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How to Determine Your Decorating Style

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Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

Knowing what you love (and what you don't) is the first step in creating a home you love spending time in. Instead of starting out with formal names of decorating styles, which can be a bit restrictive, it often helps to first do some pondering about what you love and are drawn to in general. Once you've gathered enough information, you can look over your findings and come up with a creative name for the style that's all yours -- pulling features from different looks is what makes a place your own.

1. Notice your long-term preferences. Do you still love some of the same things you did as a kid? Many of us do, and these long-term preferences are extremely important to pay attention to. For instance, when I was a child I loved blue and white, and surrounding myself with these colors still feels the most authentically me.

Ask yourself: What colors, objects, materials or themes did you love when you were a kid? Do any of these still resonate with you today?

2. Consider the mood you want to create at home. Thinking about how you want to feel at home is a way of approaching the style question from the inside out. First imagine what mood you'd love to create, then work backward, imagining what style of furnishings, colors, textures and so on you'd use to bring that mood to life.

Ask yourself: How do you want to feel when you walk in the door at the end of a long day? What three words would you love to hear friends use to describe how your home feels?

3. Photograph your most cherished objects. If you're currently working on tweaking your decor, you may not love everything in your home -- but you probably do have some favorite, cherished objects. Go around the house and snap photos of the items you love. When you look at the photos as a group, see if you can determine a common thread in what you're drawn to.

Ask yourself: What words would you use to describe the objects in your home that you love? What do they have in common?

4. List the sort of things you'd choose if price were no object. Go on an imaginary shopping spree and list all the items (be as specific as possible) you'd love to buy for your home if money were no object. Sometimes this exercise helps free us to think outside the box. Even if you never end up purchasing anything from your dream list, it should give you a clearer picture of what you really love.

Ask yourself: How would you describe the items on your dream list? If they come from certain shops or designers, how would you describe the style these shops or designers are known for?

5. Look outdoors. If you love to garden or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, it might be easier to start your style search outside the home. Look to your own garden, as well as public spaces, local businesses and enviable front yards in your neighborhood.

Ask yourself: What do I love about these outdoor spaces? How would I describe the style of my favorite garden or outdoor space?

6. Look to your wardrobe. Think of style as a common thread running through your life -- we may have our style figured out in one area of our lives more than another, but they're all related. One way to tap into this is by looking at the styles you gravitate toward when it comes to clothes, since this can have a direct bearing on the decor styles you love.

Ask yourself: What do you love to wear? How would you describe your personal style? Who are your top three style icons?

7. Consider your dream destination. Where we dream of traveling (or long to return to) can say a lot about our style. Take a moment to list both the places you've been and loved as well as your "someday" destinations.

Ask yourself: Would you prefer jetting off to a casual, breezy beach house or a Parisian hotel? If there's a particular country you'd love to visit, would you rather go to the big city or stay in a charming countryside village?

8. Pay equal attention to what you don't like. Sometimes naming what you don't like can break the ice and get you thinking about what you do like. For instance, while I love the clean, minimalist look of the space shown here, perhaps you're thinking, "Ugh -- where's all the stuff?!"

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