By Hannah West
For people who know what they like, decorating seems like a breeze. Those pesky rustic people have it all figured out. The contemporary folks keep showing off their commitment to sleek lines and open spaces. How is it so easy for them to define their style and pursue it?
Maybe your design style is a bit more here and there. You might find yourself drawn to rustic furniture one day but in love with an elegant work of art the next. Maybe you see yourself in a European cottage in your dreams–yet you’re envious of your best friend’s contemporary living space. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a “look.” It just means you have to think a little harder to narrow it down and choose pieces that work in your home.
Here are a few ways to narrow your style down so you can get design direction and develop consistency when it comes to express yourself through your living space.
Understand the Categories
There are categories within categories of decorating, but we’ll start with a few of the basics.
Traditional is often associated with a cozy yet elegant European style. The color palette is calming and classic, with tones like olive green, peach, brown, and tan. Warm wood and metallic accents complement traditional colors, soft florals, and small details like fringe and tassels. English Country, French, and Mediterranean styles tend to fall under this category.
Contemporary is defined by clean lines and neutrals broken up by colorful statement pieces. It often reflects an interest in sustainability. Contemporary can encompass art deco, Mid-Century Modern, and West Coast Contemporary, which uses nature-y pieces like natural wood and plants.
Transitional style marries traditional and contemporary for a cross between comfortable and sleek. You might have the calm color palette of traditional with a few pops of eye-drawing color and straight lines. This style encompasses a broad range of looks that mix the staple pieces of these two categories.
Rustic, or “cottage,” is probably one of the broadest categories, including coastal (beachy), lodge, country/farmhouse, western, and shabby chic. A rustic look usually involves antique or worn touches and unelaborate architecture.
Look to Your Other Interests
Now that you have a basic understanding of the most common categories, you should look to other areas of your life to help you determine your style. Where do you and your family most like to travel? Do you gravitate toward warm, cool or neutral colors when picking out clothes? Do you tend to eat clean green meals or down home country cooking? While these may seem like beside-the-point details, they say a lot about your experiences and personality, which have a strong bearing on your personal style.
Look at Your Space
Maybe you’ve decided that your personal style is mountain lodge–but you live in an apartment. Without the classic woodwork and outdoorsy feel, the mountain lodge look may fall flat. Work with the space you have to create something that works for you now rather than ten years down the road when you can finally buy that land in Colorado. You can still pull in details reminiscent of your dream home style, but you may want to stay away from the mounted deer heads and heavy flannel.
Feel Free to Mix
Eclectic is the term used to describe a decor style that doesn’t fit into just one of the basic categories. It means combining pieces from different time periods or styles and using them to create a unique but cohesive look. For many fans of eclectic style, this means using pieces they’ve collected on their travels, which is why Asian and Moroccan are often associated with eclectic. But what it can mean for you is that you don’t want to settle on just one easily defined look. Feel free to experiment!
For more design ideas, and other tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.