Good morning, my lovelies! I hope you all had a super-romantical Valentine’s Day and that you’re enjoying this gorgeous spring weather that followed our mini-winter over the weekend.
Mack and I are making it a point to diversify our content here on the blog this year. Don’t worry… we’re still making it our top priority to blog the work we shoot for clients QUICKLY and regularly… that’s never going to change. But we want to make sure we’re keeping it interesting with “behind the scenes” posts, random entries that help you get to know us better, and now : Guest blogging!
I hope to make “Friends Of McG” a new semi-regular series here on the blog, and depending on the feedback this one gets, I’ve got several ideas for other future posts. Design, photography, writing, recipes… there are all sorts of things I feel like could be fun! We’re starting with a bang, I think.
Meagan Bechtel is a maid-of-honor-turned-bride-turned friend of McG. We feel like there are lots of times when we truly develop genuine friendships with our clients, but with Meg & her husband Eric, it’s different. We can’t imagine now what life would be like without them, and we’re so grateful to have friends like the Bechtels around to laugh, dream, scheme & celebrate with.
Meg is a sincerely phenomenal designer that I’ve been thrilled to work with on a number of occasions, on style shoots like “McG Winter Style“, “Secret Garden”, and “Laundry Day” among others. She’s also done incredible work for some of our past brides, most notably Jen & Lacey. You can also see Meg’s own 2010 wedding here, here and here.
Today, she’s talking about how she finds inspiration for styled shoots, wedding design, and home decor. I hope you’ll all give her a great big “Friends of McG” welcome, and encourage her to guest post again sometime!
Hi there! I’m Meg, and I’m so excited to be guest posting on one of my favorite blogs today! For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a quick introduction:
I’m a stylist/blogger at megBdesign, where I design/coordinate weddings, style photo shoots, and blog about my experiences (the blog is currently on hiatus while I finish my master’s degree!). In the two-and-a-half years that I’ve known Chelsea and Mack, a lot has happened (a lot, being a gross understatement!): we met back in the fall of 2009, while they were photographing a friend’s wedding. Shortly after that, I got engaged, and made my very first wedding phone call, almost straight off-the-plane from London, to McGowan Images, to see what dates were available that October. We worked together tirelessly to make my wedding vision a reality, and when that hard work paid off with a front-page feature on Style Me Pretty… I was hooked. Several years, and many, many shoots later, the relationship I’ve developed with the McG’s is one of the most important personal, and professional of my life (overdramatic, much?)
When Chelsea asked me to write a guest blog, I got writer’s block because EEK! Pressure! After tossing and turning, I realized the only blog post that makes sense is one addressing the question I am asked most often :
Where do you find inspiration?
I get asked that a lot. Where did you come up with that? What inspired you? When I started thinking about answering that question, I tried to break it down into a few different explanations: what is my theory on inspiration? Where do I go to let loose, creatively? What helps translate inspiration, to reality? I’ll try my best to explain it to you.
I know I’ve mentioned in style-shoot commentaries, and on my own blog that I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out with my grandparents in antique malls, thrift stores, and estate/garage sales. That provided a pretty firm foundation for my style, and for my habitual “picking” nature (although my husband tends to refer to it as “hoarding”). I simply can’t help myself – I prefer old to new, appreciate the history in a well-worn piece, and can almost always find a new use for an old thing.
That said, I could really answer that question – where do you find inspiration – with one word: everywhere. Is that too ambiguous? Let me explain… if you think about it, inspiration is really ALL around you. I prefer to think of it as a state of mind; you can either choose to set your brain to the channel that allows inspiration to find you anywhere, or not. I think it’s as simple as that. My mind is almost always searching for an element of visual surprise – noting the costume design in a period movie, the curves of the architecture on an ancient building, the design and arrangement of a well-appointed business office. Inspiration isn’t something you can find, or pick out of a crowd – it’s a mindset that allows you to see past the ordinary. I don’t know any other way to explain it, so maybe I can give a few examples of what works for me.
This past weekend, my friend Anna took me to the Old Home Supply in Fort Worth. She’s been telling me about it for weeks, and I was so excited to finally check it out! OHS is a pickers paradise – several buildings/courtyards full of everything from antique clawfoot bathtubs, windows, doors, and other home supply items. And the best part – everything is old. Old smell, old patina, original. Just the way I like it. This is the kind of place that Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn visit for inspiration. And to the naked, untrained eye, it’s a bunch of junk (I know my husband was super skeptical when we arrived). I had an absolute field day hunting for treasures, and thinking about ways to repurpose the pieces that caught my eye. And while I didn’t go out on Sunday afternoon looking for inspiration, or demanding to be inspired, I did go with an open mind, and a few dollars in my pocket.
(I’m going to go ahead and apologize for the iPhone pictures, but we’ll get to that in a minute!)
Aren’t those claw
footfeet to die for? I think they’d be so neat hung under a wall- mounted shelf, or used to elevate a countertop jewelry box.
LOOK at this rusty box spring! I would LOVE to hang this on a ceiling, or under a patio pergola, and hang lights from it.
My heart pitter-patters for chippy paint, and old wooden doors. There must have been a half-dozen layers of paint on this one.
I adore vintage stained-glass. I wanted this piece to come home with me so badly! Besides a beautiful piece of wall art, this would make a neat display for a party/ wedding dinner menu, or ceremony program.
Don’t even get me started on these lockers. Oh, I love vintage gym lockers. I love them old, and I love them worn. I absolutely lost this battle with my husband, but oh MAN, wouldn’t these be cool in a dining room area, as an alternative to a buffet or china cabinet? Talk about a statement piece!
