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10 Creative Custom Interior Design Ideas

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


Homeowners spend a significant amount of time browsing online for creative custom interior design ideas. But what if you threw the concept of "trendy" out the window and explored your heart instead? Imagine the type of home your inner-child would design if he or she had your budget.

Perhaps you would live in a tree house rivaling that of the Swiss Family Robinson. Maybe you would have your own zoo, indoor playground or a home shaped like a pirate ship. The point is, home design is not in any way limited by four walls and a roof. Modern innovations have brought home design to the point that if you can dream it, you can create it.

Tap Into Your Inner-Dreamscape to Create a Surreal Home Design
There's no need to build a pirate ship home (unless you want to, of course...), but there's no reason why you can't have a pirate ship room, or a rainforest-like sitting room, or a child's playroom that feels like it's under the sea.

With those thoughts in mind, here are 10 ideas for surreal home designs - or interior designs - that are entirely possible with the right combination of imagination, architecture and artistry:

1. A Different Kind of Tree House

Accommodating a tree via cutouts in an exterior deck isn't all that uncommon, but what about building interior portions of the house around a mature tree? An arborist can assist you in this task, determining the maximum growth projected for a particular species so your foundation and roof design is built to accommodate it. The earth surrounding the base of the tree can be planted with native plants or climbing vines, and you have both a different type of tree house as well as life-sized terrarium.

Treehouse
Modern Living Room by Takoma Park Photographers Kenneth M Wyner Photography Inc

2. Living Walls

Continuing the theme of bringing nature indoors, living walls are becoming increasingly popular. These green walls abound in the exterior world of gardens and patios, but you can also enjoy a living wall in your own home. Green wall systems can be as big as you like. However, you can also enjoy them on a smaller scale, such as this green wall, built specifically to serve as the backdrop to a luxurious soak tub.

Mossy bathroom wall
Contemporary Bathroom by Menlo Park Photographers Janet Paik

3. A Fairytale Space

Sometimes, all it takes to create a surreal interior design is a couple of purchases from custom furniture and furnishings designers. For example, a whimsical wallpaper, like Cabaret from Cole & Son, paired with a designer "princess and the pea" bed, brings a child's or guest room to life as a storybook fantasy.

Princess and the Pea bed

4. Walking on Thin Air

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of surreal design are those created by the talented Brazilian artist, Regina Silveira, who paints extraordinary optical illusions onto any hard surface she can get her hands (chalk, pens, paints...) on. Her installation, Abyssal, compiled optical illusions that gave viewers the sensation they were falling into the installation. You can hire an artist specializing in optical illusion to create the same type of concept in you dining room (dining en plein-air, anyone?), a bedroom or foyer. You and guests will feel as if you're walking on air.

Surreal dining room floor
Traditional Dining Room by Baton Rouge Interior Designers & Decorators TY LARKINS INTERIORS

5. Normal by Day, Surreal by Night

Not sure you want to show your surreal design tendencies off on a day-to-day basis? Glow-in-the-dark paint can allow you to live normally by day and whimsically by night. Artist Bogi Fabian specializes in wall murals created using high-quality, glow-in-the-dark paints. By day, a room can appear perfectly normal or it might only have a simple muraled tree or flower as part of its artistic expression. By night, however, the same room can transform into a section of the Milky Way, a phosphorescent ocean wave or a tropical rain forest bathed in moonlight.

Milky Way

6. The pirate ship dream

Back to that pirate ship dream house mentioned in the introduction...one lucky twin cities boy had his bedroom remodeled into a pirate ship fantasy by a local design-build team. The standout feature is a pirate ship that is "anchored" at the top corner of the bedroom, and accessible via a rope-and-plank bridge. The walls are ocean blue, and fish and sharks swim about at their leisure. There's even a rope ladder with access to a secret "trap door" play area entrance.

Pirate Ship Bedroom
Eclectic Kids by Hopkins Architects & Building Designers Kuhl Design Build LLC

7. Transform Exterior Views Into Fantasyscapes

You can turn your surreal fantasies inside-out using specialized window treatments that transform the scenes typically viewed through your windows. With printed window shades, your window can become a work of art, a Parisian skyline or a view of a compelling path through a dense redwood forest. These window shades are ideal for renters who may not have the option to paint a mural on a wall, or make any significant architectural changes, but who desire an interior design that goes beyond the norm.

Printed Blinds
Contemporary Living Room by New York Window Treatments Delia Shades

8. Textured Walls

Textured wall panels can make your walls appear as if they are rippling water, geometric wonders or plant fibers depicted in both macro- and micro- forms. Walls can augment atypical furnishings and design schemes or they can stand along as that "little something extra" that takes the "normal" and makes it more interesting.

Textured walls
Contemporary Spaces

9. Whimsical Shadows

Your suspended lighting fixtures can do wonders for the way a room looks when cast in the right light and shadow. It's sort of like the adult version of making animal shapes using a flashlight, your hands and a bare wall. The right chandelier can cast mesmerizing shapes and patterns on your walls when lit. Artists and designers Hilden & Diaz created their Forms in Nature chandelier for just this purpose. When unlit, the spherical light fixture resembles a ball of branches, antlers, coral - whatever your mind's eye perceives. After sunset, the tangled form casts shadows reminiscent of those in a dark forest.

Chandelier Shadow
Contemporary Staircase

10. Live in A Glass-Bottomed...Home

Glass-bottom boats have always held remarkable appeal for children and adults alike. There's something magical about walking with a clear view of what lies beneath. If you live on the water, you can create your own glass-bottomed floor, enjoying the water and sandscape below. Otherwise, you can incorporate glass floors in upper-story landings, hallways or sections of upper-level flooring to create a cut-out view of the living spaces below. This San Francisco home used a glass landing to provide a view into the impressive library below (a glass floor above an indoor pool would be another interesting option). By installing a skylight in the roof of the second story, the bottom floor library reaps the benefit of natural light as it shines through the second-floor glass.

Glass floor
Traditional Hall by Tiburon Interior Designers & Decorators Jerry Jacobs Design, Inc.

Take the opportunity to quiet yourself and explore your own inner-dreamscape. Perhaps it's time to add a little more surreal-ity to your own new home or interior design.

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