interiors & styling

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.comI 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… 

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.com

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.

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.com

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.

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.com

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.

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.com

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.

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.com

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.

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.comThese 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!

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.comThe 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!

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.comI’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!

Tips for Determining the Aesthetic of Your Home - roomfortuesday.comWhat 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.

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  • Reply
    Peggi
    September 16, 2021 at 6:25 am

    Good morning! Another thought-provoking topic. As I was rereading to organize my thoughts, a sentence jumped out at me. “I’ve always believed that your personal aesthetic is a blend of what you love and the home’s history or architecture.” Ding, ding, ding! This sounds exactly right to me. Few people ever ask me about my personal style. (Truthfully, no one. Zero people ask me about my style.) I do think about it though, and I usually find labels too limiting. I like what I like, and sometimes I can’t explain why! Colorful, comfortable, cool, casual. These are my criteria for furnishings and decor. For anything structural or more permanent, I think it’s important to look to the house for guidance. I don’t have great knowledge of architectural styles, so I try to think simple and original to the time period (while still providing modern function!). Our current home goals are in a holding pattern of sorts. I’m itching to refine and redo some spaces, but we will hopefully move in a few years (#retirement). Making lots of changes at this point doesn’t make great sense, so I’m focusing on what we need for function. (Also, dream pieces and lamp hoarding because I’m only human.🤣) I have a question about slow renovating and decorating. What if you get to the “finished” stage, and you want to start over? If completing your home takes 5-7 years, maybe you’re aesthetic has matured and changed. Is there a common timeframe when folks redecorate? I’m curious, Sarah! Hopefully others will weigh in. Have a super-lovely weekend! I can hear the wind in the trees rn; we’re do for a stormy weekend. 🤞🍁☂️

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 19, 2021 at 9:17 pm

      I’m with you wholeheartedly, Peggi… this sentence of yours was my favorite, “I like what I like, and sometimes I can’t explain why!” That was a ding, ding, ding for me, and I think that’s awesome. It’s all apart of what makes our homes unique and interesting. I also echo your sentiments on furniture & decor versus structural and permanent elements. A retirement move sounds exciting!! I think you’re smart to focus on function and refining given your plan and timeline. I really want to stay put in our house for quite a long time, but would love the opportunity to grab a second property someday (longterm goal). Who knows what the future holds. We just really like it here. It’s all good- I’m a lamp & light fixture hoarder, too. Haha! But really. I embrace that habit. I love your question about finishing a space. Here are my thoughts- it’s your home and you can update and renovate to your heart’s desire. If your aesthetic has evolved and it no longer feels like you, feels functional, and you dream of something else- I vote for making a change, because home should make us happy. Obviously this requires money and time, but if you have both of those and it feels right, I’m all about it… whether that’s five years, ten years, etc. I hope your weekend was a good one! We got your storms on Friday and it was wonderful to have a bit of rain!! xo

  • Reply
    Melanie T
    September 16, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Wow, lots to reflect on here. I endorse that take your time and grow your style with quality items philosophy. I remember learning about period styles in junior high home ec class ( yah, it was a long time ago!) and loving the Victorian period. Really thankful that I didn’t have money then to furnish a house because I grew out of the fascination with all things bric a brac. One thing I give a lot more attention to in regard to making choices these days is ease of maintenance. For instance, the staircase with curved spindles I once loved no longer hold their appeal now that I realize that they are dust catchers. I would choose flat cabinets over shaker style, staircases with perhaps no spindles at all, Corian shower walls over grout between tiles. I agree that style is something you curate throughout your lifetime and it evolves with your person as you evolve. Thank goodness!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 19, 2021 at 9:08 pm

      Maintenance is such an excellent point, Melanie! There are definitely things I’ve installed or purchased in the past that I’ve grown to regret because of that. I’m also thankful our style evolves with us, but it’s kind of fun to look back at the different phases and periods or fascinations we once had (Victorian for you, and probably Mid Century for me), ha! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Brittney
    September 16, 2021 at 8:24 am

    I’d love to see photos of how your aesthetic has changed based on spaces, starting with your college dorm!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 19, 2021 at 9:00 pm

      Sadly, I didn’t take many images of my spaces back then, but I’m going to make it a mission to pull out my old photos and hard drives to see what I can find. Maybe I can dig up some good (and hilarious) photos! :)

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    September 16, 2021 at 8:44 am

    “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 a part of my design evolution as we learn and grow.”

