Find Your Decorating Style
It's all about you
Unsure what color to paint your living room? Lost when it comes to choosing accessories? The answers might be right inside you! The activities, art and environments you prefer all offer a reliable guide to confident decorating choices.To show how it works, we've designed three different looks for the same room, each one customized for a specific personality. If you know what you like but can't put your finger on how that translates into your home, click through our examples to reveal your inner decorating muse.
Style #1: Earthy and natural
You like: beach walks, country drives, yoga or tai chi, farmers markets, nature preserves, alfresco dining, hybrid cars, wildlife.Your style probably grows out of the harmonious elements of air, water and earth. Your solution to everyday stress is a connection to the natural world, not only outside, but in your home as well. Look to nature's essence to find a sense of peace and balance for your home.See how this style looks in a whole room on the next slide.
Earthy and natural: Organic elements
COLORS Nature calms your soul in a way that others, rushing through life, might not appreciate. Carry that feeling into your home with earth-inspired hues such as the varied blues of sky and water, or forest tones. FURNITURE Because you care about the environment, comfy sofas and chairs slipcovered in natural, washable cottons make sense. You'll probably feel drawn to accent pieces in wicker and reclaimed or sustainable woods. PATTERN No one can improve on Mother Nature; her patterns are familiar and uncluttered. Follow her example with simple grasses, dragonflies, leaves and other earth forms in fabrics and wallpapers.RUGS Only pure materials for you: sisals and cotton weaves.WINDOWS Don't cover up nature's vistas! Easy roll-up wood or bamboo shades let you drink in the most scenery all the time.ACCESSORIES Look for pieces that replicate nature's shapes and textures (such as "tree trunk" vases or inlaid shell boxes). Walks reward you with genuine bounty: a bowl of pinecones, a stone paperweight or a piece of sculptural driftwood.
Style #2: Creative and eclectic
You like: antiquing, resale shops, crafts fairs, family reunions, recipe collecting, flower gardening, entertaining at home, oldies-but-goodies.Your style proclaims a free-spirited, lively personality inspired by both the past and present. Let one-of-a-kind, pretty vintage and artisan objects, no matter their pedigree, set the stage for the casual self-expression that infuses this mix-and-match look with endearing charm.See how this style looks in a whole room on the next slide.
Creative and eclectic: carefree details
COLOR You have a hard time picking a favorite, so try layering a paintbox full of informal, girly brights: yellows, pinks, blues and greens.FURNITURE Be honest: New pieces and matching suites bore you. You'll be happier with an exuberant patchwork of eras, styles, upholstery and finishes collected over time. For example: Mix a new traditional tufted sofa with old painted-wood flea-market finds.PATTERN Your artist's eye hasn't seen a check, polka dot, stripe or paisley it didn't like, and florals are a must. The secret to this random mix? Balance colors and vary scale. FABRIC Collected bits of handiwork, like laces, embroidery, crewel and appliques (some new, some old), will reinforce this whimsical cottage look.RUGS You like comfort above all. Cozy boucle carpet tiles, needlepoints or plush cottons meet the "treat your feet" test.WINDOWS Sunshine recharges your creativity. Try translucent fabric, on soft shades or charmingly embellished curtains, to let the light stream in.ACCESSORIES Anything handmade speaks to your center. Group collections of paintings, sketches, collages, quilts, pottery and more to achieve the heartfelt, mismatched look that says "you."
Style #3: Refined and modern
You like: theater, galleries, jazz clubs, book readings, wine tastings, designer labels, spa treatments, social networking, piano bars, global travel.Your style springs from the energy of urban environments. Let cutting-edge architecture, sophisticated colors, man-made materials and global influences ignite your imagination. These icons will lead the way to showcasing your cosmopolitan tastes.See how this style looks in a whole room on the next slide.
Refined and modern: urban leanings
COLORS No pastels here! Your preference for metro living means you probably gravitate to bold hues like rich red. Pair it with cityscape tones of black, gray and stone on background walls and furniture to calm this gutsy statement. Urban neutrals also allow contemporary art to shine. FURNITURE Streamlined skyscrapers inform your passion for minimalist pieces. So when it comes to form, you'll want to look for armless seating, exposed legs, low profiles, tight upholstery and Asian influences. After all, you know simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.PATTERN Unless it mimics abstract art or has exotic roots, busy pattern won't interest the purist in you. But small touches of worldly prints--graphic geometrics or classic faux animal skins (on one wall, pillow or chair)--satisfy your fashion sense.FABRICS You adore luxury, so choose leather, suede, velvet and silk.RUGS As a trendsetter, you like to stand out. Unique dyed or printed cow skins, chunky outsize textured friezes (shag) or modern prints on wool weaves will do the trick.WINDOWS Choose structured, angled treatments with clean lines that follow the city theme. Try flat shades, horizontal wood blinds or shutters.ACCESSORIES Modern art pieces and a few industrial touches, such as lamps and vases in metals and glass, enhance your urban contemporary scheme and reflect your chic but restrained aesthetic.(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® January/February 2010.)