Help! I'm getting ready to renovate my house and I'm in a bit of a quandary. I like all kinds of things, from antique sofas to hyper-modern appliances. I've been going through the magazines and hard as I try to, I can't categorize my style. It's one thing to be indecisive but there's a lot of money on the line here and I'm wondering if there's a website or a tool that will help me find my style?
I haven't run a reader question in ages but this one was too good to pass up.
|Sun in an Empty Room, Edward Hopper - 1963; Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 39 1/2 inches; Private collection|
Why the rush to categorize what you like? No one categorizes how she or she dresses and I don't understand why anybody would want to pigeonhole him- or herself into a rigid category someone else defines.
Before I go any further I want to ask you to do something for me. Stop watching HGTV. I suspect that network is where you're getting this need to categorize yourself. Contrary to how it looks, HGTV doesn't exist to educate you. It's there to sell you the products that pay to appear in their programs. Any time you see Genevieve Gorder or David Bromstad pick up or call out a branded product, that's a paid placement. It's easier to sell people stuff by forcing them into a category and that's what drives the idea that there are people who are country, contemporary, cottage or what have you.
Reality works a lot differently than that because people can't be categorized so easily. It's human nature to want to break massive amounts of information into manageable groups but resist the urge to do that with yourself.
|Morning Sun, Edward Hopper - 1952; Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio|
The other notion to rid yourself of is the idea that there's such a thing as timelessness when it comes to design. All design looks like the time when it was installed. Even retro styles are modern interpretations of other times. The reason for this is simple, times and people change. If you're looking for longevity, there are classics aplenty but even they are hardly timeless.
Rather than categorizing everything you see into a a specific style, concentrate on the individual elements of the rooms photos you're drawn to. Join a site like Modenus.com or Houzz.com and start collecting scrapbooks of photos. As you add each photo, write a note about what you like in the shot.
In a very short time you'll have a collection of images that can be called eclectic, which is what most people end up with. Eclectic means a bit of everything and it's a perfectly fine thing for an aesthetic sensibility to be.
Rooms by the Sea, Edward Hopper - 1951; Oil on canvas, 29 x 40 inches; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Once you have a good collection going, start interviewing designers. Interview them as you would interview an employee. There's no real hurry but what you want is to find someone who can listen as well as he or she can advise. Good designers, not the ones who end up on HGTV, don't have specific styles they work in. Their job is to channel your sensibilities to give you the home you want. A good designer can look through your seemingly unrelated scrapbooks and find the common threads that will make you feel like your renovated home fits you.
If a designer you're interviewing doesn't listen or if you're not 100% comfortable, then move on. Don't expect the designers you meet with to do anything but talk to you about your project and expect them to ask what your budget is. Holding onto that piece of information in particular helps no one. Their goal is to help you spend your money more wisely, not to fleece you. Working with a designer will save you money, despite how counterintuitive that statement may sound.
But it's only a designer who can show you how to knit together all the disparate things you like. A good designer can make sleek, modern appliances work with antique Hoosier chests if that's your thing. A good designer can combine a Duncan Phyfe sofa with an Eames Lounge and an Arco floor lamp and make it work.
|Hotel Room, Edward Hopper 1931; Oil on canvas, 60 x 65 inches; Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection|
So the answer to your question is to stop trying to categorize yourself and find a good designer. I'm plugged into an amazing network of dedicated designers and if you need a referral I will find you someone.