Love at first sight. I knew immediately that would be my “find of the day.” I’ve been searching for an old card catalogue for several years, browsing Craig’s List almost daily, combing through e-bay listings, and hunting around antique stores. They’re not easy to come by, and the old ones are REALLY expensive.
Hello giant letter B! I really wanted you. You were fun, and enormous, and so whimsical. But alas, you were on lay-away, destined for some other person’s thoughtfully decorated home. Le sigh.
I’m recently drawn to world globes. My small collection sits on the ledge of the built- in coat rack in our entryway, and I’ve had so many compliments on how welcoming and interesting they are. I pick them up whenever I can find a reasonably priced, well-worn version; OHS had a beautiful light colored globe with a wooden base for $15 (which I later found out was mismarked) that stuck my interest immediately.
A whole wall of vintage doorknockers. Endless possibilities.
And I thought Anthropologie had a great selection of drawer pulls and knobs… if you want the real thing, they’re worth searching for. This beautiful cut glass knob was around $10, and just one of several hundred available for sale. I’m planning a “hack” of the IKEA Rast dresser soon, and I think I’ll be purchasing a few of these beauties to complete the project.
In the end, I chose the card catalogue, and the globe. Happy Meagan!
So… there you go. Maybe that better explains the way my mind works, when inspiration hits. Now… a few things that keep me organized, and allow for inspiration to become a reality:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard of, or are already using Pinterest (and if not, I will personally email you an invitation to get started!). Pinterest is a “vision board-styled social photo sharing website and app where users can create and manage theme-based image collections.”
I use Pinterest daily, because it allows me to categorize and keep track of all the lovely things I come across online. Never before has it been so easy (for me at least) to remember the source of that gorgeous living room design, or where that fantastic enameled bangle came from. When I was planning our wedding, I had several dozen folders on my computer that I was trying to keep up with – bridal looks, photo ideas, centerpiece design, etc., etc. I wish I’d known about Pinterest back then, because it would’ve saved me a few headaches trying to keep everything straight. Pinterest keeps me organized, and I use for everything from home design and décor, to recipes, to styleshoots ideas. It’s a virtual lifesaver for the design- inclined, albeit organization-challenged. One thing I try to keep in mind when using Pinterest is to originate pins as much as I “repin.” When I see something I like on a blog or a website, I pin that image to one of my boards, which hopefully, adds something new to the Pinterest community. You can find me on Pinterest here!
Speaking of blogs…
I’ve never been much of an RSS feed kind of girl – it just doesn’t make sense to me, visually. When I stumbled across Bloglovin’ a few months ago, I was instantly hooked. Bloglovin’ allows me to easily to track and categorize the blogs I read on a regular basis. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with my blog reading… then I get behind, which overwhelms me. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you! There are so many beautiful, wonderful, inspired blogs out there, producing content that is worthy of cataloging and coming back to. And with Bloglovin’, it’s just become one step easier.
Notebook (or napkin… or receipt…) + Cellphone Camera
I try to keep a notebook with me at all times, to jot down ideas when I see something that inspires me. I also use my iPhone to photo document, so I’ll have a visual reminder to go back to later. I’m the girl who’s always getting the crazy stare in Anthropologie, because I’m pretty shameless about taking pictures of the things I love (and really, isn’t there always something to love at Anthro?!). When I go somewhere to be inspired, I want to remember what I’ve seen, and noticed. So, why not? Get out your camera, and take home that lovin’ feeling.
And finally, a few tips for translating inspiration to reality:
When I’m shopping, I’ve learned to keep in mind:
1. Do not sacrifice what you want most, for what you can have right now. This is hard. Really hard. It’s why our living room looks like a partially staged track- home. I’m not willing to buy things just to furnish our first house. If it’s going in my home, I want it to be exactly what I want – not just what I can settle for to have it finished. I’m determined to find a vintage Turkish kilim rug for our downstairs living room. And so I’ll save for it, and wait for the right piece to come along. I’m determined to put the perfect, well-worn farm table in our dining room, and so I’ll keep looking, because it’s worth it.
2. Is it exactly what you’re looking for? This ties back to my first point. Do yourself a favor, and have your homework done before you go shopping. If you’re looking for a certain piece of furniture or accent piece (or wedding decoration, photo prop, etc.), know what need. Take measurements of the space you’re trying to fill. Have an idea of the ideal dimensions of the piece you’re looking for. Note the quality, and construction – if it’s broken or in disrepair, can it be fixed? Will it be costly to fix?
3. Go prepared! Whether you’ve come across a dining room table, or a wrought- iron wine rack that you just can’t live without, make sure you can take it home with you! If you’ve got the space in your trunk or truck bed, bring tie-downs, and moving blankets for heavy or oversized furniture. Have boxes and newspaper to wrap fragile items. And if you don’t have the space to take it home on the spot, try to make arrangements with the seller, if at all possible. Most shops are willing to hold sold items for a least a few days, and it never, ever hurts to ask (same applies to lay-away, and bargaining for a better price).
So, there you have it. That’s my process. Keeping an open mind, going to places that encourage thoughtful creativity, staying organized, and being intentional.
If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, please leave me a note in the comments! I’d love to connect with you personally, and hear the ways you’re inspired!
Thanks, Meg! The McGs kind of adore you.
Blogstalkers, if this was interesting or helpful to you in any way, lemme hear it! If there’s enough positive feedback, we’ll get rolling on making this a more regular feature around here.