Do You Have a Name for Your Design Style?
Here are some style labels I’ve seen popping up on design blogs and Instagram hashtags lately: New Traditional, Eclectic Modern, Scandiboho. The idea of putting a name to a design style has been around forever, but I’m seeing this kind of labeling and defining a lot more lately on social media. Putting a name to a vibe or style for sure can help pinpoint a design direction. Design decisions can be easier when, although you love two different options, you know that because you tend to go, say, Midcentury Masculine, you should maybe pass on a rustic farmhouse table in favor of something more minimal with clean lines.
It might feel limiting, though, when these labels are manifested as hashtags. It feels more like a pull for followers or like you need to make your house follow a certain trend. In theory, these words should be used as a design tool more than a marketing tool. You don’t need to find a preexisting hashtag to fit into. If you have found one, great! Join that community and find inspiration. But also try looking around your home and select a few words that speak to you and the vibe you want in your home. (And, if you really want that rustic farmhouse table in your Midcentury Masculine dining room, go for it! Rules are meant to be broken.)
Having said all that, I’m still looking for those couple of words for the purpose of describing my style and keeping it mind when I shop for furniture and decor for my home. While I don’t think anyone needs a design style for life (feelings, interests, lifestyle, and trends change, after all), I do think we tend to eventually find something that feels like us and stick to it. I’ve always loved ornate and feminine looks, but as midcentury modern came back in style, I felt myself drawn to clean lines. And though I’ve always been a collector of things, my tendency to be messy and scatterbrained has actually pushed me toward a slightly more minimal aesthetic that I can manage and tidy better.
There was a time when I thought I liked industrial, but found it to be too clunky for me (and not congruent with those clean lines). Then there was a time I thought I loved a cool, hip, neutral look, until I realized that the look is all or nothing. There’s no going neutral and then throwing in a bright Marimekko or Vera Neumann pattern.
The turning point for me realizing what I gravitate toward actually came with my first graphic design job I took at North Park University. North Park is in a Swedish neighborhood in Chicago and has Swedish roots, and I found myself surrounded by yellow and blue and a few Swedish shops. A former colleague had told me about her friend’s shop across from the university, and I’m pretty sure she told me something along the lines of “it’s a cute shop with soaps and things.” When I visited the store, The Sweden Shop, I was blown away, and it was so much more than soaps. I wanted everything in the store. Throws, candle holders, vases, mugs, sourced from mostly Swedish and Danish makers. We bought our current house a few months later, and as I worked to fill our home, I found myself leaning toward decorating with a Scandinavian influence: mostly light walls, furniture with a Danish influence, pops of colors.
So today I’m sharing images from other designers that I love, and I’m using these images to try to find those right words to describe my style. Designers who I literally love every single room they put out there, where I’d be thrilled to have my home look like theirs. I’m going to look through these and try to find the common thread to tell me what it is I love about them and how I can use those elements to describe my own style.
These designer favorites go from warm, eclectic, colorful Scandinavian to crisp traditional with a west coast vibe. Maybe I like rustic Scandinavian? Colorful new traditional? What words would you use to describe these styles?
This is probably my favorite home on Instagram. I love every photo and celebration Louise posts. Her house is so warm and colorful. It looks effortless yet it’s so stylish that I know the details were considered. To me, it is the perfect balance of airy and uncluttered while still showcasing pattern, color, and accessories.
Again with the Scandinavian vibes, though this is an American home. Pattern and eclectic accessories are what stand out to me. Traditional and modern furniture seamlessly work together, which is something I’d like to make happen in my own home.
Bonus second photo from Meta Coleman because this is my favorite kind of children’s styling and something I aspire to. Classic colors and patterns, vintage toys, simple yet colorful.
This is the most bohemian of the styles I’ve shared, which frankly I could use more of in my home. More plants, pattern, and global influences. M Pettipoole is an Instagram favorite of mine, and I love her happy vintage rooms.
I’m following that up with Ginny MacDonald’s living room, which is the most traditional image I’m sharing here. Her style is more California traditional than I lean, but with that said, I have been obsessed with this space since I first saw it on Emily Henderson’s blog. The dining space is my favorite, and I love the way it contrasts with the white living room (our own home has a white living room leading into a navy dining room).
Jenny Komenda has a fantastic print shop for finding accessible art for your home. She recently rebranded as Juniper Print Shop, and she shared her announcement with this photo on Instagram. I love this sofa, the side table, the colors. Jenny’s style encapsulates the use of color and feminine touches I’d like to have in my design. She also uses a lot of moody colors and paintings, like in this next image, which I love.
I end with an image from Emily Henderson, the queen of style and design blogging. Emily is an amazing teacher of design. She has so much knowledge and experience, and her blog and book serve as the best guidebook in my opinion. Her colors typically match my favorites (blues, blush, brass, woods) and her kitchen design here helped push me toward the pretty watery green we used in our kitchen.
Leading image of my home by Rachel Loewen