Want a unique home? Stop using Pinterest!
Don’t you just hate it when you find an idea you love, only to notice that the whole world is doing the same thing?
It’s a symptom of the digital age. The Internet and social media have allowed us to share ideas that can travel the globe in seconds. On one hand, this is great for design buffs - we have more access to inspiration than ever before. But on the other, ideas that become popular go viral, and eventually it seems like everyone is replicating the same trends.
If you’ve noticed this, then you’re not alone. In 2016, The Verge published an article called ‘Welcome to Airspace: How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world’. Raw wood, exposed brick and Edison bulbs all come under fire:
‘It’s not that these generic cafes are part of global chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee, with designs that spring from the same corporate cookie cutter. Rather, they have all independently decided to adopt the same faux-artisanal aesthetic. Digital platforms like Foursquare are producing "a harmonization of tastes" across the world.’
As you can probably tell, the article is pretty disdainful about the homogenization we’ve seen in the design of cafes, restaurants, offices and other public spaces - but I think that a similar thing has happened in our homes. Yes, trends have always existed, but there were big differences from place to place. The more connected we have become, the more exposed we are to the same popular ideas, repeated over and over on our social media feeds.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a house full of Scandinavian furniture if that’s what you love. But if you crave something a bit more off-beat, and ideas that don’t come from the hive mind of the Internet, you’re in the right place.
Pinterest: It’s a problem
I am a Pinterest addict. But it’s because of that that I also have a healthy scepticism for it. It’s an amazing repository of countless ideas, like a never-ending interior design magazine. It’s a great tool for creating mood boards and communicating visual ideas with other people. It’s also where the same images get regurgitated again and again...and again. Believe me, I’ve seen them.
While Pinterest might seem like a social platform with a creative bent, it’s actually much more like a search engine. Type in a search term, and like Google, it will give you pins that their algorithms deem ‘the best’. This is based on a complex web of factors, but one of the most important is popularity. Pinterest recommends the pins that are the most pinned, the most ‘tried’ and therefore, the most appealing to the masses.
This is often no bad thing. There’s a reason things appeal to the masses, after all - there’s no smoke without fire. But if you want your home to represent you and your personality, it isn’t the best source for unique ideas.
Relying on Pinterest too much runs the risk of you only coming into contact with the most tried-and-tested designs. By the time a pin climbs through the ranks, they are also (usually) old designs. They’ve had plenty of time to catch on with hundreds if not thousands of people. Finding something unusual on there means digging deep, which can be time-consuming.
There’s still a place for Pinterest in the design process, but if you’re at the very start of a project - or just realising you want your home to be more ‘you’ - it’s time to take a step back from it, just for now. Instead, try some of these sources for unique, personal interior design ideas.
Where to look for unique interior design ideas
Places you’ve been
Travel is a great source of ideas, especially for design. If you’ve ever been somewhere and wished you could stay forever, ask yourself why that is. It could have been the room you stayed in, the sights you saw, or just the landscape of that region. You could recreate the look, or if you’d prefer something less thematic, just use the colours, textures and shapes that remind you of it. Items you purchased there, photos and souvenirs can also be great display pieces.
Hobbies & passions
Not every hobby lends itself to being an inspiration for design. However, there are some - like art, music, or a love of the outdoors - that can easily influence your home, and bring out some of your personality.
For example, if you love Agatha Christie novels, you could start looking for design ideas in the books, TV shows or films. Take inspiration from the design of the homes Poirot or Miss Marple visit, display attractive editions of her books on your shelves, or simply use colours that evoke that era...it’s entirely up to you.
Speaking of books, there are plenty out there that could inspire you, from coffee table books specifically aimed at designers to old editions hardly anyone reads today. Rifle through the books in your local charity shops and second-hand book stores - you might find something that the rest of the world has forgotten about.
Museums & heritage sites
Anywhere that stores and displays old things is a goldmine for design ideas - and not just for the period drama lovers among you. There are museums devoted to all kinds of things, from places like St Fagans that recreate a long lost way of life, to tiny museums for novelty teapots. Whatever you feel drawn to, take note of it.
Other types of design
If you know exactly what kind of clothes, architecture or artwork you like but are clueless when it comes to finding original interior design ideas, simply borrow from areas you feel more confident about. Your other tastes can translate to your home, even if they come from unexpected places. Adverts, posters, video games...anything visual has the potential to help you out.
This might sound a bit confusing, but your home in its current state - the bare bones of it - can be design inspiration in itself. So, use the property as a guide. The parts you like already, its history and the era it was built in, any interesting details you discover under wallpaper or hidden behind cupboards - all can inform how you put your own stamp on it. There may be some one-of-a-kind ideas right under your nose.
These sources of inspiration are unlikely to reinvent design as we know it, but what they can do it take your home from generic, or influenced by mass media, to a place that feels like ‘you’. And, if you mix your ideas, you’ll end up with a home that is eclectic and original - quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen on Pinterest.
By Amy Murnan