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How to Use Pinterest Like an Interior Designer

Designing a room? Pin like the pros.

You’ve got a board for rainy-day crafts, another for drool-worthy recipes, another for DIYs you’re too scared to DIY—and oh!, look at that beachy-modern kitchen! You may know Pinterest as the social media tool to get inspired or to cure boredom (usually both at once), but you may not know that it’s been an invaluable tool for interior designers since the site launched back in 2010. “There are so many different ways to use it,” says Annie Wise, an interior designer in Portland, Ore. But how does a pro like Wise use Pinterest differently than an average pin-surfer? Here are several ways she and other designers employ the site as part of their design strategy.

As a Vision Board

Many designers put together inspirational pinboards to define the style and look they’d like to achieve for their clients, who might have trouble envisioning design concepts without visual cues. Susan Crabtree of Puerta Bella Interior Design uses Pinterest to showcase a project’s possibilities, such as different materials and textures; Seattle-based designer Leah Ball Steen has a vision board entirely devoted to color palettes. “It helps me spot interesting color combinations I may not have otherwise seen,” she says.

As an Organizational Tool

Pinterest helps designers stay on top of an individual client's needs. Steen begins by creating private boards for storing specific ideas or items she comes across, then narrowing the focus of each board as an individual project progresses. Similarly, Wise organizes her boards into themes such as furnishings, lighting and materials. “These cater to a client's specific tastes, and I can then use them for presentations, budget planning, et cetera,” she says.

For Making Purchases

Once designers hone their boards for a specific client's tastes, they can use them to start shopping for individual items like tiles, lighting, faucets and sofas. Many product pins link directly to stores or sites that sell them, says Crabtree. If not, she can use the pin’s caption and the image’s context clues to find the exact item or variations online.

As Future Inspiration

Designers are always looking for new ways to combine furnishings or create layouts for tiny spaces, so many inspirational pins may come in handy down the road; a current client may not want an industrial kitchen, but a future client might. “Pinterest also offers a great way to see the execution of a design idea prior to undertaking it myself,” says Steen. “I can learn from others' successes and failures.”