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The Great Style Debate

So, here’s the thing about defining your style—style words, like modern or boho, conjure up different images for different people. I remember the first time my mom walked into our newly purchased house, which contained only a handful of furniture pieces, and noted, “Your style is pretty modern.” To me, our space was far from modern. In my mind, modern means chrome, black leather, and pendant lights reminiscent of something you’d find on a lunar landing. To her, our eclectic mix of mid-mod pieces defined the style.

There’s nothing wrong with either one of these interpretations. That is, until someone asks you to define your style. As a designer, I’m always asking this question, and the results, well, they vary. Some folks can say, “I’m glam with a touch of farmhouse,” and others just shrug and their eyes glaze over. In some ways, I prefer the latter because it means we can start from scratch and define their style using visual context rather than vocab, which puts us firmly on the same page.

My first plan of attack? Pinterest: the now quintessential tool for inspiration images. I ask my clients to create a board with photos of rooms, vignettes, colors, and textures that resonate with them and how they want their space to feel. I can then review these images and find common ground between them, which I express to clients in terms of adjectives such as cozy, layered, wordly, sleek, or bold. These types of words are far more descriptive than any style name ever could be.

I also like to ask what hotel or restaurant they really love. Any place outside your home that you choose to spend time in is a good indication of the way you want your own space to feel. Is it intimate or cavernous, bright or dark? These observations can point you in the right direction.

Finally, I ask them to tell me about an object, vignette, or space in their home that they love exactly as it is now. Sometimes this gets at their core style and other times it shows their love of natural light, house plants, or that antique china collection that was their grandmother’s. Whatever it is, I think it's important to approach this process knowing what it is you don’t want to change and figure out ways to highlight those aspects of your home.

Defining your style is tough, so I would encourage you to take a step back, use some of the tools outlined here, and create that list of adjectives that make sense to you. If you’re still stuck, I’m happy to help! Sometimes having a pro on board to steer you in the right direction can be really helpful—especially if it turns into a huge debate with your significant other—but that’s another post for another time.


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Hi there! My name is Erin and I'm the owner of Erin Davis Design, a virtual interior design firm founded in 2017. Here on my blog I serve up tips for creating a home that's functional, beautiful, and right on budget. I hope you'll cozy up on your sofa and stay awhile! 

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