Defining Your Style

Find Your Style

Only you can define your style, but here are questions you should ask yourself, or at least consider, when honing a look. To start, answer some big philosophy questions, the kind Plato and Socrates contemplated.

What am I doing here?

Many people wrongly approach decorating by first focusing on a color scheme. But the first question to ask is more basic. What are you doing in your home? By defining your purpose, you will define your lifestyle. In great design, function comes first, form second. An executive bachelor who is a gourmet cook should have a much different home from that of a family with four kids and two dogs. Your home’s purpose changes with your life stages. Whether you’re single, raising a family, or are an empty nester will determine whether fabrics need to be durable, or whether they can be finer. Do you need lots of shelves for books, a place for a computer? Do you need to make it safe for small children? Is this a room with a view you want to maximize? All this will dictate your style.

Where did I come from?

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Consider your heritage and express that in your home, even if, like me, you’re a melting pot mongrel. I’m a fifth generation Californian from English/Scottish roots. I lived in France during the early years of my life, and married a man from German-Irish extraction. How that shows up in my home is through a design style I would call Old World European with French Country leanings and a few nods to the west. I like a lot of other looks, but this one suits me. While you don’t have to be a slave to one style, if you do pick one — modern, traditional, country, ethnic — be consistent. Mexican, Scandinavian, and Early American are all distinctive looks. But blend them and you’ll wind up with a camel wearing plaid and stilettos.

Where are you?

Before you commit to a design direction, look at the architecture around you and of your home. Architecture and geography should influence your interiors. When we lived in San Juan Capistrano, the look was largely Mediterranean (a lot of orange stucco). Mexican, Italian and rustic interiors played well. In the Colorado Rockies, lodge-style homes with stone exteriors and brown tones prevail. If you have a colonial home in New England, going with a Moroccan decorating scheme would be a mistake. Your home needs to go with its architectural style and integrate with your environment.

TIP: Here’s another fast way House Beautiful Editor Stephen Drucker suggests for finding your style. Look around your house and pick out three things that would break your heart if you had to part with them. If you picked a cream canvas sofa, a pine table and a woven throw, you’re a country girl.


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