Accepting the fact that you can be creative and take a role in the planning of your project is one thing – but actually taking steps to do so is something else entirely. For some people, merely acknowledging that you want to be a part of the creative process is enough; working with a designer will help you unlock your potential, provided you’re upfront and honest with them about what it is you want to see in the home.

For others, though, sometimes you need a little more help to get going. And this is perfectly fine! Everyone creates and gets inspiration in different ways, and it’s okay to need a little help to get to where you’re going.

These exercises are designed to help you get your creative juices flowing. And even if you aren’t able to dream up a finished interior, you’ll still come away with a better sense of the creative process, as well as what you want to see happen within your home.

Get Inspired

While Pinterest and Instagram are great places to look for inspiration, I find them a little overwhelming for people who aren’t entirely sure of what it is they want. So many images! And not all of them professionally done, either.

So, I like to recommend that you take yourself to the library or a bookshop that has a large magazine section. Take a pile of home interior magazines and a cup of coffee and go find yourself a comfortable seat.

Magazines are usually better staged and cropped photos than those that you’ll find online. This is important because it forces you to focus more on the details than you would if you were browsing endless Pinterest images.

Look through the magazines and mark any images you like. It doesn’t matter WHY you like them. It doesn’t matter if this isn’t what you want your home to look like. Just mark the images you like the look of.

Often, you may be responding to certain details without realizing it. For example, I once had a client who brought me a stack of kitchen pictures that she declared had nothing in common. But, once I browsed through them, I found that they all had metal accent tiles in the backsplash. Clearly, she liked this small detail, and once I pointed it out and showed her available accents to choose from, she relaxed and begin getting further involved in designing her kitchen around those accents.

So, start by gathering images of things you like the look of. Even if they seem to have no common detail, your designer may be able to help you pull them together. Or, you may discover something for yourself that enables you to get started on the next phase.

Go Browsing

Your designer will likely have a set number of showrooms they want you to visit. So, start visiting! Make an appointment with a design consultant there to get extra attention from the staff. Then, take a look at what’s on display. Take photos or ask for samples of things you like. Again, you aren’t trying to make sense of things yet; you’re merely getting a feel for what’s available and what appeals to you.

Play a Bit

By this time, you should have numerous magazines, images, and samples, as well as some preliminary ideas and sketches from your designer. It’s time to play and have some fun.

Grab a few large pieces of poster board and lay them out on a table or the floor. Now, start arranging those images and samples together on the boards. You can include paint colors, tile samples, photos of whole rooms. Arrange and rearrange. Hold samples up against one another. Look at them in a variety of lights including outdoors and the room you’re renovating.

You aren’t designing anything here; you’re merely getting a feel for what’s possible. When you feel like you’re onto something, set that board aside to show your designer later. He or she will most likely be able to use it to pull together some finished designs to show you later.

Enjoy Yourself

The hardest part of any of this is letting yourself go and enjoying the process. Once you get started, though, you may find that you’re hard pressed to leave without at least a few idea boards of your own.