Turn Scrolling MCM Instagram into a Remodeling Action Plan

16 min read What if the time you spend doom scrolling MCM Instagram could help you plan your dream remodel. It can! Here are some practical tips and tricks to make it happen!

I suspect you might be a little like me. Do you find yourself scrolling on MCM Instagram more than you mean to these days!  This is where we catch up on news from our friends. We check out all the latest pictures of the little ones in our lives. And … we bask in beautiful midcentury imagery!

With a smart phone in your life it’s pretty hard to avoid sometimes just mindlessly clicking into Instagram or Facebook to see “what’s new”.
We all do it.

But anytime of the day, and especially if you’re thinking about any home update projects, you could be putting some of that social media scroll time to really good use. Try using it to effectively plan and brainstorm for your remodel.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

To make this happen you really don’t have a change to current behavior. You just need to make sure that in addition to seeing and liking beautiful things for homes on social media you’re also capturing those ideas in a way that will allow you to come back and find them again.

Tune in for some practical tips and tricks to turn your scroll time into concrete, actionable remodel planning.  I’m serious!  

MCM Instagram is a wonderful place.  Are we friends over there?

Here’s the SHORT version:

To make your scroll time on social media really count, save anything that you see and are inspired by. Don’t simply swipe through your app of choice and letting the good ideas pass you by.
Then, organize those saved pins or MCM Instagram images into folders. that way you can find them after you accumulated dozens or even hundreds of good idea images.

Make MCM Instagram and Pinterest work for you. Teach your social media what you want to see.  Search for mid-century related hashtags or follow @midmodmidwest, @aletha_ and @exactlydesigns for great design ideas or the bigger MCM Instagram accounts like @theatomicranch and @midcenturyhome for general inspiration!

Take time (when you have a little extra time), to sit down with a coffee or a glass of wine and transfer images from Instagram to Pinterest.  OR to organize your board and file structures.  Link your Pinterest boards with a Google Doc, Asana To Do list or a Trello Board! 

(Do this weekly or at least monthly through your early planning process. You’ll end up with a chance of remembering what originally drag you to an idea before it fades from your mind.)

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Resources to Turn your MCM Instagram Scroll Into Remodeling Results

Read the Full Transcript of “Turn Scrolling MCM Instagram into a Remodeling Action Plan” Below

With a smart phone in your life it’s pretty hard to avoid sometimes just mindlessly clicking into Instagram or Facebook to see “what’s new”.
We all do it while maybe it isn’t OK it is what it is.

But anytime of the day, and especially if you’re thinking about any home update projects, you could be putting some of that social media scroll time to really good use. Try using it to effectively plan and brainstorm for your remodel.

Wouldn’t that be nice.

To make this happen You don’t have to change your current behavior. You just need to make sure that in addition to seeing and liking beautiful things for your home on social media, you’re also capturing those ideas in a way that will allow you to come back and find them again later.


Hey there, welcome back to Mid Mod Remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes: helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann, architect, and mid-century ranch enthusiast. You’re listening to season six, episode five.


I promised you practical how-to tips, but before we get into those, I want to talk about the big picture. What even is the use of looking for images you like when you’re planning a remodel? Well, first let’s talk about what not to do.

I want you to leave aside the idea that you are using this search to keep up with the Joneses. Looking at other people’s beautiful mid-century homes on the internet should always be about finding great ideas and appreciating them. It’s not about adding to an infinite list of shoulds and dreams that may or may not match your home or your budget or your to-do list. There is so much we can learn from how other mid-century lovers have fixed up their mid century homes. Those originally built post-war mid-century homes had so many features in common: that nearly identical kitchen layout, the trim profile known as ranch that is nearly universal across the country, the same ding, dang, picture windows everywhere.

There’s a lot we can learn from the choices that other people have made both right and wrong for updating their homes. And there are two key moments during the master plan process that I think looking for imagery on the internet can be particularly useful. The first is while you’re dreaming. Looking around at other people’s houses can give you a sense of the feeling you want to create in your own remodel.

When you see a beautiful image of an Eames chair framed in a floor to ceiling window, across a custom stack bond fire with a knotty pine ceiling, you might save that image. Not because the fireplace looks like something you’ll want or even because the chair is in your budget, but simply because you want to create that sense, that idea of a comfortable sitting place that looks out at your favorite yard view within your new space. This kind of dreamlike anticipation can really be improved by giving yourself visual examples of what mid-century homes can be and be turned into.

That’s so useful. In pre COVID times, I would recommend that you try to be inside as many other beautiful mid-century homes as you can. Now let’s think about how we can look at them on the internet as you dream about what your home could and should be. The second phase of the master plan process that really benefits from this kind of visual inspiration is the style guide component.