    This would be so interesting for you to explore more! If you haven’t already, I’d love to see you dissect your past to present spaces and explain your design evolution. I’m so curious! I realize that I fall prey to trends, and have a really hard time discerning what is my style, and what is just the trend of the day.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 19, 2021 at 8:59 pm

      That would be a really fun post, Stephanie! I wish I had images of those rooms, but during that time- I didn’t think of photographing my interior spaces. I’ll have to see what I can dig up and pull out my old hard drives :) I definitely have fallen prey to plenty of trends, but I’d like to think making those realizations helps us develop a more authentic, timeless style. It has happened (and still happens) to all of us. It’s tricky!

  • Reply
    KJ
    September 19, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I loved the entire post but the part about location really struck home. I have had 28 addresses- beaches, mountains, mid-west, north east, west coast, south; urban areas a stint in the country and multiple stays in the suburbs (big cities are my favorite, but not where I am now.) I am currently in the south. Light really is a function of location. The morning light here in the middle of North Carolina is just beautiful. It is soft and serene when the tree outside is full of leaves. It is bright and warming in the winter. I live between the mountains and the beach – so light and airy fits my aging eyes and my location. I have collected native American art for 40 years- and although it does not go with my location, it is my love and fits because it is my love.

    Functionality and classic design go a long way.

    Thanks for making me think.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 19, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      28 addresses?! Wow!! I know that’s a lot of moving, but I think it would be so fun to have homes in such varied landscapes. I dream of designing different homes based on their location. I love your thoughts on light, KJ! Your current landscape sounds gorgeous, and I love hearing about your art collection- sounds incredible. That’s the beauty of home- filling it with things that bring us happiness, no matter where we’re located. Thanks for taking the time to share :) I hope you had a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    September 20, 2021 at 8:29 am

    This is such an interesting topic to discuss. I don’t think I’d be able to define my own personal style, or narrow it down to one descriptive term either. I do notice that I tend to be more minimalist in functional spaces, and over the years I’ve grown weary of place holders. Now I narrow it down to what a space is lacking and I don’t mind having to hunt for the perfect version. I’ve also become more comfortable with layering. Whether it’s layering styles, colors or patterns, in the days of the Alexander house I would have never dreamed of doing that.
    You make an interesting point about location of a home also factoring into its style. I completely agree. In this home I find myself drawn to more nature inspired elements, due to our far more rural setting. My love of nature, animals, and landscape inspired colors definitely reads through in this home, but would have been out of place at our last one.
    As we renovate my main goal is to remain true to the architecture and style of our home, and bring the traditional elements back that were either never here or were stripped away. The secondary goal is to bring more function to our spaces either by strategically floor planning or repurposing rooms that in their current state, don’t make sense for a modern family. Quality of materials also comes into play, along with functional decor that does double duty.
    You always bring food for thought Sarah, and this post wi be one I refer back to as I tackle my spaces. Wonderful design discussions! I hope your week is off to a great start!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 20, 2021 at 9:06 am

      Isn’t it fun to look at how our style and priorities have changed over the years? I’m with you getting more comfortable with waiting for the perfect piece, layering, and considering function just as much as form (that was a big lesson for me over the years). I think all of your goals for your current home sound spot on, Lauren! I’m excited to hear about how things evolve as you tackle those remaining areas in your house :) Here’s to a great week ahead!! xo

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