A guide to figuring out your personal style and embracing it.
I love Instagram. It’s beautiful, curated lifestyle shots of homes or travel or food—yes, please! It has become a way I fill ten minutes while waiting for my next meeting or my oil change to wrap up. It is endlessly inspirational and aspirational. But, while I love it, it has caused some problems in the interior design world. We’ve all seen and liked that kitchen, that swimsuit, that closet, that trip…and for good reason! That doesn’t mean that swimsuit is for me. CAN I GET AN AMEN?! That doesn’t meant that trip is for me. That doesn’t mean that interior is for me. It’s easy to lose track of who we really are amid the scrolling! Here are three ways to figure out your own design style and embracing it!
1. Look in your closet
I know you’ve heard me say this before. I’ll keep saying it! This is such a clear indicator of who we are! If you’re looking to define your personal style, go stand in your closet (or in front of your closet, if yours is like mine!). No, really. Don’t just imagine it—actually go in there! First, we’ll look generally at what you have. Are there any common themes like colors you’re drawn to, designers you’re drawn to, or go-to outfits you feel best in? Is most of your closet cocktail dresses, sweater sets, or athleisure? That’s a clue! Once you’ve taken a general inventory it’s helpful to think about what you actually wear. Here’s an example: I, in my closet, have three formal gowns and 2 velvet tuxedo-style jumpsuits. Of course. Who doesn’t?! 🙂 While I am more formal and would love to wear gowns out-and-about at all times that is not my lifestyle. It would be impractical, mostly! I couldn’t climb a ladder, run around town in the car, or carry heavy furniture without ruining the clothes. What would make more sense for my lifestyle would be jeans and a tuxedo jacket. The same is true for the way we live in our homes. While my formality would love to have silk drapes, marbles, and velvets throughout my home my lifestyle would require me to think about cost, durability, etc.!
For some, the hardest part of this puzzle is embracing their personal style! They *wish* they were “farmhouse modern” or “East coast chic” or “California boho” so they make design decisions that are inauthentic to who they are and how they live. Knowing my wardrobe it would make no sense for me to shiplap anything…ever. It is the opposite of my personal aesthetic—and that’s ok! Just because shiplap is a beautiful trend doesn’t mean it makes it into my home. For the person who loves shiplap and responds to that aesthetic my silk drapes puddling on the floor make no sense. For the person who loves minimalism, and has a capsule wardrobe, layers upon layers of accessories and pattern and color and art aren’t for them.
2.Think of your favorite movies, books, or TV shows
I’ll use me as an example again. Two of my favorite movies are Pride & Prejudice (2005) and The Great Gatsby (2013). These movies both speak to my formality, my color palette, my romanticism. Both movies are based on classic novels—perhaps that speaks to my classicism or my love of modern takes on traditional ideas. My silk drapes, high levels of architectural detail, and love of marble still make sense with this test! I’m also obsessed with Top Gun (obviously) and will watch Tombstone any time it is on. That means I’ll balance out my formality with a nice pair of faded jeans or boots! Someone whose favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird might have a more traditional, southern aesthetic—a home Atticus and Scout could be comfortable in. Someone whose favorite show was Mad Men might be inspired by Midcentury Modern design…or Jon Hamm. I mean I’m inspired by Jon Hamm. I know several people who have used their love of Harry Potter as their design inspiration! Don’t just think Slytherin green but think of broader concepts—traditional English libraries + magic and whimsy + a dose of the Weasley’s cottage.
3. Think of your actual life—not your aspirational life
In my dream life I wander to the greenhouse in the morning mist to arrange the day’s bouquet while a string quartet warms up to accompany breakfast. Haha! The contrast to my actual reality is laughable. Texas burning off the morning mist too early for me is the least of my concerns here! My actual morning involves feeding the dogs, feeding myself, quick mascara application, and out the door. While I do listen to classical music in the morning, I don’t need to space plan for a string quartet! If you work out every morning—a place in your home to do that would be ideal! If you don’t work out every day—let’s not waste square footage planning for the Rock’s home gym. Ina Garten is sending Jefrey to specialty cheese shops as the finishing touch for dinner…I’m meal prepping on Sunday and reheating throughout the week. Can you see how my kitchen needs would be different than Ina’s? To be clear—if you aspire to Ina’s level of cooking skill, YOU GO! I’ll be your taste tester! I’m just encouraging you to design your home for YOU and your lifestyle as Ina’s is designed for her. p.s. have you SEEN her cookbook library?!…I think it was on her Instagram… 🙂
Once you’ve gotten back in touch with who you truly are, what your life is really like, you’ll be much better equipped to dream and shop for your home!