Many times when you hear design style, you think something like, French country, art deco, modern,country etc. While those are styles, the most important style is…Yours! Developing a personal style can be a bit overwhelming for most homeowners.
We all see so many things that we love or don’t love but clearly, you can’t have everything you like in one house let alone one room. I have some suggestion which will help you develop and get clear on your personal style.
This is imperative whether you are going the do it yourself route or working with a design professional. By seeing what appeals to a client, designers can hone in on a style that works for you.
Be Aware of The Things That Turn You On Visually
One of the best ways to “develop an eye” is to be observant. Notice your surroundings. What really captures your senses. I mean this in all aspects of your life…the music you listen to, the food you eat, the fragrances you like.
The more curious and interested you are, the better honed your eye will become. Notice details like how pieces are constructed.
The best details are not merely decorative but reflect the construction of function of a piece. If you begin to understand the “why” of design, you will begin to spot a “phony” or bad design.
I think it is helpful to use your camera. I think photographing often helps to develop an "eye". Learning to "see" is the way you begin to appreciate good design.
The camera on your phone is perfect because we always have it with us. Practice photographing things you find interesting.
A garden, an outfit someone is wearing, an architectural detail, food and flowers. Be sure to zoom in to catch the detail and pattern and zoom out to see the big picture or the scene in context.
Over time you will have this interesting visual collage. You may begin to see patterns of things that resonate with you. You will also start to see how and where you spend time.
Observe How You Really Live
We sometimes have a romanticized view of the life we live. Reality collides with fantasy. Don’t get me wrong I am all for aspiration but, we need to temper it with the reality of our daily life.
You may envision a house bathed in white upholstery and light flooring, but your reality is that you have kids and a dog, no housekeeper and can barely manage traffic through your home.
Now there are ways to achieve both…with a little compromise. How often do you really use your formal dining room? Would that space better serve you as a dining/library/office? Or, would the formal dining room be of service as a less formal dining room.
In other words, how do you entertain and how do you entertain? Maybe you haven’t entertained much but would like to. Now is the time to really think about how that would look? Formal dinner parties with good china and sliver or more casual affairs or both?
These can all be accomplished. You just really need to be thoughtful and honest about how you live. There’s nothing sadder than a stuffy traditional dinning room that nobody uses except for the holidays.
The other key is to observe how you move through your house. Should the laundry be near the kitchen and on the first floor or would it be better on the bedroom level?
Where does your family usually enter the house—this is rarely a formal front entry. Whey not make that everyday entrance as functional and accessible as possible.
I have had a few battles with contractors who wanted to cut square footage from this valuable real estate. I know how used this space everyday and it had to be functional.
I prefer a walk in closet for coats and boots and sporting equipment. Now I know those cute little cubbies look adorable in the magazine layout—but it’s the only time they look good! The reality is that they are not functional or provide enough storage for an active family.
We live in the northeast, so while I want a hard surface (tile) that can mop up easily, I wanted heated floors to encourage my kids to take off their shoes.
My very sunny laundry is off of this space—purposely. I want it near the mudroom entrance so dirty clothes (baseball pants) can be deposited and not tracked through the house. I also want a pleasant and functional space to do what isn’t always a pleasurable job.
Excavate Your Closet
There is a gold mine in your closet. What style would you say you have? Traditional and tailored, chic and current, trendsetting, label aware? Are you a jeans and t-shirt kind of person?
These all offer clues about your style. Like most things, we are not all 100% of any particular style. Many of us are hybrids—which makes us so much more interesting!
And just like people, interior design is most interesting when it is curated and reflects the personality of its’ owner. There is nothing more boring than interior that is too matched.
We need contrast in all forms of design. Without it, a space becomes very flat and uninteresting. Now knowing how to balance harmony and contrast is the trick.
The more you observe this, the better trained your eye will become. I encourage to seek out great original sources of design. There are fantastic resources and shelter magazines that show great work.
I encourage to learn from the best and avoid some of the DIY world. Much like the world of fashion where haute couture is shown on the runway, the average person doesn’t buy those pieces, but the ideas are trickled down for mass market.
So, learn from the source. Then you can analyze and figure out what works in that interior and why. Then you can begin to apply those principles to your interiors.
Ways to Save Your “Curated Collection"
You can curate your own collections by using Pinterest. Create boards for different categories. Make sure you make note of why you pinned that image. You could make boards by rooms, by colors, by style, by designer etc..
When you look over your boards and pins, you should start to see common elements or themes starting to develop. I like for clients to keep boards on Pinterest as it gives me an overview of their aesthetic.
Another way to curate collections is on Polyvore. You can have great fun creating boards for your home. The can be organized by color, room, style etc..
Polyvore also has links to actual products incase you are interested. Again, pulling together images of other items, such as clothing, gives insight into what interests you visually.
Evernote is another place to organize your materials in one place. The web clipper can be used to “clip” articles, images, websites etc. into Evernote. You could also upload floorpans as well and keep everything for your project in one place.
If you are old school and like to have physical book of your ideas, you can always use a binder and add tear sheets of magazine photos as well as drawings etc. into a binder. Many samples and manufacturers tear sheets can also be kept in a binder of file folder.
This is one of the most important steps in the design process. I know everybody is so excited to start choosing things, but if you are not firm in your style and goals, it can become a very expensive and unsatisfying endeavor.
Take the time to really figure out how you live and what gives you pleasure.