Can I be the only one?
As soon as I finished painting over the dated wall colour in my first apartment, new colours were introduced in all the paint collections. They looked so fresh and unexpected. By the time I had completed my decor, the rest of the design world had moved on from the space I had created.
I now know I was chasing after the trends and shouldn’t have been surprised that as a result, I was falling behind. It seemed like I was on a treadmill that just wouldn’t stop, chasing after looks I had seen and momentarily fallen in love with.
Can you relate?
Many years of studying and practicing design lead to a different approach. Designers have access to trade-only showrooms where the selection is much broader than local retail sources, so admittedly we have so much inspiration at our disposal that we can look away from the trends presented in retail stores. (If you want access to the inside sources, let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org *wink wink nudge nudge*)
What to do then? I believe the answer to design that does not fall out of fashion is design YOU love. You’ve heard me say it before “shouldn’t you LOVE where you live?”
I’m sure you can tell from my Instagram posts that I love colour, patterns and textiles. Through social media, magazines and everywhere I go I seek inspiration and continue to define what I LOVE versus a trend I like. When I look at all of the inspiration I find, it seems to urge me in one of three directions:
- Developing a bad case of house envy and wanting to run out and post a FOR SALE sign on the lawn. Happens to us all right?
- Continue to collect and curate pieces that belong to MY style and further hone and exact what that style is.
- Collect and curate pieces that belong to my CLIENTS’ styles and use these examples to communicate my strong understand of what their style is.
This, by-the-way, is my favourite part of helping clients. I help them develop their personal style. I think of it like personal branding for your home. Read all about my website, branding, and a whole new look for a peek into my experience. It’s amazing how design lessons can be found in everything we work on.
Great ways to develop YOUR style.
Invest well. Spend your budget wisely. Invest in fewer, better quality pieces. A sofa, for example, should give you quite a few years of enjoyment if the piece is well-made, the textile is graded for good wear-ability, and has stain resistance. Pick a neutral colour that works well for you. Use your artwork or rug for colour cues, pieces that you should already love that will guide you best.
Develop a plan. It is easy to be swayed by what you see in the stores and seduced into a selection that unravels your entire colour scheme. Collect inspiration images and samples from selections you have already made. They will keep you on the right path when you are looking for that perfect piece to complete your room.
Take cues from what you love to wear. Do you, for example, lean toward tailored clean lines? Then look for that in your décor. Upholstered pieces and window treatments can all reinforce your style when selected with a disciplined eye.
Think style not fashion. What looks do you always find pleasing? Nature, for example, never goes out of style. But a stylized art nouveau leaf motif would be different than a mid-century interpretation, so think about style and the look you want. This “big picture” thinking will keep you on the right path.
Add personality – yours! In my early career years, I recall being invited to a friend’s to see their new home. I didn’t expect what I found. It looked like they bought the furniture showroom display. Everything matched, but it lacked personality. It looked as though, just moments before I arrived, they had clipped the sales tags off all the furniture. All that was missing was a mannequin! Bring in pieces that reflect who YOU are and what YOU love. It can be small pieces picked up on travels collected on a side table, or pieces of art purchased locally. These additions tell stories in your space and as a result are timeless.
Use meaningful art. Personal photos, mementos, anything that evokes those warm and cherished memories. You don’t have to be a world class photographer. If you’ve been on a trip, consider purchasing art or professional photos that remind you of your travels.
Include things from your childhood. Even if you don’t have the special carvings you always admired on your grandparents’ mantle (or the like), you may be able to find a replica or something that reminds you of them for your home. Keep those memories alive by celebrating ones you love to make your place feel like home.
Start small. Thoughtfully choose the pieces that truly bring you joy. Edit, edit, edit. Be ruthless.
To add personality, I like to create vignettes that collect a bit of beauty together to brighten a tabletop, or a nook. Display and enjoy YOUR treasures. What good are they packed away in a box?
Look how lovely this collection of crystal cocktail glasses is (below) when displayed with care. I’m sure it is the same as my grandmother’s pattern but here it looks current, perfectly in place.
With a little discipline, we can pull disparate things together to get a result you won’t see in the department store’s display.
Anthropologie is masterful at this by the way. Their catalogues are filled with personality and character.
So now, I follow my heart and work with my clients to ensure they do the same. I strive for each piece I bring into the space to be either meaningful or truly beautiful. It may remind me of the person who made it, or who gave it to me, or just evoke a fond memory.
By figuring out whether you prefer a room that is more tailored or romantic, sleek, edgy, industrial, architectural, or whatever “your look” is, you will be able to define a cohesive look and one that is driven by your taste.
If you get stuck, I invite you to give me a call. Let us help!