Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No Such Thing as A Totally New Idea

Creativity: it's not a gift from the gods bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. Rather, it is the product of preparation and effort. It's a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's the premise behind Twyla Tharp's book: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Tharp should know a lot about creativity – she is one of America's greatest choreographers as well as a very successful business woman. She takes the lessons she has learned in her remarkable thirty-five year career and shares them with her readers.

I love all her ideas for how to cultivate creativity but here's one of her ideas that I have taken to heart when designing our new home. 

A box, the kind you buy at Office Depot for transferring files, is Tharp’s solution for an organizing system. She starts every dance she choreographs with a box. “I write the project name on the box and as the piece progresses, I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance.” For Tharp, this means a card with the project’s goal(s), notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of her working alone in her studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books, photographs and pieces of art that may inspire her. For Tharp, the box “makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.” 

Well, instead of a box, I have a Houzz ideabook-- in fact, I have two. Houzz is an online resource of more than 90,000 photos from home designers around the world. For over a year now, I've been adding photos to my very own on-line ideabook. The photos serve as my inspiration for our house. 

Here's an example. This is a photo that I found on and placed into my modern farmhouse ideabook. Check out the half wall, the wrapped stairs, the white board walls, the piece of art, and of course, the oar.

Just a photo I liked on
Then, working with interior designer sister Julie and home plan draftsman Heath, we spread out dozens of photos and talked about what we liked about them and how they might translate into our new house. 

So, here's how our stairway is shaping up. Use your imagination. It still needs some cool metal sconces on the landing, another coat of paint on the plank walls, the stairs stained, the risers painted, a fabulous piece of art on the wall and a pig-slop oar that has hung in Jack's bedroom since he found it on the old Fitts farm in Owensboro.

Our staircase, a work in progress – but one based on a photo I found on

And so that's how my box has turned into an ideabook. And how someone else's idea is coming to life in our farm house.


  1. Deb - The stairs look so cool and I love the evolution of it all. Maybe I can ride out with you next week & see it all in person! Will have to read Tharp's book and give the "box" idea a try. Also, have loved the entries about your trip to Baltimore & NYC too along with the photos.