Interior Design: 4 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Style

Interior Design: 4 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Style

Moving into a new home is the ultimate opportunity to start with a blank slate — especially when it comes to expressing your interior design style and creating a home you love.

But that blank slate can be overwhelming for many of us who aren’t sure what our design style is, or don’t have a lot of experience decorating.

Maybe you’re drawn to several styles, or wonder if there’s a name for what you love?

Not to worry. There’s no one way to define personal style, but you can start by asking some key questions to help you discern which design elements speak to you.

How do you want your home to feel?

Before you begin thinking about how you want your home to look, spend some time thinking about how you’d like your home — or even just one room or area — to feel.

This process is completely subjective, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Do you picture warm and vibrant gathering spaces? A zen-like retreat? Rooms that are elegant and gracious, or a sleek and modern home?

Think about places you’ve been that left an impression, and remember how they made you feel. You may not remember the color of the walls or the style of the sofa, but you probably remember feeling calm, energized, peaceful, or joyful. Inspiration can spring from anywhere when you start remembering the way certain spaces make you feel: from a childhood vacation home to a favorite restaurant, from a graceful historic building to a quiet corner of your local library.

Think about the feelings you want your home to evoke. What adjectives come to mind? Popular adjectives include:

  • – Cozy
  • – Inviting
  • – Clean/Fresh
  • – Rejuvenating
  • – Timeless
  • – Warm
  • – Elegant
  • – Restful

Write down every word that comes to mind, and then choose two or three that feel right to you. Keep these keywords in mind as you explore your design style.

What’s in your closet?

To get an even better sense of your design style, take note of what you see in your closet. Chances are you’ll notice some recurring themes. What color palettes or color combinations pop up repeatedly? Are you drawn to certain patterns? Are your favorite pieces soft and luxurious, or comfortable and easy to care for? What are your go-to pieces of clothing, accessories, or outfits that make you feel great? 

While few of us fall into a single style category, you might notice that your wardrobe leans decidedly toward the classic and timeless, casual and comfortable, edgy and trendy, or elegant and refined. Chances are good that if you know what styles you love to wear, your interior design style will mostly likely follow suit.

What kind of images inspire you?

Begin collecting images of homes, rooms, pieces of furniture, paint colors, lighting, and architectural styles that feel inspiring or aspirational to you.

Start with an internet search using your keywords (“cozy living room” or “minimalist bedroom”), and save the images you feel drawn to. Leave plenty of time for this step.

Instead of falling down an internet rabbit hole and spending hours on a marathon search, block time for short sessions a few times a week.

Don’t overthink it too much — just save what looks appealing to you. Over time, you’ll notice similarities and patterns in what you saved and why, which will give you clues to what delights your inner designer. Are your images full of bright colors, or serenely monochromatic? Do certain furniture styles pop up again and again? Are you drawn to dramatic, statement-making rooms, or casual, unfussy spaces that are light and airy?

Pinterest boards and other home-design websites are great resources, as well as design magazines, catalogs, artwork, TV shows, and movies. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

What do you already have in your home that you love?

Take a cue from what you already have in your home that you adore: artwork, pieces of furniture, photographs, objects, even everyday items. What details about these items capture the look and feel you love: color, texture, style?

If you can, bring those things together to create a vignette that tells a story about who you are and how you want your home to feel. Let the vignette live in that spot for several days, and feel free to rearrange, add and subtract items, or curate the pieces.

How do you feel when you see a collection of objects you really love? Set your sights to create a style that replicates that feeling.

Try not to get hung up on labeling your style — traditional, transitional, contemporary, minimalist — the truth is that most of us lean toward a combination of two or more styles, and that’s okay.

Learning to design and style your home in a way that feels right for you — whether it’s the blank canvas of a new house or a well-loved existing home — allows you to decorate with confidence, knowing what makes you happy and, more importantly, why.

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