By Laura Gaskill, Houzz
In popular design shows in which designers compete against one another, “safe” is usually code for “boring” — it’s all about making a statement and standing out from the crowd. But your home is not a design contest; it’s real life. If you’ve been pressuring yourself to take more risks with your decorating choices, consider this your official excuse to let yourself off the hook. In fact, sticking with what feels easy or safe to you can actually help you tap into what you naturally love, paving the way to your own signature style.
Your style DNA. Pay attention to what feels safe, comfortable and easy, because that is the path to your personal style. It’s almost as if each of us is born with a unique style DNA, and when you come into contact with things that match your personal aesthetic sense, it just feels right — easy, natural and, yes, safe. You can’t simply look in from the outside and declare a decorating choice to be safe or a big risk; it’s all a matter of perspective.
Learn when to step away from the wallpaper samples. It may take some practice, but it is helpful to begin to recognize and honor feelings of discomfort in decorating. If you find you have to talk yourself into something, whether it’s a color, a type of furniture, or a style of throw pillow, that could be a sign that the item in question is simply not right for you. It’s not in your style DNA. Think back to some of the worst decorating decisions you have made. Try to remember what was going through your head when you made that regrettable choice. How did you feel? How sure (or unsure) were you about your decision? The next time you find yourself considering a decorating decision that feels risky, remind yourself that you are not competing for approval from an audience or panel of judges. The only approval you need is your own.
You’ve got to start somewhere; why not take a quiz? If you want a bit of help identifying what style comes naturally to you, the Houzz quiz What’s Your Decorating Style? can be a fun place to start. Even if the response you get doesn’t jibe with what you think of as your style, that in itself can offer a clue. Sometimes defining what you don’t like can help steer you toward what you do like.
Make an “Oh yeah, totally” list. These are the colors, textures, materials, shapes and objects you choose time and time again without fail. Take a moment and make a list of your own.
Come up with a fuller, truer definition of your style. For most of us, a single word is simply not enough to encompass a personal style — it’s a little of this, a little of that. Round out your style by allowing yourself to think outside the box a bit. Just because you are mostly traditional, glam or modern doesn’t mean you can’t also be a dash rustic, vintage or cottage.
Seek out and collect the best examples of what you love. Once you get used to paying attention to what you love — the things that feel safe, easy, natural and totally you — it will become easier to immediately zoom in on the things that match your style DNA and ignore that things that don’t. Start collecting images of interiors (on Houzz or in a notebook) that feel the most you, and look through them when you need inspiration.
Related: Start Saving Inspiring Patio Photos
Use your style notebook to help keep you on track. When you find yourself waffling about a decorating or design decision, take a moment to flip through your style notebook or Houzz ideabook and use it as a litmus test. Would the item you are thinking of purchasing or the paint color you are thinking of using fit in seamlessly with the images you have selected as being totally and utterly you? If not, consider moving on.
Related: What’s Your Design Identity?