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It has been said that creativity is merely intelligence having fun and I, for one, couldn’t agree more. You see, I’m an unapologetic creative who is incredibly passionate about all things design, so I fully appreciate and embrace the extraordinary process of moving a creative vision to a tangible reality. Yes, perhaps I do have a bit of a love affair with seeing how people creatively breathe possibility into things that seemingly have very little intrinsic value at first glance. To me, the creative process is deeply personal, something that shouldn’t be compromised or rushed. However, I’m pretty certain, most people have experienced a “designer’s block”, of sorts, where the fear of making the wrong design decision leads to absolutely no decision at all.

I’ll be the first to tell you that while I creatively design in my day-to-day work life, most of my design blocks occur right here at home. I mean, how many of you have agonized over the perfect paint color, fixtures, landscape, etc. to the point where it seems easier to just do nothing? You name the design dilemma and we’ve all probably been there, done that! But what if I could actually get you excited about experiencing a designer’s block? Of course, this will require me telling you a little story, but stay with me for just a moment. I’m sure you’re all probably wondering, what in the world does this design talk have to do with our community? Oh, for the love of Findlay! Design has absolutely everything to do with it, so come join me for a little stroll around the block and I’ll tell you all about it.

I have always believed that design is merely a metaphor for life because both involve creating spaces, taking chances, learning from mistakes, and making the very most of what you have. You can choose to include all the things you cherish, mix it up when you need a change, and share it with people who may or may not appreciate it the way you do. I’m a natural-born risktaker, so you can you bet your sweet board and batten that I’m an advocate for those homeowners who risk setting a bold design table, have the audacity to throw open the curtains to illuminate it, and send an open invitation for anyone to critique or enjoy it.

If the truth be told, I am that homeowner, I take those risks, my curtains are always wide open, and there is always a standing invite waiting just for you. I take great pride in honoring and preserving my home’s historic past, but make no mistake, I’m all about bringing the sass when I start “zhuzhing” up the place. Let’s just say I tend to bring my Type A personality to every single design party. I only design for myself, but when your curtains are open it’s easy to inadvertently inspire others to take new design risks. And that, my beloved community, is exactly where this story begins.

In 2018, we bought a 1903 home in Findlay’s historic district and have spent the past few years transforming it. It is nothing short of a labor of love and I take exceptional pride in being a temporary steward of a home that reflects and maintains our community’s historical legacy. Of course, when you own an old home, you accept home improvement as an ongoing process that never really ends. I’ve been known to take on some pretty labor-intensive projects, because I have a bit of an obsession with sunshine, sweat, and the sense of accomplishment that only comes from a hard day’s work. So, if you happen to see me outside on the weekend and I look like I need a glass of water and CPR, please know that I’m in my happy place!

In addition to the never-ending project list, I was also traveling extensively for business during that same time. One of things I miss most when I travel is what my husband and I have deemed “porch coffee”. It’s the time when we brew our favorite pot of hot black coffee, sit on the porch, talk about all the important things, and strike up interesting conversations with all the passers-by. I had just come home from a pretty chaotic business trip to Boston when my husband suggested we grab some porch coffee to wind down from the whole experience.

You can imagine my surprise when I opened the front door and noticed a door hanger hanging on my screen door. The Hancock Historical Museum had placed door hangers on various places throughout our community just to say “thank you” for helping preserve the historic integrity of our community. As I read the message, my heart was full. It said, “We see you and we want to say thanks!” – what a powerful message! On the surface, it seems like such a small gesture, but in that moment, I can tell you that it felt pretty darn good to be seen.

Listen, I know how easy it is to get caught up in your own hustle, I’ve done it my whole life. But there is nothing more valuable than taking the time to “see” people, especially those who live right here in our community. After watching Findlay grow and evolve over the past 47 years, I can tell you that it’s filled with small town charm and hometown pride. That’s why I’ve decided to blend my love of design with my love of people. I guess you could say I’m about to re-design the meaning of a designer’s block. In its most traditional sense, a designer’s block is when people struggle to generate creative ideas – a roadblock, of sorts. But look out Findlay, we’re about to turn this definition inside out!

You’ll have an opportunity to “see” the people in our community through the eyes of a creative design geek as I highlight the design elements that inspire me, one random block at a time. Whether it’s stunning architecture, striking color combinations, elegant front doors, beautiful décor, dramatic landscaping, or just incredibly creative choices by other unapologetic risktakers who have opened their curtains, I am coming to “see” you.

And as it is in life – no risk, no reward. For this reason, I’ll not only highlight some of the best design elements, within a totally random block, but will drop a “design bomb” (a.k.a. d-bomb) on my favorite commercial or residential space within it. What’s a design bomb, you ask? Well, it’s just a creative gesture to let you know that I “see” your intelligence having fun, appreciate the inspiration, and formally acknowledge you as “d-bomb” of your block. If seeing is believing, let’s lace up those walking shoes, go pound some pavement together, truly see the beauty of our community, and acknowledge the bold, creative people living in it.

This post was written by Julie Williamson-Wright. Julie is a champion of creativity, design enthusiast, and the owner of Mabel on Main. That isn’t much, is it?  See more about Julie and read more from her here!

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