The Best Places For Interior Design Inspiration Outside The Internet

Love it, hate it, or love to hate it, the Internet is where we find many decor trends—like the viral shower lamp—and the naming of surprisingly popular design styles—like bookshelf wealth. And though we wouldn’t give it up for the world, there is such a thing as too much screen time.

Chronically online, screen fatigue, brain rot—these phrases capture how the Internet can exist as an all-consuming, exhaustive experience. A common theme among our own editors and designers alike is that using social media and different creative sites for interior inspiration can quickly turn from exciting to overwhelming. Because we have the ability to see what everyone is creating and designing at all times of the day, our feeds have become oversaturated. That’s not to say that finding inspiration online is dead, but it’s important to unplug, maybe touch some grass, and remind ourselves to see the beauty of the world right in front of us.

We asked different interior designers to share where they find inspiration outside of the Internet to get out of a creative rut. Keep reading to see where these six tastemakers find design inspiration IRL.

“My favorite forever inspiration has always been the summer camp I grew up going to—and still visit today! Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp outside of Pittsburgh, right by Fallingwater, has been an inspiration since youth,” Leanne Ford tells House Beautiful. “I am drawn to all things outdoors (the cabin type of camping, mind you, not so much the tent kind). The camp was first built in the fifties and the midcentury touches that remain have been a big inspiration to my aesthetic. Think Quonset huts and all! Forest bathing, turning off the phone, turning off the computer, and sitting by a lake for a week with no Wi-Fi really clears the creative mind. I come home (begrudgingly) and hit the ground running.”

a fountain with lights in a park

The Deer Valley Folk Fest.

a living room with a fireplace

Ford’s Haldeman project, completed by Leanne Ford Interiors.

Amy Neunsinger

“Those who know my work know that I shop the Paris flea markets extensively—these are and always have been an endless source of inspiration for me. I’ve been going for many decades and take my clients shopping there as often as I can—the indoor Marché Serpette and outdoor Marché Paul Bert are my favorites,” Garrow Kedigian says. “The way each flea market booth is set up is almost like a miniature vignette; all the vendors are so in tune with the way they display their pieces, it’s such an inspiration… I love the way things are organized and sometimes I even purchase them in unison because of how they look together.”

flea market

digitalimagination//Getty Images
a bathroom with a mirror and a sink

One of Kedigian’s projects that took inspiration from the flea market.

Garrow Kedigian

I collect vintage design books and consider them the biggest source of inspiration. ThriftBooks is my favorite [for sourcing], as is Cape Fear Books on Etsy (who used to be a former House Beautiful editor and now runs an excellent vintage interior design book business!),” Ariel Okin explains. “The hunt for vintage designer books is so much fun, and being able to refer to my library is really invaluable for inspiration. I will look at how Swedish interiors used paint as a medium on their furniture in different patterns and apply that when I’m looking for a new pattern to paint on a floor, for example; or I’ll deep dive on how classic English interiors place a huge premium on quality upholstery.”

a table with a vase of flowers and a basket of books

Carmel Brantley

Okin incorporated interior design books into her trellis garden design at the Kips Bay Show House.

“Nozawaonsen, Japan, specifically in the winter, is one of the most magical places I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. A steep-hills mountain village first established in the 13th century, the architecture is equal parts a Studio Ghibli movie and all the bonkers conveniences of Japan,” Noz Nozawa (no relation to the town) explains.”What really inspired me about Nozawaonsen was how, despite it being a destination for winter sports, the town really felt designed chiefly for its residents. This is usually how I think about interiors—yes, your guests are so important, but let’s design the house for you! After having spent time in global cities like Tokyo with the infrastructure to cater to international tourism, I really enjoyed being a visitor in a place that welcomed me but didn’t go out of their way for me—and that’s saying something for Japan, given how the entire Ryokan hospitality culture is native to the formation of the country.”

nozawa onsen, japan at dawn

Sean Pavone//Getty Images
a large tub in a room

A bathroom project by Nozawa inspired by the village.

Christopher Stark

“Travel has the biggest impact for me—getting out of my everyday routine and seeing how people in other parts of the world experience their everyday environments is very inspiring. Rome has left a particular impression on my work, because there is such a palpable historical richness to the way modernity and antiquity coexist there,” Tara McCauley says. “I have made an effort to travel off the beaten path and walk around as many side streets as I can. I caught glimpses of some apartment building lobbies which had boldly shaped terrazzo flooring and took that inspiration home with me, painting the kitchen in my last apartment a terrazzo-inspired design.”

a room with a table and chairs

MJ Kroeger

McCauley’s terrazzo-inspired kitchen.

One of my places of refuge is in San Juan, Puerto Rico—the Cannon Club, which is part of the Gallery Inn,” David Quarles IV says. “Once you’re there, it’s about letting in the outside. You walk in and it opens up to this atrium—there’s even a pool that’s just in the middle of the atrium that backs up to the bar.

It’s where old world meets new. It’s like an old pirate chamber, basically. It’s all plants, like the jungle has taken over an old castle. And with music playing on the old Steinway pianos, and having the outside pour into the inside with water overflowing from the pool, it’s just really nice, and it helps me infuse natural life into spaces.”

a person standing on a staircase

The Cannon Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Courtesy of The Cannon Club
a kitchen with a sink and a table

A restaurant bathroom Quarles designed, taking inspiration from the Cannon Club.

Sarah Rossi


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