A person’s design style is as unique as his or her own personality.
It may not be what is advertised on the billboards or what you grew up with, but rest assured that you have a style — you just have to find it.
The trick is to shut out the loud trends and prevalent fashions and go with what gives you joy.
It may take some time, effort and self-awareness to determine your own design style. You can start by asking yourself some questions.
Most people don’t replace their furniture when they remodel, but updating the “architecture” of a room may give new life to the furniture you’ve had for years. (Daniel J. Barton)
What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in your home? Often this varies from area to area. You can create different moods in different parts of your home — a serene, luxurious master suite or a lively, energetic game room, for instance.
When you identify the purpose or anticipated functions that will occur in the room, a suitable atmosphere will become apparent.
What kind of furniture do you like? Do you like modern, contemporary, traditional, country, casual or fusion? Do you care more for looks or for comfort, functionality and convenience? A couch or chair you buy for looks may not be the same one you want to snuggle down into on movie night.
What kinds of colors, patterns, shapes or textures and fabrics do you like? You can get a good idea by paying attention to the clothes you wear, the accessories you have, the pictures, collectibles and books you own, the car you drive, etc.
Look to nature to choose more timeless colors, and for kitchens, look to the great variety of colors found in food (i.e., lettuce green, pepper red, lemon yellow, etc.).
Styles have implications beyond looks or aesthetics. In seeking a style that will work for you, you must consider your lifestyle. Do you have an easygoing or hectic schedule? Do you have a large or small family? Do you entertain a lot? Would a high- or low-maintenance interior suit you best?
Even if you prefer the look of a high-maintenance item, do you have the time, energy and drive to keep it up?
Your budget also will be a factor in your design style choices. If money is tight and your taste expensive, then you may just have to acquire one good thing at a time. Remember the value of a master plan if you take this approach.
Determining your design style can seem overwhelming at first, but if you begin the quest, you will be led along to discover new things about yourself.
If you are one of our “more mature” readers, it may be time to recognize and acknowledge that you have outgrown the style currently expressed in your home. Hopefully we do evolve and transform as the years pass by, and so should our homes.
However, it is more common that one day you will wake up, look around, and realize that the style of your home no longer represents you.
So, this discovery process can be explored numerous times as the years go on.
In addition to answering all these questions about yourself, we suggest gathering as much information about home design as you can.
Since design is intrinsically a visual discipline, you need to search out and gather visual information that will be mainly in the form of pictures.
In the past, we recommended harvesting ideas from design books and magazines; while this is still a valid exercise, the digital age has made it much easier to both review design options and to file ideas away.
We suggest you try two popular sites to begin: Pinterest.com and houzz.com will give you about a billion images to consider and simple instructions on how to gather and organize them.
The only danger here is that you may get so sucked into the virtual worlds that you may never face the reality of actually doing something “real” to your own home!
As you search through the articles and pictures, tear out or pin anything that catches your eye. And we mean anything — a wall color, a painting, an appliance, a cabinet handle, anything that interests you, even if it feels random.
Once you have a good selection of photos, go through and sort them into categories — again, organizing your information digitally is simple to do. You can sort by colors, patterns, shapes of furniture, room assignments, etc.
As you sort through your images, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Your design style will rise to the top. You may have always thought of yourself as a traditionalist but be surprised to see all the contemporary items you have selected — or vice versa.
Remember that few people are purists — most of us have a design style that is somewhat eclectic, so you may identify more than one theme.
You notice that this has described an individual process. If you are single or have total design omnipotence in your home, this works well.
However, if you are married and have a spouse who wants a say in the style of your home, you both need to go through this process. Then the fun begins as you try to integrate both your styles. Good luck with that process!
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local architectural firm specializing in home remodels. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.