by Sally Scott
What suits you? If you’re not sure, an insightful interior designer can help you uncover your personal style
Your personal style is just that—personal, yours exclusively. So, since your taste is a mystery to your designer (and maybe to you as well), he or she will need some clues. Who are you? How do you see yourself? How do you want others to see you? What makes you happy, comfortable, relaxed? What are your hobbies? Are you a collector? Do you avoid clutter? What is your favorite color? Do you shop for your home when you travel? The answers to these questions only begin to define your personal style, but they’re of utmost importance to your designer.
I have discovered, in my 21 years as an interior designer, that if you, the owner, request a design that isn’t truly representative of your personal style, your infatuation with what you’ve commissioned will soon dwindle. If you’re not comfortable in the space, it won’t work, either functionally or emotionally (you’ll find yourself avoiding being in it). But the appeal of a design that suits your personal style will be timeless; you’ll always be able to add to the décor—or change it—in a way that pleases you.
Clients sometimes seek to replicate the style of a room they’ve seen in a magazine or in their travels. What they’ve chosen may reflect the latest trend, and it may evoke a feeling that’s completely different from anything the client has ever considered. The idea of change is intoxicating for some and terrifying for others. Seizing on the latest trend or making a dramatic change will turn out fine—as long as the new look truly represents the client’s personal style.
For those who aren’t sure what actually suits them, settling on a design can be daunting, exasperating, and, when mistakes are made, very expensive. That’s why the undecided need the help of a competent and innovative designer or decorator. Indeed, a designer can turn the process into an adventure, expanding the homeowner’s personal style by showing him or her the extensive resources available to the trade. (Years of research enable the designer to present a much wider variety of choices and solutions than the homeowner can be aware of.)
What clues to your taste should you give your designer? Magazine layouts showing colors, furnishings, objects that you find striking. Photos of your previous homes. Pictures of things you love—crafts, patterns (geometrical, floral, etc), window treatments (elaborate, simple, none at all), architectural details, lighting, even photos of gardens and landscapes. All of these can provide clues to the colors and sense of design, order, and arrangement that inspire the client.
But the designer most definitely needs to know, too, what you don’t like: colors that elicit a negative response in you, styles of furniture you would never consider. Indeed, showing your designer a magazine page and saying, “I don’t want a room that looks like this,” is marvelously efficient: It eliminates whole decorative categories—colors, styles of furniture, fabrics, looks (spartan, cluttered, formal, quirky, etc.)—at one swoop.
The career you chose, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the vacations you take, all tell short stories about who you are. Your home, if you want it to, offers you the opportunity to tell your complete story. You may want to incorporate into the design cherished family heirlooms that tell your parents’ and grandparents’ story. Or perhaps you have more of a minimalist viewpoint. Your home can induce laughter, offer comfort, stimulate the senses, suggest mystery, encourage learning, and provide entertainment.
Your designer will put all these clues together to come up with a picture of your personal style. He or she will lay out all the pieces—furniture, fabrics, colors, sentimental items, artwork. Your puzzle may contain hundreds of intricate little pieces, or it may have just a handful of uncomplicated ones. The process of putting the puzzle together will unlock—for both you and your designer—the secrets of your personal style. TME
Sally Scott Interior Design is a full-service interior design firm focused on interpreting the client’s personal style. Scott and her dedicated staff at SSI Design, located in Guilford, Connecticut, have provided design and remodeling services throughout New England for 18 years. 203.458.2903; www.ssidesign.com; email@example.com