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Digital decor: harnessing the riches of online design sites

Digital decor: harnessing the riches of online design sites

photoIn this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a clutter-free, serene retreat from the bright lights and busy streets of New York City in a high-rise apartment on the Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP)The Associated Press

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In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources ...

In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a clutter-free, serene retreat from the bright lights and busy streets of New York City in a high-rise apartment on the Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP)

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photoIn this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a light and airy breakfast nook in an apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP)The Associated Press

+Read Caption

In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources ...

In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a light and airy breakfast nook in an apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP)

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photoIn this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a bright, yet rustic living room with industrial accents in a home in Greenwich, Conn. (Decor Aid via AP)The Associated Press

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In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources ...

In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a bright, yet rustic living room with industrial accents in a home in Greenwich, Conn. (Decor Aid via AP)

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There’s Houzz. Remodelista. Home design Twitter feeds. Tumblr accounts. And of course, the granddaddy of all online decor depositories — Pinterest.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by online resources when remodeling or redecorating. Where should you start?

For homeowner Sarah Schuster Canahuati, creating an “ideabook” on Houzz was the perfect way to mesh her rustic, farmhouse style with her husband’s more modern tastes when they began renovating their Los Gatos, California, home recently.

“It was a very helpful way to give our architect and designer very clear ideas of what we wanted in our remodel, from paint colors to appliances to overall style,” she says.

Home design experts and contractors echo those thoughts, and offer the following tips on how to harness the bounty of the Internet for your next project:

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GET ORGANIZED

First, figure out the scope of your project and your goals. Redoing your kitchen, for example, is a lot different and more involved than finding a few natural accents for your living room mantle.

Are you going to do the work yourself? How-to blogs and sites like All Things Thrifty, DIY Network and This Old House are your new BFFs.

Looking more for ideas to pass on to a contractor or designer? Head over to Houzz or Pinterest.

Don’t overlook retailers though. Paint company websites are an underutilized home-design resource, says New York designer Karen Gray Plaisted.

“Many times, clients have problems with colors,” she says. “Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and PPG Paints all have fantastic interactive sites to allow them to ‘try’ a color out, or find a palette virtually first. It also helps me as a decorator to then narrow down the array of colors to find the right one for them.”

Annalisa Nash Fernandez, a Connecticut business owner and self-described “serial mover,” started a Facebook group with friends who are also into decorating.

“I post all my design quandaries there, and get instant feedback,” she says.

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FIND YOUR STYLE

Figure out what you love. Are you a boho-chic kind of girl or do you gravitate more toward the clean, traditional lines of craftsman-style homes?

“To use home-design websites to find your own style, I’d advise you to pin or bookmark photos of every single room you love,” says Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, North Carolina. “The more rooms you save, the larger your ‘data sample’ will be. Once you have collected many images, take a step back and look for common themes that the images share.”

Are there recurring colors or color combinations? Are you drawn to dramatic contrasts, like white cabinets paired with dark floors? Are the rooms sparsely or heavily furnished and accessorized? What do you notice about architectural elements like windows, doors, fireplaces and ceiling height?

“Having a theme and palette in mind really helps narrow down the infinite options on design sites and blogs,” says Patricia Leitao, marketing manager and blogger for the Boston-based site homeyou, which matches homeowners with area contractors.

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CREATE A PROJECT PAGE OR BOARD

“Collection” sites like Houzz and Pinterest allow users to create an unlimited number of boards or “ideabooks.” Go big and create one board for your entire project, or go smaller with more specific boards like “paint colors,” ”accessories,” ”furniture,” etc.

As a way to keep track of ideas, these are easier and more visual than a list of bookmarks or a scrapbook of pages ripped from books and magazines.

They’re also a great resource if you decide to hire a contractor or home designer.

“We love going through our clients’ inspiration boards on content-rich sites. It gives us an immediate look into their personal style and preferences, and we can help them narrow down exactly what will fit into their space and budget,” says Margo Nathanson, a designer with San Francisco-based InteriorCrowd.