Four Sources of Inspiration for Your Interior Design Project

If you are at a loss with where to start with your interior design project, a little research can work wonders. If the interior magazines and homeware catalogs are not getting you anywhere, leave the house and start looking elsewhere.

1. Nature

The great outdoors is a clear source of inspiration for many product designers. The swirl of a shell, the leaves of a plant, the aerodynamics of a bird, all contribute to our technology and our design landscape. When perfection is at your disposal why not learn from it? The essence of beauty comes from our appreciation of nature so why not use it as a starting point for our ideas? Take a camera with you and get some pictures of the different textures you come across, the types of wood you like and the color palettes which naturally work so well together.

2. Museums

Visiting museums is an excellent source of inspiration that will not only delight and entertain us but also broaden our minds. If someone has gone to the huge effort of creating something magnificent and worthy of a place on our museum floors then surely it could have been the spark of an idea for your home. Take the kids and visit the Wallace Collection and the V & A, they'll love it once they're there! Remember to buy some postcards or take a brochure home with you so that you can begin stock piling the beautiful things that inspire you.

3. Restaurants and hotels

Go to restaurants and stay in hotels that have been decorated in ways that might appeal to you (it's all in the name of research you must tell your husband!). Enjoy tea at the Ritz or in the Glaswegian tearooms that Mackintosh designed. Remember to take photos not just of your food but of your beautiful surroundings, and ask the proprietor where they got their furniture and where the inspiration for their interiors came from.

4. Period properties

If the past intrigues you and you want to understand how interior styles have changed across the years, visit some of the country's many fantastic historical houses. Or go one larger and visit the Palace of Versailles for a peek into the world of Louis XIV and experience the famous room of mirrors. Go to St. Louis Paul's cathedral for an understanding of the 'Restoration period'. See the Royal Crescent in Bath and admire the Georgian style of architecture. Pop to Paris for a saucy weekend and check out the Arc de Triomphe with its Empire style. Have a weekend by the sea in Brighton and enjoy the Royal Pavilion for its unique spin on Chinoiserie. And celebrate the Arts & Crafts period at the Red House in Kent.

All these sources have so much to teach you. Some you will admire, some you will not, but this is the essence of working out what your authentic style is – working out what you like. Sometimes I find just understanding it, appreciating it in its own context, making it more appealing. So maybe you'll learn to love things you have not previously even noticed.