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How to decorate your home using Pinterest for inspiration!

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Photo source: farmhouse

STOP...just STOP ALREADY asking all your friends on Facebook what color you should be painting your bedroom walls. Seriously. I get that you are overwhelmed - decisions are hard after all. But asking 300 almost strangers for their opinion is going to leave you MORE confused, MORE overwhelmed, MORE frustrated and MORE stuck. Just think about it...Aunt Esther chimes in with burnt orange, but that's to be expected - Aunt Esther hasn't redecorated her home since the1960s. Your sister Jennifer chimes in with sage green but any earth tone would do - she's gaining her inspiration from her latest trip along the Wonderland Trail in Mt. Rainier. But you? You hate hiking, camping, all things outdoors even - except for the nightlife in NYC. And drunk Eddie - can't forget him. You asked after all, so his opinion should be heard. What does he think? Nude. Au natural. Anything that matches his 'vibe.'

If you do nothing else with this advice, do this...STOP asking for mass opinion on something that should be unique to you. Decorating your home is an honor, a privilege and it's a story YOU get to tell. Does that mean you shouldn't ask anyone? No...but choose selectively. Ask a designer. Yes, you probably need to pay money for their opinion, but listen...they have EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE and can usually give a very good reason for their opinion other than "because it will look nice." You can book your Ask a Designer call here. I call it Decorating S.O.S. because you're probably going to need a bit of help getting unstuck. Or ask a friend...A FRIEND. Not ten friends and definitely not three hundred friends. Ask a friend with great design sensibilities...she'll likely be honored and thrilled that you noticed she has a gifting - one that you wish you had.

But if you insist on moving forward solo, I want to encourage you to use a resource that most of us take for granted, misuse or completely misunderstand. What is this resource, this tool that could be more helpful than polling your 300 closest friends? Pinterest.

If you're not already familiar with Pinterest, you should be. What's better than having a visual search engine with a non-spammy or self-promoting in the 'I want to be an influencer' way? Having a visual search engine with the ability to organize and file all of the gathered pieces of inspiration in one tidy little place! Using Pinterest as a resource for home decorating, however, can easily cross the boundary from resourceful to overwhelming. As you learn to decorate your home and as you are ALREADY overwhelmed every time you go to the pillow aisle at Target, we want Pinterest to be a helpful tool. If you want a full guide for how to learn to utilize Pinterest to it's full advantage - helping you identify your own unique design aesthetic, you can take my course Pinterest 101: Pinning with a Purpose or take my full course (Pinterest 101 is inside the full course) Home Design 101. In the meantime...start here, with these three easy steps for using Pinterest as a tool instead of a distraction.

1. Use Pinterest as a source for INFORMATION, not just inspiration.

Pinterest can be such a fun place to spend a few minutes as you search for whatever it is you're searching for: recipes, raised garden beds, beautiful master bedrooms, but man can Pinterest be a RABBIT HOLE. What was originally the first entry point of inspiration can lead to a wild goose chase ending two hours and several pins away from the thing you were originally searching for. This inspiration overload may be misinterpreted for research, but manifests itself later in indecision, overwhelm, frustration, disappointment and an overall lack of confidence making independent design decisions. When you approach using Pinterest as an information source rather than an inspiration source, your focus changes and you can start seeing the common denominators of the design elements that you gravitate toward. Recognizing and naming these design elements is the beginning phase of understanding your unique design aesthetic and in my humble opinion, this is the MOST CRITICAL thing you can do if you want to learn how to decorate a cozy, cohesive home on your own.

2. Set parameters for the time you spend on Pinterest.

If using Pinterest intentionally is your true intention...setting parameters for the time you spend on the platform is essential. Setting a time limit or a pin limit will help you set a focus and keep that focus. Of course, we both know that setting a time limit without a timer is as good as throwing your hands in the air and saying, 'Just lead me to the rabbit hole now pretty Pinterest pictures!' So, set a time limit with a timer that buzzes - fifteen minutes, maybe twenty minutes, then be disciplined to change gears, shut your computer screen or move away from the computer all together when the timer goes off. You could set a similar parameter with a pin limit - say no more than fifteen pins.

But the question is begging to be asked...WHY? Keeping you free from distraction is the main purpose, but keeping your focus sharp is just as important. Think about the last time you visited the perfume counter in your favorite department store. Smelling all of those powerful scents is nice, but after a while they all blend together. The same concept applies when you're looking at beautiful kitchens...your ability to pinpoint and verbalize why you like what you like lessens. Setting a parameter sharpens your focus.

3. Remove your rose-colored glasses.

Bare with me for one minute...

The easy part of Pinterest is recognizing beautiful pictures. If finding a beautiful picture was the ONLY job we needed to do, we would knock it out of the park. But recognizing a beautiful picture is just the first step. Dissecting that picture into individual design elements, naming those elements and designing around those elements is quite another task all together. More laborious. More tedious. More practice is needed to be successful. MORE.

But if the images we are pinning bare no resemblance to the walls that surround us - if we are only pinning aspirational images, when it comes time to design our own space the translation between an aspirational space and the reality of our own space gets lost.

Let me explain further.

A few years ago I had a client who, before we met in person, used Pinterest as a way to pin images that were inspiring to her. These were aspirational images - images she was hoping her home could some day resemble. Great. Perfect. The images were beautiful and, though she shared about twenty images with me, I immediately saw the common denominator running throughout. She liked bright, airy, white spaces. White. Lots and lots of white. When I arrived at her home, I was greeted by a sea of brown - even her clothing from head to toe was brown. There was brown carpet, brown millwork, brown doors, brown built-ins, and a brown couch. There was even a brown dog. As I started explaining how we could transform her living room into one that felt bright and airy it didn't take long for her to realize that one change was a small domino for change in another room in her home. The project quickly grew in scale. And, while looking at the brown dog laying on the brown couch, I asked her what activities her family liked to do in the room and if she'd still like to do those activities sitting on a white couch over a white carpet (Cheetos and wine night, anyone?). Her priorities changed. She would rather have a home that she didn't worry about dirty dog paws walking across carpet or her kiddos spilling the occasional snack on her all-white couch. What did we do with her design? We pivoted.

Had she removed her rose colored glasses and pinned a room that more reflected her reality our process would have been quicker and she may have initially been less disappointed with the change of plans. But all's well that ends well. We lightened her room without changing every square inch to white.

So, sweet does this change YOUR approach to Pinterest? Are you an aspirational Pinner or do you pin with purpose? And if you purpose is just to copy the image and replicate it in your own home...we need to have another conversation, but you can learn why I think that's another HUGE NO-NO in this podcast:

Want to listen to this blog post? It's a podcast episode can listen here:

Happy styling!



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