If you’ve ever moved into an empty dorm room or new home or apartment with expanses of white walls, you might have felt a little daunted.
What exactly are you going to put in it, you wonder, and how are you going to get it to look?
Specifically, What design style am I going for?
Advice from an Interior Designer
- The quickest way to discover your personal interior design style or home decor style is to do a short online quiz
- Alternatively, you can follow the simple steps below to help get you started figuring this out for yourself
- A third option would be to get an interior designer friend or someone savvy with interior styles to help you out (hello, Design Baddie!)
Remember, style is subjective and only you can fully answer this question, but knowing which questions to ask can help a lot.
That’s how the pros do it!
At the end of the article are some examples of decent interior style quizzes you can try out online.
By answering the questions you should be able to narrow it down, and hopefully even have a bit of fun doing it.
If you are interested in figuring your interior design style out for yourself, (and I highly recommend that you do!), you can try the tried-and-true methods I’ve laid out below.
How to Discover Your Interior Design Style for Yourself
1. Narrow down the style categories
Our first point is about getting organized in your search for your perfect style. There are so many style categories that they register in the upper double digits, and then there are many smaller subcategories and style niches, besides!
Remember, too, that styles can sometimes be known by different names depending on region or country.
An example of a style with more than one name is Hollywood Glam vs. Hollywood Regency. However, there are many more. For example, some people will confuse nautical with coastal, or modern with mid-century modern.
The bottom line: Make sure you’re getting your information from a good source!
Interior design and home decor magazines are a good place to start for finding inspiration and beginning to sort out your personal preferences.
It makes great sense at this early stage to start a collection of images you like.
It could be a physical folder (remember tear-sheets?) or a Pinterest board, it doesn’t really matter.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
Start noticing the interior design pictures that you are drawn to
–See if you can determine what it is you like about the images
–It also helps if you can articulate why you like or don’t like something
Doing the research is the fun part.
Modern or Traditional?
The broadest (and arguably most direct) approach to breaking down the task of figuring out your personal design style is to decide if you prefer more historic styles of furniture and decor, or if you prefer newer and more modern styles.
–If you like a lot of embellishment and fancy decoration you might lean toward traditional decorating
–If, on the other hand, you prefer clean lines and bolder, more minimalist type elements you might be more on the modern end of the spectrum
Fun fact: In America people seem to be split about halfway, with a slight leaning to modern.
How do I know if I should go modern or more traditional?
Important: Look at the Architecture
- Even though we want to find our own style, we do have to take cues from where we live. Think about the “shell” of your home on the inside and out. Is it historically-inspired in some way?
- If your home has a lot of historical touches then you have a more traditional home by default.
- Adding traditional furniture will further accentuate a traditional vibe
- If there is no real style to the room, house or apartment on the inside, and it’s pretty much a blank canvas, you can think of the space as already being more modern.
- If you use furniture with a traditional look to it in a modern space, it would result in what we call ‘eclectic’, or a mixture of modern and traditional styles
- If your home’s ‘envelope’ is traditionally inspired in some way; if, for example, you have some classically inspired wall paneling, baseboard trim or crown moulding, you could make it an Eclectic style or part of an eclectic mix by using more modern pieces
- Adding modern elements in with traditional elements makes them seem less stuffy and formal
- The last point here is that if you do have a very modern ‘shell’ to work with and add yet more modern pieces, you are going for a very modern look, so make sure that’s what you want before committing!
- Here, the choice of soft, flow-y curtains could work to soften the vibe
Great. Now that you know if you are a modernist, a traditionalist or an eclectic rule-breaker, and you’ve paid homage to the architecture, we can move on to the next point.
2. Personality Style Clues
Your own effortlessly hilarious or sensitively charming personality can give you a clue as to what style you prefer.
I’ve found that people often like to dress for their personality, and the sense they apply to fashion tends to translate to their taste in decor, too.
- Example 1:
- If you tend to dress in plain styles with minimal patterns and you avoid bright hues, you’re probably going to feel more at home with solids and neutrals.
