Friday, October 14, 2011

Determining Your Decorating Style - Part One

Yesterday my friend Joy asked me how to figure out what your decorating style is. That's a really good question. There's so much out there right now that even figuring out what you like can be a challenge! I thought I'd share what I do with you.

So, without further adieu...

Step one, start with a box, a notebook, a file folder or receptacle of some kind. Here's mine:

This lovely box is made by the uber-talented Elissa Campbell at Blue Roof Designs.

Hey look, there are pages inside, go figure.
Step two, start collecting pictures of rooms that you like. Tear out magazine photos, print off pictures, cut up magazines, whatever. You can (and should) collect fabrics, paint swatches, ribbons, wallpaper swatches, whatever appeals to you. Here's the thing though, I don't want you to think too hard about what you collect. Just ask yourself, do you like it? If so, put it in the box! The point of the exercise is to collect things you respond to. You can have one general box or one for each room, however you want to do it.

I like the space on the left. I'm not going to tear it out because
I like the whole magazine. This is a special edition from Cottage Living.
Here is a bad picture some pages from the box.
Some of them are in plastic sleeves because I had them in a binder.
The woman on the left is Alexandra Stoddard, I find her inspirational!
Step three, join Pinterest and start pinning! Pinterest allows you to create boards and then lets you pin pictures to those boards from all over the internet. I have boards for most rooms in my house as well as a board called "modern cottage" for general decorating ideas. I have thirty-four boards where I pin all kinds of things.

Step four, collect your favorite things that you already own, arrange them prettily and take pictures. Add this to your  box or upload it to Pinterest. The point of curating your current favorite things is noticing themes that you may have subconsciously collected. I'm also a HUGE proponent of using stuff that you already have. Here are some pictures of my favorite things.

Step five, keep collecting for a while. You'll need lots of pictures to begin to see themes emerge and seeing the themes is the point of this exercise. Oh, feel free to edit stuff that doesn't appeal anymore. You may have an "I must have been sleep deprived when I thought I liked this." moment. Go ahead and chuck those.

Step six, start looking for themes and trends in the stuff you collect. Some of them will jump put immediately and some of them take some looking to find.  Looking at my collection you'll see that some obvious themes are shades of turquoise and pale greens (that one practically screams at you). What would also be obvious, if you could touch the items, is that the vast majority of the stuff is made of natural materials. You should have some obvious themes too.

I seem to like blue and green...

Maybe I should branch out a little. 
OK, this got fun. I'm stopping now.
Then there will be some less obvious themes. For example, my collection contains an Asian theme, with the antique Chinese basket, the mendhi blocks, the Serena and Lily block-print fabrics, the Japanese papers on Elissa's box.

Step Seven, have someone else look over your stuff to look for themes. Someone who's taste you trust. maybe they'll see something that you missed.

Possible themes include:

  1. Colors 
  2. Materials - wood, stone, plastics, mother of pearl, lacquer...
  3. Metals - silver, brass, nickle...
  4. Textures - smooth, shiny, rough...
  5. Styles - modern, country, cottage...
  6. National - African, Japanese, English...
  7. Handmade
  8. Cluttered vs. Spare
  9. Wood finishes - natural, espresso, rustic, painted
There are lots more! Keep looking, think outside the box and you'll start to see them.

Collecting and looking for themes is the first part. The next part is putting it all together.

See you on Monday!

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