These done-for-you designs are curated for you the same way they would be for a client – from concept to completion – using some of my tried-and-true favorite pieces to achieve some of the most-requested looks from current and recent projects.
In the previous posts, I’ve included some pro tips to make planning your project easier: the first post included design tips and second post discussed some remodeling tips.
Today, I’m going to share some tips on how to personalize your style.
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Pro tip 1: Labels are just a guideline.
When you’re starting out with a new project, I typically recommend clients put together an inspiration board. This can include photos of all kinds of sources of inspiration, whether it’s some pottery from a favorite vacation destination, or artwork or furniture you love, or a few completed rooms that particularly speak to you. This can be a challenge if you’re not sure what your style is called.
So as you begin your search, try a few words that describe the feeling of the space rather than trying to identify an aesthetic by name. For example, you might try “coastal” or “casual” or “modern” or “rustic” – or you could try a combination of 2 or more of those words in addition to the room name.
Here is why:
It is rare for one person to identify with one specific style. It’s typically more important to create an environment that fits the way you feel. The only problem is, most search engines don’t know how to deliver that. So using those preliminary terms may be a way to call up some images that might get you started in the right direction.
As you begin to save images, pay less attention to the label, and more attention to how the item or space feels. Ultimately, the feeling and function of your new space will have everything to do with how much you enjoy it.
That being said, it will be important in the selections phase to create a cohesive design that uses repetition and coordinates finishes and lines and patterns to create a well curated room. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Pro tip 2: Create a family “brand”.
The challenge of finding your specific style can be compounded when you’re designing for two (or more). If it’s difficult to pin down the individual style of each person, it can be plain frustrating to try to come to an agreement on which style you identify with as a couple or as a family.
My best advice here is to take the personal style of each person who lives in the home and use that to define a combined aesthetic that is representative of you as a couple or as a family. Just like weddings have become incredibly personalized with logos and colors and websites and a photographic style that are “on brand” for the new couple, your home can be personalized in the same way.
What if your design styles are polar opposites?
Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Here is what I’ve learned about that: even if you wonder if you’ll ever agree on a single design element, I’d encourage you to focus again on how the home should feel. What are some shared experiences, destinations, musical or art influences that you both love? What are some priorities in life that you agree on? Start there.
Create individual pinterest boards or idea books and present them to each other, describing what it is about each inspiration image that particularly appeals to you. Rather than focusing on “I like this tile,” try to describe what about the inspiration image feels right to you.
OR… you could always hire a designer who is particularly skilled at navigating this process with couples and finding common ground. Over the years I’ve worked with plenty of couples with two strong opinions about the design of the home, and I’ve learned how to listen well and make sure everyone feels heard, included and well represented in the both the design process and the outcome.
Pro tip 3: Work with what you have.
Whenever you’re planning an update to a space in your home, it’s important to consider the adjacent spaces and the style of the home. A new bathroom, for example, shouldn’t look dramatically different than the adjacent spaces – unless it is the first of many updates to gradually change up the look of the entire house. If you aren’t planning to update the rest, OR if you’ve already started updating the house and your style is evolving – which is very common when we update a home over time – you’ll still need to make sure the new updates play well with the existing ones.
Likewise, your design direction will need to be informed by the style of the home. For example, if your home is Tuscan or Mediterranean, the architecture isn’t going to support a minimalist aesthetic or a midcentury modern look. Seriously… you are better off either moving or aligning your design with the architectural style of the home.
Pro tip 4: Play with variations on floor and wall patterns to dial in your look.
Every room gets one – ONE – fixed surface that drives all the other selections. This might be a stone countertop, or a patterned tile floor, or a shower tile. We’ll call this the dominant pattern. Everything else needs to complement and support it. Blending patterns, colors and textures well takes an expert eye, and it is very easy to end up with unintended consequences.
When you’re creating a look and feel, you’ll want to choose colors, lines, patterns, and textures that support one another and relate to one another. If you use a large scale pattern, pair it with a smaller-scale pattern or texture in a related color and add in some solid color that work with both. It’s important to visualize how those patterns scale in a room and to create “white space” – a place for the eye to rest – so the room doesn’t feel overwhelming.
In our inspiration image above, I chose solid colors for all the hard surfaces and selected a wallpaper that brings the look and feel together. But because I choose a solid white shower tile and a white vanity, we can change up the wall and the floor – experimenting with where we want the most drama and contrast – until we land on a solution that fits.
Here are two examples of variations on this bath. Even when all the other materials stay the same, the changes in floor & wall patterns dramatically change how the room feels.
Changing to a patterned, encaustic tile (source) instantly changes the character of the room by adding more of a traditional farmhouse feel to the floor, while the textured wallpaper (source) creates a more tailored and traditional feel. The accessories (mirror, bench) were changed up to bring in some warm wood tones and the towel color repeats the deep ocean color in the floor tile.
Decisions, decisions! Which decision(s) do you wrestle with most when it comes to selecting finish materials and furnishings for your space?