If you haven’t heard me talk about this stuff, go check out season four, episode seven. I talk about the benefits of creating a style guide for your home. The short short version is that the process of remodeling is an amalgamation of nearly infinite decisions. Which door handle, which light fixture, the same one across the house or a different one on each room. Do you want things to match or just be cousins to each other. What would stay in species and grains are you looking for?


There are so many of these choices. You can make your entire remodel process infinitely simpler by choosing to set some of the parameters for your remodel, right at the beginning, and codifying them in a style guide. The easiest way to represent each one of those choices is with a simple closeup image of that material, fixture or detail. So as you approached the conclusion of your master plan, you’ll be finalizing the style guide for the house that you can return to, again and again, throughout the remodel and share with members of your team as an example.

The style guide might include information about switch plate covers and outlets that you want to choose for the house. Rather than wait until the last moment and have your electrician either choose for you. Ask for a quick decision or show up with a wrong kind of cover, share your style guide with the contractor at the beginning and give them an opportunity to know exactly what you’re looking for, right from the start so that they can include that in their pricing and their material order list.


Like I said, there’s more to be learned about the style guide in season four episode seven. Go check that episode out in the show notes where you can also grab a sample style guide workbook. It walks you through the step-by-step process of assembling a style guide for your project. And you can get that free resource in the show notes or midmod-midwest.com/styleguide. Oh, there’s one more thing I wanted to say about style guides before we move on. The process of is distilling what you want the house to be from other pictures of finished products you like into the individual component details and choices that will make up the result is exactly what I hope you bake into your entire social media inspiration organization strategy.


So let’s talk about how to save and gather those ideas. First, you’ll get organized. In every social media platform these days there’s a way to save your posts for later use. You can either use those in-app storage systems or transfer ideas you’re gathering off social media to another location by saving them to a phone album. Or using one of several online organizing tools I’ve talked about before and we’ll list a few more at the end of this podcast.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter which method you choose, as long as it works for you. When I’m looking for inspiration for a design process, my go-to apps are Pinterest and Instagram. I should note that I used to use a lot of Google image searching as part of design idea gathering. It was a way to search for a specific type of material, lighting, representation. These days, most image search results just direct you back to a Pinterest board.

So skip the extra step and do your image searching directly within Pinterest. I’ve talked a lot about how to use Pinterest within your remodel process in podcast season two seven. So you can go check that out. I’ll also link to it in the show notes. As always, you’ll find those show notes with a link to the references I’m making and the whole conversation on the website at midmod-midwest.com/506.


So let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of Pinterest as a search tool. I use Pinterest to communicate with each and every one of my design clients. And I encourage you to do the same when you’re planning your own remodel. The benefits are obvious. It’s clear, it’s simple, it’s easy to add annotations to the pins and to organize them. Everyone can figure out how to use it. Everyone has the app on their phone . You can use it differently, but equally successfully on your computer or phone. Serious question though, are you using Pinterest correctly?


Are you using it strategically or do you simply see things like them and put them on a board, but never had the ability to go back and profit from that in the future? There’s an easy tell for if you’re using Pinterest correctly or incorrectly in the way you organize your boards. First of all, do you have multiple boards on Pinterest? I hope you do. And if so, do you have multiple boards for your house project or at least multiple sections to go to your house on one board?

Now, if the answer is no, that’s okay. It just means you’re not using Pinterest to plan your remodel efficiently yet. A lot of my clients invite me to see their Pinterest boards as a part of our initial, get to know you process. Some of them have a board for every room in the house or a board for the various projects they’ve taken on so far, but many have a board for knitting, a board for cooking, a board for school supplies and a board for house stuff.


They’re not doing anything wrong. We just need to step up their game and move forward into the master planning process. So saving pins to a house board is not good enough. Your file structure and organization will depend on you, but think about it like this. You want to have detailed information organized in separate places. For example, you might want to have boards like front door update types, of wood stain, tile, windows like this, or you might choose to organize your sections of boards by room, or area in the house or by the order in which you plan to remodel, or by the feeling versus details.

This depends on the way your brain works, but you do want to have an organizational structure that leads you to think deeply and critically about the things you’re pinning. I encourage you to see something you like pin it, put it into a specific section of a specific board, and then add a comment to annotate what it was you liked about that pin.

The same image of the front of a mid-century house might catch your eye because of the color or the pattern of the brick. It’s like yours, or it’s not like yours.

You might’ve pinned it for the front door, because again, the color or the shape of the windows, you might’ve saved it because you liked the arrangement of the mailbox, or because you wanted to track down that door knob or just that it was shaded by a big tree in the front yard. Put that thing that drew you to that image in the comment because you yourself might not remember it later. And certainly if you want to share this board with someone else, a spouse or partner or your friendly neighborhood designer, it will be so helpful for them to see clearly what it was you liked and not need to try to read your mind.


