When looking for interior design inspiration, we tend to fall into the same old habits. We trawl the websites of department stores or flick through a magazine with last year’s advice recycled. Is it any wonder many of us feel our homes are lacking a little flair and that certain je ne sais quoi?
It turns out we’ve been searching in all the wrong places. There is a whole world of incredible tips from around the globe, just there for the discovering. It’s called Airbnb.
Apart from being able to stay in some amazing places that you wouldn’t normally know about, Airbnb also lets you to take a sneak peek at how the other half live. So log on and plunder it for interior inspiration safe in the knowledge it’s entirely legal!
Let’s get started! First stop…
This iconic city is all about first impressions and no one could deny that this loft apartment in the Flat Iron district on Park Avenue wouldn’t make a great impression on your dinner guests.
Is it the chandelier suspended above the dining table, the winding staircase spiralling up to the bedroom, or perhaps it’s just the fact it’s a $2 million studio for fashion shoots in a highly desirable part of Manhattan?
Top take-away: If you want to impress your dinner guests, a twenty-foot ceiling and a suspended chandelier is clearly a must-have. Failing that, an ornate mirror situated above a slim natural wood sideboard with a faux orchid and locally sourced porcelain ornaments will make for a well-styled minimalist centre piece.
At £990 per night, you’d expect to be staying somewhere and in something quite spectacular, and this three-bedroom maisonette close to Victoria Station, Tate Britain and the Saatchi Gallery doesn’t fall short in any regard.
With its mix of geometric patterns, ornate mirrors and black and white Tudor-esque theme, this maisonette is striking to say the least. With plush silver and grey drapes, throws and cushions carefully positioned throughout, what might otherwise leave a harsh feeling turns out to offer something altogether luxurious instead.
You probably won’t be surprised when we reveal it was created by Patricia Arteaga, an interior designer, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t replicate her style in your own home. You can.
Top take-away: Patricia’s advice is to keep things simple: while you may not want to change the large pieces of furniture too often, you can revitalise your interior by introducing new accent pieces: a contrasting rug or a colourful work of art for instance.
There is more to Scandi-style than Ikea; this apartment in Stockholm proves it. It’s an eclectic mix: with a map of the world bending round corners and in and around shelving and cupboard doors, a rather medicinal looking operating trolley, and a bright blue easy chair.
Top take-away: Break all the rules. Throw furniture, fabrics and patterns together from different genres – but with similar tones – and choose a striking coloured chair for a little spice. Don’t be afraid to use small photos in large frames either: the extra white space can accentuate the image and draw in the eye.
When we think of Milan we think of elegant flair, poise and high fashion. Yet life isn’t all glamour is it? Most of us have to wash-up, clean and store household items, but that doesn’t mean our house can’t have a more vibrant palette.
Take this apartment for example, it is frankly a riot of carefully chosen colour. Yes, the blue chairs clash with the red walls – the scientific name for that conflict is chromostereopsis – and red and green (walls) should never be seen, but who cares? This is Italy and perhaps they really love their flag.
Top take-away: If you’re feeling it’s time for a little more flamboyance in your life, go bold. Choose colours that traditionally might clash. Just choose them with a similar saturation. In the kitchen, don’t choose a run of the mill table either. Visit your local builder’s merchant and build yourself a table from construction materials.
Rio de Janerio
If the Olympics have inspired you to jet off to Rio, this modern loft boutique on Copacabana beach is certainly worth a look. You won’t find any feature walls or bold patterns here though. Instead, the furniture and the furnishings do the talking. A vibrant yellow sideboard, a deep crimson throw and lampshades and a khaki green sofa stand out against clean white walls.
Top take-away: paint that tired old chest of drawers a succulent tangerine and swap the handles for crystal glass door knobs, or replicate that tropical feel with artificial plants and flowers – especially if you’re short on time or the climate wouldn’t support them.
Rarely do cutting-edge architecture, crazy fashion and futuristic tech combine so seamlessly with historic temples and a sense of deep-rooted tradition. In Japanese homes, less is more – the aesthetic is pared back and minimalist but there is always space for cute, kitsch or fun touches. All of that is summed up neatly (of course) in this quirky Tokyo apartment.
Top take-away: did you notice the garden furniture… indoors? Space is at a sky-high premium in Tokyo but why lose out on having that outdoor feeling? You can bring the outside in with an elegant cast iron bistro table and chair set or an artificial plant such as a Boxwood spiral.
No more keeping up with the Jones’
With quite literally a whole world of apartments, houses and rooms just a few clicks away, there is no end to the ideas and inspiration you can apply to your own home. Forget your next door neighbour’s new kitchen – log on and see what your not-so-near-neighbours are doing in Sydney, Sarajevo or Santiago instead.