I chat a lot about discovering our preferred style at home, architecture, and staying true to your house amongst renovations. This post has been on my “must-draft” list for awhile now, and I’m excited to share a handful of easy tips for determining the aesthetic of your home. From blending your personal style with the existing architecture to making informed renovation decisions, I hope this post will help you hone in on the aesthetic that feels representative of you and your home! Click through to check it out and chat design with me…
1 // Don’t Feel Pressure to Define Your Aesthetic
First and foremost, don’t feel limited to define your personal style. In design interviews, I’m often asked, “How would you describe your aesthetic?” It’s a question I always avoid and dislike because of a few reasons:
- I believe my aesthetic is ever evolving.
- For me, it’s always a little influenced by the architectural style and location of our home.
- I enjoy mixing multiple aesthetics or interior styles.
Therefore, it’s difficult to describe exactly what my personal aesthetic is. It’s not 100% traditional, it’s not 100% modern, it’s not 100% eclectic, but it could be a little bit of all three, plus a lot more. It’s layered and curated to our liking. There isn’t a definitive answer and it feels like we’re doing ourselves a disservice by trying to put a single word on our style. My answer has changed over the years and it changes with each home we make our own- and that’s ok! I feel like my style (however I may describe it on any given day) feels cohesive to what Emmett & I enjoy and what feels right for our home.
2 // Do Consider the Architectural Style of Your Home
Contrary to my last point, I am a believer in understanding the architecture of a home and making informed renovation decisions based on those design principles. This concept pertains more to millwork & architectural elements and less to furniture & decor, but it still contributes to your overall aesthetic. If your home doesn’t have a particularly distinct style, I think you have more room to get creative and move forward in whatever direction you prefer, but for us- our home is obviously a colonial and I’ve enjoyed revisiting my books from design school to understand what principles I can apply to enhance the overall look and embrace that specific architectural style. Remember my post on why installing an arch in our home felt like a bad move? That’s a great example of when I tried to force something that wasn’t meant to be in this specific home, solely based on architecture.
3 // Consider Your Location
Your location can and should influence your style. If you live in a very rural area, your overall aesthetic & perhaps farmhouse style architecture will probably look & feel a bit different than a brownstone squeezed into a bustling cityscape. I’m a fan of integrating subtle elements from the environment and location, where form & function reflect your setting. For example- if I had a home on the beach, I may opt for cedar shake siding or shingles, beadboard, and lighter natural materials (linen, cotton, jute, etc). Whereas, if I had a cabin in the mountains, you’d probably notice more warm and heavy materials (think wool, sheepskin, fur, etc). I’m not encouraging a theme (I’m not into that idea), I’m just reiterating to choose materials, furniture, and decor that are functional and appropriate for your climate and location. Your location can really help you hone in your aesthetic, purely based on function.
4 // Analyze Your Inspiration, As Well As Vignettes You’re Not That Into
Much like our Design Eye Training series, really take the time to analyze your inspiration and determine what exactly it is you like or dislike about a particular space. Jot down reoccurring themes- that can really help you hone in and discover your preferred aesthetic. It may also be helpful to examine your own home in 2-D. This allows us to look at our space from an outsiders perspective. What are your favorite elements in photos of your home? What are some things that feel amiss, that you stopped noticing in person? How can you make positive changes that better fit your aesthetic or needs? These exercises are both fun and helpful.
5 // Fill Your Home With Things You Love
I believe that a home should represent its inhabitants. I love visiting the homes of friends & family members, purely because I enjoy seeing how it reflects their unique personality and interests. Fill your home with things that bring you joy and reflect those who live under your roof. Emmett and I fill our home with meaningful things from our travels, art that reflects our interests, books that we’ve read and loved, vintage items that spark memories, or even something pretty or random that just felt like it belonged. Obviously, I’m into using our home as a creative outlet and it’s our safe haven, but it also tells the story of us.
These tips may seem obvious, but I’d like to think our style is constantly evolving. Remember that it’s ok for your aesthetic to change as you age, grow, learn, and your interests shift. It’s also perfectly normal to pivot your interior aesthetic altogether when moving- especially if your new and previous home look nothing alike or are in totally different locations. When looking back at the first interior spaces I “designed”- like my college dorm room, I can still recognize things that feel very “Sarah”, while other items make me cringe a little. It’s all apart of my design evolution as we learn and grow.
To get a bit more personal, I think at this stage in my life, my current home aesthetic goals are as follows (the top five)….
- Think long term in selecting classic & timeless materials or investment pieces, with an emphasis on quality.
- Keep cohesive with our georgian colonial home- an architectural style I really love, as we update & renovate.
- Only bring items into our home that we really love and enjoy.
- Balance form and function… I’m all about beauty & design, but I also want comfort & practicality these days.
- Be patient. Renovate slowly and embrace the process- I’ve learned allowing myself more time typically yields a better design outcome. Home is a marathon, not a sprint!
The last thing I want to touch on is renovating and embracing your home as is, in its current state… we have plans to renovate every inch of our home. We’re not even close to being to the halfway point and I’m excited that we plan to be here for a long while, but- it’s interesting to see when friends or family come visit and they can easily tell which rooms are “complete” (read more on what finished means here) and which spaces we’ve yet to tackle. Despite the obvious giveaways, like half installed flooring or drywall patches, we try to embrace the process, really live in our home (even the unfinished parts), and of course we look forward to the day when each room feels representative of our aesthetic and style- in a more cohesive way. I actually really enjoy knowing that people can clearly recognize which rooms are finished solely based on our defined aesthetic. If your home is also in a constant state of progress, check out this post for 10 ways to make your home feel more finished in the meantime!
I’ve always believed that your personal aesthetic is a blend of what you love and the home’s history or architecture. More often times than not, your aesthetic will shine through or often speaks for itself without you even having to think about it… solely based on what you bring inside. Don’t overthink it and don’t feel like you have to define it!
What are your design and aesthetic goals during this particular stage in your life or home? Do you think a single word describes your aesthetic, or is it a healthy mix? Does it feel cohesive with the architecture of your home? Does it match the aesthetic of those who also live under the same roof? That may be a topic for another post! Back when I was taking interior design clients professionally, I certainly had some instances where I felt like a marriage counselor trying to strike a compromise (in terms of design). Ha! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. I know this was a lonnng post, so thanks for sticking with me! Have a lovely weekend ahead.