In the end just remember that Pinterest is a visual search engine. That means you can use it to look for specific images too. You don’t just have to scroll through what saves you. This is another reason why adding those little comments and notes to things you like is so invaluable because later when you search within Pinterest, you can search for all of pins on Pinterest or within your own saved pins. And in that case, you might be drawn to, if you’re saving different woodgrains, every time you’ve commented it, those will all pop up in an internal search.

Remember though, that you can let it help you. Social media is run by algorithms. So the more you use Pinterest to search for mid-century home inspiration, the more it will show you the exact type of images that you’re looking for. Pretty cool, huh? Pro tip: you can use Pinterest to store and save images from anywhere on the internet, not just those that are already inside of Pinterest. To do this first set up your preferred web browser with the Pinterest button, and then click on any image you see and save it to a board.


This works just about everywhere, except for images you find within the Houzz web ecosystem. Houzz selfishly prevents you from saving full-size images from house across to Pinterest. It’s just one of the things I don’t like about them, but I’ll rant about that another time.


Anytime you are browsing the internet, just remember you can save your visual ideas on Pinterest. You might want to make a specific board for products you’re considering because each picture will become a link back to the source where you can purchase that product. Later, that board might be the beginning of your pricing spreadsheet.


Okay? So the idea that you can save good remodeling ideas on Pinterest might not be blowing your mind, but did you know you can also save posts that catch your eye on MCM Instagram. Again, there’s two ways you can handle this. You can either save them within Instagram itself and call it a day or you can export them; take them off the app by sending them to your Pinterest boards or another organizational outside system.


Again, you might know how to save an MCM Instagram post and if so, kudos to you. For those who don’t simply look at the posts you like and in the lower right-hand corner, there’s a bookmark icon. Tap on that, and the post will be transported to a list of saved posts for you.

To find them again, go to your profile homepage. (That’s the little icon at the bottom, right of the whole app screen.) And then go up to the top right and click on the hamburger. (The three lines together to get yourself to the dropdown menu.) “Saved” will turn up right there in that list around halfway down. But wait, there’s more, you can organize the posts within your saved folder into a number of sub folders. Just set those up by using the plus sign in the upper right corner of the saved post screen.

If you’re organizing separately on Pinterest, you might choose to create the same names and subsections that you have on Pinterest over on Instagram. You could use MCM Instagram to save ideas separately from Pinterest, or you might first save them to Instagram when you’re in the app. And then occasionally take time to transfer them over to Pinterest, to keep them all in one place.

You can do that pretty easily with the Instagram version on your computer, just open the image you saved and then use the Pinterest button on your web browser to capture and direct it to the right board. I recommend you do that transfer process fairly regularly because there’s no way to annotate what it was. You liked about an Instagram post within the Instagram app. Still, this is the simplest possible way to catch an idea as it goes by. We all know that it’s not that easy to search for things in Instagram, so if you see something that sets you on fire that you must have in your home remodel, don’t miss the moment, save that image immediately and save it in a specific spot that will help you know, more about why you saved it. Then you can come back and put it into the appropriate categories of what you want the home to feel like, or tile just like this spot later.

I use the saved Instagram post feature, constantly, both for ideas for my own social media and to capture good ideas from the medium for planning design projects. But I generally don’t come back to Instagram when I’m looking for inspiration for a kitchen exterior update or client’s front door, I go to Pinterest. And that’s why I take a certain regular time period to transfer images that I’ve liked and saved on Instagram, back into the appropriate boards on Pinterest doing this will mean that the time you spent standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in line at the dentist, and any other point you happen to be mindlessly scrolling, social media, you come across a great design idea and make it really count by then taking one step further and saving it in the appropriate place.


Instagram is not as much of a searchable visual search engine as Pinterest, but it’s getting better. You don’t have to just scroll through your feed and wait for beautiful mid-century inspiration to strike. You can use it to search for specific things by following specific hashtags or by using the search screen on Instagram. The new feature, which is, um, adding alt text was originally intended to help visually impaired people by adding descriptions of images, to the metadata of each picture. And this is done by creators on the backend before they post it’s actually serving a dual purpose now, which is making it easier for people to search with words, to find pictures on MCM Instagram.

So if you’ve used Instagram in the past to search for imagery and not had much luck, try again, it might work better this time. Here’s another pro tip: If you want to put together some serious results from an Instagram search, take time to go look at specific accounts you follow and scroll back through their entire feed to see what they’ve got for beautiful mid-century content.

