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Rules of Interior Design: Choose your style (and stick to it)

I know…it’s not as simple as it sounds. There seem to be soooo many different styles out there, where do you start?! I usually find that there are a few categories of people out there which I have labeled below (how kind of me, already labeling people):

Hi there, welcome back to our blog series on Interior Design Rules. Today we will be talking about choosing your design style.

I know…it’s not as simple as it sounds. There seem to be soooo many different styles out there, where do you start?! I usually find that there are a few categories of people out there which I have labeled below (how kind of me, already labeling people):

Type of people that need help with choosing their interior design style:

1. I have NO CLUE what style to do with my home. Design styles are overwhelming.

2. I have some favorite items, but they are all different styles, I don’t know how to make them work together.

3. HE likes one style and SHE likes another style. How do we blend?

4. What’s even the POINT?

I am going to be brave today and try to provide helpful answers to those groups of people listed above. Wish me luck!


To the NO CLUE people..

So, being a designer, I don’t really have problems not having an idea when it comes to interiors. But I can relate in the fact that sometimes I have TOO many ideas and I need to edit them down. Especially for my own home. Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed at the possibilities (or lack of execution since it takes time and money, you feel me right?), or confined to a budget that I wish were larger, etc. Therefore, I think I understand how you feel. So then, where do you start?!

1. Pinterest is your best friend. Seriously, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m already on Pinterest. Or I don’t have time for MORE social media shenanigans. Let me stop you there, friend, because this interior design stuff takes a little..err..exercise (for lack of better words). You need to start getting your feet wet, and exercise that design muscle. You need exposure to room designs to understand what you like. I know this isn’t a fun exercise for many people, but it’s a necessity. I recommend you create a new Pinterest board, something like “Rooms that inspire me” and then start searching. But, in order to be effective with your search, you need the right design terms. I recommend typing the following design terms into Pinterest (one at a time) to see what pops up. Then if you like something, pin it. Don’t think too hard about it. Do this for each term below. You may not find any pictures you like, if that’s the case, then at least you are starting to figure out what you DON’T like.

Design Terms:

  • Modern Interiors
  • Boho Interiors
  • Scandinavian Interiors
  • Traditional Interiors
  • Transitional Interiors
  • High Contrast Interiors
  • Nautical Interiors
  • Mid-Century Interiors
  • Colorful Interiors
  • Neutral Interiors

Hopefully you will start to see a trend emerge in your selections. Now, go to your your Pinterest board and start to edit your images. Look at the overall board and try to find a theme. Do you like rooms with a lot of color? Or rooms that seem more modern? Start to figure out your theme, if you will, then delete the images that don’t fit that theme. Once you’re done, you want a Pinterest board that tells the same story. You want to make sure your images aren’t jumping around from colorful to neutral to traditional to modern. Also, it helps to choose a main image from your board that you will be focusing on as the room you WANT. Something that speaks to you, feels like you (and your family if applicable) and feels like home.

If you need some help with determining your furniture style, and specific help on buying a sofa, check out this blog post on Tips on how to buy a new Sofa. It includes a free printable that you can take with you when you shop.

2. Now, tackle your style reality. You will need to look around at your house and see if your decor, furniture and colors match your Pinterest Board. If not, you may need to make some adjustments by donating some stuff, buying new things, and even painting your walls. If you are going to re-paint your home, please try and stick to a color story. Don’t choose a whole array of new colors for every room. Try to stick to around 5 colors for your entire house (if your home is an average size). That doesn’t include any feature walls where you want a pop of color or an accent wall paper with lots of color. Just make sure the colors all coordinate. You will also need to come up with a floor plan for each room so that you know what furniture will fit and the best way to arrange your furniture. Check out this post about floor plans for help. Also, I want to make clear, I am NOT saying that you need to throw away all your old furniture. If your old furniture doesn’t quite match your favorite style, but you still love your furniture or want to keep it for now due to budget reasons, then do so! You can also consider re-upholstering or painting your current furniture to feel like it blends in better with any new stuff you buy.

