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5 ideas for gaining home decorating inspiration

Writer’s block…we’ve all heard about it, probably even experienced it. I remember rushing to meet a deadline in college – trying to complete a seven page paper on what, I can’t remember. What I remember all those years later is the stress. The panic. The frustration that words, thoughts and ideas on the subject seemed to be evading me. Every time I pushed, the block would push back harder and harder until finally I felt paralyzed – stuck in complete in-action.

Home decorating can be a lot like writer’s block. Just think about it. You know you want to make changes in your home’s design – maybe refresh an entire room, but when it comes to making decisions you find yourself stuck in paralysis – complete in-action. But for you, instead of getting graded on a sub-par job for a class that you won’t remember years from now, you continue living in a space that is neither inspiring nor delightful.

So how do you step out of stuck-ness? How do you push past the home decorator’s version of writer’s block? Do you push through? Buy the couch anyway? Scrap the whole thing and say ‘screw it?’ No. You seek places of inspiration. You look for sources to ignite the senses – to jumpstart the creativity and inspiration.

5 places to gather inspiration when you don't know how to decorate your home

1. Magazines:

Looking at your favorite home design magazine can be an obvious choice. We all love to receive them in the mail and look through the pretty pictures. But finding inspiration when you’re really feeling stuck requires more than a brief browse through the glossy pages.

Here’s what I suggest:

a. Carve out time and space for you to be alone with the magazine. Sounds cheesy, but you’ll understand why when you keep reading. Sometimes carving out time means heading to Barnes and Noble, grabbing a cup of coffee and your home design magazine of choice from the shelves, finding a cozy corner and settling in for a bit.

b. Find one spread that really draws you in. A picture of a room that beckons you to sit and stare for a while. Stay there. On that page.

c. Focus your attention on that one room. You are becoming a student of design, almost like a fly on a wall as you look into every nook and cranny of the picture. What do you see? What made you stop and stare at the pages? Were you drawn to the color scheme, the cozy textures, the arrangement of art?

d. As you reflect on the questions above (and ALL the ones you’ll be asking yourself), begin to wonder. Try putting yourself in the room, wondering what it would feel like to curl up on the couch, to wrap the blanket around you while settling in for a tv show, to host your friends for book club while using THAT specific coffee table or furniture arrangement.

e. Begin to take note of those feelings. What would it feel like? And why don’t you feel like that in your home the way it is right now? What’s keeping you in a place that you don’t feel the same way?

f. Take note of the things you love about that room and how they make you feel. Those

things can be the beginning of the inspiration as

you try to move past your home design rut.

2. Pinterest

Oh Pinterest – how I love it and hate it all at the same time. It was literally created to be a source of inspiration and for that…I LOVE it! But in doing such a great job at inspiring, sometimes Pinterest unknowingly creates angst, comparison, and in-action for the home owner who is often prone to stuck-ness. So, how do we begin using Pinterest to our advantage when it is FULL of beautiful images? You approach it with a different perspective. Instead of going to Pinterest as a passive observer, you want to approach it actively and from the role of a student. Using a similar approach as you would with the magazine source above will help you gather useful and inspiring information that can then lead to action when you’re ready.

3. Show Rooms

Most furniture stores have show rooms that you can envision the full room’s design. They’re set up in such a way that allows you, the consumer, to see yourself in them and make an easy decision.

My favorite? IKEA. Why you ask? For several reasons, and one of the most important being the Swedish meatballs. No shame in admitting that. Seriously though, the show rooms at IKEA invite lingering with absolutely NO PRESSURE of purchasing anything. There’s no employee doing a slow stroll nearby waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump in with questions, encouragement to purchase and make decisions when you’re not in the market for purchasing…remember you’re looking for inspiration! You can sit in a corner of an IKEA couch and gaze at the arrangement of furniture, the interesting display of artwork, the arrangement of craft supplies on the wall - what ever caught your attention, for as long as you'd like. No one will care. And no one will mind when you pull out your camera to take pictures or your notebook to take notes.

4. Home & Garden Shows

Inspiration for home decorating and design is at its finest at home and garden shows. Vendors have spent hours creating beautiful and interesting displays that are oozing with inspiration. The best part - everyone attending the show wants the same thing you be inspired. So strike up a conversation, ask questions, take notes, brochures, pictures, but most importantly...take your time and enjoy!

5. Friends’ Homes

All of your friends may not claim to be the best home decorator or have the knack, so to speak. But these are your people, the ones you love spending time with. Look around and take notice. What you are inspired by may be tucked away in a corner rather than on display for all to see. Appreciate the differences in the way they do it, whatever it is, and notice how it may vary from the way you do it. And those friends who have more design sensibilities and style than others - ask them questions, lots of questions. Why do they arrange the furniture they way they do? Where do they shop? What makes them always have a new throw blanket out each time you visit?

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