Defining Your Design Style (3 Simple Steps)

defining your design style - dining room in soft neutrals

Have you ever struggled to really define your design style? And when someone asks you to put a label on it like Traditional, Modern, etc., you’re like “Uh. Well… Ummmm…”

Narrowing your design style down to a one or two-word descriptor can be difficult. And even if you can, those labels might lead in a certain direction, but still don’t give the full picture.

Here are 3 simple steps to more firmly define your design style, AND have an easy way to share it.

defining your design style - minnesota casual family room with slipcovered sectional and aqua accents
shop this room


We live in a very visual world, and it’s easier than ever to find design inspiration.

Collect inspiration images using an online  tool like Pinterest or, if you would rather use a manual method, clip inspiration images from magazines, brochures, and catalogs, and then pin or tape them to a bulletin or poster board.

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

1. Don’t analyze or choose what you “should” like, or what your designer would like, or what is trending.
2. Go with your gut and pin or clip things that you instantly respond to.   You’ll pare them down later and, when you do, you’ll find common threads without even trying to make it happen.
3. Take your time and enjoy the process.

defining your design style - bedroom with midcentury modern influence
bed | night stand | dresser


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

1. Are there any that just don’t seem to fit in?  Eliminate those.
2. Is it realistic and functional for the way you live, or want to live?  (Many times we like the way things look, but know that they won’t work for us in real life.)
3. If no specific color scheme is apparent and you have too many color choices, which color(s) are you the most consistently drawn to?

proximity heights dining


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

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

Make these notes 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.

traditional bedroom with tufted upholstered headboard
queen levi bed


Now that you’re at the end of this process you probably notice common threads throughout your inspiration board, giving you a better sense of what your true style is. Even if you still can’t define it in design terms, you have a firm visual grasp on what you like and how you want your home to feel.

Keep your inspiration board accessible to stay on track when shopping, or to share with your design consultant so they can better assist you. If you’ve collected your images manually, snap pics of your inspiration board and keep them handy on your phone.

Happy decorating!


For more inspiration, tips, and design style ideas, visit our HOW TO DECORATE page!

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