I promised in my last post that I’d share how I’ve been groping my way towards a sense of personal decor style.   I think Blind Man’s Bluff might be an appropriate metaphor… I have to keep reminding myself that even though I’ve been interested in decorating and houses almost all my life, I haven’t made a study of it for long and I should expect honing my style to taking time, just like any artistic endeavor!

Let’s see, what hindered me from sorting out my own decorating style?

  • liking most of what I saw in my sole shelter magazine subscription, which is trend heavy (ditto for many DIY blogs actually)
  • liking the white spaces everywhere that photograph so well
  • not thinking about classic design, having been dropped straight into chevrons and ikat in 2011
  • not having a sense of what would translate well from liking it in a photo, to having it work in my particular home
  • trying to figure out my husband’s style preferences and how to integrate them with mine (a blog post in itself)
  • having no methods for knowing if an item I started to drool over was “the one” I’d been waiting for

I am not the best at waiting patiently for the right thing to come along, and I’m not always able to tell if something I like IS the right thing!  So I needed some methods.

There were a few things I learned as I went along that are helping me to become more consistent with my style.

  • Fieldstone Hill Design’s invaluable series on defining your style gave me a list of 5 defining words that ought to fit anything I purchase, and 3 no-buy words that, if they fit, mean… I need to put it back on the shelf after I’m done admiring it.  This has helped me so much to identify and edit what will and won’t work in my house when I’m out shopping.
  • I have a very masculine husband who works on vintage cars most weekends.  This means car grease, driveway dust, and black smudges come into the house despite his best efforts… white/light furniture & textiles do not work with this reality!   Good practice for kids, hey.
  • Even though I find myself drawn to colorful items and graphic prints in the stores, when I bring them home they just sit there uneasily and I find myself feeling like I wasted money.  It’s taking time (I speak in the present tense for a reason!) to learn to lean toward muted colors, low contrast patterns, and textured objects.

My five defining-style words are:

  1. graceful
  2. well-crafted
  3. inviting
  4. casual
  5. mischievous
  6. and a bonus phrase of imagery… all the time in the world

My three no-buy words are:

  1. graphic
  2. bright
  3. clever (tend to be things I admire rather than love)

So here are some examples of things I really love.  The ones that fit most or all of my defining style words and can take some contact with a mechanic are the ones I’m learning to use as inspiration.  The other ones are just for admiring.

NO!  Graphic.  Love it, and it will not work at home.

YES!  Muted and textural, not neutral but not screaming I’m Colorful

NO!  White furniture, breakable lamp bases, graphic suzani cushions.  Isn’t it lovely though?  PB does a great collected look.  The cognac leather armchair, on the other hand, I could totally get.

YES!  Scuffable floors and furniture, washable accent textiles in traditional patterns.

HECK YES!  Lots of texture and interest going on here, and it’s graceful, casual, inviting, well-crafted, makes me feel like I have all the time in the world to relax and enjoy the space.   Just hang a lobster lithograph for the mischievousness and I’ve got every one of my key words represented.

NO!  Gorgeous green graphic pillows.  When things are this contrasty, it doesn’t work at home.  I still want them.

YES!  Stripes, while technically graphic, are far too traditional to read as pop-y.  Low contrast helps.

So that’s a peek into my developing style and how it’s come about. 

What have you learned about your style as you’ve decorated your home?  Are there certain types of things you find yourself wanting that just don’t work when you try them out?  Have you thought about what words truly define YOUR style?