Discovering your interior design style is something that takes time, it develops as you discover what you love. It's not as simple or as straightforward as it sounds, but it is such a joy to experiment with looks and trends until you find what you love and start to create spaces that feel like you.
It can be daunting to know where to start, but the main thing is to begin with what you love the most – that favorite color you always gravitate towards, a fabric that you'd love as a cushion, or a print that fills you with joy. Then you have a few jumping-off points to get your started that can help indicate what interior design styles you are most likely to be drawn to.
Designers know a thing or two about finding personal style, not only do they need to have their own but they also need to work with, and bring out, the styles of their clients. So we asked some of our favorite designers for their top tips on finding your interior design style.
How to discover your interior design style
1. Find correlations in spaces you like
'The best way to discover your own personal interior design style is to document and journal as much as possible. Words and images, sometimes in pairings, can be useful tools for your self-analysis,' says David Mann, founding partner, MR Architects & Decor.
'I personally am a magazine junkie and put together mood boards for most of our projects and feel that it is the best way to start the process of critically assessing who you are, what is important to you and how to translate that into the built environment.'
Charlotte Saunders, in-house interior designer at OKA adds, ''One of the best ways to find your own style is to start saving a few interior pictures you like on social media. You can then let the algorithm work its magic; you will start to see more interiors appear on your feed. You will find designers and furniture companies that you have never even heard of, yet perfectly align with your aesthetic.'
However you like to collate the ideas you love, whether it be online or going old school with a moldboard, this is a super simple starting point that will help you visualize what you like and see correlations with interior design trends and styles you are drawn to.
2. Focus on the colors you love
Colors are meaningful and can make us feel happy, or sad and can transform a space to light and airy or dark and dramatic. Dopamine decor has been at the forefront of so many recent interior design trends it's clearly becoming even more important to just follow your instincts with interiors and go with what's going to boost your mood.
'When choosing a color for your space it’s important to find out how it makes you feel and the purpose of the room that you would like to use the color in,' explains Helen Shaw, international marketing director at Benjamin Moore. 'Whether you are looking to create an air of calmness, optimism or creativity the key is to unpick the psychology of color and choose shades and combinations which work together in harmony.
If you’re looking to experiment with color pairings start by choosing a shade that anchors the space – ‘new neutrals’ such as plaster pinks will bring warmth to your room while also acting as a brilliant blank canvas. For an on-trend look, combine a softer shade of pink with green, these two complimentary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel and therefore work beautifully with one another.'
3. Create a vision board
Once you have an inkling of colors that you love you can start putting together a vision board. This could be on Pinterest or you could do it the old-fashioned way – tear out images you like and stick them in a notebook or on a wall with washi tape.
'When designing a home for myself, I usually start by developing a project narrative.' says David Mann. 'To do this, I first make a list of words that are important to me, for example: honest, truthful, practical, simple, respectful, and playful. Then I collect images that I instinctually respond well to as inspiration.
From these two pools, I am able to narrow down my overall objectives. What happens next is an intuitive process of layering in all the elements of a project, for example: textiles, wallcoverings, carpets, and furniture. After a critical editing of the collected elements, I am left with an end result that is a thoughtful and beautiful reflection of my personality that will hopefully continue to delight and enrich me.
I take my clients through a similar process and even advise people looking to design a home to do this on their own, or in preparation for working with a designer.'
MR Architecture + Decor is a New York City-based architecture and interior design firm with nearly three decades of experience creating exquisitely crafted environments that are both beautiful and functional.
Over the years, founder David Mann has assembled an extraordinary team of architects and designers with a passion for the built environment and a dedication to quality, artistry, and innovation. Driven by a spirit of collaboration, MR is committed to working closely with clients from the start of a project to completion, to achieve a result that elicits the uniqueness of each assignment and embodies the individuality of the people who inhabit it.
4. Gather prints and patterns you are drawn to
The only way to know if you like decorating with patterns is to collate a few together and see how you feel about them, choose designs in the colors you like as a starting point.
Charlotte Saunders, in-house interior designer, OKA agrees, 'Looking at different patterns is a great way to find your interior design style. I would start gathering samples you really love and let your collection evolve and come to life.
I usually take fabric samples with me on a consultation to see what the client naturally gravitates towards. Patterned fabrics can make a great base when starting out a new design or even just updating soft furnishings and accessories, so it’s the perfect place to start.'
5. Choose furniture that resonates
'I encourage people to invest in pieces they truly love and that evoke emotion,' says Sarah Solis, founder and principal of Sarah Solis Design Studio.
