Stylist Secrets: How To Go From Inspiration Photo to Dream Room

published Jan 12, 2015
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

You spot it — a photo of room that’s everything you’ve always dreamed of. It’s the inspiration photo you’ve been hunting for that perfectly sums up the kind of style you want to emulate in your own home. But now what? How do you go from an inspiration photo to turning your room into your dream? Without getting completely overwhelmed or losing sight of your design intentions along the way? We’ve got your tips.

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Break the inspiration photo down into parts

What are the colors in the space? The big furniture pieces? The accessories? The architectural details that add character? Make a list — an inventory. But don’t stop at just objects. What are the design principles in the space? Do they have a lot of balance? A lot of harmony? A little bit of mismatched bohemian-ness? Write it down.

Take stock of your existing elements

Write a list of everything you’ve already got in the room or that you could bring into the room from other parts of the house. Don’t just write down what you want to keep — write it all down, broken down in a similar format as the inspiration photo’s list above.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Get realistic

There are just certain limitations you’ll have to contend with before going from an inspiration photo to a dream room, among them space, the type of architecture your home came with, the size and of course, budget. Go down that inventory from the inspiration photo and start crossing off or making substitutions. Things that have no alternate and can’t possibly be implemented get taken off the list. See something you can’t afford but know you could DIY? Make a note. Would love a designer Italian couch but can’t possibly fit that into the budget? Make a note to find an alternative.

Compare inventories

Now set those two lists side-by-side and see what’s missing from your current list. Decide what needs to be bought, DIYed, and which design principles implemented.

Do the research now

Look at what needs to be bought or DIYed and actually find the DIY project you’re going to tackle. Look for the object that needs buying and find a store to resource it from now. Make lists of the supplies and tools you’ll need for your DIY projects now. Get a running list of how much this is all gonna cost.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Make an ordered plan and schedule

Now that you’ve got the raw data needed to take a room from its current state to looking more like an inspiration photo, take one last look at everything to cut out things that don’t fit your budget or style. Then figure out if any objects or DIY projects need to be acquired in any specific order, and create a loose road map of when you’re gonna be adding these elements into your space. Sign up for newsletters for stores with objects you want to buy so you can get the latest news on sales and grab things up at a deal.

Do what you can now

You might not have all the furniture pieces and accessories you want right now, but unless you’ve got a completely empty room, you can start laying the groundwork for applying the types of interior design principles you want in your space to give all the kind of feel and mood you want in your home.

Be open and flexible and take it one step at a time

Know that things will change. Stuff you thought might work might not look good after all. You might find your tastes evolving as this room evolves, your ideas veering off from the original inspiration photo. Everything and anything is totally okay. Stay open and flexible so you end up with a room you love in the end!