Like what you see?
How to Interpret Design Inspiration Photos

Like what you see?
How to Interpret Design Inspiration Photos

In a world where we’re constantly surrounded by inspiration—whether that be digital, in person, or in print—it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly you love about a particular image. This barrier can make the design process difficult, which is why I’m sharing a few helpful nuggets to keep in mind as you look through inspirational photos and determine the look that’s right for your home!

When drawn to an inspirational photo ask yourself,  “what do I love about this?”

Is it the overall feeling that appeals to you, or is it a specific piece? Take time and recognize which is the case because your home is not the same as the inspiration photo and a piece you love from the picture might not give the full room the overall feeling you’re looking for. Remember, it’s all in the details!

It’s a similar idea of loving a pale pink dress on my friend, only to be sorely disappointed to look in the mirror and see what made my friend look pretty in pink made me look washed out and barely alive. 

Make sure to pay attention to the composition of the space so that you can create a plan to achieve your goal. When determining what makes the room, you have to be conscious of what pieces and design elements complement and strengthen each other. There could be an item that you individually love, but it might not be helpful to achieve the overall look. 

I once worked with a client who had the perfect inspiration she wanted to recreate it in her home. She c ordered a brown sofa like the one in the picture, happily anticipating when her home would feel bright, airy, and cozy. Sadly, delivery day came to bring disappointment. When we looked at the space I realized the look she wanted had to be done by proper proportion of color. The inspiration photo was of a home with large windows streaming in natural light and bright white walls, where the brown sofas anchored the airiness in the space. My client’s living room had a wooden accent wall and small windows which didn’t allow much light in, so the brown sofa darkened and weighed the room down. To create the same balance as the inspiration photo we used black sofas to create contrast with her white walls, and allow the brown accent wall to be the warm cozy element. That second delivery day was amazing And while we added a darker piece, the sharp contrast gave the illusion of a bright space! It’s amazing how color composition works. 

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when working on a space. 

  1. What about this item or look am I drawn to?  
  2. Am I drawn to it because others will accept i, or because I enjoy it? 
  3. Am I instinctively drawn to this consistently, or just a momentary excitement over something new?


Gracey Snow—Arhaus Interior Designer

Gracey lives in Austin, Texas-the land of casual clothes, the best music, and the sweetest people. She is an Interior Designer who loves British TV shows, travel, and most of all meeting new people.

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