Design Inspiration Revelation: Let's Call It "Google Decorate"

Design Inspiration Revelation: Let's Call It "Google Decorate"

Nancy Mitchell
Apr 30, 2013

You probably think you are pretty good at making inspiration boards. You spend a lot of time browsing design blogs. You've got a good eye. But there's a new sheriff in town. He can hunt down beautiful images to suit any style, and he's lightning fast. What's his secret?


That's right: your new favorite source for design inspiration is Google Images. If you're internet savvy, you might already know that you can drag an image into the search box on Google Images to find its original source. But using a little feature called 'visually similar images,' you can do so much more than that. 

Take this lovely photo from Decor8. Let's say you're looking for inspiration for your workspace, and you love this space and want to find photos of other spaces like it. All you have to do is open Google Images in a new window, and then drag the photo above from this window into the search box. (If you're not using Chrome, you may have to right-click on the image, save it to your computer, and then use the camera icon on the right side of the search box on Google Images to upload the picture.)

Here's what you'll see next:

These are your search results. At the bottom of the page are sites that include images matching the one you searched for. But of course, you're not looking for additional copies of the picture you already have — you want new ones. That's where 'visually similar images' comes in. Click this link, and you'll be shown a veritable treasure trove of office images, all with color schemes that match the original inspiration image. 

Want to make your image search even more specific? At the top of page, in the search bar, Google will autofill whatever it guesses is the best subject for the picture. (In this case it's 'office inspiration' - occasionally Google won't make a guess, and the bar will be blank.) If you want to make your search more specific, or you don't like Google's guess, you can add something new to the search bar (in the main search page), and click the search button to re-do the image search.  Then click 'visually similar images,' and you'll see the 'Google Decorate' search results for the picture you searched + your new text. (The inspiration images at the very top of this article come from searching the picture above with the text 'workspace.') 

This is pretty fun to play around with, using different pictures and different search queries. For example, if you grab the top picture from Isabel and Claire's house tour, and input the word 'colorful' in the search box, you'll get something like this:

A vertitable smorgasboard of images marching Isabel and Claire's airy-but-colorful aesthetic. 

Or take this image from Apartment Therapy contributor Leah Moss's house tour and add the word 'eclectic':

 Voila! A series of images that match Leah's warm-but-elegant style. 

Let's say you really love this kitchen from Elle Decor featuring Cole and Sons' 'Woods' wallpaper. When you drag the image into the search box on Google images, Google will make a guess of 'Cole Woods' for the image. Clever Google. 

Clicking 'visually similar images' will yield a bunch of inspiring photos of images featuring the Woods wallpaper. (And one random photo of a cathedral. Hey, the system isn't perfect.)

(Disclaimer: Google Decorate isn't an actual Google product. It's just a pretty neat thing you can do with Google images.)

Try it — play around and see what you discover!

(Images: as linked above)

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