Your Inspiration Piece is The Fundamental First Step in the Design Process – Decor 101

The first step in the design process is finding your inspiration piece. Once you’ve got an inspiration to work with the other pieces will fall into place much easier so let’s talk about the what, why and how of inspiration.

Many times getting started decorating can be the hardest step. If you’ve ever stood and looked at an empty room and felt overwhelmed I hear you.

Even if you’ve got a few pieces of furniture and you’re trying to figure out how to pull everything together in a cohesive manner, that can be totally overwhelming.

This is where an inspiration piece comes into play in your design plan.

You can follow my design plan to get started quickly but this is a more in depth study on the first step.

What is an inspiration piece?

You can use just about anything as your inspiration piece but typically you’re going to find that a rug, throw pillow, wallpaper, fabric or art is a great piece to get started with.

It can be something new or old, like a favorite item you purchased on a trip or something that has been handed down in your family. But it should be something that you love. Something that makes you feel good when you look at it.

I wouldn’t even discount using a room that you’ve found on Pinterest or in a catalog or magazine as your starting point. Of course I will say that you should never copy a room but you can definitely use one as your inspiration!

An inspiration piece will help you define the colors in your overall scheme and help set the tone for the room that you’re wanting to achieve.

Bedroom with art as an inspiration piece over the bed.
via Pinterest

See how the beautiful art above this bed provides so much inspiration for this room? The boho style is heavy on patterns and colors but you can see how they all work together in this image.

What is NOT an inspiration piece?

While just about anything that inspires you can be used as an inspiration piece, there are a few things that aren’t great choices.

Your Style

There’s a lot of focus on helping you discover your design style and that can certainly help you narrow down what you like, but your style is not your inspiration piece.

Your inspiration piece should embody your style.

Think about how something makes you feel. That art that makes your heart sing or your quilt that makes you smile.

If it inspires you then it will make the rest of your room feel good!

Your Favorite Color

Your favorite color is also not considered an inspiration piece. While color is definitely a large part of your design, it’s more about the combination of colors and patterns that create your style.

Try to find something that has your favorite colors in it. Or something that looks great with your favorite color and you can use as an accent.

Where to Find Inspiration

There are so many places to find inspiration for your home.

I will always refer to Pinterest or Instagram for great inspiration but when it comes down to purchasing I love a good thrift store or flea market. There are so many unique finds in a good thrift store or antique shop.

Sometimes you need to think outside of the box – you can use a piece of fabric as art. You can frame a tablecloth or cloth napkin. Or you could use one of them to create a throw pillow.

I also sometimes find great room ideas on Houzz, but I tend to lean on them more for architectural ideas than for decorating.

My favorite Instagram accounts are listed HERE – and they are endless sources of inspiration to me.

I’m also a lover of magazines and catalogs and I know that the postman probably doesn’t like me too much the first week of each month.

When you’re looking at all these try to find rooms that fit into the look and feel you’d like for your room.

I love so many different styles but it’s easier to narrow things down by trying to picture my family in the actual room I’m looking at. I love a grand castle but I can’t really picture my kids running down the halls of one.

You can admire many things but be sure to take into consideration how you want your home to feel!

How to Use Your Inspiration

Once you’ve chosen your inspiration piece you’ll find that making other choices is a bit easier.

Your inspiration piece can help you narrow down colors and patterns for the rest of your design and it will help steer the direction of the design.

Use this piece to help you select colors and patterns for the rest of your room.

You can create a digital design board (free) to help you picture all of your choices together once you’ve chosen your inspiration piece.

Using Your Inspiration Case Study

For the One Room Challenge last spring we decided to makeover a bathroom in our home. My design inspiration was a fantastic wallpaper and it set the tone for the rest of the room.

Let me first say that a bathroom is a small area but there are also a million design decisions in it. All the way from flooring, shower tile, paint color, cabinetry style, lighting. That’s before you get to adding all the fun details but choosing the wallpaper first made all the other decisions much easier.

choosing colors to match the wallpaper

Any of these colors looked great with the wallpaper and they all fit the vibe that we were trying to achieve, which was fun and funky.

We definitely brought in the funky with some of the accessories but the wallpaper was the basis of the project.

What we ultimately ended up with was painting the existing vanity instead of replacing it so that we could save that expense.

Painted vanity in our bathroom reveal

I found the rug and art at big box stores and then added plants and later a funky vase from local stores.

Remember, to create a space you love it helps to start with an inspiration piece.

This is why it’s so helpful to start with an inspiration piece instead of just purchasing items.

So now that you know how to start you can read more about the Decor 101 series and follow along with the rest of my tips.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest for more inspiration!

You might also want to check out:

Traci Signature | My Simpatico Life Blog

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