Recently I had the opportunity to visit a West Elm store while I was in Michigan. I had received their catalog and seen the products on line, but I had never had an opportunity to visit the brick and mortar. West Elm is owned by William Sonoma out of San Francisco. They carry a contemporary line of home furnishings with everything from tabletop to furniture and wall art. What was neat about the store were the color stories they told and how they organized their product selections. Everything was labeled and grouped according to color…Cayenne, Ocean, Nightshade, Platinum, Ivory, Horseradish….and succulents were everywhere. I was shopping with my youngest daughter Sarah and she fell in love with their terrariums. Of course it brought me back to the seventies where everyone had terrariums on hand-made macrame hangers with colorful beads sporting peace and love symbols dangling from each pot. Seems they never really went out of style. I love succulents as well and have quite a few in my kitchen and some out on my deck displayed on an old wooden bench. I find them inspiring with their unusual shapes and leaf formations. The color stories were nice. Each grouping of products were represented by a color that was labeled in a frame right in front. There was one group with the color story of Cayenne that included textured woven pillows, glass bottles, lacquer trays and some pinch pots. They also included an interesting ivory bisque candle holder with holes all over the sides that allowed for the candle light to flicker through. From a design point of view, it was easy to see how you could work some of these products in your home. So many people have trouble visualizing how they can use the products they see in stores in their actual home settings. West Elm has made it easy for you to visualize. I think this kind of store is a great inspiration for us for a number of reasons. I like the way they merchandise their products according to their color stories and styles along with the simplicity of the whole layout of the store. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to walk around and see it all. There is no mystery to it. They even have a “loft” in the middle of the store for you to sit down on a comfortable sofa and take it all in. Intermingled amongst the collections here and there were these sweet little “punches of green” succulents that gave a touch of whimsy along with a texture to the whole store. I actually did a few line drawings of succulents on the plane on the way home, making notations in my sketch book of what colors predominated in the store along with what formats the designs were presented on. Just another way to find inspiration in your everyday life…..having your sketch book along for the journey is always handy…you never know what might inspire you to take out your pen and draw.