Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The number of times I hear people try to explain their style with buzzwords like "modern farmhouse" or "rustic modern" is too many to count. It's not a bad thing necessarily. It makes sense that we watch HGTV and pick up on the lingo. Where buzzword trends are not helpful is when they become so all-encompassing that you're no longer being specific. What Stacey means by "coastal-inspired" most likely means something different to each person she's sharing it with.
As a designer, this is the game I initially play with each client. My job is to discover their style and to help make that dream come to life. So if you find yourself in the process of trying to decipher your specific style as you're updating a space, the endless decisions can feel exhausting or you end up with a hodgepodge of pieces. Today, I'm sharing a few tips that help me get beneath the trendy terms and to the heart of what is truly inspired.
Play iSpy with the inspiration
Remember the books in your elementary class where you'd look at an image with a ton of clutter and the objective was to find the five hidden clowns? This is what designers do for their clients. The clowns may all look slightly different but they have enough similarity to all be categorized together. When in search for your style or elements you love in a room, it can be enlightening to pull together a large number of inspiration pictures and find what similarities are there. Sometimes you'll be surprised by what's in common. Is it a certain calming color? Is it different textures pulled together? Is it simply that the room feels pulled together and has a million pillows?
In the picture below, I'd say that natural wood, potted greenery and framed photography are themes throughout all the pins.
Look in the closet
This is a tip that I learned in Kelly Wearstler's Masterclass and I think it's genius! She often will look in her client's closet to see what colors they wear. This may seen unrelated but our eyes are drawn to certain colors and have positive reactions. This also could be the reason you couldn't pass up that top that wasn't on your shopping list. If you like the color enough to wear it out, then you'll love sitting in the room that also has the same hue.
Search for inspiration by specific room type
This tip is great for when you're looking to redo a room. Sometimes we can get lost looking at kitchens that have 20ft. ceilings or a living room that is more open concept than our own. This process of looking for inspiration has now crossed over to house envy -- which is totally unproductive... My best advice when looking to find direction is to make your search SPECIFIC. Go to Pinterest and search for "galley kitchen with one window" or "kitchen banquette against window". You will be shocked by the number of ideas you will find that could actually work. Plus, Pinterest works as a search engine so the more detailed your search, the better their algorithm will get at sourcing your perfect inspiration.
Pictured below is our kitchen remodel. It could've been easy to wish we had an open concept or an island but narrowing the search for inspiration helps you get excited for what your space can actually offer.
In the world of design, it is so much more valuable to have inspired ideas than to know what style category you can tell your friends. The best way to show your style is to bring it to life and let your friends do the talking!