Discovering Your Personal Design Style: How to Find Your Starting Point

I want to take a break from renovation progress posts to share with you little element of our home that is very special to me. This piece was really the jumping off point that helped me define my design style, and taught me a little life lesson along the way. So I feel it deserves a post of it’s own.

Full disclosure: I’m no design expert. My education and career field have nothing do with interior design. Over the years, I’ve had my share of challenges and “ah-ha” moments. Through it all I’ve somehow ended up in a place where I feel confident in my design choices and my own style when it comes to home décor. So take or leave my advice as you see fit, but I wanted to share my tips and struggles to get to this point.

I’ve always loved interior design, and I have been obsessed with HGTV since I was a teenager. But when I started decorating my first home at age 22, I discovered it wasn’t as easy as it looked. My decorating style started off as a hybrid of my mother’s design style and my mother-in-law’s design style. Finding my own style in between was a bit of a challenge.

I would often find a piece at a craft fair, or antique store, or Hobby Lobby and I would love it in the store. But I would bring home to find that something about it didn’t “fit” with the rest of the house. Sometimes I loved the piece so much I would start making little adjustments around the house to make everything else work better. Other times I would never end up incorporating the new piece at all, and would eventually donate it or give it away.

I had a love for rustic and antique pieces, but I knew my style wasn’t “primitive” or “country.” I loved bent, scrolly wrought iron, but I knew I wasn’t “traditional” either. I was as equally drawn to clean modern lines as I was to reclaimed wood. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Little by little over the years the spaces in our home started to feel more and more “me,” but I never really looked around at my home and felt satisfied with the way it was styled.

And then I found it.

There is a huge annual craft festival that I go to with my mother-in-law every year. Some years I’ve come home with a couple Christmas ornaments and a hand painted sign, and some years I come home empty handed. But this particular year I walked by the Crossbeam Creations booth, and stopped dead in my tracks.

I could not take my eyes off of this huge chippy reclaimed-wood mirror.

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At this point, we had been house hunting for a while and had nothing in the hopper. We were not buying much in the way of furniture or home décor, not just for budget purposes, but because we didn’t want to invest in continuing to decorate a space we were (hopefully) about to leave behind. But this piece epitomized everything that I was trying to define about my design style. The cunky, over-sized shape and the clean lines had a modern feel, but the chippy and reclaimed wood spoke to my love of all things old and worn.

I knew this piece was the starting point for me to finally define my personal design style, and I just couldn’t leave with out it. So we (barely) squeezed this giant mirror in the back of my mother-in-law’s Mazda crossover, and it came home with me.

Now remember, at this point “home” is our 999-square foot starter home. There was literally not a singe wall that this over-6-foot-tall beauty would fit on. So it leaned up against a wall in our master bedroom until we eventually moved.

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But honestly, I knew that I was buying this mirror for our future home. This piece symbolized a lot for me. For me, it reminded me to have faith. That despite the doors that kept closing on us during our house hunting, the right home was out there and I just knew that this piece would be perfect there. I bought it knowing in my heart that our forever home had to be just around the corner, and about 7 months later we found our fixer upper.

As soon as we walked through our new home, I knew exactly where my mirror would go. When the time came for hubby to finally hang it on the wall, I stepped back and got a little emotional. It looked like I had bought it for this specific spot.

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It had found it’s perfect home as if it was meant to be all along. I know it’s just a mirror, and I have probably lost some of you in sappy-land at this point. But for me, it represented so much more. It reminds me that God has a plan, and if we remain faithful and wait for His timing, things will fall into place.

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Since then, whenever I come across something in a store that catches my eye, I hold it to the bar of my big mirror. Do I love it as much? If not, I don’t bring it home. I’ve stopped buying random pieces just because there may be something I like about them. They have to speak to me, they have to make my giddy, and they have to fit with the modern-chippy-hybrid blueprint that helped me define my design direction.

HowtofindyourstylepinitSources: Bucket- Hobby Lobby (Not online)  | Cotton Stems: Magnolia  |  Pillows: TJ Maxx
Cedar Slab: Friend’s Cedar Tree 🙂 |  Bench: Pier 1  |  Mirror: Crossbeam Creations

So if you’re struggling with defining exactly what your style is, my advice to you is to find a jumping off point. It could be piece of furniture, a painting, a light fixture, a fabric print… absolutely anything. But find that piece that speaks to you and says “this is how I want my home to feel.” And then hold everything else you bring into your home to that standard. Do you love it as much as your inspiration piece? Does this piece “fit in” with your inspiration piece? And you’ll find your own design style slowly start to evolve from there.

Do you guys have any other tips you’ve learned about defining your style? I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

Up next, I stop waxing poetic about mirrors and we talk renovation again. And it’s light fixture time!

 

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4 thoughts on “Discovering Your Personal Design Style: How to Find Your Starting Point

  1. I love the way you used your mirror as a gauge to choose other items for your home, and reading how you’ve processed the direction to finding your own personal style. Being a visual person, when I can’t take my eyes off of something or love looking at it so much, kind of like falling in love, like you did with your mirror, then you know it’s a keeper. I wouldn’t be surprised if that mirror stays with you for a very long time, even a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

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