If you have ever gone to a flea market or home decorator's store and felt flustered because you could not choose items that reflected your style, or you felt you were selecting things that were "all over the place" in terms of their appearance, it could be that you have yet to identify your decorating style. It is a more common challenge than many realize, and the first step in decorating, redecorating or renovating is to ensure that you, or the property owner, is clear about their personal style.
One thing that helps someone to identify themselves in terms of style, is to know the different categories that are most commonly used to describe style. After all, the person who loves the "cottage" style might find it hard to describe themselves without already knowing about cottage trends. They might say they are whimsical, favor pastels, love retro, and so on.
The most common terms used as headings for different styles include:
• Cottage - Light and casual, this is also the style that incorporates farmhouse, French country, rustic, "shabby chic", coastal or seaside, industrial décor, and retro items. Reused, vintage, and repurposed goods are common here too.
• Traditional - This is a style that is a good match to those who love English country homes. It uses cozy and overstuffed furniture, symmetry, heavier moldings or woodwork, elegant style and substantial draperies. The newer take on this style is a bit less frumpy and a lot more youthful.
• Contemporary - Often called modern, this style is defined by its cleaner aesthetic that focuses on strong lines, openness, natural light, and more neutral colors. It is all about the latest in clean design.
• Transitional - The perfect blend of traditional and contemporary, and a style you might see in many design stores where old-fashioned sofas are stocked with colorful cushions and bolder palettes are balanced by strong interior lines.
• Eclectic - Fun, funky and flea market finds dominate this unusual style. It blends trends, periods, and styles. In an eclectic décor you will find bohemian looks that might reflect the travels that the owner has enjoyed, but which might also show them to be an urbanite who appreciates the many cultures around them. Bold colors and prints are part of the eclectic style.
Those explanations may not be enough to show you which group you fall into, and the next thing to do is to become a curator of images that help you better recognize your style. Websites like Pinterest are great for this, but you will want to do more than tag things. Actually print items, collect paint chips, take photos, and tear images out of magazines when they inspire you. Build a folio or board of these things, and then use them to begin defining your spin on style. You will quickly see that you fall into one or two of the groupings we've looked at above.
Start to subscribe to the catalogs where you seem to gather the most materials or inspiration. Often, the wording in these sites or publications helps you understand if you are more one thing than the other. If you see the term bohemian and urban more than seaside and industrial, it is likely your style veers towards eclectic.
Once you have your style clearly defined, look at your current décor and eliminate the things that don't "sing" to you or satisfy you. Then, begin rearranging the things you love and looking for ways to strengthen your settings by investing in items that are a better fit to your style.
Your home is where you live, and your eye should be happy wherever it lands. You can ensure this by identifying your style and then embracing it and making it live throughout your home.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com and www.dreamstime.com