6 Tips for Discovering Your Personal Design Style

Designers share advice for finding a true-to-you style—and putting it to use in your space.

What sets a warm, inviting home interior apart from others isn't typically a result of design know-how but the ability to bring your style to life. When your personality appears in every corner of your home, you’ve successfully created a space that reflects the one who lives in it—and there’s nothing more welcoming than being unabashedly true to yourself. 

As much as turning a house into a home is about aesthetics, it goes beyond the visual. Determining your design style and bringing it to life is a multi-dimensional experience, say Katie Labourdette-Martinez and Olivia Wahler, the duo behind Hearth Homes Interiors.

midentury modern living room gray palette arched lamp wood tones
Annie Schlechter

Once you do though, it can sometimes be a challenge to fully embrace it. To help you find confidence in your personal design style, interior designers share their tips for finding your unique aesthetic and putting it to use in your space. 

living room with long wooden rectangle coffee table
Kim Cornelison

1. Consider All Residents

Finding your design style is instrumental in creating a space that you enjoy living in. But what happens when one home features residents with two very different style points of view?

First, avoid designating certain rooms to a particular style, which can result in a look that lacks cohesion, says Brad Sherman, partner with Nina Etnier at New York-based interiors firm, Float Studio. When dealing with opposing design styles, start with a color palette that everyone can agree on. From there, you can begin to select items that speak to the design sensibilities of both homeowners—regardless of how different their style perspectives might be, he says.

“In a recent project, we chose to stick to dark woods and a color palette of browns with orange accents,” says Sherman. “Drawing from the owners’ design styles, we mixed midcentury modern seating with a more traditional rug, for example, that stayed within these constraints. The result is a more collected look that both partners can appreciate.” 

Regardless of how you choose to mix and match your aesthetics, Etnier urges an open mind. Instead of viewing everything in the space as something you must love, focus on avoiding things that your partner outright dislikes and vice versa. “There will be some pieces that you love and some that you feel neutral about,” she says. Once polarizing objects and/or details are introduced to the space, the final impression can be a negative one, so it’s best to be accepting of other design styles while still finding a way to be mindful of your own.

2. Select Your Space

Incorporating a new style into your home can be a daunting task. Etnier and Sherman suggest starting with a smaller space. “A kitchen refresh is an easy way to start reimagining your home and to experiment with your newfound design style,” says Etnier. Whether it’s a change of paint color or simply swapping out the hardware, the space can be completely overhauled with easy-to-update details. “These changes allow you to live with the style on a daily basis to ensure you love it, without committing to a huge change,” she says. 

The entryway is another example of a good place to start, as it’s oftentimes a smaller space and sees a lot of daily use. “In a similar way, small changes can be made with a lower overall investment, so you can explore what you like,” suggests Sherman. “By adding wallpaper, smaller pieces of furniture like an entryway table or chair, and exploring storage options to gauge your capacity for tolerating clutter, you’ll learn to hone your taste and identify your needs.” 

Olga Naiman home tour detail of kids room

Melanie Acevedo

3. Avoid Copying and Pasting the Inspiration

Sherman says finding visual inspiration is always a good start, but you also have to find ways to make it your own, or else you might drain your design of its individuality. “Draw on the image for inspiration when incorporating textures, a color palette, and overall ambience,” he suggests.

You’ll also want to be mindful of your surroundings. Are you drawn to your inspiration due to its architectural elements (think soaring ceilings and large windows) or for its doable design features that can more easily be introduced and/or replicated in your own space? “Be conscious of the space you’re working with and realistic about the goals you are trying to achieve,” advises Sherman. 

4. Think About the Full Experience

Pretty paint, gorgeous fabrics, and conversation-worthy art can certainly set the tone, but to truly nail your design style, going a little deeper will truly bring it to life. Labourdette -Martinez and Wahler often urge clients to think about how the materials will feel against their skin, what kind of background noise they want to hear while they’re in their bathtub, and even what the space smells like. They believe these sensory details have the ability to shape experiences and create vivid memories, so bringing them to your personal design style is pivotal.

Fraise home tour living room with eclectic furniture

Annie Schlechter

5. Don’t Put It In Neutral

Find something you love, and embrace it, urges Etnier. “Sometimes when people are nervous about committing to a style, they end up selecting neutral, unremarkable pieces,” she says. “The result is often cold and uninviting.” The designer understands that the decision process and commitment can be daunting, but erring on the neutral side can drain your space of personality. Take baby steps, slowly accumulating pieces you love that draw the eye in. Gradually mix in color and personality for a collected look that speaks to your unique style sensibilities. 

6. Invest and Collect

Finding your design style can be as simple as slowly building out your space with items you’ve invested in and collected through the years. Don’t set out to decorate your space in a day; let it evolve and come to life over time. As we grow, our design style can and should evolve. Both Etnier and Sherman agree that pieces that have personal value more easily move with you throughout your story of growth. More fleeting and trendy pieces can quickly cycle out of style, so the duo suggests avoiding the pitfalls of fast furniture and trend-focused aesthetics. 

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