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Stop by an art supply or stationery store and take a look at their paper goods selection. The back room of Artist & Craftsman Supply in the University District is full of colorful papers. (Photograph by Melanie Biehle/Seattle Refined)

Five ways to get inspired to decorate your home

In my line of work, a big part of my daily life involves gathering inspiration. Sometimes it's intentional. I'm actively seeking out images that will lead to ideas to inform a current project. But a lot of the time it's just part of what I do when I'm out in the world, doing things that aren't directly related to my work. I'm usually focused on elements for graphic design projects, but the same type of methods work for interior decor and design work. Next time you feel stuck in a decor rut, try some of these tips to spark your creativity.

1. Pay attention.

We live in an age where we carry around small rectangles in our pockets that house powerful computers. Unfortunately, we often spend too much of our time looking down at them rather than observing what's going on around us. Try keeping your phone in your bag the next time that you're walking around your neighborhood. Take the time to really see your surroundings. You'll begin to notice things that lead to creative ideas later.

2. If you're drawn to it, even if you don't know why, document it.

Remember those small rectangles I mentioned earlier? They're not all bad. We have so many tools literally at our fingertips to document what we see. Start using your iPhone camera for more than selfies and photos of your lunch. Do you like the pattern on that stationery? The color palette of a box of cookies? The shape of a flower? Photograph it and add it to your inspiration collection. You can sync your photographs to your desktop or use one of the many online services for storing and organizing images. I like to build Pinterest boards and use Springpad to keep my project ideas in one place.

3. Search outside the decor realm.

Rather than going to your usual home decor magazines or design blogs for ideas, search elsewhere. Instead of looking at paint chips for color inspiration, flip through a fashion magazine, spend your lunch break browsing the make-up department at Nordstrom, or visit Book Larder and look through their beautiful cookbook collection.

4. Break it down into small bits, even during the inspiration gathering phase.

If you have a big project, like redesigning your entire home, gathering inspiration can be overwhelming rather than fun. Instead of settling in with a big stack of magazines and thinking about your home as a whole, break your inspiration sessions down into smaller chunks of time and do it by room by room.

5. Start with one object and build around it.

Still not sure where to start? Choose one object, like a piece of art, that represents the style, colors, and mood that you're going for in the room and use that piece as your focal point. Allow it to inform the fabrics, furniture, and flooring options that you use to create your space.