A good way to source meaningful pieces is to thrift furniture and decor. 'Look for vintage items that hold personal significance and therefore honoring the history and stories behind the objects instead of just owning them,' adds Sarah.
Heirlooms are another way to collect furniture, and it can be a lovely way to keep things within the family that bring back childhood memories.
Sarah Solis, founder and principal of Sarah Solis Design Studio believes that beautiful design is comfortable and personal, and that our environments should reflect the kind of lives we want to lead. Creating thoughtful spaces that invite familiarity and emotion, the essence of Sarah’s designs are rooted in Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese concept of seeing the beauty in imperfection. Sarah's background in art and fashion strongly informs her sensibility and has fundamentally shaped her creative process and appreciation for thoughtful, curated design.
6. Be guided by the eras you love
If you are stuck with what interior design style you think suits you, have a look around at what your home says especially when choosing your kitchen.
'Think about the style of your property and try to incorporate this into your choice of kitchen supplier and the design,' says Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL Kitchens.
'This doesn’t mean if it’s a modern house have a modern kitchen because mixing old and new works. What it means is be sympathetic to your house and its style. I love old houses with incredibly simple modern kitchens. I also love stark simple buildings with a few select even ornate vintage pieces.'
For example, if you have an older property you might be lucky enough to have high ceilings and large windows, this can dictate the style you opt for. But if it's more farmhouse style and less well lit then it will need to be configured to enhance the space.
'Think about the age of your property and the proportions of the room. Some styles look great in a magazine but just don’t translate well into a small family kitchen which needs to work hard and look good for years to come. So be prepared to sacrifice a little along the way, whether it be storage or an additional appliance to get a cohesive kitchen space that is a pleasure to be in,' Helen adds.
7. Let your travels inspire you
If you love a vacation or two then consider collating pieces you pick up whilst away that might inspire you. Katharine Kelly Rhudy, founder of Reed & Acanthus adds:
'A home should be a true reflection of your personal story and designing a space "that feels like you" is all about showcasing your unique personality through color, furniture, art and collections that infuse your home with a sense of personal history like a family heirloom or piece collected while traveling.'
It could be as simple as a scarf that you buy in a color that your adore, or it has a pattern similar to a wallpaper design.
Katharine Kelly Rhudy, owner + principal designer of Reed & Acanthus based in New Orleans, Louisiana Reed & Acanthus is a design firm that believes in unleashing the interior designer within each client. Their goal is to curate spaces that authentically reflect their client's personal relationships and create a sense of a life well-lived. Leading the way at Reed & Acanthus is Katharine Kelly Rhudy, a passionate designer known for her commitment to personal integrity. Whether reviving existing decor or starting fresh, Katharine skillfully combines textures, fabrics, and furnishings to create enduring and sophisticated interiors in a variety of styles
8. Be inspired by a favourite piece of art
'Every authentic space should start with something that you love or something that makes you happy to see it every day. It could be a carpet, piece of art or a light fixture, but start with something that is meaningful to you and then build from there,' suggests Gillian Gillies, founder and principal designer, Gillian Gillies Interiors.
We second this invaluable advice, discovering your interior design style is about pieces you love the most, no matter what they are. Gillian adds 'The most liveable rooms and homes are ones where the homeowner has decorated with items that are not necessarily on trend, but pieces that feed their soul. It is like finding jeans with that perfect fit and color, they look great on you and you therefore stand taller – your home should make you want to stand tall. If you are unsure of your style, hire a designer and let them guide you.'
How do I choose an interior style?
'When creating a color scheme, base your choices on an image or item you love, pull out specific shades within the design and apply them to your decorating choices,' advises Katharine Kelly Rhudy.
'And, when purchasing new items always follow the golden rule of decorating and buy only pieces that you genuinely love. If totally paralyzed by having to make a big decision about buying a piece of furniture like a sofa – start with a neutral such as white, beige or gray. This will give you a foundation on which to add color with chairs, accessories and art. Mix textures with rugs, throws and cushions and make a personal statement with accessories like trays, books, bowls and collections of any type. And, if you really want to bring a space to life - try wallpaper!'
Don't try too hard whilst discovering your own interior design style, you may find you already have quite a clear view of what you like and don't like once you work through the ideas above. Most of all, enjoy the process and naturally, you will end up creating a home that feels like you!
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Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events. For H&G, she writes features about interior design – and is known for having an eye for a beautiful room.
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