When interior designer Helene Brown tells her clients they can look for home design inspiration anywhere, she means it.

“I have had all kinds of different things that people have brought to me for inspiration,” says Brown, an interior designer with Baer’s, a collection of fine furniture stores with 15 locations throughout Florida. “I once did a whole entire house around a dish towel.”

Homeowners today are taking a more active role in planning their home design, looking for inspiration and ideas in traditional and unexpected sources. If they are working with a designer, they are especially enthusiastic about sharing their ideas, interior designers say.

“I see customers coming in educated in the style that they want,” says Brenda Clark, a Baer’s design consultant based in Fort Myers. “They say, ‘I saw how they put this together,’ and ‘This is the look I want.’ At least once or twice a week I have customers emailing me, saying ‘Check this out!’”

Here are tips from interior designers that will help you look for inspiration for your home design — and help you know what to do with it once you have found it.

• Look for inspiration everywhere. The colors and patterns in a dish towel might catch your eye and inspire an entire home, but don’t forget to look for home design ideas in the traditional places, too.

“I urge people to go through magazines and pull out and bring in the things they love,” Clark says.

When looking at home design magazines, don’t be put off by some of the higher-end, expensive furniture and accessories you might find — you can still find inspiration in these designs and figure out ways to work them into your own budget.

“You can get inspirations from [high-end design magazines]] and implement their designs in other ways,” says Anita Catsman, a Baer’s interior designer based in North Palm Beach. “And your higher-end designers will always have more of a scope of design and balance and upcoming color trends.”

Fashion magazines and online sites can also be great sources of ideas for your home design, especially when it comes to color.

“A lot of times fashion mimics inspiration for color, especially with what the trends are,” Catsman says. “Go to clothing stores and see what’s new and upcoming.”

And, if you are hunting for a new home, don’t forget to check out model homes for design ideas, too.

“Many people want their house to look like show houses,” Clark says. “I have clients who come to me and say, ‘I want my house to look like that!’”

• Make a portfolio. As you collect ideas from multiple sources, keep everything that inspires you — photos, clippings, fabric swatches — in a portfolio. If you are putting together your home interior on your own, this portfolio can help guide you as you plan your design.

A portfolio is also an invaluable tool if you are working with a professional interior designer.

“When you sit down with a designer, [a portfolio]] is extremely helpful to get your ideas across,” Catsman says.

• Pick an inspirational point. Among all the things that inspire you, one should stand out as your main inspiration. An inspirational point can be anything — a work of art, a rug, a piece of furniture, a swatch of fabric — that will inspire the direction of the rest of your home design.

“An inspirational point is something that excites you that you can play off to expand on your design ideas,” Catsman says. “The inspirational point can be anything, but it’s great to have when you are starting your project.”


—By Marla Caceres, Brand Publishing Writer