You can do this for the accounts of other mid-century homeowners who are working on update projects, designers like myself who are talking about their own work or general mid-century issues. Other designers I suggest you follow are Aletha and Elon Waters. I’ll link to their accounts in the show notes for this episode. And then of course there are the big incentive mid-century news and aggregator accounts. I’ll link to a few favorites of those as well. Go check out those show notes after the episode. Alright, so you found things on Pinterest and you’ve found things on MCM Instagram.

Oh, by the way, I should mention it’s a little less of a visual tool, but social media is also a wonderful resource for people with questions about home updates. And for that you want to use Facebook groups. There are several great Facebook groups out there, including my own filled, with people who are updating mid-century homes and those are an amazing place to go and ask your specific question, post a picture of your house and get other people’s opinions on what you should or shouldn’t do there. So that’s a little bit less of the topic of putting your scroll time to use, but I hope that you’re using social media to your advantage in that way as well.

If you really want to make all of those saved pins and MCM Instagram posts count though, you need organization. This doesn’t have to be fancy to work well, but it does need a bit of thinking time at the start. So take a moment maybe while you’re listening to this podcast to consider what are the organizational methods that are going to work best for you? It is not very easy these days to plan and remodel fully on paper, but it can be done. If you really benefit from writing things down by hand and collecting your image visually you might want to invest in a good quality color printer or a number of magazine subscriptions and start out the old fashioned way by tearing out ideas and storing them in a notebook or three ring binder.

I definitely still do a lot of my day to day and week by week planning using my paper bullet journal. I love the feel of writing things down and being able to look back and see how ideas were organized months and even years ago, but it’s not how I would organize or share concepts back and forth with another design team member and it doesn’t work to share ideas with clients or contractors either. The complexity and interconnectedness of a modern remodel lends itself to the computer.

So what I really recommend is that you use an online organizational tool to start getting your remodeling ducks in a row. Once you’ve captured a bunch of images and ideas that you love on Pinterest or Instagram, you need to pull them together into an easily searchable place. That might just be Pinterest. You can do a lot of remodeling right within the app by taking advantage of its board section at comment structure.

But Pinterest is more useful at the start and ideas phase of a design process than it is at the end. It’s an idea gathering tool, not an idea generation tool. You’re going to need other media available to you to think about the layout, to track specific material or product choices, to share a conversation about an idea with another person in another location.

To take it a bit farther, it’s really useful to start right away using Dropbox, Google drive, or possibly a planning tool like Asana or Trello to pull together the more nuts and bolts aspect of the remodel with the imagery. It used to be that Dropbox was just about storing files and Google documents were sharing collective work but now you can store files in your Google drive and you have shareable multi editable documents at Dropbox so this is largely a matter of your platform preference.

Again, my baseline advice from the top of the episode until now applies. Organization, searchability and structure are what you need to make your fun idea that you saw on Pinterest turn into an active part of your remodeling plan. Wherever you are in your process now is the right time to start infusing that organizational structure into your thought process. It’s never too early or late to start planning in a better organized way.


So to wrap up the first thing you should be doing to make your scroll time on social media account is save anything you like rather than simply swiping past it. The next is to organize those saved pins or MCM Instagram images into folders. So you can find them after you’ve accumulated dozens or even hundreds of good idea images.

Then take some time when you have a little extra time to sit down with a coffee or a glass of wine and transfer images from Instagram to Pinterest and organize your board and file structures, linking them with Google documents, Asana to-do lists, or Trello boards. This doesn’t need to happen on a daily basis, but you do want to get to it weekly or monthly throughout your planning process so that you have at least a chance of remembering what originally drew you to an idea before it fades from your mind.


We really do live in an era where we have this amazing advantage. Access to a wealth of details, data and inspiration from other people’s projects that used to be much less accessible or completely inaccessible. So why not take advantage of it. If you want to take your MCM Instagram and Pinterest social media scroll time to the next level, you’ll start putting together a style guide.

Pop over to the show notes or to midmod-midwest.com/styleguide to get your free workbook. And if all this talk of inspiration for home planning, has you getting a little more excited about your upcoming remodel; wishing you had more clarity and control over what’s going to happen when you start, then you should be on the wait list for Ready to Remodel the course. It’s reopening in October, and I want you to be there. We’ll kick it off with a free one hour masterclass walking you through the exact steps you need to plan a great remodel that will fit your life, your house, and your budget. Keep an eye on your email inbox to make sure you don’t miss your invitation to that free class.


One more time. You can get the show notes at midmod-midwest.com/605. And that’s all for this week. Friends, I’ll catch up with you next week to talk about the mistake that might be holding you back from kick-starting your remodel you’re not alone in planning a mid-century update and together you can come up with a better design idea than anyone can alone. I’ll see you then.