Discovering Your Home Design Style

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WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on January 27, 2021

When it comes to designing a home, people are usually in one of two camps. They either feel energized by the idea of spending hours scouring a plethora of design sites hunting for that perfectly plush sectional or they simply feel like well, they’d rather endure a root canal. It’s how others view climbing a 14-er (that’s outdoorsy talk for a really big mountain). Some greet the path ahead with exhilaration, ready to conquer the thing, and others simply ask the question, “Can’t we just ride the gondola to the top? Won’t the view be the same?!”

If you’re the type to have your personal style preferences nailed down, decorating a new space can feel fun, exciting, and full of endless possibilities, but if you’re unsure of what your preferences are to start, then the entire process may be more than a bit daunting. Have no fear, that’s where a little pro guidance can help!

Although there are defined style “types,” we believe personal style reflects the uniqueness of the individual, and, with that in mind, everyone has a personal style all their own.

Do you need a little assistance when it comes to putting words to your interior design style preferences? Consider these tips to help you hone in on your personal design style:

Take visual inventory of your closet

People often are much more familiar with their fashion preferences than they are with their design aesthetic, but it’s a crucial first step to creating a space you feel comfortable in. 

It’s all too common for people to dial in their fashion style, but still feel lost and confused when it comes to their home style. They know exactly what to put on their body to make them feel confident and comfortable, but how to choose the perfect curation of pillows or style bookshelves feels further out of reach. 

Your closet is more than just a place to store garments, it’s one of the best indicators to your home design style. It will clue you into how you might want your space to look, and more importantly, feel. If it’s filled with floral maxis, you’ll want a style that’s more relaxed and lounging, with a little boho flair. If you’ve got a lot of girly things with ruffles, and sequins, and a little animal print, you’re probably a bit luxe and glam in your home taste, too. Or if you’re drawn to button-ups and timeless neutral sweaters, might we suggest a classic and timeless space, one that feels welcoming, refined and safe.

Think about it this way — if your closet was a charming little downtown boutique where all of your garments were perfectly hung on display, what design elements would compliment the aesthetic of your store?! What color would the walls be? Would the sofa be neutral linen, or bold tufted velvet? It’s a good litmus test for how you’d love your home to come together.

Identify the colors, patterns, and textures that bring you the most joy

Marie Kondo popularized this question, but it’s a good one. If it makes you smile, and you just want to pick it up and hug it, you can likely make it work in your home. 

Ultimately, if you are surrounded by design elements which evoke a sense of joy, you are going to feel more at ease and become more empowered to live your best life while spending limitless hours within the confines of the four walls. 

“Discovering your personal style means taking the time to pinpoint areas of design that bring you joy. Focus on materials, patterns, and colors that resonate with how you live, who you are, or who you want to be and your home will become a welcoming representation of your best self.” —Brady Burke, Havenly lead designer

Identify how you want to feel (or others to feel) when spending time in your space

What words come to mind when you think about your dream space? Calm, cool, collected? Or more so sophisticated, luxe, and stately? Chances are, you are going to resonate with design elements that evoke those feelings.

If you want to create a comfortable space where guests feel welcomed, at home, and at ease then you may be drawn to a more relaxed, neutral aesthetic which invites others to come on in, put their feet up, and stay awhile (or one which makes you choose a cozy night in over a girls night out more often than not!). If you love art and want to feel a jolt of inspiration each time you walk through your front door, you may be drawn for more grandiose statement pieces like a bold velvet sofa, dramatic floral wallpaper, a hand-crafted dining table, and oversized artwork. If your passion is travel and you want your space to cue a sense of awe-inspiring wonder, then you may incorporate more ‘discovered’ pieces, gallery walls filled with travel photography, global influences, and books, lots of books.

comfy sofa

Allow your home to tell the story of you

Just as the saying goes ‘we collect moments, not things’, the pieces in your home tell a story about you and your family: your personality, your interests, your little affections. With that in mind, don’t buy decor for the sake of decor, and avoid giving in to the temptation of incorporating every here-today-gone-tomorrow trend. 

“When you discover your own voice, you get a step closer to living authentically and creating a home that improves your life.” —Vivian Torres, Havenly lead designer

Does this piece feel like me? Not something I saw in a magazine, but something I would want in my home over time? Take the time to collect pieces and furniture that mean something to you. That elicits a feeling, and you can’t stop thinking about it. This goes for big and small pieces alike: wait to discover that sofa or sideboard with statement charm, or bring home that chipped vase from the flea market that reminds you of your grandmother’s home where there were always fresh flowers and warm cookies set on the table. Often an heirloom can be the perfect accent to complete that console vignette, or finish out the blank spot in the gallery wall you’ve been staring at.

If you "love" something multiple times, save it!

Not sure what you love?! Well you’re not alone, many people think of home design like they think about dating…they’ll just “know” when a piece feels right. But that can sometimes lead to more sporadic purchases and a space that hasn’t quite come together as you hoped.

Rather, compile the things you love in one place for a more consistent and cohesive visual of what you’re drawn to. This is why Havenly utilizes Vision Boards. Pinterest is also a great way to gather imagery, create boards, and easily access links to the items we find ourselves going back to time and time again. And of course, play around with real life projects in Insplore and create your own inspiration board.

We can all recognize those items we seem to love (enough to double tap) every time we see them featured in an Instagram post. Chances are, if you find yourself lusting after the same vintage-inspired Anthropologie mirror (you know the one) every time you see it, you love it and you will love having it in your home.

“Defining your style is far from a formal process – it comes organically by realizing what resonates with you. Realizing what excites you, makes you feel good and reflects what you love will ultimately define your personal style.” —Levi Austin, Havenly lead designer

Over time, as you begin to curate the items you love and artfully bring them together in your home, you’ll give more credence to your personal trends than those you see on Pinterest or Instagram. You will begin to become more easily acquainted with your personal style the more you are able to identify what you like. If you’re a maximalist who loves bold color and vintage finds, you’re probably not going to want to purchase decor from a more muted and minimalist brand, even if it is on Desert Deco trend.

Finding your personal style is more about finding what you love than anything else!

Does the idea of designing your own space still feel a bit like you’d rather opt to take the ski lift? That’s OK! You’re not alone in that feeling, which is why Havenly has a team of designers and stylists that are here to help. And trust us, when it comes to creating a space together, we specialize in making the interior design process fun.

Looking for a great way to pinpoint your home aesthetic? Take our fun style quiz and discover the perfect Havenly designer to bring your vision to life.

Words by Leigh Liebmann