5 Practical Tips to Help You Out of the Decorating Doldrums

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Updating your home office is a great way to stay inspired.

The great English designer William Morris, who founded the world’s first home decorating firm, once wrote that we should have nothing around us that “is not useful and beautiful.” 

Morris and his friends thought life simply was better lived according to those principles—and he was right, though sometimes all of us fall into a bit of a rut. Time is short, budgets are tight, our vision narrows, grows a bit stale and inspiration just seems to dry up. That’s precisely when you need to jump start your imagination. It will make you feel better and—in short order—have you back making your home a place of useful beauty.

Here are five practical tips to help you out of the decorating doldrums and keep you inspired:

1. Start a notebook of ideas. Jot down plans, places you can turn for ideas, ideas you’d like to try. If you already have a notebook, reread your old entries to see if inspiration still isn’t lurking there. Add new ideas and aspirations to the old and look for ideas in the remix.

2. Makeover your home office. There’s nothing like rearranging the place where you work to give yourself a fresh perspective and get yourself going again. It’s easy, inexpensive and has an immediate payoff. Put your supplies in interesting new containers, buy a new lamp or re-imagine the way your shelves or storage is set up.

3. You should have an idea board. If you don’t, start one. Pinterest is a great way to start.  If you do, take down all but your very favorites and give your visual inspiration a fresh look with new clippings, vintage or contemporary postcards—always stimulating—and diagrams to keep your creative goals front and center before your eyes. 

4. Comb the magazines and Internet for a new role model. She or he can be an historical figure, someone from the worlds of film or fashion whose style strikes you in a special way or a designer. Collect material and think about what it is that appeals to you about them. Look for ways to bring a touch of what inspires you into your own space.

5. Get out of your house or office and look around. Go to your local museums and spend some time with their design collections. Window shop the home décor and antiques shops in your town. Take a tour of a nearby historic home, no matter what the era. Even going to Sunday open houses is a great way to get inspired (or to get house envy.)

How do you stay inspired?

(The desk, above, belongs to artist and illustrator Lizzy Stewart.)


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  • An idea board is a basic essential for life. Without a doubt.

  • Love the Pinterest boards. They are very inspiring. Where else do you go on Pinterest?

5 Practical Tips to Help You Out of the Decorating Doldrums