definitely inspired by Heather’s process. In a way, it is a lot like the process I use as a student when writing a paper: it starts with an outline. Matt and Heather first evaluate an existing space or an architect’s floor plans. Next, they speak with their clients, come up with a design plan and drawings, and make a list of all the possible pieces that would go into the room – everything from dressers to curtain rod hardware! The drawings they do provide that list for them. It’s their “Master Plan.”

This is a piece of planning that I did not fully appreciate until I spent an hour making a list for just two rooms! I found it eye-opening to see the number of pieces that must be accounted for.

Next, Heather makes numerous design trays for the client to evaluate. Design trays are like cafeteria trays, but instead of overcooked meatloaf they contain fabric samples, photos, and hardware. Once a tray is complete, Heather goes through the remaining steps to make it a reality.


Designs I’m Drawn To



Though I’m not yet a seasoned designer, I can still show you what designs I am naturally drawn to. First, I love colors and patterns. I always want my eyes interested and engaged, but not overwhelmed. This aesthetic is often defined as a “layered look.”

I personally like transitional fabrics from companies such as C&C Milano paired with ones that are more bohemian and family friendly, such as Katherine Ireland or Schumacher. I also like when rooms (especially bedrooms) are not completely symmetric in color, pattern, and shape.

Today, the leading question in the design world seems to be: Are you a minimalist or maximalist? If you ask me, I would say I’m both! Here’s why: I want a small grouping of vibrant, plush, textured, over-the-top pieces to exist in understated surroundings.

This lets the maximalist items stand out against a minimalist backdrop. I get excited when I see a clean-cut room with an unusual headboard or set of pillows, maybe some interesting tile or rugs, highly colored or textured wallpaper on one wall, a single plush couch, plants in a corner, layered fabrics with different textures and patterns…you get the picture!


Fresh Ideas for My Future Dorm Room


In August, I’ll be heading off to college. For my first interior design challenge, I will transform half of an empty cinderblock room into a livable (and maybe even enjoyable!) space.


aesthetic intern design interior fabric tray ideas


As a child, my parents allowed me to do pretty much anything I wanted in my room. It was all fairies and unicorns until sixth grade, and the remains of these “designs” still live under my bed at home.

A dorm room will be a completely new start and a fresh challenge. I know I’ll be able to use my inspiration from working with French & French this month to create a design that’s completely my own. Wish me luck!


emma sheppard design intern

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    • melissa lee says:

      I love your idea of taking transitional fabrics and pairing them with bohemian fabrics….
      Can not wait to see what you do in your dorm room!!!!


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