No Travel, No Problem! The Best Places for Interior Inspiration May Be Closer Than You Think, According to Designers

published Jan 16, 2022
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Credit: Natalie Jeffcott

As the late Anthony Bourdain once wisely said, “Travel changes you.” No matter how extensive your own excursions, there’s a lot to be said for the positive power of travel, from immersing yourself in new environments to recharging and disconnecting. It carries major weight in the design realm, too. Parisian-influenced and coastal-inspired spaces, for instance, have remained longstanding style go-tos. In fact, if you happen to ask a group interior designers where they source their primary decorating inspiration, it’s a safe bet most will allude to their travels.

Lo and behold, we actually did just that: as part of Apartment Therapy’s 2022 State of Home Design survey, our team prompted interior experts to weigh in on their upcoming trend predictions. Within the questionnaire, participants were prompted to share where they seek inspiration. Travel remained a frequent response… but with a twist. Because the pandemic has complicated safe travel plans, especially internationally, a few designers cited some genius local creative channels that anyone can easily tap into themselves.

Museums and art galleries topped the list. Designer Gia Sharp of Brooklyn, New York, harped on both of these, especially the latter. “Artists really know color and proportion and are brave in experimenting with both,” she notes. “I’m currently inspired by the fabric artist and master pattern-mixer, Gio Swaby, and the energetic painter and muralist Frankie Zombie.”

As for museums, Leah, a Los-Angeles based interior designer, makes it a point to attend one(s) in every city she visits. “Last was the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago,” she says. “Before that, it was the Met Museum in New York where I found inspiration in the ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’ exhibit.” You don’t have to venture far from home to get the same effect though; art displays and museums in your own area are both easy venues to hit for a fresh dose of design influence.

The same holds true for hotels, another popular travel-related response. Book a nearby staycation, and you’re bound to walk away with new decorating perspective, even if it’s something as simple as the styling of the bed. “From hotels, you get to understand creating a luxury experience from the fabrics, lighting, and even scents used then translate it to everyday living,” explains Memphis, Tennessee-based designer David Quarles IV. Plenty of boutique hotels nowadays also double as borderline galleries, thanks to unique art installations and contemporary room decor.

Moral of the story, with travel currently limited, you don’t have to (literally) scour the ends of the Earth for interior inspiration. Heck, another designer — Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow in Atlanta, Georgia — referenced local coffee shops. Even an at-home movie night can spark ideas: Design editor Heather Goerzen adds that films, specifically period pieces and imaginative musicals, have been particularly affecting within her own work. “The immersive sets, with influences from past decades or spectacular scenes, always sparks novel and interesting design ideas,” she says.

If there’s still a travel-sized hole putting you in an inspiration rut, tap into social media — the second most popular overall response to this survey question. “Instagram is my biggest source because it saves me time in viewing several types of inspo at once: photography, architecture, florals, and other designers’ work,” says Catasha Singleton, owner and principal designer of ModChíc Interiors. To that note, broaden your horizons and get some virtual wanderlust by adding more international designers, artists, architects, hotels, etc. to your follow list. Read: you don’t even have to leave the couch for instantaneous design ideas.