Our Bedroom The Victorian House

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

I feel like I’ve been deep in planning mode for so long. I finally get to execute! The laundry room is of course first, but I’ll be working on a bathroom too. And I’m getting the urge to shake things up a bit more too and go bold.

* She says as she dials back the color and pattern in her bedroom for all-white bedding. *

Quincy Bed in Blush Pink Bedroom with All-White Bedding | Making it Lovely

I have a question for you as we head into the weekend. When thinking about a room makeover, do you look to inspiration images or do you start with a major item in the room and go from there?

I start with an individual piece. Every time. I can’t remember looking at a room and using that as the starting point (and I LOVE looking at beautiful rooms). It’s always about the color/texture/pattern/shape/etc. of a fabric, wallpaper, furniture, or whatever, and then it flows from there. I think of the individual elements in a room as crayons at my disposal, to the point where I have thought to myself “ooh, I got a new crayon to play with!”

Is that weird? It might be a little weird.

Let me give you an example. My bedroom started with the Quincy bed, which is usually shown in either a traditional or country room. I have seen and liked similar beds styled in different ways, but there was never a room that I looked to specifically to pull my own bedroom together. The bed worked with the dresser, which needed to work with another style of dresser and so on. I pulled it together from the pieces to form a whole.

When I work with clients though, they almost always start with rooms they love as inspiration. And it’s a great place to start! But I think the difference is that a client is looking to a decorator because they can’t imagine how to put the puzzle pieces (or crayon colors) together.

Spiderman Crashes the Bed

So I’m wondering where you fall. So many of you have lovely homes! Do you pull pages from magazines? Dog ear catalogs? Stalk flea markets and estate sales for serendipitous pieces? Are you pinning to a Pinterest board, and is it mostly products or finished rooms, or a healthy mix of the two? I’m so curious about how we all approach things!

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  • Caitlin
    May 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    This is such an interesting question! I pin, pin, pin to my hearts content and get a good feel for where my aesthetic lies. I try to use that as my anchor when I pick things. Ex: “I’ve never pinned a red rug in any room, perhaps I am being swayed by the price…?” or “I’ve pinned 50 living rooms with a oatmeal colored English roll arm sofa, let’s pursue that further.”

    When it comes to actually decorating I pick pieces I love and let that guide the direction, much like you describe. I often feel like I’m “working around” a particular piece but not in a bad way, more in a way of “I love this item but these other things don’t work with it.” I never really have a strong direction when I start out but I buy what I like and then make it work together. I often look around my home and think I love the way this room feels and looks but I doubt I would ever seen an image and then recreated the look I have.

  • Gwenythe b.Harvey
    May 18, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I concur with your going with one piece and designing from there. When I am painting the canvas for my garden designs, I use one focal and design away. I find it is much easier then attempting to pull together an entire design or in this case room without a strong visual image in front of me.
    Thank you for sharing,

  • Kate S.
    May 18, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I tend to look only at finished rooms and then try to find pieces that are similar or identical to whatever it is I like about the room. It’s not unusual for me to have 3 or 4 inspiration photos for one room and have specific things I want to pull out of each photo and emulate–the color from this one, the furniture from that one, and so on. When I purchase from product photos, I am often disappointed and I’m not sure why.

  • Kelly
    May 18, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I typically start with the lighting and architecture of the room (and the whole house) telling me what colors and styles will work in the space, melding that with pieces I love, and working out from there. For example, when we moved into our new home which is much more Mediterranean than the contemporary we were leaving, the first thing I imagined in the family room/kitchen was turquoise to balance the existing cinnamon/orange cabinets and warm sunlight and soft golden yellow paint (that flows through all the open areas of the house). Then, our old neighbor, a potter, showed me a new technique he was working on which resulted in a copper and verdagris glaze. That tiny (and sentimental) vase and a copper sculpture we already had became the basis for the rest of the room but all the pieces we chose had to have lines and wood tones that made sense in a Mediterranean home, if simplified to fit our modern tastes.

  • Vritika | Flats in OMR
    May 19, 2018 at 7:06 am

    I always surf the web and go through various magazines to know what’s the trend raging now. Also, I often shift things around my home to learn how things work and what suits the best for a room. Anyways, thanks for this amazing content, Nicole.:)

  • Peggi
    May 21, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Interesting question! I use images as a sort of self-assessment: what’s drawing me to this room? (Or repelling me!) To actually get to work on a room in my home, I always start with an object or a color. Three moody, old paintings from a junk shop became a bathroom scheme. An amazing color of copy paper (!) inspired my living room walls. I also spend lots of time just ruminating… I’m a ruminator. (ruminant?)

  • Hollie @ Stuck on Hue
    May 21, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I think whether one naturally has a design eye and also one’s exposure to interior design plays a big factor in how one designs a space. I either have a “blurry” idea of how I want a room to look and then I pick individual items to pull it together, or I may have one element I’m inspired by and I build the room around it. If I’m stuck on something, I look at inspiration photos I’ve pinned that might spark an idea. But I recently helped my mom redesign her home and she has no natural design talents nor is exposed to interior design, so I had to show her many photos to get ideas of what look or even feeling she wanted in her spaces before I could begin scheming for her.

  • Holly
    May 21, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I LOVE looking at images.

    However….the only rooms in my home I’ve designed myself are built around favorite items backfilled with cast-offs that no longer work in other rooms, and a few strategic purchases to pull them all together.

  • Chelsea
    May 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I also start with a piece – usually bedding or curtains that I’m in love with, and then I go from there. Pinterest is helpful when it comes to looking for room inspiration, of course, but before Pinterest, I read a lot of design blogs (& still do) to find inspiration.

  • judy
    May 21, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Ah…I start with your blog…have for years. You caught my attention with the picture of the pretty girl above your sofa and then the babies were and are fascinating and so here I still am. 78 house- crammed with 10 6 ft by 3 ft bookshelves,furniture from past generations and just glad I have a cozy home- a little bit dusty-OK too much dust but happy to keep coming back to see all of your beautiful rooms,gardens, and most of all you and your lovable family.

  • afewsocks
    May 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Great question and it’s what has prompted me to comment after, oh, 10+ years of reading your blog? (blush) I pin a LOT of stuff that I like in general so I can always go back and see the kinds of rooms that I’m drawn to and that’s mostly from the MANY design blogs I drool over. So when I’m re-doing a room, it starts with going back to Pinterest to see what vibe of dining room or bathroom I’m going for at that time. And then I have to work with much of what I’ve got and see where I can refresh, change and/or keep. But I also get inspiration from pieces themselves. When I happen upon something at an antique store it may change the whole flow/direction of a room. Or there might be a DIY project that I’m willing to try that shifts the furniture in a room and then that changes everything up! Seasons are also a good inspiration. Like, in spring and summer, ALL the plants go outside on the porches for their summer vacations so I have to fill in those gaps with other things. Balance is a good inspiration – I’m pretty eclectic so I don’t like too much of one thing going on in a room, so if there’s a Victorian-type chair then I have to bring in something industrial to temper that. So each decision informs the next decision. And I like whimsy in a room so I can’t have a room that takes itself too seriously so that’s inspiring!

    PS – Have LOVED your blog for so very long….(swoon)