My friend, Aileen, and I have this sort of unspoken agreement that we will not copy each other or anyone else. We are both design enthusiasts, but we each have our own unique style and would never dream of trying to be exactly like each other. She does “farmhouse chic” perfectly without even one wall of shiplap or a farmhouse sink…she’s that good. And when I walk into her unbelievably clean and organized home, I am in love with her use of color; it’s just right. Many years ago when we met, I went to her house for the first time for Bible study and was in awe of how she mixed Pottery Barn-style silver lamps (which I now know are from Home Goods) and mercury glass candle holders and sea shells in big glass containers, alongside farmhouse details, like barn prints and dough bowls. I was smitten and inspired and went straight home with a fresh vision for how my house could look. From there, my love of home décor and expressing my creativity in my house has only grown and evolved.
What I did NOT do after that first exposure to my friend’s beautiful house was run out, purchase exactly what she had, and copy her visually verbatim and then pass it off as my original design. I was inspired to think beyond what I had always done, and it stirred in me a desire to find my own style.
While I know there are many of you out there who share this disdain for outright copying, it can be a necessary step toward individuality. When I first spotted Layla Palmer’s herb crates hanging on the wall of the first home she blogged about, I ordered them and unashamedly hung them on my wall, being careful not to copy exactly what she had put in them, but it looked pretty similar. Any time someone asked about them, the name Layla Palmer or The Lettered Cottage always came up because I had to give her credit for the inspiration. Fast forward three years, I no longer own those crates because everybody started to copy that look and well, they were no longer unique (still beautiful though, for those of you who own them), but those crates, just like my friend’s home, were a stepping stone in my design journey and it was only right for me to give credit to who had inspired me. I could not, in all honesty, say it was my idea.
More recently, after joining the amazing Instagram community, I saw these beautiful blue and white orbs that Lucy from @mscraftberrybush had used in her décor. They sparked something inside of me that had long been suppressed. Growing up, my mom had an entire collection of Blue Willow china that my stepdad bought her before he passed away. And every time I browsed an antique store or a flea market, I was drawn to the blue and white pieces because of this connection I had with it. But I always second guessed myself, thinking it was old fashioned or believing I had to have a certain style to utilize it into my décor.
However, when I saw how beautifully Lucy had incorporated blue and white into her home and that it wasn’t dowdy or outdated, I embraced my love for something that was so meaningful to me and even went a little overboard working out my creative expression of this very sentimental style. In fact, I went out and purchased blue and white orbs from an antique store and put them in a round wooden tray just like Lucy had done.
I was proud as a peacock of my blue and white (though she did it much better) and I splashed those photos around Instagram like I had come up with the idea. But I hadn’t, and I knew it, and therefore I gave credit where credit was due. And I didn’t just do it because I knew I had to. I did it because I wanted people to know who had inspired me and perhaps be inspired themselves!
My Original Instagram Post Giving Credit to Lucy @mscraftberrybush
- classicnestinteriorsI tend to live by the rule: "be inspired; don't copy," but when I saw @mscraftberrybush using these blue and white ceramic orbs in her decor and then started finding them in antique stores, I just couldn't resist copying her! It's not exactly the
same soI guess I'm OK 😘
Copying is part of the creative process for many and it is not inherently wrong. In fact, as the saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” (Charles Caleb Colton). But if we must copy, indeed, if we simply desire to copy, let’s not try to be cool by passing
The ultimate hope is that you will find your own style and decide what you like through the creative process. As Steven Bradley writes about web design creativity, which can be applied to any creative arena, “Incorporate the ideas of others so deeply within yourself
The importance of giving credit to the source goes beyond those necessary times of copying and
Let’s start paying attention. Let’s start being intentional about lifting others up by giving them a shout out if they created something that we end up copying, being inspired by or looking like a creative mastermind because of. After all, wouldn’t you want the credit if you were in their shoes? And perhaps because of their inspiration, one day you will be.