I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram lately. I mean A LOT. Not mindlessly scrolling, mind you, or even posting. I've been researching for a class I’m currently taking by the incredible Dominique of All That Is She. Without giving away Dominique’s secrets (and if you are looking for a fantastic class on Instagram, sign up for this one as soon as she opens again), this class has really got me thinking about personal style, and as a result, decorating style. What is personal style? And who has it? In a world where we see so much visual input, much of it copied or repeated, Every. Single. Day., what makes us stop and stare at that one frame? What makes your house look like your home and not some cookie cutter trend of the moment spot that you might not recognize as different from your neighbors if you had one too many cocktails and opened the wrong front door? Not that you would ever have one too many cocktails or open the wrong front door. I’m just saying “if”.
Obviously, we each have our own identifiable style. It is easy to recognize this in our kids, right? This one only likes to wear drawstring pants (insert hand to forehead emoji), loves a good beat, and prefers red over green. That one is pink to the core plus a dash of glitter and a sprinkle of princess. It is a little harder in adults, though, especially when in comes to ourselves. Start with something slightly harder than your kids and slightly easier than you. Think about your co-workers or the moms at school. I’ll bet if you give it for a minute, you could describe the personal style of many of your friends. I’ve got a friend who only does neutrals. Her clothes are neutral and her house is neutral inside and out. My mother-in-law wears color. Lots of it. And preppy. Her home reflects her very put-together, traditional (somewhat northwest country club) aesthetic.
That's not to say that your wardrobe and your home should be twins. Yes, many decorators will tell you to look for color inspiration in your closet. If I did that, my house would be navy, heather grey, and pink. Nope. But if I look at it differently, my wardrobe does tell me that I like neutral bases with pops of color. It also tells me that I prefer comfort over fashion. Might need to work on that a bit.
It is harder to understand you own personal style than it is to recognize style in others. Making the effort to do so will help you decorate your house in a way that truly feels like you. That friend who only dresses in neutral? I picked up a bag when we were shopping together once and she immediately said, "That looks like you. It's quirky." It hit me then that even though I thought of as my style as not having evolved since high school, my style could at best be called quirky. And colorful, despite the collection of heather grey t-shirts and navy blue everything else in my closet (see what I mean? neutral base + color = win).
So what is your personal style? What inspires you? What colors do you love? Are you a flower person or do you prefer long, open landscapes of desert and sky? Are you more at ease in an art gallery or at the beach? Are there tchotchkes in your home that you hold onto purely because you like what they look like, not for any sentimental reason? Is there a pattern to which you consistently gravitate (stripes, please)? See where I’m going with this?
Before you start you next decorating project, take the time to really look at your own personal style. If you can name it – and I don’t mean “Hello, my name is Barbara and I like Mid-Century Modern with a hint of Farmhouse,” I mean, “Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I love anything easy and comfortable, surprising my kids with after school treats, dinners with friends and family that go well into the evening, exploring new places, and the solitude of the first cup of coffee in my pink mug before everyone gets up” - you are already steps ahead. It is perfectly ok to ask a friend for help here. How would your mom describe your style? Or your kids? Still need help? Let’s talk.