DESIGN YOUR LIFE: summer thornton

Holy moly. I feel extremely privileged to bring to you the DESIGN YOUR LIFE intentions of none other than Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design! As many of you interior design buffs know, Summer’s portfolio and personal home tour have become inspiration for many, many homes across the blogosphere. In fact, her home was actually the inspiration for my own home decor with Kelly + Olive months ago as well.

So without any further delay, I give you a peek inside Summer’s extremely talented brain.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design

Take Risks

If you never take a risk, you’ll never have an opportunity to really succeed.  Overcoming obstacles, enduring setbacks, and truly taking leaps of faith are what give you the courage to do so in the future.  If you live within your comfort zone, you’ll never experience anything unique, spectacular, or adrenaline-rushing!  Don’t let fear hold you back.  I had to quit my job and basically go 100% commission (on my own) when I started my business.  Scary at the moment, but looking back it was so apparent that it was the right decision.

Gain inspiration from outside your ‘bubble’

We all live in somewhat limited cultural bubbles.  We have our limited group of friends, we live in a certain neighborhood or city, and we are rarely exposed to truly original experiences.  Travel serves as my main inspiration and boundary-stretcher.  Last year was a whirlwind of travel and a lot of fun.  I traveled to India, New Orleans, New York, Kentucky, Miami, and LA in an effort to expose myself to other cultures, experiences, and design inspiration.  India was certainly the most culturally shocking experience.  While there on a service project, I was reminded of how fortunate and blessed I am, and at the same time I was gaining new appreciation and understanding for cultural elements that I would use in my career.  I came back with a love of block prints, a passion for jade, and an increased interest in new color schemes.  Another example was the Miami trip which was a short vacation.  It was also an opportunity to visit the Viceroy & Tides hotels which were designed by Kelly Wearstler as well as the spa at Icon Brickell which was designed by Philippe Starcke.  I left relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to create again with some great inspiration from two premiere designers.  In 2010, hopefully I’ll be headed to Paris for some serious flea marketing…

Do what you love

If you don’t love what you do, do something else.  Even if you have to take a pay-cut, even if you have to ‘start over’, do whatever it takes to do what you love.

Better bold than boring

Stand for something.  Anything.  In design, indecisiveness is the death of a great room.  Beige walls for instance, are oftentimes the result of indecisiveness.  Sure they don’t offend anyone, except me perhaps, but they also don’t say anything about the home owner.  The same can be said about a slew of ‘acceptable’ decisions in life.  Maybe this is the same as #1 (take risks), but its more about identifying who you are, and being proud of that.  I’m working on a design for the DreamHome in the Merchandise Mart that opens this April.  Some of the people who see it are going to think it is over-the-top, and they’re absolutely entitled to that opinion.  But my hope is that others will find it over-the-top in an utterly amazing, challenging, and completely original way (that they love).  And even if the latter isn’t the majority, those are the ones I hope will want to work with me in the future.  I would rather my rooms inspire thought and discussion, even if negative, than tired yawns of boredom.  You can’t please everyone, so why try!

Do something good for someone else

If you can, find ways to use your talents & natural gifts for a higher purpose.  It’ll be more rewarding than even the most profitable business venture.  And if you’re blessed financially, look for opportunities to use those resources for someone/something that really needs it.  Make it a priority, and your life will be changed forever.

(To get Summer Thornton Design updates, visit her facebook page.)

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

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  1. Jill

    Loved this… I’m going to mark it to come back and read later today when the house is quiet! 🙂

  2. Niki

    Great advice! And from a fantastic designer… love her style!

  3. Kayla

    Great interview. She is totally inspiring. I want to quote all her advice!

  4. Wow, as someone who is doing just that: taking risks and following a passion towards interior design, this DYL is the perfect inspiration! Summer’s courage and confidence is so apparently one of the driving forces behind her success. Thank you Jess and Summer for bring this interview to us 🙂

  5. wow.. I liked some of your thoughts here. ‘better bold, than boring.’ so true. I was thinking about painting my ceiling. do I do it white? or purple. in a way, you answered my question… better bold, than boring. sounds like purple is the winner!

    great site, just found you from a little post at decor8. i’ll be back!

  6. pink

    Succinct but poignant advice that pretty much sums it all up. It’s not easy to do some of these things but taking risks and doing what you love are keys to a wonderful life.

  7. Desha

    What an inspiration. I love the idea of design and intention and Summer’s style is lovely. I am looking for a chandelier just like the one she had in her living room, and love the curtains with the pretty, bright teal, does anyone have an idea of where to find these treasures?

  8. Just found you from Decor 8 as well. I like your blog, and this post is truly inspiring me to go further and have higher goals in life! Thanks ♡

  9. Maleah

    Wonderful post and so inspiring! Love the part about taking risks, it’s like she peeked in my windows and saw my beige walls, LOL!

  10. I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702

  11. I love Summer – she is my all time favorite house tour on Apartment Therapy. What wonderful input that she has – thanks for sharing!

  12. Piper

    This was so inspiring! What great advice – especially the one about taking risks. That’s a toughie and it’s good to be reminded that without taking a risk, you might not have an opportunity to succeed and/or do something you love. I needed this reminder right now :)!!

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