Defining Your Design Style (3 Simple Steps)

Aberdeen Dining

Narrowing design style down to a one or two-word descriptor can be difficult, if not impossible for most people.

If you are successful at defining it with terms such as Traditional, Transitional or Contemporary, for example, are you confident that you could shop for yourself or have someone else shop for you based on that description alone?  Most likely not.  These are terms that lead us in a certain direction, but don’t completely define our style.

One of the simplest and best ways to identify and define your design style is through images, so we’re sharing some tips on how to “pin” it down.  Literally!


We live in a very visual world, and it’s easier than ever to collect and save images on the internet.  Start by compiling inspiration images online using a tool like Pinterest.  (For your convenience, you can save and share your favorite choices to social media from our website.)

sample pinterest inspiration

If you would rather use a manual method, clip inspiration images from magazines, brochures, and magalogs, print images from websites, then pin them to a bulletin board, or tape them to a piece of poster board.

The key to being successful with this exercise is to have fun with it!

  • Don’t analyze or choose what you “should” like, or what your designer would like, or what is trending.
  • Go with your gut and pin or clip things that you instantly respond to.   You can pare them down later and, when you do, you’ll find some common threads without your even trying to make it happen.
  •  Take your time and enjoy the process.  Remember that this doesn’t have to be done in one day.

Shibori Sol Accent Chair


Once you’ve compiled enough images, go back through them and see if you can further pare them down by asking yourself some questions:

  • Are there any that just don’t seem to fit?  Eliminate those.
  • Are they realistic and functional for the way you live, or the way you want to live?  (Many times we like the way things look, but know that they won’t work for us in real life.)
  • If no specific color scheme is apparent and you have too many color choices, which color are you the most drawn to?   How does each color make you feel, and how do you want to feel in that room?

could definitely live with this design style! white walls, brown leather furniture, blue accents

chair | sofa | cocktail table | end table


Further define your style by identifying what appeals to you in each image.

  • Is it the entire room (you could walk in and live there) or just the paint color, a particular piece of furniture, the way it’s accessorized, or the feel of the room?
  • If you’ve pinned furniture, do you like it as is, or is it just the style, or fabric, or shape that you like?

Beautiful bedroom with a rustic stone wall. Love the unique headboard on that bed! Great tips on defining your design style too.
Echo Park Bedroom

  • Make these notes on the image on your Pinterest board or, if you’re doing this manually, cut the part of the image out that you like and eliminate the rest.

Congratulations! You’ve defined your style!

Now you’ll have a much better handle on your design style and color preferences, and be more confident and focused when you shop!

Shopping Tip:  Take your inspiration images with you, either via a mobile device or hard copy, to help you keep on track and to share with your design consultant to help them better assist you.

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