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5 Tips from cruise ship designers who now sell home decor


MIAMI  – As you peruse the vast number of color choices in the paint store or try to decide whether the watercolor you are obsessed with at the local arts festival will work in your home, consider what the interior designers of cruise ships encounter.
These wizards of décor create spaces enjoyed by thousands of cruise vacationers on a weekly basis. When they choose colors it may be for 1,000 staterooms; when they buy artwork, it’s to be seen by thousands of cruise passengers each week. And they do their designs on a moving ship.

Design Tips from Cruise Ship Designers

1. Step back and really look at your space and do a deep think about how you want to move within that space.

2. Be creative with color choices (you can always change your mind and repaint).

3. Design for yourself. If you love the design, it is successful.

4. Use inexpensive LED lights to highlight art and create other “wow” effects.

5. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Always simplify, edit and then edit again.

Just like you, the designers of cruise ships work on a budget and within the confines of specific spaces.

Their inspiration comes from the sea and beyond.
When ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn debuts its new 604-passenger Seabourn Encore in December, passengers onboard will be immersed in a “soft and curvaceous” nautical world of high-gloss wood and white, navy and burgundy tones created by noted hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany.
“The inspiration for Seabourn Encore comes back to the idea of a luxury private yacht,” said Tihany. “Every detail of the design is crafted to embody the elegance of a yacht with the careful attention of a residential space.”
A different vision inspired the design team, including Tihany, when it came to public spaces on Holland America Line’s 2650-passenger Koningsdam, which makes its North American debut in November. Music was the muse for rooms such as the elegant Queen’s Lounge, created to feel as if you are inside a violin looking out.
The colors for the Koningsdam’s verandah cabins are the result of a visit to the port city of Venice by My Nguyen, Holland America Line’s deputy director of interior design. There she spotted an old faded blue building.
“At the base of the building there was black algae that graduated to grey as it grew towards the top,” said Nguyen. “In contrast, next to the building was a bright new terra cotta structure. This unusual color combination was an inspiration that became the color palette.”
Cruise passengers can likewise draw inspiration from their travels.
When beginning a design project, it’s a good idea to have a wealth of ideas on hand, said Lindsey McPhail, manager of interior design for Princess Cruises, and currently overseeing refurbishment projects for the Grand Princess, Royal Princess and Pacific Princess.
“I’m constantly putting images and concepts and references onto tools such as Pinterest, so when I’m ready to hit the ground running on the design development aspect of a project I have a collection of references to inspire me,” McPhail said.
Lessons cruise passengers can draw from cruise ships include the effective use of space.
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