Created to Be Creative
by Jane Kendall
Photography by Christian Lee
Sometimes it takes as little as a vase of fresh flowers, or a coat of paint, to perk up a tired space. LouAnne Young Barrett has more than a few tricks up her sleeve to create renewed life into any work or living environment. LouAnne went to college to become a social worker. It didn’t take long to realize that art was really her first love, so she became an interior designer instead.
Just as suddenly as her career change happened, this article took a turn of events, as well. With our theme as “Let’s Decorate” this month, we wanted to feature LouAnne for the beautiful stage sets she develops and creates, with students’ assistance, for the booming theater program at Hilton Head Christian Academy and other community playhouses. Her sets are stunning. Little did we know of LouAnne’s life before the second phase of her career.
LouAnne owned a successful interior design firm in California for 17 years and helped hundreds of people create transformative spaces they loved. The second phase of her career began 14 years ago, after she relocated to Hilton Head Island. As the Art Director and teacher at Hilton Head Christian Academy, LouAnne now uses her talents in the massive art classroom, specially designed (and organized) by her, to coax out each student’s creative gifts. However, our conversation landed on helping people create space in their homes or offices that fits who they are and what brings them peace and joy.
LouAnne has many practical tips to offer us when it comes to decorating. Her first piece of advice is to create space for change. Identify areas of clutter in your home or workspace. Then recycle or throw away everything that no longer speaks to you. “You don’t necessarily have to get rid of it right away. You can store it for a while if you really think you might use it again,” she said. She also suggested to re-purpose items by moving them to a different room, changing the frame or matting on a picture, or painting a piece of furniture for a totally new look.
LouAnne says uncluttering is one of the best and easiest ways to reorganize your life. “Here are some questions to ask yourself when you desire to make changes in your space: Do I love it? Do I need it? Does it support who I am in my life right now? As you sort through and let go, you are inviting transformation to move into your life. Look for fresh and new things that represent who you are right now. There are several places to begin, like furniture and consignment shops. Stroll through the many department stores that offer home decorating items. If you are not certain about what you want, start by taking pictures of things that you like. Browse through magazines, cut out pictures of things that interest you and put them in a scrapbook. Choose colors and textures you love. New colors can be easily introduced with flowers, candles, fabrics and other décor.”
As a fearless artist, LouAnne encourages us all to experiment, without fear of being wrong. “Before you change the color of an entire room, paint a small section of the wall or even a large piece of plywood, put your art work or furniture next to it and live with it for a few days. You might find you would like it richer, deeper, paler, or not at all. Move things around. Bring home accent pieces from stores: If they don’t complement, return them. Sometimes the addition of a small area rug in a larger room can become a focal point, add a needed touch of color and pull things together.”
Next on her list is her first love—art. Art is one of the most impactful and personal ways to set the tone and add life to a room. LouAnne has seen many budding artists in her role as an art teacher, but she too is an accomplished artist. Her collection of beautiful tree paintings was shown at The Walter Greer Gallery two years ago. Her advice when it comes to art: “Purchase art that moves your spirit. If you don’t feel it, don’t buy it.”
She also suggests having fresh flowers and plants in your home as an easy and inexpensive way to enhance the energy. “They provide us with a sampling of nature’s wonder and beauty and help us to stay connected to the natural world,” she said.
Lastly, she advises us how important creating our living or working environment is, as it impacts feeling energized and/or peaceful, or the wrong décor can literally drain and dishearten us. If you have trouble envisioning your space, or are one who claims to “not have a creative bone in your body,” here is LouAnne’s tip for revving yourself into creativity: “Listening to your favorite music while you are brainstorming helps tap into your creativity. Consider taking a painting, craft or home decorating class. Be brave! Be bold! Learn something new. A consultation with an interior designer could possibly save you hours and dollars in pulling together your desired plan. At some point, your personal decorating genius will awaken, and you will most assuredly be pointed in the right direction. Your goal is to create a revitalized and uplifting space that will put a smile in your heart when you walk into the room. Go out, get inspired and have fun in the process!”
Education: Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; Mesa College of Interior Design, San Diego, CA
Motto: “Created to be Creative”
Inspired by: Learning new artistic techniques; the enthusiasm and creativity of her students
Aspires to: Publish her self-illustrated children’s book
Offers: Interior design consultations and painting classes