As a designer, I am constantly inspired … for my projects, for a particular piece, and for my design business. Inspiration comes in a plethora of forms: A beautiful painting, a particularly vibrant Hibiscus flower (on my patio right now!), or just a random quote as I’m working throughout the day.
You may have heard that I am designing my own home right now, so I am looking at design from a bit of a different angle! It isn’t so easy to design for myself because I see A TON of new introductions every single day. This requires focus, decision making, and lots of inspiration. Not every idea comes from such poetic an inspiration as a flower. Like many people, I leverage the most useful tools of the modern age for new ideas. Today, I am divulging my favorite sources of inspiration; You might recognize some of the evergreen sources such as magazines, but keep reading. You’ll be surprised!
Traditional Sources: Social and Print Media
1. Social media
Social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are absolutely integral to my inspiration process. I definitely lurk on more than a few mid-century, classic, and modern design pages, but it’s so much more than that.
No matter your interests, you’re bound to encounter a guru of some sort on Instagram. For example, even if you aren’t into beauty tips, you can draw inspiration from something as simple a new Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette. What I really love about Pinterest is that it allows for a more organized form of inspiration. While surfing different boards, your mind is honed in on a particular aesthetic or idea which allows for a collection of thought within your board. Instagram, on the other hand, is a never-ending thread of amazing images. I can start at point A and end up at point M in a nanosecond – Talk about going down a rabbit hole! If I am looking for a gorgeous spiral stair, for example, I start with #spiralstair, find the perfect thing and then, bonus, I end up discovering a new artist whose work was in the same image. So fun!
2. Books & Magazines
We’re lucky to have a few fantastic local publications in Houston such as Houston Magazine, Interiors Texas, PaperCity, Citybook, Houstonia, and more. All of them feature local artists, designers, and restaurants. This means that their pages are also chock-full of interior design inspo.
When I’m not flipping the pages of home-grown publications, I turn to Wallpaper, Veranda, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Luxe Interiors + Design and House Beautiful. AD offers not only visual inspiration, but stories such as this one about how owners of an incredible Malibu home rehabilitated the property after a tragic fire. I love Elle Decor, too, because they combine human interest with art and design. I don’t know if you noticed, but personality is a big part of my design process!
3. Blogs & Socials
Remember how I mentioned that Pinterest and Instagram were great sources for inspiration? Take that impulse even further by checking individual blogs and social platforms. Individual bloggers like Amber Interiors (blogger turned designer) offer unique perspectives outside the more traditional design world. The Jungalow gives me inspiration that fuses design and art (plus a little fun, too).
Speaking of fun, Emily Henderson is just fabulous. I love her quirky approach to interior design and her tagline: “Perfection is boring; Let’s get weird!” She also has features where she breaks down an entire room by piece, price, and style. As someone who has worked with all kinds of clients, this is kind of like an exercise to keep my wits sharp and a creative way to brainstorm, too.
Design Milk features great office inspo with spotlights on how various designers interpret workspace. On the other hand, Design Sponge is the perfect repository for thought pieces and stories of transformation. The piece about “breathing new life into vintage pieces” reminds me of House + Town and how much I absolutely love a refurbished classic piece.
Broaden Your Inspiration Horizon
Travel can be a huge inspiration when it comes to interior design. Outside of the main architectural attractions of Spain and Italy, Mexico and Columbia, hospitality designs speak to me. I love hotel and restaurant design and seeing the use of mixed materials, colors or patterns, and statement pieces sparks new ideas for my own clients.
Pictured above is one of the many unique and one-of-a-kind design shops in Barcelona. One of them — Sit Down — is inspiration on two fronts: chair design AND cute puns!
As someone who runs an interior design firm, I MUST attend conventions and markets. Turns out I LOVE going to market so it is a fab part of my job. They’re a fantastic way to source new products and to gather new ideas for future projects, but the best part is networking with the rest of the design industry.
High Point Market is rapidly approaching with key-note sessions from several designers such as David Hicks and Paula Wallace. A little closer to home, Dallas Market opens up shop in late October. One of my all-time favorite events — ICFF in NYC — is a hub of contemporary design and new ideas with more than 35,000 design professionals. We’re talking interior designers, architects, distributors, manufacturers, and more. The best news: it’s open to the public, too, and you can hit the Kips Bay Show House at the same time of year.
I also make trips to Las Vegas markets, too. Strictly for interior design purposes only of course! (I know you’ve already imagined the “wink” emoji in your mind when I said that).
Show & Tell
6. Show Houses
Speaking of Kips Bay… Similar to going to an art gallery, I draw inspiration from show houses. When you see an entire concept realized (even if only for show), it can awaken new ideas and associations. I can access dozens of Luxe Interiors and Design home tours online for quick inspo whenever I need it. When I need something more visceral, I keep things local with the Pink Ribbon House for French countryside vibes. Something about being in a space imbued with design energy sparks my creative flame.
I remember this statement piece from a custom furniture maker, then I think of a custom neon sign from The Neon Gallery in Houston. All of a sudden, a space is taking shape in my mind.
No really — it’s that simple sometimes! That’s why maintaining my own Pinterest boards is so important to me: it is an easy way to flex my creative muscles and keep my brain buzzing. I have one last tip for when you’re feeling lackluster in the idea department.
Wear your favorite outfit or revisit your favorite book or photo you’ve taken. Better yet: visit a new museum or park in your neighborhood. It’ll make for a clarity inducing palette cleanser and a lovely day all-in-one.
XO | LU