Choosing a Style for Your Interior Design
Selecting a style
We all want our homes to be stylish and beautiful, but achieving that aim is not so easy. There are so many variables, so many possibilities, that the choice can be bewildering.
Before you redecorate you should ideally try to live in a property for one year, to experience all the rooms at different times. This will also give you the time to research interior design and learn about the styles you like.
• Look at decoration with fresh eyes, for example in shops, hotels, restaurants, style museums and large houses open to the public, as well as in other people’s homes.
• Books and magazines are a rich source of information and inspiration.
• Discover why some schemes are successful and others less so. Analyse colours, patterns, textures and forms. Note the way the space is used and lit (lighting is often an unappreciated aspect of decoration).
• Collect ideas such as features from magazines, pages from catalogues, pictures copied from books and samples of fabrics and paints.
The basic elements of a look
Colour creates ambience and can be used to visually alter the proportions of a room.
Pattern and texture help define the style; how they are mixed and matched can alter the entire effect.
Furniture immediately sets a room into context.
Window treatments give a room character, from heavy traditional drapes to streamlined blinds.
Sources of inspiration
Inspiration from your surroundings
- Architecture – does the room have interesting windows or a beautiful fireplace?
- A cherished possession – is there a special piece of furniture, a rug or a work of art that you could use as a starting point?
- Nature the seashore, a woodland in autumn or a butterfly’s wing could all inspire a wonderful colour scheme.
Inspiration from the past
- Georgian – the hallmark of elegance. Well-proportioned rooms, subtle shades and fine furniture are indicative of Georgian style, although several styles or themes were popular during this era.
- Neoclassical ruled by symmetry. Architectural forms are echoed in furniture; classical and mythological detailing is a feature.
- Chinoiserie – the perennial fascination of the East. Rich in lacquered furniture, bamboo, oriental porcelain and brilliant colours such as peacock blue, jade and imperial yellow.
- Regency – a lighter successor to Georgian. Features include classic stripes, sprigged florals and pale, clear colours for walls and fabrics.
- Gothic – a fanciful, recurring style that features pointed arches, carved wood, gilding and deep colours, especially in tapestries and hangings.
- Victorian – a variety of styles spanning a long period. Typically much patterning and layering, velvets and overblown florals, swags and fringes, deep-buttoned chairs and solid, dark furniture.
- Arts and crafts – a reaction to Victorian fussiness. Typified by simple stylized designs of flowers and foliage on wallpapers and fabrics and rustic, handcrafted furniture. Shaker shares many of the same principles.
- Art nouveau – a study in sinuosity. Distinctive organic forms are apparent from architecture to accessories. There are many interpretations, including Tiffany in the USA and Charles Rennie Macintosh’s more geometric style.
- Art deco – the look of the Jazz Age. Sleek, clean-cut forms and glossy textures combine with monochrome schemes.
- Bauhaus – industrial design and materials developed for the home. Glass, chrome and are imaginatively used with an emphasis on form and texture, rather than pattern.
- 1950s/60s – ‘the new modernity’. Furniture in fibreglass, plastic and metal, spindly or ovoid shapes and graphic or geometric patterns in primary and acid colours are typical of the era.
- Scandinavian fresh simplicity in natural materials. Pale woods and neutral colours sit with clean-lined, well-designed furniture.
The personal touch
Interior design is now as much a fashion industry as the garment trade, and trends come and go just as quickly. Be wary of adopting the latest fad, as it can soon look dated — choose a style which will suit the function of the room and your particular lifestyle, as well as reflecting your taste.
There is no reason why you couldn’t successfully have an Art Deco bedroom and bathroom, a country cottage kitchen, a romantic Regency dining room and an ethnic theme in a, but take care that this does not result in a disjointed effect, each detracting from the other. One way to do this is to create visual links. Colour will be your greatest ally here, as tones of similar colour flowing from room to room will help unify the whole.
Don’t lose sight of the room’s function either. Over-fussy styles don’t often work in kitchens or home offices, for example, and a minimalist, all-white scheme may be inappropriate for a multi-purpose family living room.
I’ve chosen a style — now what?
From the ideas and samples you have collected, pick out those that fit your theme. Spread them out on a sheet of white paper or card, adding and subtracting from the mix until you have compiled an ‘ideas’ or ‘mood’ board. Keep this for a few days in ‘its’ room, getting opinions from others and making further notes. This will help you compile your sample board .
Once you have a clear idea of how the room will look, you can start planning the detail and the practicalities.