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Beyond Pinterest: 5 Easy ways to find inspiration today

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - style journal

We’re all addicted to Pinterest. And chances are that at least once you found yourself scrolling for hours. Did you find what you were looking for? I’ve been there too.

Sometimes you need to disconnect from technology to uncover fresh ideas and inspiration. And the good news is that it’s easier than you realise.

It’s time to start from scratch and talk about the best places to find inspiration. Whether you’re choosing paint colours or you can’t find the wardrobe you want, this guide is for you.

Why you need constant inspiration

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - contemporary interior

We all like to feel happy at home. Maybe you’re renting or own your place. Either way, putting your personal stamp on your home is something that develops naturally. It doesn’t matter if it takes week or years. And where does this personal stamp come from? It originates from accumulated past experiences that inspired you.

Constant inspiration helps your personal style evolve. You don’t decorate now the same way you did last year, or even a few months ago. It’s an ongoing style growth. Have you ever bought something just to chuck it in a box months later? That piece didn’t inspire you.

STYLE TIP: Design block? Step outside your comfort zone to discover fresh ideas and unique angles. Often, the longest route can be the most inspiring.

If you remove inspiration from the equation, there’s only one part left: imitation. A personal style based on this will never seem complete in your own eyes. Note I’m not referring to interior decorating trends here (that deserves its own blog post). It’s more about copying and pasting a home decor look.

The weird food analogy

Inspiration is like food for your personal style. You need to feed it, but also learn where to obtain the finest “food” from. Think ready meals. They’re simple, quick and can be a lifesaver. But nothing beats the satisfaction of a proper slow homemade meal, with all the effort you put into it.

The ready meals are the “finished” room looks you find in print and on the internet. They’re perfect because design experts have been involved with every single detail. Whereas the homemade meal is a personal process that involved inspiration and creativity. For example, when you create a mood board based on an old painting you love.

Breaking the link

Regardless of your creative field, whether it is interior decorating or writing, you have to break the link sometimes. What does it mean? Let’s imagine you’re looking for inspiration for a bathroom remodel. It makes sense to browse bathroom photos in magazines and on the internet. That’s a clear and practical way to visualise a design.

Don’t stop there though. If you want to go the extra mile, you have to break the link. Look for inspiration in an unrelated field. You will be surprised by the unusual and interesting ideas you can come across. I will share some of the places where you can find inspiration below. But first, we need to talk about Pinterest…

The problem with Pinterest

Beyond Pinterest Discover The Best Places To Find Inspiration - screenshot

Pinterest is one of my favourite social networks. I joined the party late, in 2016. Thanks to my friend Lisa who insisted consistently until I gave up. Many non-users see Pinterest as a collection of rainbow cake recipes and wedding craft ideas — because it is. But there’s more to it.

It’s an excellent tool to curate collections, create mood boards and organise wish lists. I use it to pin mid-century modern and European interiors, including Scandinavian. And also eye-catching architecture. Check Boreal Abode on Pinterest and follow me if you like the theme. This is the “ready meal” I pointed out earlier, and it comes with disadvantages.

How many times have you searched for something and then scrolled for hours until you forgot what you’re looking for? Many suffer the Infinite Scroll Syndrome in silence. Another reported side-effect is the Visual Overload Disorder, where all the pins merge into one to form a multicolour migraine.

Jokes aside, my biggest pet hate with this social network is the persistent lack of sources. How do you fix it? You can try TinEye’s reverse image search to see where the image appeared first. Otherwise, you have to choose who you follow carefully. That’s why only I follow a handful of pinners because they pin only great stuff.

So, let’s say you have a project in mind, and you already had a good browse on Pinterest. You got a couple of ideas, but suddenly you got stuck — it’s OK. Now is the perfect time to break the link and look at things from a different angle. Inspiration is waiting for you. Read below to find out how you can make it happen.

The best places to find inspiration

First, you can’t sit there and wait for the inspiration to kick in. The bulb will not light. Like with all the wonderful stuff, there is effort involved. Be proactive and challenge your creativity. You can be inspired from the comfort of your home. Although if you step out of your bubble, you will be exposed to a realm of ideas.

1. Explore the context

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - victorian house

Imagine you have a box and you don’t know what to put in it. Don’t go through every single object you could chuck in. Instead, study the box. What s is it? Is it reinforced? What’s it made of? The context often provides with many solutions and can spark the first idea.

