As anyone who has ever gotten lost browsing the design catalogues on sites like Pinterest, Dwell, or Apartment Therapy knows, the Internet is a gold mine of inspiration. Often, the hardest part of decorating or redecorating is narrowing down the particular aesthetic you want in your home. Visiting a home improvement store and staring at a wall full of color swatches will never get you anywhere. But spending a few hours online will help you begin to recognize the particular color pallets that draw you in most. You will soon get a feel for the materials that best resonate with you and the styles that put your mind at ease.
Online DIY forums are also a fantastic place to discover tutorials that will help you create and modify one-of-a-kind furniture and decorations. Connecting with craftsmen and artists will empower you to take a more hands-on approach to your own decorating process. You can learn from their experiences and build upon their ideas to send your own interior concepts in exciting new directions.
While inspiration might seem like an obvious use for online design communities, many of us don’t realize how potent these communities can be for forging connections. The site CoContest is a platform for connecting homeowners with professional designers. Users simply photograph the spaces they want to redesign, post their requirements on the site, and then evaluate a host of proposals submitted by designers. The homeowner chooses a winner and thereby purchases the design plans. So CoContest creates a competitive bidding environment wherein professionals from around the world enter a contest to redesign your space.
Sites like Houzz serve a similar connective function. With Houzz, you can browse a massive database of design photos, filtering based upon a wide range of criteria to find exactly what you are looking for. When you do, the site connects you with local contractors and interior designers who do the work needed to bring the style you want into your home. On the one-stop platform, you can also shop for furniture and decoration based on items you find in the photographs, similar to the way you can “shop the look” on useful sites like Nabru. These online communities put design elements and professional decorators right at the tip of your fingers.
The environment we create in our home impacts every aspect of our lives. If your home is a chaotic atmosphere, that chaos will resonate in your work life, your psychology, and your relationships. On the other hand, if your space is thoughtfully designed to soothe, inspire, and motivate, those impacts will continue to exert a positive influence on your life long after you leave home in the morning. So while we may know what general type of aesthetic we want to achieve with our interior design, we might not always know about the vast range of psychological effects minor features of the home can produce.
In eastern philosophy, feng shui is a set of design principles that has been developed and perfected over thousands of years to optimize healthy living. It dictates that the foot of the bed should face the door, that design should achieve symmetry whenever possible, and that air circulate freely in the home.
On the other hand, western psychological studies have shown that blues induce a soothing and calming effect on the mind, while greens enhance productivity and reds stimulate appetite. Meanwhile, blue-tinged lighting is known to interrupt circadian rhythms and certain materials are known to assuage respiratory issues.
There is a staggering amount of knowledge that can be utilized to optimize the comfort of your home, and online design communities are the foremost aggregators of this valuable information.
So if you are planning to redesign your home, don’t do it alone. Join, contribute to, and utilize the tremendous potential of online communities. With a bit of help, you can design yourself a better life.