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Patti Cowger

I admit that I’ve come late to two popular and entertaining phenomena. One is BritBox, a massive collection of streaming British television shows. Now I don’t have to rely on Masterpiece Theater’s scheduling to watch my favorite sleuths.

The other is Instagram, created in 2010 by 20-somethings Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. It’s a photo and video sharing platform and gets its name from the blending of “instant camera” and “telegram.” To date, Instagram has over 1 billion users.

After consciously avoiding Instagram for almost a decade, I am now an enthusiastic user. For fellow resistors, let me assure you that you need only a username and password to create an account. You’re never asked for a credit card and are never bothered with emails or texts — unless you ask for them.

Once you establish an account, a stream of photos will come your way. You can quickly scroll through with a swish of a finger. If one catches your fancy (a term I learned from the Brits), you can tap to read its entire description. You can double-tap to “like” it, which also tells Instagram what other categories may be of interest to you. The more you double-tap images, the more your stream will be customized to your liking. For instance, my stream largely consists of interior design, gardens, wineries, food and Eric Clapton. You can follow particular people as well as general categories.

I also use Instagram to post my own work. It’s similar to my website but with immediate or in-progress photos. For months, I’ve been posting shots of the wine-tasting rooms I’ve designed that are now (finally) under construction. I’ve also been posting progress of homes I’ve been helping to rebuild after the 2017 wildfires as well as a mix of other projects. And yes, there are a few cat photos, too.

Over the past seven months, I’ve found a few particularly beautiful, inspiring and entertaining feeds and thought I’d share two with you. But first let me define a few terms. A user chooses a username, which is also called a “handle”. It’s preceded by “@”. As a user posts a photo, it becomes part of his/her “feed”. Each photo ends up in a matrix for all to see – unless you set your account to “private.” A user can also post a “story,” which is one or more photos that disappear after 24 hours. They are always highlighted in a circle at the top of the page.

Early on, I started to follow Christina Dandar although I did not immediately know her name. One of her images had caught my eye and when I saw her handle, @thepottedboxwood, I knew I would like her feed of formal gardens. I’ve always loved this style, and after seeing so many of them posted on Dandar’s feed, I was inspired to finish my own formal garden in my backyard. I can honestly say that her luscious images gave me the push I needed.

The second user I want to introduce to you is Rachel Cannon, an interior designer based in Baton Rouge. I’m a fan of Southern traditional style. If you’ve ever looked through Veranda magazine, you know what I mean. Picture scrolled iron, color, patterned fabrics, and bundles of large-blooming flowers. I don’t get many requests for this style in the Napa Valley so Cannon’s posts help to feed my fix.

Cannon has recently added videos that I find almost as entertaining as BritBox. She’s started the Keto diet and now films cooking segments from her own kitchen. She’s endearing and funny, and I’m hooked. You can find her @rclinteriors and also see her design work at rachelcannonlimited.com.

A few more favorites include @juliabhandmadeforlife (handmade linens in Healdsburg), @johnsaladino (my oblivious design mentor), @zhush (for all things pretty), @degournay (hand-painted wallpaper) and yours truly @plcinteriors.

Unlike other design-oriented platforms that are cumbersome to navigate or have turned into product-selling warehouses, I find Instagram user-friendly and filled with more beautiful images and inspiring ideas.

To refresh your memory of design content from my previously-published columns, visit plcinteriors.com/blog.

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Patti L Cowger is an award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

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