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So, you want to redecorate your living room or you have just taken on that renovation project you have been dreaming about for years, but where do you get your inspiration from? Where do you start gathering ideas in order to fulfil the project?


There are a number of ways to gather inspiration, edit your ideas and then create a scheme for your home. In this Journal post I will give you my top tips on where to look for inspiration and how to store all those fabulous ideas!

A detail image of an inspirational pinboard.

Get Out & About
Inspiration is everywhere, but I would start gathering your thoughts by getting outside. 

1 - Go for a Walk

  • Go for a walk in your local area and draw inspiration from the outdoors. Keep an eye out for a beautiful coloured flower, a pile of leaves or some bright moss growing on a tree. Are you inspired by the natural materials which surround you? Do you love being out in nature? 

  • If you live in an urban area a brightly coloured front door might catch your eye, or you might love the shop front of your local general store. Is there a house nearby that has Victorian tiles running up to the front door? Do you live in the city surrounded by Brutalist architecture? Take photos of what you find inspiring as you walk around.

2 - Visit a Gallery

  • Go to a gallery and look at artwork. You might find a piece you love and use that as the base to your scheme. Collect postcards of all the patterns and colour that inspires you.

A details shot of lots of art postcards on a desk.

3 - Go on holiday! 

  • Always have your eyes open and take photos of anything you love. While you’re on holiday you might be inspired by the hotel or apartment you are staying in. There may be a colour combination you’d never thought of using, or a room layout you hadn’t considered before. Try to find places that are not like your own home to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Visit restaurants, bars and cafes and think about what you love about them. If you aren’t going away on holiday this year then think about a past trip and flick through your holiday photos. 

4 - Visit the Cinema or Theatre

  • Sit back and relax while taking in all the interior scenes in the film or the stage set. Or you might just be inspired by the characters and the storyline. My brother is an actor and was in a play called The Twighlight Zone some years. The costume designer for this particular play designed all the costumes so they were black, white and grey (like a black and white film on TV). It was brilliant and I have since based my capsule wardrobe around this idea!! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it!

5 - Take Part in a Workshop

  • There is nothing like doing a workshop with your friends to get the creative juices flowing. This is something I do regularly with two friends I went to art college with. We pick one weekend in the year and then pick a workshop that all three of us love doing. So far, we have had a day screen printing, another day doing some stitching and another making a bag at a leather workshop. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make it something you love and do it with people who inspire you. It’s a win, win situation.

6 - Pop to the Shops

  • Are there particular shops that you love? There might be a fashion brand you covet who have an amazing visual merchandising team. What about an interior shop that always gets you excited? Spend a day in the city having a nose around all the shops. If you’re stuck for ideas then start at the top of Kings Road in London and meander right the way down popping into Anthropologie, Designers Guild, John Lewis, & Other Stories, India Jane, Osborne & Little and William Yeoward to name a few.

A stack of interior design books.

Take a Traditional Stance
Lets get back to basics and why not pick up a book or a magazine?

7 - Flick Through a Book

  • There is nothing like flicking through a beautiful design book to get inspired. I love books and have way too many, but even if you don’t have the collection I have, then pop down to your local library and order in some gorgeous coffee table tomes. Ask fellow creatives if they have some books you could borrow or put a shout out on Facebook to see if any local people would be willing to lend you their copies. I would suggest finding some designers on Instagram that you like and see if they have published any books. Either order them through your local bookshop or pop in the library to see if they can get copies for you.

8 - Buy an Interior Magazine

  • There are hundreds of interior magazines out there, and there will definitely be a magazine to suit your style. From Ideal Home and House Beautiful which would suit a more conservative budget, right up to Elle Decoration, House & Gardens and World of Interiors which are full of designer brands and blow the budget pieces. Pop into your local newsagent and start flicking through the pages until you find a couple that you like, even if the budget is different to yours just have a look at some different magazines for ideas. You don’t need to spend £10k on a coffee table, but I bet you can find a more budget friendly version somewhere. Just get ideas of looks that you love. Once you have a few magazines then start tearing out the pages and collecting them together in a box or a scrapbook.

A digital mood board with autumnal images and branding.

