So, what’s your interior design style? Farm house? Shabby Chic? Modern? Minimalist? Bohemian? Industrial? Mid Century Modern? Victorian? Southwestern? Which of these looks completely captures your tastes and personality? Which of these looks speaks to your soul? Which of these looks is perfect for your home?

Ha! ha HA! I hope you didn’t just shout out an answer like a sweet fool, because it was a TRICK question. None of these looks is going to be perfect for you, because they’re boring old, arbitrary, predetermined categories that have nothing to do with real human beings and their real human habitats.  While, yes, some of these looks are going to appeal to you more than others–with elements that you more or less find appetizing– at the end of the day, they are just “looks.” Looks speak to only one of the senses, and (I assume), you have a few other functioning senses that deserve satisfaction.

To really crack the case about what your design style is, you only need two things: a basic understanding of the elements of thoughtful interior design, and your intuition.  I’m gonna give you a run down of the former, and the latter, your packin’ round with you twenty-four sev. Something you don’t need is the internet (after you finish reading this blog post, of course). You don’t need Pinterest, you don’t need Martha, you don’t need Chip and Joanna, God love them each. Forget everything you’ve seen anybody else do with their interiors. You are starting from scratch. Go to a quiet, optionally candlelit space, crack out a paper and pen, and start decoding the mystery of your personal style.

Simply put, Style = Color + Furnishing + Texture + Aesthetic + Theme. Starting at the beginning of that equation, you are going to work your way through to the end. Afterwards, you will be well on your way to nailing your personal interior design style!


Determine what colors you love. The ones you REALLY love. (Hint: these are the colors that you are drawn to over and over despite efforts to branch out. They appear in your closet, in your adult coloring book, in your impulse fabric purchases.) Don’t second guess yourself. If you love a certain color or a set of colors, fill your home with them, by gum! If you need variety, pull them together in different combinations. Remember: you have no obligation to colors you don’t love. Don’t succumb to color peer pressure.


Yes, there is going to be styles of furniture that you like better than others, but the most important consideration with furniture is not what style it is (God forgive me), but whether or not it meets your needs. A piece of furniture needs to suit your ergonomic needs, your social needs, your family needs, your lifestyle needs, and your financial needs. Start your search with your top priority. Do you need a piece that is supremely comfortable? Start there. Do you need a piece that is sturdy as hell because you’ve got kids and a dog? Start there. Do you need a statement piece that’ll knocks the socks off of guests? Start there. Another way furniture can be utilized to meet your needs is by the arrangement. Do you need a social area? Create one with your arrangement. Do you need a functional semi-private work space? Create one with your arrangement. Do you have a new furniture budget of zero? Create a different energy and appeal with a different arrangement of what you have. As far as style goes, follow your gut instinct.


Texture is a HUGELY important design factor that is kinda illusive to describe. Wait! I’ll paint a picture with words: a highly textured room is going to have layers of textiles–pillows, blankets, throws, lots of accessories and details, and plenty of furniture and accessory furniture. A minimally textured room is going to have a simple but deliberate use of textiles, accessories, and furniture. Using the right amount of texture in your space is imperitive toward determining the right vibe. You will not feel at home in a space that is either too textured or not textured enough for your tastes. Play around with the texture level in your space, deferring, as usual, to your intuish.


Once you know the amount of texture you like in a space, choosing the aesthetic of the elements you use is your next task. Figuring out what aesthetic(s) you like will require some introspection. Do you like a graceful, feminine feel? Or do you prefer something a little more bold and edgy? Do you like a classical look? Simple and timeless? Or do you like something a little more funky and unusual? Which of these descriptives would somebody use to describe you? Your personality, I mean. A lot of times, determining what your ideal aesthetic is is as simple as describing yourself. Once you know what descriptives you identify with, apply them to your accessories, including your textiles, your art, your tchotchkes– basically your entire decor arsenal.


Theme does not often come up in design books or magazines, and if it ever came up on HGTV, I would immediately make a harvest sacrifice to the gods. I’m not talking about a beach theme, or a rooster theme or anything like that. Theme is my favorite design element, and certainly the funnest one to establish in your space. It is the YOU factor. The element that makes your space completely unique from anyone else’s. I want you to think bigger than family photos and giant monogram letters. I want you to think long and hard about what represents you, your family, your history, your values? A lot of times, this stuff can’t be bought. Often times it is simply had. What sentimental things do you have in your storage, and how can you think to display them in your space? There are no rules that can’t be broken to establish theme. With determination, anything can be hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf. Look for things that tell a story, look for things you’ve never been able to get rid of, look for things that have been in the family for years, look for things that mean something to you. Go on. Have a look. You don’t have to put it all out–use your color, texture and aesthetic needs as guidelines. And have fun.

An important question: why bother? Why go to the trouble of figuring out what your true interior design style is? I’m going to answer with a metaphor, which is the interpretive dance of the written word. Your home is a self-portrait. A portrait that you create with colors, textures, furniture, arrangement, art, lighting, and little collected treasures (okay, and dirty dishes, stacks of anxiety-inducing papers from your kids’ school, and hoarded boxes of yarn). Whether you are being intentional or oblivious, your home is a pretty fair peak into your psyche and soul. Since you have to have this self-portrait,* it might as well be a good likeness! A portrait that you think really captures your good side, your essence. Shows who you are, who and what you love, what you value, and what you find beautiful and moving.  This is where personal interior design style comes into play. Without personal design style, your self-portrait is like a blurry paparazzi snapshot taken as you shamefully exit a candy store.  When you have a firm grasp of your personal interior design voice, you become an artist, creating a portrait with beautiful layers and nuances. You lay hold of the design elements you love, and use them as your medium.

If you like what you’ve read, friends, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to explore the deep end, please, please, please check out my full School for Discovering Your Style course. It is chuck full of the juiciest of information and fantastic resources (tools, activities, shopping lists, illustrations, etc.) for you as a budding personal interior design stylist. It packages this whole process into a very doable afternoon of activity, making it easy breezy and super fun. It is really important to hone in on the exact right things for you and your space. If you don’t know what you like, you can waste a ton of time and money buying things that will never do it for you. I completely believe that you can figure this out on your own, because you’re amazing, awesome, and determined, but if you need support. I’m here for you! And if you don’t think you can spring the $30 dollars to enjoy all the glory, do not fear. You can subscribe to my email list and and automatically receive a lil’ baby (albeit watered down and slightly less glorious) version of the course, direct to your email! For FREE!

Love and Guts,


*Not having a self-portrait i.e. home is a big problem. It’s called being homeless. If you or someone you love is in this predicament, please contact me and I’ll do what I can to help.