Knowing what you love (and what you donâ€™t) is the first step in creating a home you enjoy spending time in. Instead of starting out with formal names of decorating styles, which can be a bit restrictive, it often helps to first do some pondering about what you love and are drawn to in general.
Once youâ€™ve gathered enough information, you can look over your findings and come up with a creative name for the style thatâ€™s all yours â€“ pulling features from different looks is what makes a place your own.
Notice your long-term preferences
Do you still love some of the same things you did as a kid? Many of us do, and these long-term preferences are extremely important to pay attention to. For instance, when I was a child, I loved blue and white, and surrounding myself with these colours still feels the most authentically me.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ What colours, objects, materials or themes did you love when you were a kid? Do any of these still resonate with you today?
Consider the mood you want to create
Thinking about how you want to feel at home is a way of approaching the style question from the inside out. First imagine what mood youâ€™d love to create, then work backwards, imagining what style of furnishings, colours, textures and so on youâ€™d use to bring that mood to life.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ How do you want to feel when you walk in the door at the end of a long day? What three words would you love to hear friends use to describe how your home feels?
Photograph your most cherished objects
If youâ€™re currently working on tweaking your dÃ©cor, you may not love everything in your home, but you probably do have some favourite, cherished objects. Go around the house and snap photos of the items you love. When you look at the photos as a group, see whether you can determine a common thread in what youâ€™re drawn to.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ What words would you use to describe the objects in your home that you love? What do they have in common?
If youâ€™re just starting out in a new home, or feel that what you have doesnâ€™t represent what you love, take yourself on a little field trip with your camera. Keep an eye out wherever you go, whether itâ€™s window shopping, trying a new restaurant or visiting a friendâ€™s home, and snap pictures of the things youâ€™re drawn to.
List the sorts of things youâ€™d choose if price were no object
Go on an imaginary shopping spree and list all the items (be as specific as possible) youâ€™d love to buy for your home if money were no object. Sometimes this exercise helps free us up to think outside the box. Even if you never end up buying anything from your dream list, it should give you a clearer picture of what you really love.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ How would you describe the items on your dream list? If they come from certain shops or designers, how would you describe the style these shops or designers are known for?
If you love to garden or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, it might be easier to start your style search outside the home. Look to your own garden, as well as public spaces, local businesses and enviable front gardens in your neighbourhood.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ What do you love about these outdoor spaces? How would you describe the style of your favourite garden or outdoor space?
Scan your wardrobe
Think of style as a common thread running through your life â€“ we may have our style figured out in one area of our lives more than another, but theyâ€™re all related. One way to tap into this is by looking at the styles you gravitate towards when it comes to clothes, since this can have a direct bearing on the dÃ©cor styles you love.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ What do you love to wear? How would you describe your personal style? Who are your top three style icons?
Mull over your dream destination
Where we dream of travelling (or long to return to) can say a lot about our style. Take a moment to list both the places youâ€™ve been and loved as well as your â€˜somedayâ€™ destinations.
Ask yourselfâ€¦ Would you prefer jetting off to a casual, breezy beach house, or a Parisian hotel? If thereâ€™s a particular country youâ€™d love to visit, would you rather go to the big city or stay in a charming country village?
Pay equal attention to what you donâ€™t like
Sometimes naming what you donâ€™t like can break the ice and get you thinking about what you do like. For instance, while I love the clean, minimalist look of the space shown here, perhaps youâ€™re thinking, â€˜Ugh, whereâ€™s all the stuff?!â€™
Ask yourselfâ€¦ What sort of living space would you find unappealing? Now flip that around and describe the opposite.