Articulating your design style is the key to creating a room that really reflects it. If this sounds esoteric, have no fear: You can easily identify the look you crave. Begin by either taking a quick quiz or, for a more in-depth examination, following the steps below, recommended by interior-design expert Carrie McCarthy (stylestatement.com). Then have a look at examples of four home decorating styles we’ve identified, complete with product picks and shopping sources.
1. Look at your furniture. With a pad in hand, walk from room to room and make two truthful lists: “Love It” and “Wish I Could Replace It.” Catalog everything you can, including art―and be honest. “It’s all based on how things make you feel,” says McCarthy.
2. Gather items you cherish. Check the top of your dresser, your mantel, your bookshelves, then pull special clothes from your closet. “Focus on the items that make you feel beautiful and joyful,” says McCarthy.
3. Think about places you love and why you love them. “Picture your dream home, if you could live anywhere,” says McCarthy. Then think outside of home: “If you were invited to the Oscars, what would you wear?” This moves you beyond the limitations of your lifestyle and budget and into a new realm of creativity.
4. Look for common threads―design, colors, shapes, materials, vibe―among the things you treasure. See which of the styles pictured here your picks most jibe with. You may find yourself attracted to a blend of styles rather than just one; as you delve into the following rooms, note which features appeal to you. This will help you translate your taste into smart decorating choices.
An elegant blend of refined traditional furniture, jewelry-like accessories, and pale hues. Patrician old-world elements pair with cleaner Art Deco shapes. The look evokes a more formal lifestyle. Think Grace Kelly, Tiffany & Co., and Charlotte from Sex and the City.
Delicate furniture pieces with feminine lines and tapered legs.
A palette of neutrals and soft colors.
Luxurious fabrics, like silk and velvet.
Rich dark woods with polished veneers.
Luxe accent materials, including metal, marble, and glass.
A fresh, fun, contemporary look that combines urban styling (imagine a downtown loft) with edgy, colorful elements and midcentury design. Simple furniture forms balance out bold accents and patterns. Think the Museum of Modern Art, Frank Lloyd Wright, a Rubik’s Cube.
Furniture with clean lines and no extra adornment.
Blocks of saturated color.
Boxy upholstery with plain legs or skirtless bases.
Lacquered finishes and a mix of woods, both light (birch, oak) and dark (walnut, mahogany).
Geometric or abstract patterns and Pop Art–inspired accessories.
A warm, traditional look made for relaxing with family and friends. Draws on English and early-American furniture designs, as well as laid-back country, cottage, and farmhouse styles. Weathered, low-maintenance furnishings are easy, inviting, and built for daily life. Think golden retrievers, fuzzy slippers, and just about any movie by Nancy Meyers.
Plush upholstery, often slipcovered, with roll or square arms and skirts or ball feet.
Indestructible tables with turned legs, trestles, or substantial pedestal bases.
Warm wood tones with rustic or distressed finishes.
Natural fabrics, like cotton and wool.
Solid textiles, simple stripes, or unfussy florals in muted colors.
A rich, layered look combining flea-market finds, furniture designs from various time periods (including Victorian pieces and 18th-century French styles), and a diverse collection of accessories and artwork. Dusty colors, timeworn or handmade textiles, and collected objects create a lived-in feel. Think Paris flea markets, Granny’s teacups, the film Grey Gardens.
Furniture with shapely, feminine silhouettes, intricate detailing, and weathered finishes.
Jewel tones mixed with washed-out, chalky shades.
Antique and vintage elements interspersed with newer, offbeat items.
A varied mix of fabrics (on pillows, upholstery, and window treatments), including jacquards, paisleys, ethnic tapestries, folk motifs, botanicals, and florals.
Crystal chandeliers and embellished lamps.
Abundant art and decorative accents on walls and surfaces.
It’s quite likely that you’re drawn to a mix of looks. Now what? We’ve put together a list of possible combinations and matched them to good sources: stores, blogs, and books that present products and ideas in a range of prices.
A Blend of Sophisticated Classic and Modern Graphic: