Ah, yes. One of the great mysteries of the world. Decorating isn’t just about finding what you like–though that obviously comes into play; nobody wants to hang out in an ugly room–it’s about finding what works for your lifestyle. So I guess the real question today is: how the heck do you distinguish between what you like in general and what you’d like to live in?
I have BEEN THERE. When we first got married, we bought some new furniture by running around and picking what we thought looked cool. None of it was terrible, but you know what? All of it was DARK. This was the purchase that made me realize I liked brighter spaces, which was an annoying lesson to learn because we were totally high-fiving in the store thinking we were so cool. Thankfully we didn’t spend that much, so we were able to sell some of the worst offenders and get a do-over in this house.
Our taste is pretty nailed down by this point, but it did take us a couple of years to get here. Part of that may have been us growing up a little since we were pretty young the first go around; it’s totally normal for your tastes to mature. If you’re figuring out your style for the first time (yay!) or looking for a do-over like we did (also yay, because you’ll be happier!) here are some things you can do to make it easier on yourself.
>> Look at pictures. Tons of ’em. Pinterest is great for this because you can keep yourself hyper-organized by having a different board for each room if you want. Magazines are another good option and don’t forget about catalogs. The most important thing is to see what’s out there, otherwise you might make a decision that seems okay in the moment, but after a while you realize it’s not really your taste. (AHEM, the dark furniture debacle of 2009.) Decorating is an investment. You’d never wander into a car dealership without doing your homework, so treat a big furniture/remodeling purchase the same way.
>> Think about your lifestyle. Do you have kids? Pets? Does clutter make your eye twitch? Keep these things in mind as you start to add pictures to your board. For example, I appreciate historically preserved Victorian mansions filled with antique furniture, but would I want to spend my days in one? Nope. I’ve been in houses like that and it’s hard to relax because they feel like a museum. My house needs to be a place where people can hang out around a big plate of nachos. Plus, we do plan to have (a) kid(s) eventually, and I wouldn’t want to constantly worry about them bonking their head on some pointy antique. If you really love something that you know won’t work for your lifestyle right now, make a separate board and earmark it for the future/your fantasy land. It’s totally fine to drool over something even if you’re not going to decorate that way.
>> Try to find a pattern. Once you start narrowing things down, pay attention to what all of those pretty rooms have in common. Do they have similar color palettes? What about the furniture placement? Fabric patterns? Overall mood? Let’s practice finding some similarities by taking a gander at these kitchens I pulled from my own Pinterest board. All of them are slightly different, but they’re definitely on-theme:
What sticks out for me are the white cabinets (duh), bits of wood tones, pops of color, and the practical styling. Three of them also have open shelving, silver hardware, and marble counter tops, so I guess I’m into those, too, even though I wasn’t consciously looking for them. You might be surprised by what keeps popping up once you start comparing, but that’s okay! Sometimes you need an example right in front of your face to make a connection. I did.
Looking at the other white-and-bright rooms I picked for this post, it shouldn’t surprise you that Casa Ronchetti looks like this:
As for how I’d describe my style in actual words, I’d say it’s a mix of timeless finishes and eclectic furniture. I’m not overly concerned about things matching so much as coordinating. Like Stacy and Clinton always told us on What Not To Wear, “It doesn’t have to MATCH, it has to GO.” And also that pointy shoes make your legs look longer, but that’s another tidbit for another day.
What’s your decorating style? How do you figure out what makes the cut in your house? Anybody else make a weird furniture purchase during the folly of youth? (Don’t lie!) What style do you admire for other people?