Maybe it’s because I spend nearly 100% of my time combing through images of the world’s most beautiful interiors, but it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the difference between stuff I like the look of, and the look I’d like to add to my own space. If you have similar problems, check out these ideas to help you sift through all the ideas out there — and continue zeroing in on a style that’s true to you.
Give it a break for a minute (or more)
Put down the obsessive digital leafing through every inspiring place to find gorgeous home photos for even just a little bit of a time (a few hours, a day) and visit your space like it’s the first time. Sit in different spots in your home. Walk up to the door and walk through. Be quiet in your rooms. Let your own home be the inspiration for a bit.
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Make an inventory of what you love about your space
While you’re sitting in quiet enjoying your space taking a break from obsessively scrolling through images of other people’s homes, make a physical list of what you love about your space. Specific items, architectural elements, you name it. You’ll be able to know what to try to keep as you refine your style, but you’ll also be able to be on the lookout in inspiration for these kinds of items — they might point you in the direction of the look you should be going toward.
When you’re ready to delve back into it, be more specific and organized about your inspiration gathering. (And kudos to anyone who’s already very organized!). Use a method of organizing your imagery so you can write detailed notes about the specific elements in images, like those that first grab your attention.
Selectively (and smartly) ignore
Consider capping where you get your inspiration. Like the look of beach houses but know that’s not a look you actually want to replicate in your home? Then stop looking at beach houses for a bit. Try to narrow down the places you gather inspiration from so you can get more focused with your look. Does limiting yourself sound like a terrible idea? Do you worry about what you might miss? It’s true, you might miss out on a some ideas this way, but it’s about getting smart with your time and your inspiration — and cutting away the stuff you have a pretty good idea won’t work with you just long enough to finally nail down what does work for you.
Sometimes creativity is born from knowing limitations of a project or situation. So figure out what yours are. Maybe they’re your budget. Maybe it’s living in a home without a ton of architectural details. Be realistic with what you can’t do, so that you can be creative with what you can pull off. Knowing these limitations may help you eliminate some inspiration so you can focus in on the things you can do.
If you’ve got the money and the energy, there’s nothing wrong with eliminating inspiration by trying it out and deciding you don’t love the way it works in your space. Sometimes that’s the only way to know something won’t go. The secret to this trick is making sure you really listen to your gut — don’t let anything grow on you or sit with any decisions for too long (you’ll find reasons to keep something you maybe don’t love) — and make quick yes or no decisions based on your initial reactions to trying design ideas out.
(Image credits: Kim Lucian; Monica Wang; Bridget Pizzo; Rebecca Bond)