Finding Your Design Style in 5 Easy Steps

People often tell me they want their homes to be beautiful, but there is a reason why they feel that they can’t be. Maybe it’s an issue of money. Maybe they have young children or pets that make it feel impossible to have nice things. Or maybe they just don’t have that gene. They don’t know how to pull a room together in a way that makes it both pleasing to the eye and a comfortable, livable space. I think people often feel there is a distinction between the two- you can either have a perfectly styled home or you can have a home that you can actually live in (based on your budget, desire for comfort, fellow tenants, or design skills).

But the truth is it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, one way or the other. If you can put together a stylish outfit, or pinpoint what you like or don’t like in a photograph or store, if your heart starts to race with excitement when you are in a pretty space and you yearn to have that for yourself, then you absolutely can.

Life is too short to live in a space that you don’t love. You deserve to be happy and inspired by your home every day. It should feel like a warm hug each time you walk through the door. A beautiful, stylish warm hug. The key to making your home an enjoyable place to be is to figure out your personal design style and make it happen in your space. If you pinpoint what you like, it will be much easier (and less overwhelming) to bring it to life.

Here’s how to find your design style:

1. Purge. Get rid of anything you don’t love or need. Every single object and gadget in your home should be beautiful, useful, or make you happy in some way. Even better if it fits into more than one of those categories. You have no idea how good it feels to get rid of unneccessary things and start fresh. This can be a daunting task depending on how hoarder-like your tendencies lean, but it is absolutely essential, and there are plenty of books and articles on Pinterest to help you. If you haven’t yet heard of the popular Konmari method written about by Marie Kondo, I recommend checking out this book.

2. Once you have pared things down to only what you love and need, it will start to become clear what you are drawn to. Take cues from not only home décor objects, but your closet as well. Notice what colors, styles, and textures tend to attract you. Do you notice an abundance of green in your closet? Do you  feel a special attachment to antique or nostalgic objects? Or are you more drawn to clean lines and simple details? Come up with some adjectives to describe your style (cozy, classic, quirky, bold, etc).

3. Get pinning. Or magazine clipping, if you’re not on Pinterest. Pin whatever strikes your fancy. As you begin to scroll through your pins, you will likely notice some similarities. Are a lot of mid-century style furnishings showing up? Or maybe the images you are pinning all have big squashy furniture and cozy throw blankets. If you’re anything like me, you will probably find that you are attracted to multiple different styles, and while this fact may overwhelm you, it is actually a good thing. There is nothing worse (okay, there are worse things, but for the sake of this post let’s go with it), than walking into a room that looks like it could be a furniture warehouse showroom. Or a time capsule (think The Brady Bunch). If you want your home to look like you, a real, living and no doubt terribly fascinating person, lives there, you want it to be more complex and interesting than that. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how.

4. Pinpoint a handful of styles that you love. For me, it’s mid-century, rustic and industrial, with a hint of glam. It doesn’t seem like all of those things could go together, does it? But I promise you they can. If you are having trouble labeling your styles, fear not. I have gathered some images of the more common design styles so you can figure out what speaks to you:

  • Mid-century Modern: This classic style is all about clean lines, medium toned warm woods, low furniture with slim or tapered legs, and bright pops of color.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.18.55

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.20.09

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.20.19

source

  • Industrial: This style is nostalgic and quirky, using utilitarian objects like pipes and metal shelving to create an urban, masculine vibe. Think metal chairs and stools, factory style lighting, and exposed filament bulbs.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.15.02

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.15.15

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.15.55

source

  • Minimalist: Like the name suggests, this style is very clean, simple, and devoid of clutter. Lots of black and white, sleek furniture, and modern artwork.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.16.33

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.17.08

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.17.25

source

  • Scandinavian: This style is a warmer version of minimalist. Still clean and simple, with lots of bright white, a little black and a hint of subtle color, but plenty of textures like wood and fur keep it feeling cozy.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.16.55

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.18.05

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.18.24

source

  • Asian Zen: This style is very calm and simple, with elements of nature present throughout. Think plants, sleek wood furniture, and soft lighting.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 19.52.16

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.12.00

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.18.32

source

  • Bohemian: This casual style is all about layers upon layers of textiles, and lots of handmade objects with global influences. Plants, throw pillows, poufs, and tribal patterned rugs abound.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.12.59

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.14.42

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.15.38

source

  • Traditional: This is the most classic of all the styles- picture vintage rugs, tufted furniture, antiques, and formal details like crystal chandeliers.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.14.24

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.14.07

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.13.56

source

  • Glam: This is a more modern version of traditional- think shiny pretty things like gold, crystal, and chrome, and luxurious fabrics like satin, fur and velvet.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.19.32

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.19.21

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.19.06

source

  • Coastal: This is like a laid back, on vacation version of traditional style. It doesn’t necessarily mean beach themed, but tends to have soft water inspired colors. Think faded linen fabrics, large slipcovered furniture, whitewashed wood, and flowy sheer curtains.
Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.13.14

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.13.32

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.13.45

source

Rustic: This style is all about laid back comfort- lots of reclaimed wood, deep cushy furniture, and simple patterns like plaids and stripes.

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.19.48

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.17.54

source

Screenshot 2016-04-28 20.17.41

source

5. The best way to make different styles work with each other is to tie them together with a defined color palette. It works well to pick one bold or heavily saturated color, complement it with one or two more muted colors, and add lots of neutral tones in for balance. In my living room, I chose emerald green as my bold pop of color, mint green and blush pink to soften the look, and plenty of shades of brown, cream, and white as my neutrals.

So you’ve pared down to the things you love, you’ve nailed down some adjectives for how you want your home to feel, you’ve labeled the styles you’re drawn to, and you’ve decided on a color palette. Now you just need to put your plan into action. Find out how in my post, Implementing Your Design Style in 5 Easy Steps!