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Question: I just moved into my new home and will be painting, getting new furniture and doing ...

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

some things to update. I’ll be keeping a few of my current things but I need enough new ones that would allow me to create a new style. I like many different styles. How do I choose just one?

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)

Congratulations on your new home. And, good for you that you didn’t take the easy way out and call your style “eclectic”. An eclectic style is complicated and a topic for another day. Your question is a common one and many times, people almost apologize for asking it – as if there is something wrong with liking more than one style. But it’s only natural to like different styles just as you like different foods, sports, books, movies etc..

The best answer to your question is to follow the architectural style of your house. Ideally, its interior architecture matches its exterior architecture, including the landscaping. I’m now anticipating three possible reactions: “Okay, thank you very much”, “My house doesn’t have a style”, or “I hate the style of my house”. If you relate to either of the last two, don’t worry. Although that was my best answer, it’s not my only answer.

If you haven’t started collecting photos in Pinterest, start now. Pinterest is a free website that contains close to 12 million photos that users (anyone in the world who opens an account) have uploaded and saved under different categories. These categories will most definitely include photos of interior design styles. All that you have to do is search for them. But instead of searching for particular styles such as Craftsman, Mediterranean, Cottage, Tropical and the like, enter words like “living rooms”, “dining rooms”, “kitchens”, “bedrooms”, “baths”, “home office”, and “family rooms” in the search box.

Collect (i.e., "pin”) photos that you like regardless of their styles. Then study what you’ve collected to see if any one or two styles keep popping up. Also notice if there is a common theme. For instance, do most of your photos have a monochromatic palette or are they filled with contrasting colors? Are they warm or cool tones, neutrals, pastels, or bold? Have you pinned fully upholstered pieces or a mix of woods, metals or acrylics? Are most of the furnishings rustic, traditional, or noticeably stream-lined? As you review your collection, rate your reactions. For example, on a scale of one to five, how well do you like each photo? Take a look at all those that you rated four or five. With any luck, you’ll be able to focus on one or two styles that you really love.

The next step is to take an inventory of those existing furnishings that you intend to keep. How well do they fit into the results of your self-discovery exercise? This answer might nail down the style for your new home. However, if these furnishings contradict your new style, then you are at the beginning stage of creating an eclectic style. The key to a successful eclectic décor is to make the majority of your new design elements true to your new style and then carefully sprinkling in the old pieces.

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