If you were to try to define “Your Style”, say someone asks you to describe your home…would you use words like Mediterranean, or Santa Barbara, or Mid Century Modern, or maybe you don’t know how to describe it by a particular design style and you use the word Eclectic?
Are you determined to have your home say something about you that is impressive to your guests and brings admiration from them, or is the environment you surround yourself with at home a product of other values that you hold dear in your life? Maybe the attempt to answer that question (What is Your Style?) makes you immediately think of the way you feel when you’re at home in your sweats, when that indescribable contentment is enough to meet all of your emotional needs at that moment, and you love yourself for the gift of a home that nourishes your soul. Are you more about making an impression on others, or about pleasing yourself?
When attempting to find one’s own interior design style, I suggest you don’t focus on a particular genre or historic period (i.e. French Country or Louis XVI), or a geographic location (such as Tuscany or Paris) that you might happen to find particularly appealing or is trendy right now. Rather, pay attention to little details that make you happy. Try remembering a simple moment such as waking up in the morning; what do you notice when you first wake up? The soft early morning light filling the room, the fresh linen scent of your sheets, the feeling of your silky P.J.’s against your skin? Or, is it the thoughts you have upon awakening, such as the peace of mind you have that your day is already planned and you feel secure in the knowledge that today is going to be safe and manageable? Or…you remember that you are having lunch with one of your bests friends today and you feel appreciation for her friendship and the anticipation of sharing time with her?
What I’m describing are the senses and emotions that are most important to us as individuals and should have a part in defining our personal style, which we should aim to reflect in our home environments. I believe that these personal preferences come from not only our genetic make-up (and maybe our Astrological sign, if you believe in that!), but is also most strongly influenced by our life experiences, and therefore, our memories.
Memories come in the form of not only thoughts and recollections of things we have experienced in our past, but they also present themselves when triggered by visual stimuli (a puppy that reminds you of your first beloved family pet), olfactory stimuli (I personally can’t get near a Jasmine vine without inhaling deeply and remembering the vine that grew outside my bedroom window when I was 20), tactile stimuli (a baby’s soft skin, or the silky feeling of healthy hair), taste stimuli (remembering that wonderful trip to Hawaii when you bit into your first mango) or audible stimuli (such as a song on the radio that brings warm memories as it reminds you of that special high school relationship long ago).
Our goals and dreams drive us; they define the boundaries of the road that we choose to travel and help us zero in on what is important to us right now, whether it be choices in relationships or career paths. But memories, and the stimuli that bring them to the surface of our consciousness, are part of the heart and soul of who we are on a deeply personal level, and provide stepping stones to the realization of Your Own Style.
Our mantra as interior designers is to assist our clients in the realization of their Own Style. My memories, and the style I have ultimately come to identify as my own, have shaped the way I approach my career as a professional interior designer. I am not a design snob, and I don’t push any particular style on my clients. I don’t like to think of the design process as “right” or “wrong”, but simply the process of discovering just what makes each person comfortable and satisfied in their personal space.
Of course I enjoy creating stunningly beautiful, perfectly scaled environments. But I have to admit that each of my clients wants to love the space they live in, and their idea of “stunningly beautiful” will probably be different than another client’s interpretation of perfection. I believe that as interior designers, we need to remember that we are not the ultimate occupants of the houses we are working on, and our egos and our desires to “make a name for ourselves” need to stay at home when we are engaged with our clients and the realization of their dreams.
As we are working on a custom home with a client, I am constantly aware that we are in the business of creating spaces that work for them, and a look that pleases them now and will continue to work well for them for many years to come, without a need for major modifications. If we can collaborate with our clients, and see them immeasurably happy with the end result, while at the same time adhering to good basic design principles, then I consider the end result to be a raging success!