Need new design inspiration? First, step away from social media

Sometimes it looks and feels like design trends are determined by an algorithm. Lately, all of the interior design images that pop into my Instagram feed look like variations on one theme. The more I hit “like”, the less variation I see. Additionally, because of the sheer number of designers and DIY’ers and the volume of social content they create, the minute that something which feels fresh and original is posted, it gets replicated, overdone, and outdated – almost overnight.

Although I definitely take inspiration from the work of others, I always look for ways to keep my own designs from just feeling like more of what’s already out there. This begs the question: Where should we look for design inspiration if we are in a design rut, or ready to take on a renovation and desire both beauty and authenticity?

Betsy Kornelis
Betsy Kornelis

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking and looking outside the box or, rather, off your feed.

  1. Travel to… the library. You don’t have to fly abroad to get some global inspiration. Check out books about places you’d like to visit, and pull visual inspiration from their pages. Write down what it is about the images that draw you in or spark your imagination. Seek out the design/architecture section for books that are more specific to interiors or buildings.

  2. Step back in time. I always find design inspiration in other people’s old things. Head to a vintage shop and notice the fine craftsmanship of an antique table or the classic shade of colored glassware. Pick up something old to instantly add character and a sense of history to a new build or modern furniture grouping.

  3. Take in an art show. Attend your town’s monthly art walk or visit one of the local art museums. What pieces speak to you? Why? Is it the combination of colors and textures? Use what you like about those pieces to choose your new wall color or purchase throw pillows in the same hues to liven up your neutral sofa. Maybe it's the artist’s depiction of a cozy domestic scene or a vibrant landscape. Think about how you can layer in those qualities at home, or splurge and buy the piece to anchor a gallery wall at home.

  4. Head to the bookstore. I love looking at art, architecture and interior design magazines, but I can’t subscribe to all of them. Head to the bookstore, get a coffee, grab a stack and settle into a comfy chair. Choose publications you might not normally consider and be surprised. Page through and snap photos of things you Iove, then put them back on the rack. I’ll do this and later find myself flipping back through those pictures when I need inspiration or a jumping off point for a new design.

  5. Check out a hotel… You don’t even have to check in. You can just visit an inspiring boutique hotel and take time to absorb the decor in the lobby or the ambiance in the restaurant. Does it feel luxe and well designed? Is the lighting cozy and moody?  Do you love the wallpaper pattern in the fancy bathroom? With purpose and intention, you can incorporate design elements like this into your own space.

Betsy Kornelis is an interior designer in Kitsap County and a regular contributor to the Kitsap Sun. Contact her at

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Design ideas that come from places other than Pinterest