3. Lastly, bring your new design style together. This is after you have painted, purged, installed your new furniture, and have a much more cohesive overall room look. Now lets look at the details. You can go to Pinterest again for this, or if you’re feeling some confidence in your design skills (after all, you’ve gotten this far- go you!) then you can just go shopping. If you go to Pinterest then I would use those design terms I listed above but to the end of the term, add one of the categories below. Thing’s you’ll want to include in your room to bring it all together are:

  • Drapery
  • Accent Pillows
  • Artwork
  • Table Lamps
  • Floor Lamps
  • Rugs
  • Wall decor

To give you an example of what you can search for on Pinterest would be: Modern Interiors Drapery, Modern Interiors Accent Pillows, etc. When you’re doing this exercise think about the combination of colors, scale of patterns, and textures. Try to make sure you have some variation in these three things. When you like something pin It to your board.  Also think about if you would like a tray for your coffee table, some sort of decorative storage solutions for your office, bed throw for your bed, etc. This was a lot of information, am I right? To make things a little easier I have created a free downloadable that you can print out and read at your leisure. I also don’t like flipping between screens all the time. Download it by clicking hereTo the different styles people..So you have a bunch of furniture that you want to keep but you also want to refresh your room or house? This can be a bit tricky. I would still follow steps 1-3 in the NO CLUE people section, but I would modify it with these caveats:

1. When doing step #1, you’re going to want to find images that already relate to your home’s furnishing and decor. You may already know what style you like, or you may need to do some research to figure out what style your furnishings are already. Entering the terms from step one will help you figure out what style of furniture you have already.

2. You are going to need to study your favorite pinned photos to figure out what you really like in those images, and how to bring those elements into your room already. Some things to take note of are:

  • The colors they are using in the room. How much of it, is there more than one color, what color are the walls, etc.
  • The proportion of furniture to each other, and in scale of the overall room itself.
  • What types of patterns/texture do they use in the drapes, pillows, etc and what are the scales of that patterns.
  • Do they use rugs? Do they layer rugs? Does the rug have patterns, or texture?
  • Is it neutral or colorful
  • The style of furniture, is it similar to what you have already? This is the most important part!
  • Notice the artwork, mirror, etc that they use to decorate the walls.

Now you will need to take a look at your room again and make a list of what elements you want to add to your room to make it feel like your favorite image. Maybe you need to re-arrange some of your furniture to make things work. This is part of the studying process.

3. DO really consider painting your room to give it a new, updated, refreshing feeling. I know a lot of people out there don’t want to do a lot to their room in order to make it feel nice and comfortable, but painting really isn’t that expensive and all it takes is some time. Move all your furniture to the center of the room, cover it with a drop cloth and get to work. You can paint most rooms from start to finish in one weekend.

4. Continue on to steps 2 & 3 from the NO CLUE people section and you will be well on your way to your newly designed room- all on your own! To the couples who like DIFFERENT styles..Part of being a designer sometimes means that you are a little bit of marriage counselor. I really like the relational aspect of interior design and if I didn’t go into design I would have gone into some sort of Psychology. So it works out. So, this is not really going to be so much of a design 101 section, but more relational.

The first step would be to make a list of your “must haves” for your room or home. Each of you create your own list, then number them based on how important it is to you. Sit down and review each other’s lists and circle the items that match. This is your jumping off point. I have created a cheat sheet list by room so that you can quickly begin this task. You can find it in my free downloadable and printable. Once you have discovered what you have in common, then build on that. Start with step one in the NO CLUE section and start building your Pinterest boards. Only pin images that you both like and can agree on. This may take some time, don’t rush it. You can search specifically for items from your list, and see what pops up that you both like. You may be surprised.After you do those couple of things, hopefully a picture starts to emerge of your room from your Pinterest board. Choose your favorites and your main focus image together, then continue on to steps 2 & 3. Sorry that I don’t have some miracle answer for you. Relationships just require a little TLC. And some work. But I promise you, if you both come to this with humble hearts, it will work out.

And lastly, To the WHY DOES THIS MATTER people..I love answering this question, because this is why I do what I do. Picture this, you are going on a trip and you have the opportunity to stay in a nice hotel. A Four Seasons, or Hilton, or something of the like. Everything is paid for, you just go and enjoy your nice accommodations. Would you jump up and down with joy, or would you say…nah, no thanks. I’m pretty sure 100% of you would take the nice hotel freebie stay over a 2 or 3 star hotel any day. That’s interior design. It makes you want to go there, it makes you want to stay, and it creates an experience that you will not forget. Design is not only beautiful, but it also effects your well being. Check out this article from Psychology Tomorrow Magazine highlighting the different ways an interior can affect a person’s mood, work efficiency, etc. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The widely accepted notion that home is a happy place is definitely correct, but it’s important to realize that homes are not promoting happiness per se, but they can be molded and designed in a way that promotes good mood and health. In this, both the interior designers and psychologists agree.”

So, it’s not just my opinion, but other’s agree about the importance of interior design in one’s home and work life. It really matters. I think that basic interior design principles are almost as important as choosing the right food to eat. That is why I created this blog because I want everyone to be able to improve their home environment no matter what the budget. Well, that concludes this weeks Interior Design rules blog post. Did you miss the last few posts? Check them out below under the related posts section.Also, don’t miss out on your freebie download from this blog post.

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The Rules of Interior Design- Choose your style and stick to it

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