How to Find Your Decorating Style

Ah, yes. One of the great mysteries of the world (and one of the most common things I work on with new clients). Decorating isn’t just about finding what you like–though that obviously comes into play; nobody wants to hang out in an ugly room–it’s about finding what works for your lifestyle. So I guess the real question today is: how the heck do you distinguish between what you like in general and what you’d like to live in?

1. Look at pictures. Tons of ’em. Pinterest is great for this because you can keep yourself hyper-organized by having a different board for each room if you want. You can also scroll through your Instagram feed, look through magazines, and tear pages out of catalogs. The most important thing is to see what’s out there, otherwise you might make a decision that SEEMS okay in the moment, but after a while you realize it’s not really your taste. Think of it like this: you’d never wander into a car dealership without doing your homework, so treat a big furniture/remodeling purchase the same way.

2. Think about your lifestyle. Do you have kids? Pets? Does clutter make your eye twitch? Keep these things in mind as you start to add pictures to your board/folder/bulletin board. For example, I appreciate historically preserved Victorian mansions filled with antique furniture, but would I want to spend my days in one? Nope. I’ve been in houses like that and it’s hard to relax because they feel like a museum. My house needs to be a place where people can hang out around a big plate of nachos. Plus, we do plan to have (a) kid(s) eventually, and I wouldn’t want to constantly worry about them bonking their head on some pointy antique. If you really love something that you know won’t work for your lifestyle right now, make a separate board and earmark it for the future. It’s totally fine to drool over something even if you’re not going to decorate that way.

3. Try to find a pattern. Once you start narrowing things down, pay attention to what all of those pretty rooms have in common. Do they have similar color palettes? What about the furniture placement? Fabric patterns? Overall mood? Let’s practice finding some similarities by taking a gander at these kitchens I pulled from my own Pinterest feed. All of them are slightly different, but they’re definitely on-theme:

Lots of white, an overall fresh and light vibe, clean lines, and warm accents like brass and wood. These similarities pop up in different ways (example: white cabinets in one, white backsplash in another) but they float through all of the rooms as a common thread. Two of them also have plant life, so I guess I'm subconsciously into that despite my knack for killing them. You might be surprised by what keeps popping up once you start comparing, but that’s okay! Sometimes you need an example to make a connection. 

Looking at the other white-and-bright rooms I picked for this post, it shouldn’t surprise you that the former Casa Ronchetti looked like this:

As for how I’d describe my style in actual words, I’d say it’s a mix of timeless finishes and simple, modern furniture. I’m not overly concerned about things matching so much as coordinating. Like Stacy and Clinton always told us on What Not To Wear, “It doesn’t have to MATCH, it has to GO.” And also that pointy shoes make your legs look longer, but that’s another tidbit for another day.

What’s your decorating style? How do you figure out what makes the cut in your house? What style do you admire for other people?