I Get All the Best Decor Inspiration in the Most Unexpected (Free!) Place

published Jun 3, 2024
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Living room in traditional British cottage furnished with modern looking furniture.  Green and yellow pillows on Leather sofa with green plant pot.
Credit: ben bryant/Shutterstock

Pinterest is my all-time favorite corner of the internet, thanks to the mood board vibes, creative DIYs, and pages and pages of home decor. But as much as I adore the convenience of scrolling, searching, and saving, there’s something so satisfying about flipping through books and magazines for new (and old) ideas — which is how the library became my unexpected source for decorating inspiration. 

I’ve been obsessed with libraries since I was a kid, and can distinctly remember rolling my red wagon into a nearby branch to stock up on reads (so very Matilda of me!). I’m now within walking distance of my current neighborhood library and make frequent trips to flip through craft books — it’s a great place for crochet, knitting, embroidery, and quilting patterns — check out my book club titles, and browse the new releases section. 

Credit: Jessie Quinn

Last year, I realized that my current library also has a massive collection of home decor books. I recognized some of the newer titles (like Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines) from social media and found some familiar vintage home decor books that my mom used to buy when I was a kid. 

Before Pinterest, decor books and editorial magazines were some of the best resources for decorating a space. You could find all sorts of different styles, color palettes, projects, and more. I always enjoyed looking at the holiday editions, especially the chic pumpkin carvings featured in Martha Stewart Living’s October issues. And I remember my mom — who loves decorating — flipping through her collection of Better Homes & Gardens books. 

Since discovering my library’s interior design section, I’ve added it to my must-browse list whenever I’m there. I love to pull the books out in the aisles, look through the pages, and take photographs of the things that catch my eye. Whether it’s a tutorial for creating a floral arrangement using seashells in Simple Flower Arranging: Step-by-Step Designs & Techniques by Mark Welford, a guide for creating faux built-ins in The New Design Rules: How to Decorate and Renovate, From Start to Finish, or a coastal-grandmother-meets-cottagecore editorial spread in Inspired Interior, library bookshelves are filled to the brim with pages and pages of home decor inspiration. 

Credit: Jessie Quinn

If you don’t live close to a library, you can likely still see its home decor book selection and check out any interesting titles. This isn’t always the case, but many books are available in digital format, and you can check them out through Libby to send straight to your iPad, Kindle, or other tablet readers. 

Whether you’re looking for your next decor styling tip or need a little color palette inspiration for your bedroom renovation, I encourage you to use your local library like a Pinterest board. With books from so many different decades, you’ll find so much inspiration that isn’t online. Plus, there’s something so nostalgic yet timeless about flipping through a home decor book versus scrolling social media on your phone.