Propelled to abandon urban life by a “deep intuition,” designer Ingrid Weir has set out to convince everyone she knows to live outside city limits with her book New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It. Inside, she explores how to curate a meaningful connection between the way you live and where you choose to do so. (Her neighborhood must-haves include inspiring architecture and a good coffee shop.)

Weir’s decorating approach is similar to that of finding community: Begin with relationships (in her case, the links between locations, spaces, and the furnishings in them) and work outward. In an excerpt from the book, below, Weir delves into one specific tactic: 3-D models.

A veteran props buyer once told me that every designer’s process is different. Mine is intuitive. I like to spend time on the site, absorb the mood, and see how the light patterns fall. I try to understand the underlying architecture and how it relates to the landscape. 

Pinterest boards are good. Real-life mood boards are even better: You can pin on scraps of fabric, unusual textures. You get a very quick read on what works well together. Sometimes, when the project has many components, I’ll do a handmade book, exploring ideas in atmosphere and defining the color palette. 

Measuring up the room, mapping it out, and doing a floor plan helps you start to understand the space and how the furniture will fit. Often I make a model to scale: simple constructions with walls made of corrugated cardboard, trees out of twigs, hand-painted floor rugs. Models are easy to understand visually, and the client can see the project is malleable. By the end of the project, these models get very battered around and pieces start falling off! 

The time spent doing the model also allows me to work through design ideas, test them and sharpen them, and whittle them down to the essence. Personally I prefer working with my hands when designing—working on a computer can involve switching between the creative right brain and the logical left brain, which interrupts the flow. 

I deliberately hold off spending money for as long as possible, until I have achieved that deep understanding of the design. This is when I move to the computer—for documentation, planning, and budgeting. Doing research and looking for bargains. Working out where to spend money and what the key items are. 

Simply by doing things, making things, and experimenting, you accrue knowledge. Every project I have designed has taught me so much—especially when things don’t work out as planned. 

Excerpted with permission from New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It by Ingrid Weir. Published by Hardie Grant, November 2021.

New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It (Hardie Grant)

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