Destination Design

Five monmouth county designers disclose the faraway places that have inspired them—and why.



The true vagabond has no home base—nothing to redecorate, nothing to vacuum. But who ever said the rest of us can’t catch the vagabond spirit, tapping the world’s visual variety for the homes we cherish? For this issue, Escapes takes a break from its usual wanderings for an armchair tour, courtesy of five local interior designers. We asked them to spill the beans about travel destinations that have sparked their creativity. If your next trip idea doesn’t spring to mind here, maybe a design notion will.

Greater Kruger, South Africa:

Sarah Dooley, Leedy Interiors, Tinton Falls, looks to South Africa for its natural hues and organic shapes, which she used to transform the office pictured above.

“It’s hard to capture the energy of South Africa in just a few words, but you recognize and feel it immediately, especially in the artistic movements and design spaces. South Africans spend a lot of time outside and often embrace an organic lifestyle, which usually translates into their interiors. Seagrass baskets, sisal rugs, woven rattan and raw woods bring a sense of that nature-oriented mindset indoors. It can even be as simple as a nature-inspired color palette or soft organic shapes reminiscent of naturally occurring patterns and landscapes. After all, it’s all about how a place and space can transform the way that you feel.” —Sarah Dooley, Leedy Interiors, Tinton Falls

Maui, Hawaii:

Sheila Rich, Sheila Rich Interiors, Monmouth Beach, was inspired by Maui’s unique elegant/casual vibe, which she tried to mirror in the bedroom design pictured above.

“In Hawaii, I was inspired by many beautiful rooms. The bamboo and cane furniture is casual and elegant, and it absolutely impressed me. It inspired a beach house I did in Sea Bright. I used nature and floral colors to give the beach house that soft vibe.” —Sheila Rich, Sheila Rich Interiors, Monmouth Beach

Paris, France:

Ria Gulian, Designs by Ria, Oceanport, let her inspirations from Paris guide her in the makeover of this Jersey Shore triplex pictured above.

“When tasked with redesigning a beachfront triplex located at the Jersey Shore, my client and I were both immediately drawn to French influence. The inspiration for the coffee table came from my client’s vacation in France. Luckily, the French manufacturer has a showroom in NYC. For the custom stereo cabinet and shelving unit, I selected fabrics and trims reminiscent of Paris streets but also to complement the tropical vibe, in essence creating a casual entertainment area with rattan, wicker and bleached fabrics filled with whimsical touches and color.” —Ria Gulian, Designs By Ria, Oceanport

Mantoloking, New Jersey:

Meghan Dobish, Lawrence Mayer Interior Design, Brielle, often gets her color palette from the beach around her, as reflected in the living room pictured above.

“For me, inspiration is everywhere because we live by the beach. A lot of the color palettes are really inspired by our inherent surroundings of where we live—the grays, blues, greens of the ocean and the sky, particularly in the winter. There’s now a huge trend toward gray-tone neutrals. If you look at our beaches, we have this neutral color palette that’s so popular in the grays of the stone and the white foam of the ocean.” Meghan Dobish, Lawrence Mayer Interior Design, Brielle

West Coast, California:

Nicole Rice, Coastal Décor and Interior Design, Fair Haven, looks to the West Coast for her muse, as can be seen in the design of the dining room pictured above.

“I have traveled extensively through California, from San Diego to San Francisco, not only loving the climate, but also the coastal homes. I am inspired by the use of natural materials on the West Coast, like wood, bamboo, sea grass and stones. As in most areas that are typically warm throughout the year, they tend to keep a cooler and light color palette. Using a lot of neutrals keeps the design more relaxed and does not fight with all the different textures.” —Nicole Rice, Coastal Décor and Interior Design, Fair Haven

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