Interior Design Process: How to Get Out of Pinterest Purgatory

interior design process online interior design for kids

In high school and college, my walls were covered in pictures I’d torn out of magazines, photos and postcards, lots of goodies. I loved it! I was surrounded by all the things that made me feel good visually. But I can tell you, not a single one of those inspirations translated into a future room of mine. Why? I had no idea what to do with them! They were pretty to look at but I had no idea how to make that leap from inspiration to execution.

These days Pinterest is seriously the same idea for lots of people, myself included. Except there are waaaay more ideas to choose from. And the rooms look so perfect. And it’s STILL hard to know what to do with those pins except feel overwhelmed and file them in another board never to be seen again.

Enough. Today’s the day. Today’s the day we take those ideas you’ve lovingly collected and made a plan. I’m going to share (and then walk you through) my interior design process. We’ll use a nursery (c’mon, they’re my fave) but you can apply this process to most projects in the same way. Let’s go!

Interior design process step one: take stock of where you are

This is the first step of the interior design process, and it’s probably the same for a lot of other projects non-design related. Sit back and observe. What’s working the way you want it to? What’s super duper not? What parts of your room are you keeping? Are are you starting from scratch? Now write those things down. 

Among the things you have on the “keep/already have” side, I’d like you to pick an inspiration piece. This can be loads of things….a quilt sewn by your grandmother, a band t-shirt from a concert you attended, wallpaper. Really, the sky’s the limit; just have an inspiration.

interior design process online interior design for kids

Interior design process step two: research and idea gathering

Prepare yourselves, friends, you are most likely headed to the Pinterest planet. It’s actually a good thing; you have access to so many inspiring photos. But also, you have access to so many inspiring photos. Here’s how to approach it:

  • Get specific! If you are looking for a crib, like we are, write as much about that room as you think you know. This could be “modern nursery” or “crib painted black”. The more you can narrow it down for the Pinterest brain, the less “noise” you’ll get.

  • It sometimes helps to throw in your city in the search. “Cribs in Seattle” will bring up photos of, you guessed it, cribs in Seattle. You can get an idea of some of the style in your area, but also it’ll bring up things that you might not have thought of including in your design. For example, Seattle decks are going to look a lot different than San Diego decks. For good reason.

  • Grab a few inspiration pics (seriously, set a limit for yourself either in time or number of pins) and then narrow down to 3-5 of your favorite. With that, we’re on to…

interior design process online interior design for kids

Interior Design process step three: take a closer look   

You’ve got your 3-5 inspirations. Great! That’s a huge step! Next you’re going to look at the pieces of furniture, rug, painting that you have on your “Need” list. Do you notice any similarities? It’s okay if you don’t! you’ll see below that I got three completely different cribs from the rooms I collected.

Secret designer Pinterest trick: look at the description of the room you chose. Often it will tell you more keywords you can use for future searches. You may have put in “crib with light wood” and your image is titled “Scandinavian nursery”. Aha! Your style could be in line with Scandinavian décor should you need another search

Secret designer Pinterest trick: a complete room can help you visualize things you hadn’t thought of including. “Ooh! Look how those curtains look with that dresser! Hmmmm.”

Ideas for your items needed in mind? Let’s go talk to your inspiration piece

interior design process online interior design for kids

Wouldn't this be the coolest inspiration for a teen room? Love!

Interior Design process step four: get by with a little help from your friends

Give your inspiration piece a good look. What colors really speak to you? Are there a lot of textures? What has drawn you to this? Write those things down. Now we’re connecting those traits to your “need list”.

With this said, most people will want to keep the number of colors and amount of colors lower than the neutrals. Not all! if that is you and you go all out, you go! If you’re investing in a piece you’d like to keep for a while, opt for classic, no-frills and neutral. It’ll be so flexible for future plans you won’t believe it.

For those of you out there saying, “but I hate grey!” I totally hear you. The palette of neutrals is being pleasantly expanded. Navy plays along, certain greens are versatile, I’ve even seen that rose quartz pink playing nicely with friends. Don’t limit yourself to white, black, grey, although they’re always an option. Guess what? You’re nearly there!

Interior design process step five: let ‘er rip

Okay, you’ve got your inspiration. You know the items you need. You’ve got an idea of what qualities of these items you’d like; time to shop!

You can head off to the shops armed with this plan, but me being me, I’m going to show you how to do it all online.

Go to Google and type in as specific as you can. “Pink and blue Persian rug”. And then (here’s the trick), click over to the Shopping tab at the top. Your typical Google search will be answered in the main, “All” tab. Right next to it are choices like “Images”, “Videos”, “Maps” and “Shopping”. You know where you’re headed!

There are lots of filters you can use here including how close to you Google searches or what specific company you’d like. Cost! Cost is a filter, and a handy one at that! Experiment with having a super narrow and a larger focus until you find one you like. Not seeing anything? Don’t panic! Try typing in a similar search. Remember those phrases Pinterest gave you? Use them here.

google search results interior design process online interior design for kids

Repeat until you’ve got concrete ideas/links for everything you need. Once you’ve hit this milestone, save images of the items on your list, or screen shot them, get them so that you can move them around. Now line them all up or collage them and see what you think. Are the colors fairly balanced? Do they make sense with your inspiration piece? Is something off? Here’s where you can swap things out as needed.

You know what, my friend? You’ve done it. Be proud of yourself! You used the interior design process and you now hold the specific links needed to create the room you designed. It’s completely original and perfect for your family. How great does that feel?

The interior design process can be a long one. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete it in one sitting. I never do! If you get frustrated, anxious or just tired, put it aside until later. I can tell you from experience that being stubborn and fighting a design never ends well.

If you’re just stuck altogether, hit me up. I’ve got room options from a Room Review/ jump start to a full room design. And I’d love to help.