Finding Your Voice  

A guide to defining your design preference and style

By Larry Wilson

“I’ll know what I like when I see it.” I have heard that phrase over and over again during my interior design career. I must tell you—this statement illustrates the challenges faced when trying to zero in on a direction for the look, feel, and quality of your design project, whether it’s a new corporate build-out or a home renovation. Short of hiring a team of dedicated psychologists, therapists, color theorists, and sociologists, here are some tips on how to find your way.

1 Don’t overthink it. I know that you will have a heyday flooding your mind with tons of doubts, prejudices, and old baggage. Start by researching images online, in magazines, or books and create a file of things that attract your attention, images that make you smile, and photos of settings that draw you in. No editing here—let it be a free-for-all, by-the-seat-of-your-pants endeavor.  There will be plenty of time to overthink it later.

2 Go with your gut. All the “what ifs” and “could bes” will drive you insane. Trust your intuition and keep finding images that cause a reaction. If you discover something that really causes a positive response, take a moment to dive in a little deeper and discover what about the image attracted you. Is it the overall feel of the space, quality of light, colors, textures, or patterns?

3 Do a little editing. Once you have accumulated a stockpile of images that you had an emotional reaction to, take time to look at them together all at once. Either reduce the size of the images so they all fit on your screen or go old school and print them and lay them out side by side. Now play the elimination game.  Still keep the process spontaneous and moving fast. Pull anything that, on second glance, doesn’t float your boat.

4 Challenge your organizational skills. Now we are ready to start to get more specific. Organize your images by categories. Do a second review and figure out what you are responding to in the images collected. Break them down into the categories below. Add in any categories that are important to you.

Color

Textures

Scale

Light Quality

Furniture Styles

Layout

Proportion 

Interior Detailing

5 Eliminate the clutter. I’m not talking about throwing out things that you have hoarded for years (that would be a whole different article) but rather all the limiting thoughts that have developed during this process. Ignore all the voices saying that this doesn’t go with that, this color will be overpowering, or this furniture will be out of character. You get the idea. Allow yourself to be a free thinker and just ignore the questioning and doubt.

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Author: Arbus

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