Turning Pins Into a Plan

I love pinning gorgeous images on Pinterest or bookmarking show-stopping photos on Instagram. Both of these platforms are chock full of stunning eye-candy. I love everything about them EXCEPT for one thing. And this one “problem” is not a reflection of either platform but instead, it’s all on me.

using pinterest to make plans for design

I’m super guilty of pinning ALL the things and then not going back to look at these images when it’s time to decorate a new room or tackle a new project. #FAIL

From Inspiration to Renovation

planning a kitchen makeover using pinterest inspo

So I decided to do things differently when it was time to design our new kitchen, especially since I’ve been pinning “dream kitchens” for YEARS. I was not going to let all of that inspiration go to waste. I vowed to make a strategic effort in turning those pins into a concrete plan and document the process along the way.

how to turn your pinterest pins from inspiration to renovationToday’s post is for anyone else who struggles with the same “problem”. Someone who pins but doesn’t actively look back at those pins when it’s time to plan. My hope is that today’s 6-step strategy will motivate you to take your inspiration and help transform it into your reality. Here’s how to take it from inspiration to renovation.

Step 1: Pin Like Crazy!kitchen pins from pinterest

Ready, Set, Start Pinning!! Okay, this step is pretty self-explanatory, but actually a really important one! I give you full permission to pin ALL THE THINGS. What I want you to keep in mind while you pin is to avoid making any pre-determinations when it comes to a design or idea.

If a blue kitchen catches your eye, pin it! Then a black one, green one, pink polka-dotted one all catch your eye? Pin ALL of them. Even if a huge kitchen catches your eye and your actual kitchen is tiny, still pin it! Lots of diversity in your pins is not a bad thing and can even help later on in this process, which is why my kitchen board is all over the place.

Step 2: Review and Reflect

kitchen pinterest inspiration from the DIY PlaybookStep #2 is SO important but one I almost always skip out on when planning projects. Like I said before, I’m great at Step #1, but if you stop there (like me!), these amazing images of inspiration are not nearly as useful in developing your plan. Let’s put it this way. If pinning is important, going back and reviewing/reflecting on these pins is TWICE as important, in my opinion.

I went back to my kitchen pins and asked myself these questions:

  • Do you see any reoccurring themes?
  • Do you see any reoccurring colors? Textures? Patterns? Products?
  • How do the spaces feel from the pins that caught your eye? What are the general vibes?

For me, I saw some commonalities among pins that were all very different. First I saw light bright kitchens (surprise, surprise… right?!). But I was surprised to find I had unknowingly pinned a lot of two-toned kitchens. Almost all of the kitchens I pinned had open-shelving. Some type of wood tones. A lot more black than I would have guessed. Brass hardware. Vintage Rugs. And minimal clutter on the counters.

using pinterest inspiration to create a reality

I loved this exercise because it forced me to look more closely at these pins and dissect the components of them, rather than just looking at them and thinking, “wow, gorgeous kitchen!”, which is what I do when I pin. So many more design details surfaced during this time and I learned a lot more SPECIFICS about what I typically gravitate toward, which brought me one step closer to my dream kitchen. Note— this step didn’t bring me to the end of my design decisions, but it helped me get one confident step closer.

Step 3: List Must-Haves and Might-Haves

Okay, so you have a list of commonalities and a lot of images that are inspiring your design decisions. But, it’s important to acknowledge that these pins are INSPIRATION and probably can’t be exactly replicated in your space.

using ideas from pinterest boards in designingI pinned a lot of kitchens that had gorgeous large windows and vaulted ceiling. Spoiler alert – my house has neither of those things so copying the pins exactly was not going to be an option. BUT some of the items in the photos I could implement into my kitchen and that’s where this list comes into play.

using clues from pinterest as inspirationLook at your pins and the commonalities you identified in Step #2, it’s time to make a list. Write down a list of items that are MUST-HAVES from these pins and other items that are MIGHT-HAVES.

choosing tile for kitchen based on pinterest inspirationFor example, white subway tile was on my must-have list, but open shelving was on my might-have list because I wasn’t sure if it was possible. After speaking with the designer, we were able to tweak the designs to make it happen (yay!). But in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have had that conversation that led to open-shelving without my list of must-haves and might-haves. It definitely influenced a lot of the layout options and brought me a step closer to making my pinspiration a reality.

Step 4: Identify What’s Realisticpinterest vs reality strategies for planning

After you have established the must-haves and might-haves list, it’s time to get real about your kitchen. This is when you can sift through your list and cross-reference your budget. Maybe you want marble countertops but the budget doesn’t allow it. Here’s where you can either eliminate that from your list or make an alternate plan to still make it work, like buying quartz countertops, which can look like marble without the big ticket price tag.

Either way, go ahead and use this time to be realistic about your plans, your space, your budget, resources, time, etc.

Sep 5: Make A Plan

Now it’s time to make a concrete plan! Using the information you’ve gathered from your “pinspiration” and the lists of ideas, it’s finally time to make a specific plan on what products to order, what people to hire, what the timeline will look like, etc.

putting together a mood board using pinterest inspiration

Even creating an inspiration board like this one is helpful in staying on track as you make design decisions throughout the process. This graphic, which I have saved on my phone as well, helps me stay consistent with my design decisions. Hopefully, this will also ensure that my Pinterest dreams will translate into my dream kitchen once it’s all said and done!

If you’re hiring a kitchen designer, as I did, you can give her your lists and mood boards so you have detailed conversations and the blueprint and overall aesthetic align with your “dream kitchen”.

Make sure you refer back to your must-have/might-have lists several times throughout the process so you are sticking with your plan of making your pins a reality.

Step 6: Keep Pinning!

And last but not least, my advice is to KEEP pinning… even if your project is over. But instead of searching for large-scale kitchens (in my case) on Pinterest, now is the time to look for more specific pins that can be incorporated into the space after this project is done.

using pinterest for all types of inspirationFor example, now that I have my kitchen design plans all set, I’m still pinning organization ideas for cabinets, refrigerator organization ideas, shelf styling ideas, etc. This will keep the inspiration coming and will provide me ideas for when it’s time for that next step in the process!

Use These Steps to Get On The Same Pageturning pins into plans

One question we get asked a lot is how we blend our styles with our husbands’ styles to come up with a design compromise. Luckily, both of our husbands are very trusting by now and give us almost full control when it comes to design decisions (it hasn’t always been like this though!).

pinterest boards as inspirationFor those of you who are a part of a partnership that struggles with design compromise, I encourage you to follow these steps. You can each do Step #1 individually and then come together for steps #2-6. I can’t guarantee that this will be the answer to all of your prayers, but I do think this exercise will be a valuable tool in landing on a design plan you both can live with (and hopefully even love!).

Happy Pinning (… and planning!!),


Follow Our Kitchen Progress



The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.