How to use Pinterest to find Sources and Inspiration

May 5, 2021

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Anytime I share inspiration images, I get a slew of questions about how to even FIND these kinds of beautiful imagery. I guess I’m still old school because I turn to Pinterest. But whenever I say that I usually hear a bunch about how Pinterest never shows anything cool for them. Well, we can’t have that. So today, I wanted to share just a few ways I use Pinterest around here because it is such a great way to find and images that resonate with you, that you’ll want to re-pin and reference later.

Let’s use my staircase design board as a reference. I started this board because (you guessed it), we are going to be making changes to the staircases in our NC house before we move in. A great place to start is to do a quick search like “staircase ideas,” and start your scroll.

If you find a pin you love, click on it (don’t forget to save) and scroll down. It will show you “more like this.” There will be some duds in the mix, but usually they have a very similar aesthetic. You can also add a note to a pin when you save it. This way, you can remember what you liked about it. Sometimes I save a photo just for the paint color, or the way the end table is styled.

Once you have a few ideas saved to a board, go to the board and click on “more ideas.” Pinterest is going to curate even more images that look similar to what you’re already loving and pinning to that board. Click the “+” over the images you love and they will add directly to your board.



Just by doing these things, you’re going to be training your main feed to show you things that fit within your preferred aesthetic. The more active you are on Pinterest, the more fine tuned your explore page will become towards your style. Save the images you love!

But Pinterest can do even MORE than save images. It does an incredible job at sourcing products you love, OR it will give some pretty good dupes (look-a-likes). Check this out–If you click on an image and hover over it, items in the photo will pop up. I’m going to click on table lamps and see what happens.

And Voila. Pinterest did all the heavy lifting and found some really comparable lamps to the one in our bedroom.

If you click on one, it will show you similar products.

You can also pin specific items and click “view similar products.”

This is one of our favorite ways to find dupes.

If you use Instagram like me, you can also pin images directly from Instagram by tapping the 3 dots, share to, and open the Pinterest app. Sometimes websites will have a pin it button where you can save images directly onto Pinterest. If they don’t, you can create your own pin by clicking “create pin” and dragging and dropping an image in, or click save from site and paste a URL in.

I hope this was helpful! We use Pinterest a lot for sourcing, but I also love curating images I’m finding inspiration in. I’m especially using it to loosely “virtually design” our NC home to tide me over until I can get my hands on it.

Is anybody else still using Pinterest these days?

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What do you think?

  1. Lisa says:

    This is such an incredibly helpful post! Thank you!

  2. Amelia says:

    I got lost on the “click and hover over image” where it shows you the item or similar ones that you can buy. I’m on mobile so there isn’t a hover of the image option? Can anyone help. I’ve been Pinterest stalking a mirror for months and can’t ever seem to find a place to purchase it!

    • Julia says:

      If the image has the option, if you click on the pin it should just come up with the dots on the products. There you can click on them to view similar products.

  3. Christy says:

    I’ve given up on Pinterest.

    In your example, you are searching for something non-purchasable, like a staircase. Or heading into Pinterest with an ideal image already.

    But say I search on Pinterest for floating bathroom vanity. Pinterest USED to show me gorgeous inspiration images of bathrooms with floating vanities. Now it shows me a page filled with every bathroom vanity HomeDepot and Etsy sell. If I wade through that a while, I can find a few inspiration pics. But they are very few and far between. I agree, once you find an image you like, you get somewhat better results in the “More Like This” section below a picture (though still 50/50 with ads). But with so few inspiration images in the first search, I struggle to find an image from the beginning that is the style I am looking for.

    I understand they want to make money off the site, and I am fine with some advertisements being added. And I think their shop similar items feature is a brilliant way of monetizing their site. But when the search results are all just shopping results, Pinterest loses the very functionality that make it useful.

    Seriously, go put floating bathroom vanity in the Pinterest search bar and tell me it is anything other than a shopping site now.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I love Pinterest! It’s the only social media I didn’t delete a year ago and it is really amazing. I’ve been on Pinterest since the days where you had to be invited by someone that had an account and had to wait to be “approved” (thankfully that feature didn’t last long!).

    Pinterest is a fantastic tool for fun and for business, which I use it for both. Thanks for sharing your tip and tricks!

  5. Annie says:

    I use pinterest, in much the manner that you describe. Things may have changed in many ways, but the image search capacity in pinterest remains really good.

    I just have two issues with it:

    1) I find myself very easily getting into a pinterest rut–maybe my taste is too specialized but pretty soon, I find myself having exhausted all of the images that fit what I’m interested in and then I just see the same thing over and over again. Maybe this is a good thing–infiinite scrolls are dangerously addictive!–but it can make pinterest a little bit boring.

    2) A lot of the links are to various link farms (not sure the proper term, but those websites which just aggregate a bunch of content seemingly at random) or are to broken links. There’s nothing more disappointing than trying to follow the link from a particularly intriguing image and seeing that it goes nowhere.

    But those caveats aside, pinterest is a great way to get started on a project or just explore. I have a board that is called “new house ideas” or some such, which is just where I pin stuff that is inspirational for me kindof at random and it has been a good way to get a sense of trends in what I’m drawn to and how my own sense of style has evolved.

  6. Kate says:

    Yes, still using pinterest!

  7. Coleen Fussell says:

    Thank you for giving me inspiration to search out styles that resonate with me.
    I love your style!

  8. Nicole says:

    I love using Pinterest! That’s actually how I first found your blog! After a few pins that led me here, I started checking your blog daily. That was all before Instagram exploded.

    Your tips are always appreciated and I’ve implemented a lot over the years — thank you!

