What is Style?
There are many design styles. To find yours you have to know what you like, don’t like and what fits with your life style. It is impractical longing for stark white spaces and sparse furnishings if you have kids, pets and lack the ability to organize.
Here are a few definitions of style:
A quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one's actions and tastes.
Mode of presentation, especially in music or any of the fine arts; a characteristic of peculiar mode of developing in idea or accomplishing a result.
Conformity to a recognized standard
A way of expressing something that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period
Interior Design Styles
Following are my definitions of the various styles:
Traditional Country / Primitive: simple wood features, cozy, handmade folk art, wooden accents, muted colors of red, blue, gold.
Country Modern: casual, comfortable with modern elements as
accents. Sparsely furnished spaces with traditional country items.
Cottage: casual with fancier decoration than traditional country.
Incorporates florals, garden accents, ruffles
French Country rustic, warm and cozy. A touch of formal mixed in.
Traditional / Formal: refined, perfect, upscale, symmetry. A beautiful style but not the most comfortable for everyday living in today’s busy lifestyles.
Victorian: lots of textures, colors and detail. Dark tones of colors, wallpaper, heavy moldings, stained glass and rich fabrics. Highly decorated with lots of accents.
Arts & Crafts / Mission: wood detailing with straight lines. Chunky wood with square edging and accents. Greens, reds prevalent in this style.
Modern / Contemporary: sparse, simple lines of furnishings and details. Art usually plays a big role. Cutting-edge furniture, equipment and technology incorporated.
Lodge: rustic wood lines, actual twig finish, outdoors brought in. Fabrics in stripes, plaids and lines. Taxidermy, antlers, leather and stone are accents.
Casual: a comfortable style that incorporates an eclectic mix of elements. When things don’t match perfectly (but coordinate) it makes it casual and not forced.
Boring/No Style: this is accomplished by accumulating furnishings with no thought or overall plan. Rooms with no focal points or coordination with anything.
Determine which design style you like than match the design style with your lifestyle
Understand your everyday lifestyle needs and make your decorating decisions to accommodate your needs. Select finishes and furnishings that meet your durability requirements
How to compromise and mix styles
Prioritize: establish what is important and let that determine the focus. If you share a home with a spouse, you both need to answer the questions. Evaluate your answers and look for common ground and decide where each of you can compromise to determine the end goal of a particular style.
Define Your Style Questionnaire
Once you understand how you live you can define the style that fits and make your decorating and design decisions based on that.
What is your lifestyle?
Fast-paced, busy, working full-time
Lots of outdoor recreation
Retired, free time, travel
Kids at home; young, teenagers, etc.
No kids at home
What are your hobbies? Do you incorporate hobbies into your home?
What fashion do you like?
Business / professional
What fashion do you wear?
Business / professional
Color: Which do you prefer to live with?
Texture / Pattern: Which do you prefer?
Tone on tone
Do you prefer painted or wood finishes?
Are you a clean freak?
Do you prefer wallpaper or paint on the walls?
Are you daring or conservative?
Does your occupation reflect your personality/lifestyle? I ask because sometimes if the occupation is very serious and stressed, the home can be the opposite to help you relax.
Do you want simple or bold?
Are you handy or not?
Are your decorating decisions based on a budget or not?
How do you handle storage?
Organized: everything has a place
Nothing has a place
Basement, garage, closets and attic full of stuff
Lots of piles with no destination
Do like when everything coordinates and matches?
Do you prefer symmetry or a sense of whimsy and surprise?
Do you like simple or highly decorated window treatments?
Do you make your decorating decisions based on function or aesthetics?
What decorating magazines do you like?
Answer the questions and study the different style descriptions and see where you fit. Then do some research to obtain visuals of the style that suites you and your family best. You can then emulate that chosen style and make your future decisions based on that.
Stay focused on one style and bring it into all rooms of your home. The consistency from room to room is what makes a successful interior. (Kids rooms are exempt from this rule – they tend to be more trendy and playful.)
It is also recommended to carry your chosen style to the exterior of your home and into the landscaping and garden. A cohesive theme and style from exterior to interior is a wonderful home design.
Julie Fergus, ASID, is a nationally published interior designer. Her studio and showroom is located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Julie's clients are primarily in the Lakes Region and Mount Washington Valley, however, she will travel throughout the state and North East. Visit her website for contact info.