We get it—with so many beautiful rooms popping up left and right (on social media, in design books, and even in our favorite TV shows), it can sometimes feel like identifying just one specific style that speaks to us is impossible. Yet when designing your own home, it’s important to develop a sense of what you do and don’t like most so that you’re investing your time and money to create a space that will truly make you happy for the long haul.
We promise that finding your design style doesn’t have to be a difficult or tedious process at all, though. Here, five pros share their tips as to where to look for inspo and how to narrow down what does and doesn’t make your heart sing—and best of all, you can easily begin this process today.
Take a Peek in Your Closet
Seriously, do it—just don’t get distracted by those shiny shoes (or maybe they’ll reveal something about your dream home after all!). “Take a look around at your favorite clothing and notice what colors, fabrics and patterns you gravitate toward,” designer Eugenia Triandos advises.
Specifically, designer Louis Duncan-He says, consider the following: “What are the pieces you seem to have repeats of? What are your favorite or speciality garments you pull out for special occasions? When you splurge on a bag, is it more timeless and neutral, or do you love a bold flashy label?” He adds, “There is no right or wrong answer, but looking at your natural fashion tendencies will give you another look at identifying your interior design style.”
Triandos suggests taking note of the types of fabrics on hand, too. “This preference can certainly then be echoed into your home within drapery and pillows,” she adds.
Look to Your Favorite Icons
Go ahead and fully embrace that celebrity obsession for a second. Duncan-He urges individuals to think of that icon they can’t stop admiring. “Most of the time, in addition to their physical attributes, there’s an overall feeling or energy that draws you in,” he explains. “Try and decipher what that overall feeling is and the majority of the time, you’ll get some more hints as to the overall type of energy you want to create in an interior space.” Duncan-He asks his own clients to imagine how their celeb role model’s home would look. “Usually they’re able to describe in a lot more clarity the design sensibility of that home, which then often leads to identifying synergies in the style desired for their own home,” he notes.
Expand Your Perspective
Visiting a new locale—even if done virtually—can provide you with fresh perspectives when it comes to design. “Nothing is as inspiring as traveling and absorbing all the beauty of a new place,” designer Sascha LaFleur reflects. “I take a lot of inspiration from the places I’ve traveled to or aspire to travel to and try to capture them in my designs. Your interior space should tell a story of where you've been or where you dream to be.”
Planning to take a trip in the near future? You can do a little prep work ahead of time to help maximize the experience as it relates to your sense of design. “Make sure to take lots of photos to reflect back on; analyze the textures and colors of the architecture and even the clothing you were wearing on your trip,” LaFleur suggests.
Create a Moodboard
Remember how much you liked making collages out of magazine clippings as a kid? Well, you may want to revert to this habit once again and see what types of images you gravitate toward. “I usually give my clients a task to collect as many inspirational photos as possible from all sorts of subjects: art, travel, nature, fashion, jewelry, movies, interiors, history and compile them into a huge vision board,” designer Diana Rose shares. Rose then asks clients what appeals to them the most about each image. “It could be a specific feeling it evokes, a color combination, a unique texture, a play of forms and shapes, or historic elements,” she adds. This helps Rose identify patterns and best determine a client’s personal style.
Of course, you can create a moodboard online, too. “When working with clients who are unsure of their style, we ask them to hop on Pinterest and create a board called ‘Rooms that Feel Good,’’ explains designer Shawna Percival. The phrasing here is key, Percival adds. “When you freely collect rooms that feel good, and aren’t fixated on a specific element of the room, we generally see a pattern start to form,” she notes. “Eventually, design consistencies become clear—maybe you love plants or white sofas—and we can create a design concept based on these consistent preferences.”
Duncan-He has a similar philosophy, urging individuals to “think big” at first. “So often, when we’re looking through inspiration images, we hone in on fine details as opposed to looking and taking in the entire room,” he shares. “Try to zoom out and look at the room as a whole. Instead of trying to decide whether or not you like the exact end cap to a curtain rod, concentrate and listen to your inner voice when coming across an image.”
And don’t worry about whether it will be difficult to identify a gut feeling during this exercise, Duncan-He notes. “It should be visceral: You either like the room, or you dislike the room,” he explains. It should make you feel at ease and good or make you feel the opposite. If you have to hesitate to decide, then you likely don’t like the room and it’s time to move on.”