Unlike many of us who may find inspiration online, many of the world’s best interior designers source their inspiration from fellow artists, homeowners, travels around the world – or even a simple garden! Instead of picking up occasional interior design tips, we have asked four of our favorite 1stDibs (opens in new tab) designers to share where they found inspiration for some of their projects. This is what they had to say. 

Where do designers get inspiration from?

With so many images on offer, Pinterest and Instagram can only get you so far, so we asked four of the world’s best interior designers where they most frequently turn to for design inspiration, and here are the responses.

1. Brigette Romanek – Romanek Design Studio 

Inspiration: The homeowner When working on this Los Feliz project (opens in new tab), designer Bridget Romanek (opens in new tab) sourced her inspiration from the homeowner. ‘When doing this project I found inspiration in the homeowner and their lovely energy and knowledge of design,’ Romanek explained. ‘This family is made up of design enthusiasts who know the classics and have a high level of respect for the process, on top of that they were just flat-out fun.’ This sense of joviality is clear in these dining room ideas, with the statement lighting ideas playfully taking some of the seriousness out of the otherwise formal space. ‘The overall mood of this project was liveable luxe,’ she continues. It was not just the homeowner that inspired Romanek in her design process, however, with the designer describing the ‘whole home in its entirety’ as an important bit of workmanship. ‘Being built in the 1920s the home presents beautifully crafted workmanship throughout every room. In the 20s, details were always a part of the story, ie: moldings, trims, and paneling. All of these details have made the building special.  ‘I’m a huge fan of eclecticism, that is my design style,’ she adds, ‘it’s important that all pieces come together with harmony, and balance, and are always supporting each other in a harmonious way.’ ‘The Papa Bear Chairs opposite one another, reign supreme,’ Romanek said when asked about her favorite elements of the home. 

2. Beata Heuman – Beata Heuman Ltd. 

Inspiration: Another designer It is often other designers and artists that inspire the work of some of the best interior designers, and for Beata Heuman (opens in new tab), it was the eye-catching work of Austrian Architect Josef Frank that set the tone for this London Family townhouse project (opens in new tab). ‘It’s the colors, the clean lines, and restraint but also the fantasy of it all,’ Heuman explained. ‘I think his fabric Mirakel which I used on the Wave Longue in the window really pulls the room together.’ It is not just the living room that takes inspiration from the artist’s brightly colored work, however, with the children’s bedroom ideas toying with a bright yellow wall mural in place of more traditional wallpaper ideas.   The inspiration from Frank’s art is clear throughout the project, especially in the living room art ideas. ‘I wanted to have a light and easy feeling, the walls, and curtains are white, the sofa is in plain linen, and I used a lot of soft browns. Despite using a fair amount of neutrals, the room feels colorful, with many pops of colors that make it vibrant,’ she says. ‘I also have an undulating line going around the room, across the back of the daybed, the sofa, the venus chair, and the fire-screen and lyre cabinet. This adds movement to the space and helps make it feel a bit bigger.’ ‘My whole design philosophy is about creating interesting juxtapositions and mixing different styles and I think this room is a good example of that. One detail I added quite late on was the red and white stripy cushions which really lifted the space. I also love how the pink rug gives the whole room a glow, but the wooly Moroccan style is kind of rough, in a good way.’ ‘The Wave Longue daybed that I designed especially for this space is close to my heart,’ the designer says. ‘It’s a striking silhouette which you can also see from the street outside, it has another material on the back of it which makes the main fabric pop even more as you enter the room.’

3. Ariel Ashe & Reinaldo Leandro – ASHE LEANDRO

Inspiration: The garden outside As with some of the other projects on this list, inspiration usually comes just as the project begins to take shape. For the design duo ASHE LEANDRO (opens in new tab), the main inspiration for this family home project (opens in new tab) was found in the property’s garden ideas. ‘There are beautiful maple trees in the front and the back and we were inspired a lot by that foliage. We focused on really bringing those colors into the space.’  The natural elements that pre-existed in the home made the process easier. ‘The home was is for a young family of five and our overall goal was comfort but also rooted within the location of the home. The great bones were already there, the woodwork, the exposed bricks,’ they explained, ‘it was more about accentuating the palette with the furniture and sustainable fabric choices.’  It is important to note that the inspiration for a space rarely comes from only one place. In this home, it was an astounding antique piece that also helped direct the project. ‘The Torso of a Buddha, an antiquity piece from the Northern Qi Period dating from 550-577 CE from Throckmorton Gallery’ was a great piece of workmanship, the duo highlighted. 

4. Bryan O’Sullivan – Bryan O’Sullivan Studio 

Inspiration: The client’s existing collections The personality behind the home is always a big draw of inspiration for many designers, and this London home (opens in new tab) was no different for Bryan O’Sullivan (opens in new tab). ‘The goal for this project and the client’s brief was to add personality and playfulness to the house, while still functioning as a place to entertain family and friends,’ O’Sullivan said. ‘She loves mid-century modern decor and design and collecting antiques so she wanted to incorporate this into the spaces to create a homely interior. ‘She loves color too and is really into fashion and design, so we wanted to create a home that reflected her passion and flair.’ An emphasis on decorating with antiques inspired some of the stand-out workmanship within the property. ‘The walls in this space were very important to us and we used a local craftsperson to add a Venetian Marmorino plaster finish to the walls,’ O’Sullivan explained. ‘This was a special detail we wanted to get right as the client wanted this space to be super airy and bright.  ‘I feel the stand-out design move in this room was curating and selecting antiques that are not only visibly appealing but are also functional in their use and for everyday living. I think creating a well-balanced space and using furniture and fabrics that speak to each other and complement one another graciously.’ ‘There is most definitely a sense of dialogue between the pieces of furniture, the art, and the objects within the space,’ O’Sullivan continues. ‘The collected pieces within the space are all either antique or bespoke. The client travels frequently and has lived in Paris, London, Dublin, and New York, so she has a very international and eclectic approach to design which I feel is translated within this room and she was not afraid to let us source amazing antiques and objects for the space. All of the pieces sourced for the room were carefully considered to each have their own identity and charm but also to work cohesively together with the space. I love how the Julep sofa from Monologue which is quite contemporary works so well with the antiques and the soft curves help to give a slight femineity to the room. ‘The style for this project was maximalist, eclecticism, and was a fantastic opportunity to work with the client to form such a playful project.’

About 1stDibs 50

1stDibs (opens in new tab) is a leading luxury marketplace for extraordinary design, connecting design lovers worldwide with coveted sellers and makers of vintage, antique, and contemporary furniture,  home décor, fine art, jewelry, watches, and fashion. The 2022 1stDibs 50 spotlights a fresh and diverse group of talent. Notably, it features 20  designers who are new to the list this year. Of the 50 total firms, half are female designer-led, and 13 are Black and historically underrepresented designer-led. The 1stDibs 50 reflects the brand’s commitment to supporting deserving talent around the world. 

How do designers stay inspired? 

One of the main ways designers stay inspired is to constantly be on the lookout for new things to try or take inspiration from. Continuously staying open to new challenges and ideas allows many designers to explore ideas more freely and apply similar concepts in their work.