When you embark on a design project that requires totally rethinking your space, the design options can feel overwhelming.
You may scroll through Pinterest for inspiration and conclude that any of the images you see would be a huge improvement on the space you already have. But the best interior design is not as simple as choosing and copying a look you admire.
You want the design to feel like it is truly your own.
Designers can help you with the entirety of your design project, from mood boards to measurements to sourcing the best materials. But you are the only one who can decide what you will feel comfortable with the space FEELING like — including how casual or formal you want it to be and what emotions you want to feel when you walk in.
So, how do you refine your personal decorating style, either so you can communicate that to an interior designer or so you can begin designing it for yourself?
Here are a few places to start.
Look in Your Closet
The way you like to dress often says a lot about what kind of space you will love.
If you’ve already done some work on cultivating your personal style, you should notice distinctive trends when it comes to the colors, textures, and patterns in your closet.
Maybe you stick to mostly black or mostly jewel tones. Maybe you notice a lot of bright florals or statement pieces. Maybe you tend to choose softer materials, such as velvets or flowy feminine skirts. All these characteristics are signs that can point you toward an interior design style that has similar elements.
The formality of your attire may also inform how you want to design your space.
For example, people who stick to button-ups and pencil skirts are not likely to be drawn to floor cushions and hammocks. And someone who mostly lives in shorts and T-shirts is not likely to love an edgy, modern design. (If you find yourself repeatedly drawn to styles that don’t match what you wear each day, you might have to do some reflecting on why that contrast exists.)
Think about your goals when it comes to the way you dress. Some people dress primarily for comfort or for utility, while others’ main goal is to make a bold statement. Some want to come across as approachable, others want to impress and even intimidate. Some people might dress to accommodate an outdoorsy lifestyle, active hobbies, or hands-on work that requires a full range of motion.
Your interior design style should reflect your lifestyle, hobbies, favorite colors, and even your values, just like your wardrobe does.
Look at Your Instagram & Pinterest Feeds
Social media accounts, particularly visual ones like Instagram or Pinterest can be a convenient way to sum up your style and taste.
First, there are the selfies. We all tend to post pictures of the outfits we feel good in and feel the most comfortable in, and an Instagram feed makes it easy to see that at a glance.
But even when we are just posting pictures of other things, we find interesting and inspiring, we can get a lot of insight into what we like, what we value, and what we want to project to others.
If your feed features pictures of flowers, clouds, and trees – that might mean you would appreciate more organic elements in your spaces, such as wood, water, and plants. Images of cityscapes, angles and geometric patterns might indicate that you would like a more industrial or modern décor. And pics of glamorous outfits and nightlife can indicate that you might love a room with a Hollywood Regency vibe.
Look at Your Favorite Brands
Which stores do you love to shop in? Which catalogues do you pore over the most when they show up in your mailbox?
Obviously, if you have a favorite self-indulgence store, that will be the most telling for your interior design goals. However, brands of clothes, jewelry, or other unrelated products can also be super helpful for defining your personal style.
Make a list of brands you love and ask yourself what you like about the way each one presents itself.
Look at Your Favorite Pieces
If you cannot really look in your closet or around your home to summarize your style, go on an intentional search to find the handful of things that you love the most. It could be art, furniture, clothing, jewelry, sculptural pieces — anything that heightens your happiness.
Now, ask yourself this question: “What do all of my favorite pieces have in common?” The answer will point to a personal style you love.
Get in Touch
Although you are the only one who can truly decide which style will be the best fit for your home, designers can help expertly guide you through the process of identifying your personal style.
I sit down with each new client long before a project begins and have a conversation with them that can help me get to the bottom of which style will suit them the best. In fact, I never embark on a project before I am sure of the style and feel they are wanting in their space.