- –You might be an introvert who prefers a calming environment to a busy one. Focus on whether you prefer warm or cool tones, lighter or darker and go from there
- –There’s nothing wrong with liking a dressed up, grown up sort of room, either. If you are all about period dramas, there’s a chance you’ll enjoy sticking to the classics
- Example 2:
- If you wear a lot of patterns and are not afraid of color, you’ll likely be more fearless in your choice of fabrics and wall colors
- –This is the domain of the extrovert
- –Without making too many assumptions about you, it’s safe to say that if you consider yourself more outgoing and carefree, then it’s possible that you would veer away from interiors that are too dated or stuffy
- –It’s likely that you would enjoy something more middle of the road or fun to something that reminds you of your grandma’s house
- –If you are very extroverted you may want to amp up that color and pattern and the original, bold artwork. Bring it on!
3. Lifestyle Style Clues
Personality considerations can extend further, to your lifestyle too.
People who are very outdoors-y or have pets will want a home that can stand up to some abuse, whereas those who are homebodies may want to invest more in decoration and art.
Going back to personality,
If you are very outgoing you might want your home to be more of a statement and set it up for entertaining, whereas;
-If you are an introvert, you may crave order and serenity and cozy nooks that help you get away from distractions
If you don’t handle distractions well an open plan living space arrangement with a large family of noisy kids would likely drive you crazy, so if you have the choice, make sure to think it through
Styles Influenced by Their Setting’s Environment:
Beach homes and homes on the coast are more relaxed for a reason!
–People in warmer climates like to live an indoor/outdoor kind of lifestyle
Chalets and A-Frames are cozy and stress-relieving
–Log cabins invite you to curl up in front of the fire
What is the climate like where you live?
–What mood suits your temperament and expectations for your home life?
Keep asking: How can I make myself more comfortable and at home?
Some people put the looks first, some people value comfort.
This will factor into your choices for fabrics and furniture; especially seating.
4. Cultural Style Clues
It never hurts to look at your cultural “roots”
Relax with your favorite hot drink and think about your fondest memories and what you enjoyed about the home you grew up in.
Alternatively, if that isn’t doing it, your inspiration could be places you have visited or been influenced by on travels or time spent in foreign lands.
Dig up your old holiday photos!
If you’re reminded of something you love, don’t be afraid to incorporate a little or a lot of that into your home.
While I don’t advise blindly or slavishly copying styles that you have no affinity with, if it’s part of your story and you love it, then you own it!
After all, it’s your style and your space!
5. Combine Your Inspiration to Get an Overall Vision for Your Space
Our fifth and final step is to compile the previous four steps and take all of this data we’ve collected about ourselves and use it to come up with our own unique style.
For this I would recommend arranging all of your inspiration in one place.
Look through your inspiration resources and see what common denominators or factors you can find
In Conclusion: Figuring Out Your Style Takes Time to Get Right
If you were hoping I could flat out tell you what style you should go for, I’m sorry to disappoint.
I really do believe, though, that you wiill be better off going through this process yourself, as it is so much more rewarding.
If you really feel you need to know in a hurry then go ahead and take a few online tests.
That can even be a starting point for your eventual discovery.
Personally, I’d do more than one test.
The reason being, it’s impossible for any test to be one hundred percent accurate.
Think about it, the website offering the test doesn’t actually know you and can only work off of good formulas.
However, with a few tests under your best you should be able to tell the general direction that you should head in on your own, personal design journey!
Here are six design quizzes to get you started, in no particular order:
Our styles, like our homes and we ourselves, are always going to evolve and change over the years.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and keep editing as you go!
Remember that the goal is not to replicate some well-known interior design style perfectly, it’s to find what makes you happy and lets you live your best life
Have fun on the way and when you figure out your style write and let me know what it is and how you found out.
If you would like to look at some common interior design style boards to give you some ideas for styles or find what resonates with you, go here.
If you need further help with your style, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I’d be happy to choose some examples from readers to show how style finding is done.
If you’re interested, please comment below or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck and happy style hunting!!