I had someone reach out to me a few months ago on Instagram because she saw an image of a bedroom I designed. She wasn’t even a follower, but really liked the bedroom and wanted to know where all the furniture and accessories were sourced. Unless my clients specifically request that I don’t reveal any information or they give me their permission to give out the data, I have no problem telling people where items are sourced (some interior designers don’t give this information out freely due to “client privacy” or because they just choose not to). She wanted to recreate the same design in her own bedroom. I’m not sure if I’m flattered that she loved my design enough to want to copy the same exact design in her own bedroom or irked by it. I can totally understand if someone is searching for inspiration and likes certain aspects of a room design such as a bedframe, dresser, wall color, or mirror they might have seen in a magazine or on Houzz AND want to make it their own, but to mimic the exact same design in their own space is something I can’t quite comprehend. In fact, while perusing through photos on Houzz, I noticed someone commented that they loved a particular kitchen design and they were going to duplicate the entire kitchen. It’s true. Someone actually made that comment publicly on Houzz. If I see the comment again, I will post it on here because I was quite surprised by it.
My client (whose bedroom was so admired by the Instagram lady) can’t understand it either. She once had a get together with her girlfriends and one of them wanted to copy her home because they loved the colorful yet cozy design. Her friend asked where she purchased the furniture and accessories and my client declined to reveal where the items were sourced because she didn’t want her home imitated. Her friend even wanted to move in with my client. They weren’t joking. They were serious because they contacted me a few days later “pretending” to be interested in hiring an interior designer but really wanted to know where the items were sourced. I can tell you my client wasn’t happy that her girlfriend wanted information on where she got her furniture and accessories because she paid a professional interior designer (me) to design her home that she is extremely happy about. Her home truly reflects who she is and it’s a place she can feel comfortable, safe, and free. She didn’t want her entire home copied. I’m not even sure if she is friends anymore with that lady.
It’s one thing to use shaker style cabinet doors for example, which is really common and popular (you’ll see it in a lot of kitchen/bathroom cabinetry) or use white 3″ x 6″ field tiles (also known as subway tile) with a 1/3″ offset in the kitchen backsplash (also very common in a lot of kitchen/bathroom designs). But it’s completely different when an entire design is copied down to the smallest detail. Even if someone tried to copy or recreate a kitchen design for example in their own kitchen, it will NEVER look the same as the kitchen they saw and loved. Every space is different. Not all spaces have the same amount of natural light, or any natural light at all. Not all spaces are the same size and shape. Not all spaces have high ceilings and lots of windows. It will never look the same so why bother trying to duplicate something that isn’t going to look similar in your own space and isn’t even a reflection of your own personality? Personally, I would want my home to be a reflection of me, to have my colorful personality shine through so that when people come visit, they can immediately feel and sense, “This is what Miss Alice is all about. This is what she loves and this is her personality radiating throughout this home”. Wouldn’t you want that for yourself?
In today’s fast paced digital world where instant gratification and impatience is standard, (want things now), copycat is the norm versus being original and authentic. People imitate or mimic others. Maybe it’s easier. Maybe they think they’ll be popular, liked, approved of, and validated if they copy their friends, coworkers, strangers, or even celebrities. They don’t have to put in the work or the effort to be creative – to imagine something that makes them happy, is original or different. Even on Instagram, the most popular interior design images I see are all similar – it’s the same minimal design with white walls, lots of natural light, natural wood floors and finishes, organic forms, little to no accessories, neutral furnishings, and a scandinavian mid-century look and feel. While these designs are popular and beautiful to many people (more power to them if it truly reflects their personality), to me, it’s devoid of any personality, charm, or character. Because after all, it’s effortless and so much simpler to imitate someone or something than to take the time to envision what you would like to create for yourself – to create a space and a home or business that would make you truly happy and that speaks to your soul. I believe originality is the only way to owning your truth, speaking your voice, and being your authentic self that makes you YOU. If you need help because you don’t know where to start, then reach out to someone for assistance. Contact an interior designer to help guide you in making decisions if you are indecisive. Perhaps this article by the NY times, says it best – imitation isn’t really flattering, it’s a lack of creativity. You were born an original, so don’t be a copy.