It’s hard to remember where we turned for quick interior design inspiration before Pinterest and Instagram. These two ubiquitous digital platforms have been around since 2009 and 2010, respectively, and now are the official reigning resources (replacing print magazines!) when it comes to looking for interior design inspiration. While we love both at Centered by Design, we equally enjoy getting out of those bubbles and looking beyond for more ideas that can spark design. Read on for our top unexpected spots to get inspired that you might not expect.
Aside from its beautiful print and digital magazine stories, Luxe Interiors + Design has a hidden gem on its website where you can search through image galleries by space, style and color. For instance, you may browse entryway photos accented with blue, or kitchen images with trendy green accents.
TV & Movies
While others are enjoying the characters and the plot… we interior designers are more interested in the set design, ogling over room details shown on popular shows and films. Two of our favorite interiors-focused shows right now are Devol’s For the Love of Kitchens (airing on Magnolia Network and Discovery+), which illustrates how they get inspired for kitchen designs, as well as Magnolia Network’s The Established Home with designer Jean Stoffer from Grand Rapids, Mich. We’re also suckers for Wes Anderson flicks, including his latest, The French Dispatch (strange movie, stunning set design).
Perusing estate sales offers a treasure trove of inspiration from older pieces of furniture, art and décor. We also love browsing sites like Chairish and 1st Dibs for vintage wares that can add character to a room, or even serve as inspiration for building a room around. (Also see: Our Guide to the Best Vintage Home Goods Stores in Chicago and Beyond.)
Art & Museums
Interior design is an art, so it makes sense to turn to other types of art forms to help inform design. A perennial favorite for us will always be The Art Institute of Chicago, which we are fortunate to have in our backyard. Traveling to other cities and countries can also bring about great opportunity to explore all kinds of museums for inspiration.
We love stretching our minds creatively by taking workshops where we learn to create, such as pottery classes. Getting out of your comfort zone by signing up for a class you might not normally take, such as a photography or styling workshop, can also bring fresh ideas to mind — both through the work itself and through interacting with other creatives in the same space. The pandemic has brought myriad ways to take workshops online, too, if there aren’t any offered in person near you. We loved this online MASTERCLASS by interior design legend, Kelly Wearstler.
Consider this the OG source of design inspiration: experiencing the sights, sounds, dimension and culture of other destinations. A few ways to seek out travel inspiration intentionally include going to a show or conference, such as Maison&Objet in Paris, Salone de Mobile Milano in Milan or Art Basel in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. You don’t have to jet overseas, though; we came back with so many fresh ideas from a quick trip to Santa Barbara, Calif. last year.
Getting outside is good for our bodies and souls, in so many ways. Sometimes a simple stroll through your neighborhood or around a park can bring about fresh inspiration. Two of our favorite spots to visit in Chicago include Garfield Park Conservatory (one of the largest, most stunning botanical conservatories in the country) and Elawa Farm Foundation (a sustainable farm with a weekly market just north of the city in Lake Forest). Spring is nearly here, and we couldn’t be more excited to incorporate more time outdoors into our regular routines.
Interior Design Inspiration: Your Turn!
Now that we’ve shared our seven favorite inspiration sources — we’d love to know yours! Leave a comment below to share what you like to look at, do or visit when you’re in need of an idea boost.