Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Our homes are our comfort zones - they are the places that we spend the most of our time. This is where we live and love - where we make some of our most treasured memories. When we are decorating our homes, we are given the perfect opportunity to show off our unique personalities. Home should not only be a place of comfort, but it should be a place that reflects our lifestyle and interests.
Often times we get so overwhelmed when it comes to redecorating our homes. We can go through all of the work and expense only to step back and realize that we've created a space that may be beautiful and Pinterest-worthy, but that doesn't feel like "home". Knowing your personal design style is the first key step in making any changes, whether big or small - it becomes your guide as you make decisions about finishes and decor, and it can help to save you from making a big furniture purchase that you come to regret. By knowing our personal design style, we are able to walk through any renovation or home update with confidence knowing that the final product will be a perfect reflection of us and the things that we love.
So… What IS a design style?
We are all drawn to different things. It's what makes us all wonderfully unique. Your personal design style is woven throughout the decor preferences that you have. Think for a moment about a group of colors that you love, or the finishes in a home that you're drawn to. Do you tend to move toward more bright, warm colors? Or are you a fan of neutrals? Do you enjoy the more natural look of rustic woods, or are you drawn to the classic elegant look of white marble? These preferences are the building blocks of your personal style. What about form types - do you like clean straight lines, or is your eye caught more by elegant curves? Are you drawn to a specific category of design such as Scandinavian? Maybe you're more a fan of Bohemian or Modern Farmhouse? Is there an overall feel that you want your home to project, whether it be warm and cozy, fresh and airy, or bold and edgy? Finally, is there a set of descriptive words that you want to be used when describing your home, such as high-contrast or feminine? When you ask yourselves these questions, chances are you start to get a picture in your mind of what you are drawn to when it comes to design - this is your personal design style.
What if you don't fall into just one category? Honestly, most people don't. An interior space can be so much more interesting when you combine styles in a way that best reflects you. My favorite homes aren't necessarily the ones that have high-end finishes and lush furnishings, but the ones that feel like they are a curated representation of that individual's lifestyle, hobbies, and personality. I want to walk into my best friend's house and have it absolutely radiate her personality, or visit my Grandmother and see the unique touches of "her" everywhere.
When you start to ask yourself these questions, try not to be confused by having an appreciation for a certain style and it being your personal style. We've all been shopping or seen an item online that we think is absolutely beautiful, but just isn't "us". You know the phrase, "that looks great on her, but I would never wear it!" The same can be applied to our homes. For example, I absolutely appreciate the beautifully ornate and curvy form of a traditional chandelier, but it doesn't mean that chandelier has a place in my home. My own personal design aesthetic leads me to opt for a lighting fixture that has a much more simple, streamlined form. We can appreciate the beauty of a piece, while at the same recognizing that it isn't necessarily for us - this is key when it comes to discovering your personal design style.
Why Should You Find Your Design Style?
Finding your unique design style makes planning for renovations and shopping for furnishings much easier as you have a filter to run every decision through. Knowing and applying your design style throughout your home helps to create a cohesive feel from one room to the next. You can walk from one end of your home to another and have a feeling of unity throughout the different spaces. Finding your own design style also gives you the ability to "shop your home" when you want to change things up a little bit. Shopping your home is a budget-friendly way to refresh your space by using the pieces that you already have and love in a new way - you can swap items between rooms to freshen up a space without spending a penny or even leaving your home. Knowing your personal design style also ensures that every new piece you acquire when you do shop for new decor items will go with what you already have.
How to Find Your Design Style?
Now that you understand what a personal design style is and how it can benefit you as you decorate your own home, how on earth do you get started in finding yours?
Websites like Pinterest are great for this. You can create a special board on Pinterest and browse through thousands of images of homes, pinning the ones that you're drawn to. (I recommend collecting images from all different rooms in the house!) After you've collected a nice assortment of photos you love, look back through them and see what common denominators are hiding in the photos. Are you continually drawn to the traditional rolled armchairs and ornate lighting fixtures? Perhaps you love pieces that combine rustic wood and sleek metal? You may realize that you love cozy textures and warm colors, or that you're drawn to more of an eclectic blend of artistic patterns and furniture. Notice these repetitions! They're a great way to start to piece together your personal style. You can also create traditional mood boards (hello, the original Pinterest!) using poster board and magazine clippings if this method is more appealing to you!
Find clues in your closet! Do you wear a lot of neutrals or are you more drawn to bright colors? Do you see a lot of stripes, polkadots, or florals in your clothing? Do you tend to wear minimal, more traditional jewelry, or are you prone to adding fun and edgy jewelry to an ensemble? Just as your wardrobe is a daily form of self-expression, your home should be too! Chances are that your clothing choices can tell you a lot about your design style!
Always take notice of the things you're drawn to, even in the most unexpected places. Clues to your style may be found in the colors and textures of nature, places you travel, or the sweater worn by the lady in front of you in the Target checkout lane. It's amazing what you see and take notice of when you're being more conscious to the world around you.
Consider your favorite restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, or other places that you love to visit. Often times the reason that we are drawn to these places is because they reflect a certain image or mood that we are drawn to, and align with us on a personal level.
Focus on your initial reaction to items e all know the feeling we get when you stumble upon the PERFECT piece of furniture or artwork. If an item stops you in your tracks and you simply cannot get it out of your head, that's a great indication that it may be a representation of your signature design style. Comparatively, if you have to make excuses or talk yourself into liking something, it is probably because it doesn't align with your particular style.
Before you take the plunge and make a big purchase (or even a small one!), create a design board (again you can use Pinterest or go the traditional route of making a physical design board with poster board and magazine clippings). Sometimes seeing all of the styles you like in one spot helps you to prioritize what your favorite elements are. For example, if you're ready to purchase a sofa, you would pin or collect images of several sofas that you like - different styles, colors, etc. Getting them all in one place will help you to see which ones you like more than others and you can start to eliminate the styles that you don't like as much or that don't seem to fit the space as well as others.
I've even created a free printable template to help you find your personal design style. Get it sent straight to your inbox by joining the newsletter here!
I hope that this post has helped you to envision your personal design style and get started on applying it within your own home! What was most helpful? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!