Are you decorating your home backwards?

Most of us are, according to designer Carter Averbeck. “Most people put art last,” said Averbeck, the creative force behind Omforme, a design studio and furniture/home accent shop in Minneapolis. “They furnish a room, then say, ‘I need a painting’ ” — and look for one that goes with their sofa or their chairs.

To create a home you love, Averbeck believes in starting the other way around — with a piece of artwork or handcrafted furniture that speaks to you.

“Treat your home as a gallery. Find a piece you love, and design things around it,” he said.

It’s a philosophy he practices in his own loft home, which is filled with artwork, some his own, and vintage furniture that he has transformed with updated fabrics, colors and finishes.

It’s also the design philosophy behind “Make Room: Modern Design Meets Craft,” an interior design exhibit at this week’s American Craft Council Show in St. Paul, which shows craft pieces in context — a home setting.

Visitors to the show will see four room vignettes created by local designers, each inspired by a few hand-picked artisan pieces. This year’s theme for “Make Room” is “4 Directions” with each designer choosing a compass point to guide their take on style that reflects North, South, East or West.

Playful in pink

Liz Gardner, designer and stylist with Bodega, Minneapolis, chose South. She was inspired by her trip last year to Miami, where she was struck by the juxtaposition of old and new — art deco and futuristic, gaudy and refined.

“In Miami, there’s a lot of push-pull with design,” she said. “It’s playful and over-the-top, but also very refined,” as seen at high-style events like Art Basel.

The craft pieces she chose for her room vignette include a carved wooden head by artist Keith Holt of Maryland. “I really love his faces and how playful they are,” she said. “I would fill a shelf with just these.” Other pieces include an occasional table by James Pearce of Illinois, and stacked ceramic pieces by artist Lynda Ladwig of Colorado. “I love white ceramics — I have shelves and shelves of them — and this is an interesting take on that,” she said.

In addition to craft, Gardner was inspired by a color: pink. “I’ve always loved it,” she said. When Pantone announced Rose Quartz, a pale blush, as one of its two Colors of the Year, “that gave me permission to embrace it,” she said. She used the blush pink on the insides of several display niches built into the walls of her room. She furnished the minimalist space with a 1960s “egg chair” from Time Bomb Vintage, upholstered in a tweedy dark purplish-pink.

Even the walls in Gardner’s room look like a work of art. They’re covered with a marbleized white matte pattern printed on shiny silver metallic paper by Area Environments, a Minneapolis studio that specializes in custom wallcovering.

‘Joy and vibrancy’

Averbeck, who chose East for his vignette, went in a completely different direction from Gardner’s minimalist room.

“I have always loved the bright colors of India,” he said. “I collect African masks, and I love Japanese art. Such richness, color, joy and vibrancy! It doesn’t always happen here in the Midwest, but it happens in other countries, and I’m inspired by it.”

The starting point for his room was a colorful mixed-media sculpture by South Dakota artist Yoko Sugawara. “It’s a beautiful, ethnic bust of a woman,” he said. “You’d be hard-pressed to look at it and not feel some emotion.”

Other craft pieces that inspired his design include a chair and ottoman by St. Paul furniture maker Scott McGlasson (Woodsport), featuring pieces of walnut threaded together to form a springy, comfy surface. Averbeck likes McGlasson’s style because “it’s approachable modern — clean and organic with great craftsmanship.”

An orange occasional table of metal mesh by Damian Velasquez of Albuquerque, N.M., and a sculpture, a bronze vessel on a limestone pedestal, by C.T. Whitehouse of Cedarburg, Wis., are the other inspirational pieces.

To complement the craft pieces, Averbeck furnished his room with a vintage tulip-shaped sofa that he reupholstered in cream, a pair of vintage Asian screens and an unusual coffee table he built himself. It’s made of glass, painted fuchsia, and reveals a weathered Asian table nested underneath, for an effect that he describes as “fuchsia fog captured in a glass cube.”

Craft renaissance

Also creating room vignettes for this year’s show are Jennifer Jorgensen, J. Jorgensen Design, Minneapolis, representing North, and artist Drew Beson, Drew Beson Art Gallery and Studio, Edina, representing West.

All four of the “Make Room” vignettes showcase a curated, collected look, reflecting the direction that interior design has been moving for some time, according to Averbeck.

“People are wanting more artisanal stuff. We’ve lived with mass-market things for so long.” Millennials, in particular, are seeking one-of-a-kind personal pieces rather than a home filled with the same generic furniture and artwork that everyone else has, he added. “Craft is definitely coming into its own.”