I got a two-part question from a reader that I’m going to answer over the next two days. The first part was a general question about where I go to find home decor inspiration, and I’ll answer that part today. The second part was a question about her home specifically, so I’m going to answer that tomorrow (hopefully). But for now, here’s her general question for me…
You always seem to find the best inspiration photos and are able to convey exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish. Where/how do you find your inspiration? What are your favorite instagrams, blogs, pinterest boards, websites that are your go to for just seeing different spaces and designs, that you draw inspiration from.
When I’m searching for design and decorating inspiration for my home, I have three go-to sources — Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz. I use all of these sources frequently, but I use them in different ways. Each one has its pros and cons, and I have different expectations when I use each source. So let me share how and when I use each one.
Instagram is my favorite source of home decor inspiration, but it’s also the hardest to search if I’m looking for something specific. So instead of using it as a search engine when looking for a specific thing, I use it more for general inspiration and I save pictures that I find truly inspiring and want to be able to refer back to them.
First, I’ve filled my Instagram feed with loads of color, since that’s what really inspires me. I’ve found many designers, decorators, bloggers, and stores that love color as much as I do. And any time I come across a new-to-me account that has loads of color-filled home pictures, I make sure to follow it. Here are some of my favorite accounts to follow.
So those are a few of my favorite accounts to follow for home decor inspiration, but there are so many more! As I come across more color-loving accounts, I’ll add them to this post.
But the main way that I use Instagram is simply to save inspiring pictures as I come across them. Instagram makes that really easy. Each picture/video has a little flag under it to the right, and if you tap on that, it will save. If you press and hold, you can save them to specific folders, and I’m guessing you can create as many folders as you want.
I have general folders for things like “colorful rooms”, but I also have more specific folders for things like “studio ideas” and “bathroom ideas” and the like. My biggest folder is one called “make this” filled with things that I’d love to try to make at some point, and it’s filled with all kinds of items from artwork to outdoor furniture.
One of my absolute favorite functions of Instagram is the explore function. The more you use Instagram, and the more you like, save, and interact with accounts and pictures in Instagram, the more the Instagram algorithm will learn what you like. And after a while, then when you click on the “search” icon at the bottom of the screen, it will automatically bring up all kinds of eye candy for you based on the things that you’ve interacted with. It doesn’t always get them right, and for some reason, I always have ridiculous celebrity pictures mixed into my explore results (I don’t follow celebrities and don’t really care to), but for the most part, it gives me really interesting things to look at. Here’s what my explore brought up this morning…
Not all of those things interest me, obviously. But I definitely see some that do. And when I click on one of the room pictures and then start scrolling, it brings up similar items. For example, on my explore page, I clicked on a colorful room, and then started scrolling, and this is what I saw…
I mean, I can find a ton of inspiration in those pictures, and even more if I keep on scrolling! And that’s why Instagram can also be dangerous for me. 😀 I can lose hours of my time just exploring Instagram in that way if I’m not careful.
One huge drawback to Instagram is that the actual search function itself is not very good. It generally works better if you search by hashtags, but that only works if what you want to search is actually a hashtag. It’s not so helpful if you want to search a longer search term that isn’t a convenient hashtag.
So Instagram is filled with inspiration, and I love to scroll and save pictures to my various folders that I can then go back and refer to any time I want. But if I want to search something very specific, that’s where the other two come in.
When I have a specific idea that I want to search, Houzz is almost always my first stop for home decor inspiration. I love Houzz because it’s filled with pictures from professionals. You’ve got professional designers, decorators, builders, etc. And the quality of the pictures is generally very good. Not all of them are good, but most of them are.
The downside to Houzz is that the search function isn’t great. It’s better than Instagram, for sure. But it’s far from the best. So many times, I’ll search for something on Houzz, and the pictures that are returned have absolutely nothing to do with the term I searched. I find it generally works better if you use more general search terms like “green walls” or even “living room green walls.” But if the search term is something much more complicated than that, it can be difficult to find relevant pictures.
For example, when I was searching for pictures as inspiration for our bathroom vanities, which I plan to build like tables with turned legs, I went to Houzz hoping to find inspiration.
My first search was for “table style vanity.” It returned lots of bathroom pictures, but in the first two rows of search results, is there anything that looks like a table style vanity? Nope. I scrolled and scrolled, and didn’t find anything like what I was looking for.
So then I searched “table with turned legs used as vanity.” That got me even further away from the target.
And finally, I searched “open vanity with turned legs.” That finally got me somewhere in the ballpark, but it still wasn’t what I was looking for.
So Houzz can be very helpful, and I do like the quality of pictures that I find there. But I do wish they would beef up their search function quite a bit. As it is, it’s only really helpful if you want to search for very general terms. What to see “green kitchens”? Houzz can help you out with that. And a lot of times, those general search terms are a great starting point when you’re just starting your room design/decorating plan.
Where I associate Houzz more with professional types, I associate Pinterest more with bloggers and DIYers. That’s not to say anything negative about bloggers and DIYers (heck, I am one! 😀 ), but the lower bar means that Pinterest is filled with a whole lot more stuff, so the site itself tends to have a more cluttered feel to it (overwhelming, almost), and the pictures generally aren’t as good quality.
But what Pinterest does have is a very robust search engine, and it’s filled with home decor inspiration. I would even say it’s on par with Google. I mean, when you search something on Pinterest, you’re going to find it. You want to find “bird feeders made from plates”? Search that and you’ll see about 100 of them immediately.
So while I don’t like the cluttered feel and less professional look of the search results I get with Pinterest, I do know that 99% of the time, when I search for something on Pinterest, I’m going to get actual relevant results.
For example, I searched “table used as bathroom vanity” and look what I got.
I got actual table-style bathroom vanities right there at the very beginning of the search results. I didn’t even have to scroll to find one that I loved (the third from the left on the top row).
The problem with Pinterest is that when I actually click on that picture, will it actually open? Will it lead me to a helpful blog with larger pictures? Or has that pin been hijacked by a spammer with that link leading to some low budget website filled with junk I’d never buy, and with the picture I wanted to see nowhere in sight? Yeah…Pinterest had issues. And even though the search function is really good, those other issues are why Pinterest is generally my last stop. But I almost always end up there anyway.
So that’s my basic run down of finding inspiration online. The only place I follow certain people is on Instagram, but I don’t exclusively just use Instagram to follow those people. About half of my time on Instagram is used scrolling through interesting things on the Explore function, and then I save anything that grabs my attention into my various labeled folders.
A lot of times, when I’m needing specific inspiration, I’ll remember a room that I saved in those folders. Or I’ll just take some time to scroll through those folders quickly and see if any inspiration jumps out at me.
If I don’t find anything there, then I’ll head to Houzz in hopes that the search will actually return some results that are helpful to me. It can take some time as I try out different search phrases to see if any of them will work, and I’d say about 60% of the time, I do end up finding something that inspires me there. And if you have an account on Houzz, you can save pictures into folders there as well. I have a “bathroom vanity” folder where I’ve saved inspiring pictures, as well as many other folders that I’ve set up during other projects.
And then finally, I head to the much more cluttered Pinterest with the much more robust search function and try there. I almost always find inspiration there, but whether or not those pins will actually lead me to a helpful website is hit or miss. I don’t really use Pinterst in any other way. I don’t spend a lot of time setting up Pinterest boards, following people, saving pictures to Pinterest boards, etc. For me, Pinterest is simply a search engine that I use in the same way I’d use Google.
How about you? What are your main go-to sources for home decor inspiration?
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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