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Where does inspiration lie? I guess if you’re here, then you’re pretty much clued in that it can be anywhere.

I’ve been inspired to design rooms in my home around a business suit, the color palette on a bottle of conditioner, and, a couple of years ago, a retail store’s windows.

I currently live in what, decades ago, used to be a slaughterhouse. (Creepy, right? I can happily report that it’s not haunted — that I know of.) As a result, I’m lucky to have some pretty lofty ceilings. But with 15-foot ceilings comes a challenge: finding something to be a focal point in a room. Your average wall art runs the risk of getting lost in a sea of Sheetrock.

Perplexed with the task of finding something with positive impact that wouldn’t negatively impact my wallet, I took to the streets of Manhattan, a city whose stores, restaurants and hotels always seem to provide some amazing ideas.

Then I passed Anthropologie, a retail store that often has some pretty creative windows. It was there that I saw past the items on display and noticed the wall behind them. It was a beautiful combination of blues and creams, with just a hint of amber washed in here and there.

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I knew then, that this was the look that I wanted in my living room. But how?

Canvasses that big can be expensive if they’re already stretched (hundreds of dollars, not to mention I’d never get it in my front door!), so I enlisted the help of my housemate Dennis, who used to work at a frame store, and was up for the task of making the biggest canvas support of his life. Then it was off to the hardware store to buy the wood, and the art supply store to buy a big piece of canvas.

The whole thing was put together right in my apartment, which yes, has high ceilings, but not a ton of square footage. The construction of the project crept into the living room, the kitchen and every surface that could collect sawdust.

I knew I’d never match the look of the store window perfectly (and no, I didn’t plan on putting the store name on the painting….I wasn’t going to be THAT literal!) but I knew the feeling I wanted to create.

Rather than pay the costly prices found on paint tubes from the art store, I went for latex wall paint at a nearby Home Depot and Lowes. With the help of Dennis, and even my mother, who was visiting for the weekend, we dabbed and blended away at the monstrous canvas. Everyone made a contribution to the final look. There was a pretty strong incentive to finish the piece…I couldn’t get it out of the apartment that easily!

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I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Not only did I achieve the look I was hoping for, but it is also a reflection of the people close to me who rose to the challenge of doing something big and creative together. Still, when I look at the after photo I’ve posted here, I can’t help but want to edit out the little cube and plant, which are no longer there. Today, a long sofa sits in front of the piece.

If you have been inspired by a store window or hotel lobby — you name it — or if you’ve had a great time getting friends and family in on a design project, post a comment and share it!

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