Original Ideas? Pish Posh.

Q: How do you come up with your amazing home ideas? Is it all on your own? Do you have some secret inspiration method? Like the built in wardrobes in your master bedroom and the doorway widening trick that you pulled in your den/kitchen/dining area. I just wish you could teach me how to think like you so I could come up with some original ideas to make my house feel like it’s unique and cool instead of lame and boring! – Lisa

A: First of all, we’ll say this: we’re 100% confident that nothing that we’ve ever done to our house or on this blog hasn’t been done before. We repeat: there’s probably not one original project that we’ve taken on out of the 500+ that we link to on our Projects page. In fact there are probably multiple designers and regular people alike who have done a lot of the exact same things that we’ve tackled (from widening doorways to creating bedroom built-ins) before us, better than us, and maybe even cheaper than us.

Really, it’s true.

It’s kind of like advertising. As a copywriter I felt like every commercial I wrote must have unconsciously been inspired by something else (from my own life and personal experiences to other amazing ads that I studied in college or even from pop culture-ish things like TV or a favorite song). A script couldn’t really come out of thin air, since all that we soak up and experience on a daily basis makes up our sub-conscious and somehow reemerges when we’re channeling that part of our brains and trying to be creative.

And thus I’ve come up with this simple explanation: inspiration is everywhere and we’re like ShamWows- just absorbing it all.

Most of the time we don’t even know that it’s happening. We’re listening to a song or going for a walk and then bam, an idea pops up. Sometimes it’s obvious where it came from, like when we created the post card wall in our office after reading about it in a magazine (read more about that here) or when we whipped up some tone on tone stripes in our bathroom after being inspired by Jenn from Design Star Season Two (read more about that here).

And sometimes it’s just something that we’ve seen done a whole bunch of times that we can’t wait to try (like upholstering a chair, painting a ceiling, making a headboard, building a vanity out of a night stand, taking the door off of our linen closet, or painting the back of a bookcase). These are basic things that lots of DIY lovers have tackled, and in each instance we were excited to try our hand at something that we’d seen successfully done a bunch of times, both in magazines, the blogosphere, and even in our friends’ homes.

Sometimes a project that we take on is just a tweak on something that we’ve seen and thought “hey that’s cool but we can’t afford it”, like when we covered glass vases with cork after seeing a sweet but pricey cork lamp in a shop in Delaware (read more about that here).

Heck, sometimes we honestly have no clue where on earth an idea actually came from, but we’re sure it wasn’t all us (how could it be when we’re so surrounded by inspiration everywhere we look?).

The takeaway here: there’s no secret fountain of creativity, and the best way to tackle your home makeover head-on is to immerse yourself in inspiring TV, magazines, and life in general to find something that really excites you. Then take that ball and run with it baby! We actually think that 1% of the “hurdle” to making over your house is finding inspiration. That’s the easy part (read more about a few ways to do that here).

The other (more challenging) 99% of the process is actually deciding to get moving and committing to doing something that you’ve thought about- even if you’re nervous. Paralysis doesn’t lead to a new looking casa- action does. We’ve toyed with lots of things, but thinking about ideas doesn’t make our house look different. Actually tackling those tasks with excitement and a mild sense of “this-should-work… right?” usually does the trick. You can read more about how we prep for projects and gain confidence as we go here. But the whole act of committing to executing something that you’ve toyed with is really the way to that “I’m so happy I live here” feeling when you walk in the door.

In short: we’re so not special. And the whole mission of this blog is to encourage everyone out there to just do it. Wait is that someone’s slogan already? My bad. The point is that if we can do it, you can do it. There’s nothing magical about us. Quite the opposite actually. We’re so normal it’s crazy.

So go forth and DIY something! What are you guys up to this weekend? Anything particularly fun going on in your house?






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