Let's Go Digital
Uncover  all the inspiration available to us online.

9 - Browse Instagram

  • There aren’t many creatives who don’t have an Instagram account. Even if you don’t want to post images or videos of your life doesn’t mean to say you can’t have a little peek at what everyone else is up to! If you see anything you like then save it to your phone for a later date. Check out the latest trends, search hashtags and just generally see what designers are posting. It may be something they have been inspired by or it may be their latest project. If you are planning to do a lot of the work yourselves then there are some excellent accounts showing how ordinary people like you and me transform their homes on a budget! There are more ‘How To’ reels than you can shake a stick at. Everything from how to remove mould from bathroom mastic to how to install a whole wall of wood panelling. You just need to get searching! Warning, this is addictive and you will lose hours scrolling so be strict and set a timer!

10 - Start Saving Images on Pinterest

  • Pinterest is like a digital scrapbook or pin board. It’s free to set up so get yourself an account and start collecting ideas for everything! Search bold living rooms, neutral bedrooms, calming bathrooms or bright kitchens. Literally search anything you like! Create boards on your account to save your ideas in an ordered fashion. I often use Pinterest for the starting point of a project, whether it is for me or a client. You can look at a selection of your boards on one screen and start to see a pattern appear as to what your style is. I have boards for art work to use on concept boards and inspiring living rooms right through to how to organise my garage and add colour to my garden. It is a great app to use so get signed up now!

A detail image of a Pinterest board showing biophilic design.

Scrapbook, mood board or photo album. How to collate all your ideas?
Once you have all your images you will need to save them in an orderly fashion.

11 - Organise Your Photos

  • If you are taking photos while you are out and about then make sure you flick through your phone every now and again and organise your photos into albums. If you are saving ideas for your living room then simply create an album called Living Room. If you want to be less specific then the albums might be by colour, texture or a particular design style. 

12 - Save Magazine Tearsheets

  • You can of course keep a sketchbook or scrapbook full of the postcards, flyers, magazine tear sheets and paint charts that excite you. Alternatively, you could just have a box of ideas that you edit. I clear out my magazines every now and then (I have been reading interior magazines for nearly 30 years and I do not have space to store all those back issues!) and keep any images that catch my eye. These tear sheets are then kept in archive boxes in my studio each labelled with what they contain. I have a box for living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and so on. This is actually a really useful resource when meeting with a client for the first time as they can rummage through the boxes and pick out designs they love. It’s a tool I use over and over again.

A detail image of scattered magazine tear sheets.

13 - Instagram Collections

  • Instagram is great for inspiration and you can save all the ideas you love. Simply hit the save button and organise the images into folders/albums like you would with the photos on your phone. As longs as you have your Instagram account you will have a library full of ideas.

14 - Pinterest Boards

  • On Pinterest you will automatically save all your pins to a specific board, therefore keeping your inspiration organised.

A digital mood board showing autumnal images.

15 - Create a Mood Board

  • If you want to organise your ideas into a moodboard for your scheme then I would suggest using either the cut and stick method (find images, lay them on a board and stick them down in an arrangement that suits) or use a digital platform like Canva. With Canva you can upload all your own photos or chose from their stock images. Either use a template on the Canva platform or create your own using a blank document. Save your design and download it so you can print it off and use it as a guide when you go shopping. It is a great way to keep your scheme focussed. If you don’t want to sign up to Canva then you can use Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. Just remember that if you are publishing any of your designs on social media, or anywhere on the internet, then you will need to credit the designers and photographers of any images which aren’t yours due to copyright.

16 - Define Your Style

  • At this point you should have quite a collection of ideas to use in your home. Think about what it is in each image that you like (the colours, tiles, textures, lighting, etc) and hone your style. Now it is time to design your space using your edited images! 

Inspiration is all around us and often in places we least expect. If you are feeling stuck then follow some of the steps above and I am sure you will start to feel inspired straightaway. Just keep collecting and editing and then get designing!

If you would like to see what inspires me each month why not sign up to my monthly newsletter? Here you will see what is projects I am involved in, a snippet of the latest journal post and, of course, see what is inspiring me each month. 

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