Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Decorate 101 - Define your Style

Did you try Sproost to help you define your style in this post? Was it right on or did it point you in a different direction than you were thinking? Still have questions? Maybe this will help.

Defining your style is so important in decorating. You need to have a plan and a direction or otherwise you will wander stores randomly purchasing things only to bring them home and have then not "go". Return and try again. When you have a defined style (and write it down -- it helps) and use it your house will have a cohesive pulled together look. Shopping will be easier because you'll know what to look for. You can also "shop your house" because items work in multiple rooms (same style) and can be moved around.

I think your decorating style should reflect you and your family - are you laid back or formal? do you have durable fabrics because of kids and dogs even though you would love silk? do you have a large dining table for big gatherings and love to entertain? do you decorate in a romantic style and are a girly-girl? do you keep a couch even though it's uncomfortable because you like the way it looks? Your style should fit you, not be a stage that you live on. Am I making sense? Decorate for who you are, not who you think you should be. You'll be happier in the end and actually use your spaces.

One of the best ways to determine your style is to sit in a comfy chair with something nice to drink and pour through magazines, catalogs and decorating books. Remember the posts about how to read a decorating magazine here and here? Give them a quick review as there is tons of good info in them. Now when you get these magazines to look through, pick up a couple that you normally wouldn't purchase. Try some kitchen and bath ones also.  If you only buy country decorating magazines to look through you are limiting your style determining process.

Mark or tear out pictures of rooms or elements that speak to you. Use a sticky note and write down what it was that attracted you - was it the texture, the color, the layout, a specific table, the lack of something? It's also helpful to find elements you don't like so tear out and mark those pages also.

You need a large pile of pages 30-50. Then start to look though your marked/torn out pages with the notes and look for common threads. Are all the walls a soft or neutral color? Do you like painted furniture? Are you drawn to plants and open spaces? leather sofas? Do you dislike queen ann legs and cherry wood? Do you like a lot of accessories? Do you like the look of only one statement piece as an accessory?

As you look through the pile create a consolidated list of your likes and dislikes. Go ahead ... I'll wait.

Done yet? Now you should have a pretty clear idea of your likes and dislikes. Which is fantastic! Way to go. Did that exercise just wear you out? I always get brain overload when I look at too many magazines at once. You can break this process down into multiple steps/days to give your eyes and brain a chance to rest! You don't want to hurry the process and it should be fun!

You know your likes and dislikes, however, we have this need to label things. It's helpful to communicate to someone else in just a few words, instead of saying: informal, slipcover, light colors, plants, no cherry wood, no exposed wood on the furniture, comfy sink into it couch, painted furniture, wall to wall carpet,  matching lamps, throw pillows, wicker baskets for toys, etc., etc.

In my next Decorating 101 post I'll talk about some major styles and what their elements are so that you can add some labels to your style and fine tune it. Stay tuned!

This is part of a Decorating 101 series of posts. Check out Decorating Basics here.


  1. I took the test but it never would come up with an answer - it just stalled out lol I noticed at the bottom it said something about having 3 styles left - maybe I really do like too many different styles. I will try it again.

  2. I took the Sproost quiz - how fun! I am Urban Country.


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