  9. Jennifer says:

    Yes! I use Pinterest quite often.
    We have been planning an addition/ exterior update for what feels like eternity. 🤪 But has given me more time to plan & tweak my ideas 😍
    It’s also my #1 place for looking at hair style ideas.🤷‍♀️
    I can also make my embroidery boards with all the fonts/ letters/ designs so you can see what a particular letter looks like before buying your monogram item.
    I love Pinterest & think it’s a valuable tool.
    So glad you made a post about it.

  10. Gigi D says:

    I’m planning the travel wardrobe for my post-Covid fantasy getaway to Japan on Pinterest. Hmmm, what should I wear for a walking tour around Kyoto’s hidden temples and alleyways on a sunny fall afternoon? Let’s go look at chic clothing combos and source those cool walking shoes. It’s healthier than doom-scrolling on the iPad, and it takes the sting out of still being stuck at home. Best wishes!

  11. Rebecca says:

    I vastly prefer pinterest to instagram which I have only recently begun to use. I find the format on pinterest allows me to digest what I’m seeing better rather than wall to wall imagery on instagram. Also I tend to search for concepts and this is far easier to do on pinterest. I was not aware of any of the popular disparaging of pinterest implied in this post. I eventually signed up for instagram based on the so many of the people who inspire me who use it, but I have yet to really like it.

  12. Becky says:

    This is so cool! If only I could get the “share to Pinterest” from Instagram to work. Am I the only one having issues that when I try to share to Pinterest and pick a board, it just pins a pink tile that says “login Instagram”? Am I missing something? I want to love this feature so bad.

  13. Laurielulu says:

    I LOVE Pinterest and use it exactly the way you do. I also follow CLJ on Pinterest so I can see what you are pinning for sneak peeks 👁. You do find amazing pics. I do get annoyed with Pinterest when I want a recipe or something. Then my feed fills up with 5000 of similar things. Grrrrr 🐅 thank you Pinterest but frikken 1 is enough❣️💋💋

  14. Mirror says:

    Thanks for this! I’m one of those people who could never understand why pinterest was so great. I was saving to a board, but I wasn’t then going into the board to “explore similar.” The ig tip is so good too.

    Perhaps this will finally work so I get some new inspiration besides seeing the same 3 rooms no matter how many different ways I type “coastal bathroom.” Just finding the right inspo so I can pin it has been hard enough!

  15. Irmarie says:

    Hi. I love Pinterest and I didn’t even know about the hovering for products! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Pauli says:

    Wow, thanks so much for these tips, Julia! I use Pinterest a lot, but usually find the new interesting posts dry up after about 15 minutes. This will give me so much more to explore.

  17. Danna F says:

    Yes, still use and love…so much so I own stock in Pinterest! Your tips are so helpful. We will be building our home in the next year or so and saving images from instagram to pinterest is perfect!

  18. Judith says:

    Great tips, thank you! I really like the “visual search” tool, the one that has the magnifying glass as a symbol. You can zoom in on any area in the picture that you like, not just products and it shows you similar images. So useful for inspiration.

  19. Katie says:

    We sold our house in the fall, and after 4 rejected offers, our offer was accepted on a house this past weekend!! I have a new Pinterest board and am browsing and pinning like crazy!

  20. Nikki says:

    Love Pinterest! if I have down time, scrolling through Pinterest is always more productive for me than any other platform. The feeling I get when I edit my boards and like you said once you’ve shown what you like then your main page is filled with similar things. I fall down a creative and inspiring hole when I’m on. Cant imagine not having it. Also, I’m a pin OG and I just learned about making a note from this post. Thank you! Yesterday I pinned a busy photo because I liked the design on a pot that was in the photo. I told myself, hope I remember why I saved that. Thanks Julia! ❤️

  21. Smart tips! I use pinterest everyday, it’s so helpful!

  22. Brit says:

    Love Pinterest! I also use the browser extension so I can easily pin anything I find online without having to save an image to my computer.

  23. patricia says:

    Me!!! Hands waving in air. I’m currently attempting to write a mystery and I look for places and people. It’s easier to write a description if you’ve got several images right in front of you.
    I can even build character wardrobes and homes for my leads.

    An alternative use for Pinterest.

    • Nikki says:

      I love this Patricia!

    • Janine says:

      This is such a great idea! It’s so useful for writing exercises.

      I also use Pinterest, and I get great suggestions using most of the tips listed. I think, like with TikTok, you have to build an algorithm, and eventually, it tracks your aesthetic.

  24. Katie says:

    This was extremely helpful! I use Pinterest for my business! I create a page for a client and source all their items there, along with their inspiration pics. I feel like this was so helpful!

  25. Heck yes! I love Pinterest and use it for myself often, as well as for my clients. It’s so easy for me to get an understanding of their style if they spend a few minutes saving some images to a board. I knew that Pinterest had stepped up their game, but I didn’t realize it would do product sourcing from an image (genius) or show you similar photos…those are such great features!

  26. Cait says:

    Yes, all the time! One of the best ways to source things and find a wide variety of inspo :)

  27. Karen says:

    YOU CAN PIN DIRECTLY FROM IG! How have I gone through the last few renos/room updates and missed this? Thanks for that nugget and the other tools.

    When I felt like I was seeing the same minimal, neutral walls rooms with the same leather sofa & Moroccan pouf, I typed in “maximalism”. While there were a lot of rooms that were too much, by clicking on a few it tweaked my feed to show rooms that were more like what I desired.

  28. Rachelle France says:

    It has become too commercialized for me. I miss the old Pinterest.

  29. Aly says:

    I use Pinterest throughout the day as a graphic designer, and I installed a Pinterest extension for my internet browser and it adds a quick Pin It button to all images on hover. super convenient!

  30. Amanda says:

    I definitely still use Pinterest! I actually think it’s gotten better since the “OG” days!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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