Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

How to define your personal design style – especially when there are two of you involved!

Sevenoaks interior designer Cate Sorour provides some top tips for couples who can’t agree on what ‘look’ they want for their home

THE most common issue I face when working with clients is their inability to identify their personal design style. It gets even more complicated when couples move in together but have different tastes and opinions on what looks good.

I find most couples combine items from their previously single lives and as the years go by, they add random bits of furniture that are banal enough not to prompt a disagreement yet result in an interior that is both arbitrary and uninspiring.

So, here are four steps you can follow to discover your personal design style- whether you’re single or in a couple:

Step 1: Examine your routine

Looking at how you actually live in your space is the most fundamental step in the design process and is often overlooked because it’s not as fun as finding soft furnishing and decorative objet. I spend lots of time establishing my client’s routines and finding out what works for them and what frustrates them. Life is stressful enough, which is why your home should be a happy place you can retreat to after a long day at work.

PHOTO: Simon Maxwell

Sometimes it’s small solutions like creating additional storage to de-clutter the dining room so you can sit at the table to have dinner as a family. Other times, it’s about getting rid of furniture that is uncomfortable and has discouraged you from using a particular space. If you have young children, it could be about finding practical solutions that are durable enough to ride out their early life stages. Decide what is important to you and create zones in your home to reflect this.

Step 2: Find out how you want to feel in your home

Reflect on what feelings you want your home to invoke when you walk through the front door. Write down any words that come to mind when you think of ‘home’, which is often linked to nostalgia and childhood memories. Don’t ignore negative feelings/associations as defining what you don’t want will bring you closer to what you do.

I worked with a couple where the wife was initially adamant about having a minimal interior because, growing up, her mother collected trinkets which cluttered every surface of the family home. Her husband, meanwhile, didn’t want a home that felt stark and clinical. After doing this exercise we managed to establish that they both wanted to entertain a lot more and to create a welcoming feeling for friends and family to relax in.

This meant minimising surface space to key areas so only meaningful objet and decorative items could be displayed, bringing personality to the space without the worry of clutter. And because they wanted a relaxing environment, we used calming blues, light greens and soft pinks as the colour palette.

Step 3: Look for inspiration

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, so start a ‘like’ pin board and a ‘dislike’ pin board for your home. Don’t overthink it- spend a few hours pinning any images that catch your eye – for better or worse. Once you have completed this exercise, don’t look at your board for a day or two.

When you do go back to it, work through the images and write down the commonalities between them. Is it natural light, a neutral colour palette and textures you are drawn to or do you love bold, maximalist interiors with an eclectic mix of era’s and cultural styles?

If you’re in a couple do the same for the ‘dislike’ board to communicate to your partner what you don’t want and come to compromise on what works for both of you.

Step 4: Write a style statement

Once you have followed the steps above, summarise your personal design style in a short paragraph to develop a style statement. With such a wide selection of choices and innumerable suppliers to choose from, a style statement reduces confusion and helps you to shop according to your style and not what is on trend.

Anytime you are uncertain about something, bring it back to your design statement and see if it aligns. Using the previously mentioned couple as an example, their design statement looked like this;

‘A light-filled and organised interior to entertain family and friends in. Only furniture with clever storage solutions will be used to conceal clutter and offer practicality. Soft leather, worn over time will bring personality to the space while silky velvets add comfort and warmth. A soft colour palette of blue, light green and dusty pink create a sense of calm. Dimmable overhead lighting creates ambiance while the use of floor lamps leaves surfaces free to create a minimal aesthetic.’

To find out more about Cate Sorour of Intelier Interiors and the services she offers, go to: www.intelierinteriors.com

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