For example, going back to the bathroom remodel. Do you know what style you should go with? Are you going for wall tiles or wooden panels? Study your house first: the period, the features, the materials and the location. This can help you decide where your design fits within the context of the house.

2. Read a book you love

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - moomin book

This is one of the easiest ways to find inspiration. The secret is to continue with the broken link philosophy. So if you’re looking for interior decorating ideas, get a book you like which is not home decor related. It doesn’t matter whether it is fiction or nonfiction. Your imagination flies when you read, and your mind will be open to new ideas.

In my case, I want to decorate my house with mid-century modern style. If I take the relevant period, the 50s and 60s, I can explore publications contemporary to the modern design movement. Add my beloved Scandinavian influence, and I end up with Tove Jansson’s wonderful Moomin stories. Inspiring at so many levels.

3. Visit your local museum

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - modern art flavin

You need not go far for this one. I’m positive there’s a museum or art gallery in your area. It may be a modest museum inside in the town hall. Perhaps a grand art gallery such as the ones located in capital cities. Have a nose around. Natural history, geology, modern art… Everything goes. Open your eyes and take your time.

Here in Cardiff, we have a fantastic selection of cultural venues. From the National Museum to the Chapter Arts Centre. It was the archaeology exhibition that fuelled my interest in local history. Fast forward ten years it ended up becoming an obsession with Victorian architecture.

4. Try something new

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - italian flower shop

Your comfort zone can be physical and also emotional. Natasha from Candy Pop shared this tip in her latest newsletter and it made me think. In her own words: “Trying something new can enable us to see what we do from a fresh perspective and it’s a joy to create something free of an agenda or brief.”

What does it mean to you? Be realistic, you’re not going to sky dive and ponder about the bathroom remodel as you jump off the plane. It’s much more straightforward — and safe. You can learn a new craft if you’re good at DIY. Or cook a new recipe you’re not familiar with.

5. Step outside

Beyond Pinterest Discover the best places to find inspiration - country lane

Travelling offers countless inspiration opportunities. Wherever you go at least something changes. It could be the landscape, the language, the culture, etc. All these elements on their own are powerful enough to bring you new emotions and fresh ideas. Absorb it all.

Forget about fancy hotels and exotic holidays. This is not about living an Instagram-worthy life. It’s about living your life. You don’t even have to leave the city. Have you visited all the parks in your area? Do you know all the hiking trails around the outskirts?

Where do you find inspiration?

What are the sources that inspire you the most? Would you add another point to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’re still looking for ideas you can check my mood board inspiration posts.

Looking to buy mid-century modern furniture online? Download my PDF shopping guide now ➜
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  1. Maria
    1 week ago

    What a fab post Juan!! Great advice to step away from the norm and seek inspiration elsewhere. I find the best inspiration hits me when I least expect it, which can be a problem if you’re in company or out and about as I’m often found rummaging for my notebook to get it written down before it disappears from my head. Whether this appears as being unsociable or rude is outweighed by the fact that those little grey cells don’t work as well when you hit your middle youth 😉 Maria

    1. Juan Sandiego
      1 week ago

      Thank you for your comment, Maria! I’m glad you enjoyed it. You know, that’s a really good point. Sometimes inspiration hits unexpectedly. Carrying a notebook as you say can be handy (and if anyone finds that rude, well, they have a problem).

  2. Candy Pop
    1 week ago

    Great post, Juan. It’s so good to switch off and explore, isn’t it? Thanks so much for the mention. 🙂

    1. Juan Sandiego
      1 week ago

      My pleasure, Natasha! I can’t write about inspiration without mentioning you and your blog ☺️

  3. Ruthie
    6 days ago

    Juan this is fantastic! One of the best posts I’ve read in ages. I completely agree, I always have ideas that work best when I take proper downtime and let ideas come to me instead of searching them out. I’m a massive, massive fan of Pinterest, it’s my favourite social platform, but as with all the other platforms I worry that algorithms start to dictate our tastes and that we no longer come across things that challenge us as a result and creativity is lost. Thought provoking piece 🙌🏻

    1. Juan Sandiego
      6 days ago

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Ruthie! I love Pinterest too, but as you say, I feel it doesn’t evolve. It sticks to what it knows you liked in the past. I’m glad you find this post interesting ☺️


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