Non-Creepy Peeping: Getting Inspiration from Neighbors

Non-Creepy Peeping: Getting Inspiration from Neighbors

Carolyn Purnell
Dec 11, 2012

What with all the inspiration online, it's easy to spend hours immersed in beautiful photos, but I've recently been trying to slow down, pay attention, and find muses in the real world. Consequently, I've realized that my daily walks through my neighborhood inspire some of my best ideas, and it's often these glimpses into other people's homes that give me the best insight into my own.

Last week, Tess posted about mooching off neighbors' holiday cheer, and a few weeks ago, Jenny from Little Green Notebook wrote about getting inspiration for her new chandelier from a neighbor's lilac beauty. And I'm certain that they aren't alone in their curiosity; I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten plenty of ideas just by paying attention to the homes of others while I walk or ride my bike around the neighborhood.

Since I've started writing for Apartment Therapy, I've thought a lot about the acceptable limits of voyeurism. Some people would probably find it strange to look into other people's homes, but for me, I think it's an entirely natural impulse to take in one's surroundings and to be curious about the ways that other people live. I would never advocate intrusive or prolonged snooping, but the split second that it takes to glance at curtains or a striking paint job can be truly eye-opening.

To my mind, when you pay attention to homes in your neighborhood, it really gives you a sense of how the community lives. Each city or town has a distinct look, color palette, or approach to life, and in many places, these can even vary radically by neighborhood. While playing a bit of "quick open house" certainly feeds my curiosity and love of interiors, I also like to think that it gives me a better feel for how my style and home fit into their surroundings. Furthermore, given that I live in an area where many apartments share significant architectural features, it's really helped me think about my home within a particular context, as well as to realize just how diverse the spaces within that context can be, despite a lot of architectural similarity.

Do you share this tendency to peek into windows (in a non-creepy way, of course), and if so, have you gotten ideas from it, or is it just a means of satisfying curiosity?

(Image: Carolyn Purnell)

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