Whether you’re starting from scratch, redecorating a single room, or just looking to freshen and update your space, finding inspiration is one of the key steps to decorating your home.
Decorating inspiration is everywhere once you start looking, even in the most unlikely sources. Here are nine places to find decorating inspiration to get you started:
Interior Design Blogs
Interior design blogs are among the today’s best sources of decorating ideas and inspiration. There are scores of decorating blogs online, written by both home design pros and talented, amateur enthusiasts. Some bloggers primarily chronicle their own decorating process. Others feature the work of professionals and offer commentary. Some of the best gather photos from a variety of sources to highlight specific design styles, decorating trends, or new products.
When you find a design blog that speaks to you, subscribe to its feed for updates and read through the archives. Bloggers tend to read blogs written by those with similar interests and tastes, so browse their blogrolls for additional site you might enjoy. To get you started, visit Style Court, Desire to Inspire, and The Peak of Chic.
Take your inspiration directly from the pros by visiting the websites of the world’s top interior designers and decorators. Many feature online portfolios you can browse. Miles Redd, Ruthie Sommers, the husband and wife team of Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, and the Jeffers Design Group are among my favorites.
I was a latecomer to the Pinterest craze, but I’m completely hooked now. Pinterest is an online pinboard where uses categorize and pin their favorite photos. You’ll find thousands and thousands of photos of amazing rooms featuring every possible decorating style and taste. You’ll also find lots of pins that link to DIY tutorials for home decorating projects, such as furniture restoration and hanging artwork.
When you first join Pinterest, you can browse all the latest home decor pins. Eventually, you’ll find pinners you can follow with similar tastes to yours. It’s also a great place to store and organize all the great photos and ideas you find. I’ve organized my Pinterest boards by room and by decorating style. Feel free to take a look and visit me there.
When you find photos you like on Pinterest, be sure to click through to the original source. In many cases, you find additional photos, instructions, and resources.
Decorating magazines -- which are called shelter magazines by those in the industry -- are always a terrific source for interior ideas and inspiration.
Decorating magazines typically focus on a specific room, decorating style, or overall feel. If you have no idea what look you want, spend a few hours browsing a wide range of shelter magazines in the library. Once you find a few that appeal to you, pick up your own copies at a newsstand. You’ll need them for reference.
Many magazines -- such as Lonny, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, and Elle Decor -- have extensive websites you can browse as well. Though magazine websites don’t always let you read the current issue, many do give you access to archived articles and photos -- which is frequently better because of the sheer quantity of information. If you register, some even let you save your favorite photos and features for later reference.
If you’ve opt for print magazines, bookmark your favorite photos rather than ripping them out. The resource section in the back of the magazine has valuable brand, fabric, and designer information. If you do decide to tear out your favorite pages, tear out the resource listings as well, and then staple them to your photo pages.
Decorating books are much like shelter magazines, but larger and with more detailed information. Browse your bookstore or library and you’ll find books featuring specific decorating styles, geographic regions, or the work of notable interior designers.
Decorating books aren’t the books where you can find decorating ideas and inspiration, however. Some of my greatest inspiration came from the interiors described in works of fiction. My current home was inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson’s rooms at 221B Baker Street as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the apartment of art critic George Bonifield Mountclemens in The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun, and various magical dwellings in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
Television and Movie Sets
Many of the talented set designers who work on movies and television shows would have likely been among the world’s top interior decorators had they turned their talents in that direction. I love the entire house from the movie Practical Magic, and the kitchen remains my dream kitchen today. Memphis decorator Wayne Shielly found decorating inspiration in the movie Devil Bat and the “Old House” in the television show Dark Shadows.
Pay attention to the set when you’re watching, and make note of the interior sets that appeal to you. Go back and watch your old favorites again. For both, hit pause and analyze the interiors. Make a list of what you like. If you can find them, look at still shots of the sets online.
Antique Malls and Juried Shows
Sellers at yard sales and typical flea markets don’t have a lot of time for staging. They have to set up and pack up quickly. At antique malls, the booths are permanent, and some of the vendors create lovely displays to inspire you in your own home.
Juried vintage shows, one of my favorite flea market trends, take the concept even further. The show organizers frequently require photos of the vendors’ previous staging before accepting them for the show. Many of the booths feature breathtaking vignettes of antique and vintage merchandise. You may take some fabulous decorating ideas along with your purchases.
Your Favorite Objects
When you’re trying to decorate a home you’ll love, look to the things you already adore. That may be objects you already own, or it may be the things you merely wish you could have. Those things don’t have to be related to home decorating.
You may have a favorite scarf you’ve held onto for the past decade. What do you love about it? If it’s the color, take it to the paint store for color matching and use that color on your walls. If you fell for a pinstriped wool suit in a designer runway photo, consider using a similar fabric on your living room chairs. They may even cost less than buying the suit. Perhaps you love the wood on a hand-turned bowl you bought at a craft show. Look for a similar wood color and grain for your new coffee table.
Experiences and Memories
Finally, recall your own experiences for decorating inspiration. You may already know what you want and love without realizing it. Did you love the feel of the beach house where you stayed on your last vacation? If so, perhaps beach-style decor is your ideal. Or, perhaps your trip to New Orleans made you long for a private courtyard and a home full of French antiques. In that case, add some New Orleans style to your home.
Vacations aren’t the only memories you can draw on for decorating inspiration. My best friend recalls his great-aunt’s home during his childhood years, especially the wall-mounted telephone in the bathroom and the rattan furniture set in the sunroom. To him, those things still represent luxury.