Joe Human, a designer in New York City says he has a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. “It is great for inspiration and finding example images to show to clients for more specific images than you can find on Google,” he says. But, he says, “at the same time it is kind of like HGTV to me. I don’t want clients knowing we use it!” Accordign to Human, his problem with Pinterest as a designer, is that he would like all of his inspiration to come from his own experience, his travels or his own knowledge. “Truth is, though, it comes from all of those things and Pinterest, which in our day of technology is not necessarily a bad thing.”

For designers in particular, there is definitely a potential dark side to Pinterest as one designer points out: “I do not submit to Pinterest as I don’t want my photos used without a copyright and I don’t want them used by others,” says Leslie Markman-Stern, who owns her own design firm Lesley M. Stern.

Still, some designers have found some very practical and productive uses for this very visual social media channel.

Pinterest as a Source of Inspiration

One of the common uses of Pinterest by the masses is to capture images for inspiration to plan anything from a wedding to a room or home renovation—designers use it for inspiration as well.

“Our design process begins with creating a private design board specific to our client and then creating sub-boards for each area we’re working on in their home,” says Sherri Monte with Elegant Simplicity. “This ensures we can think about each space independently while maintaining an organized thought process.”  

Pinterest as a Production Aid

Killy Scheer, with Scheer & Co. Interior Design, has found ways to use Pinterest to expedite her work and engage with clients. She’s been using it for years to:

  • Collaborate with clients in the initial stages of the design process to communicate general design ideas.
  • Allow clients to share their boards and their ideas.
  • Create boards using images clients have pulled along with their own.
  • To quickly pinpoint what is successful or unsuccessful about a given image and comment on how they might use or avoid an idea in a project.

“From there, we work together to identify the design direction and scope of projects,” she says.

Pinterest as a Marketing Engine

Mark Cutler, an interior designer based in Los Angeles, says that over the last six to nine months, he’s focused almost his entire social media strategy on Pinterest. “The thing that a lot of people in the interior design field miss is that Pinterest is not social media in the fleeting way that Instagram or Twitter are,” he says. “It is essentially a search engine and when you post examples of your work, instead of having a life of a few days or potentially a week, over time, its footprint gets larger and larger, making it even more effective.”

According to Cutler, Pinterest is just as important as Google. “We think of Pinterest as a visual Google for finding inspirational images, creating and sharing ideas with clients as we design.”

Cutler offers a number of tips for how designers can use Pinterest more effectively. His team uses Pinterest to market their work in the following ways:

  • To show detail of projects. “We will take large images and crop and crop so it may show a full room, then a vignette and then a fine detail.”
  • To group work in different ways. “For instance, I have a board called Portfolio, another on Bedrooms, another on Art, so it allows people to discover various aspects of our designs and see the links.”
  • To drive visitors back to their website. “We have seen a huge uptick in web traffic based on our Pinterest posts.”
  • To draw attention to blog posts and to refresh old posts by re-posting them.
  • To develop a series of design quizzes to drive traffic and help build a mailing list for newsletter and promotional emails.

According to Cutler, Pinterest analytics also allow him to see “who and how people consume our work, what gender, age, geography and even what devices they use.” This allows them to zero in on their marketing spend.

Whether used for production or for promotion, Pinterest has much to offer interior designers—and their clients. It’s a cost-effective and user-friendly way to gather and share inspiration, interact and grow an audience. Tell us your thoughts: is Pinterest a designer’s best friend or worst nightmare?


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