How to Find and Define Your Design Style

Design Tips | January 28, 2020

When it comes to design, there are so many different styles to choose from. Knowing what these design styles are can be very beneficial for anyone who wants to design their space. It can also be helpful when working with a designer to be able to better describe your likes and dislikes in a way that allows them to understand you and your tastes better. But guess what? Your style doesn’t actually have to be defined into any one (or multiple) categories. Here at House of Jade, we like clean, fresh, layered design, and that can easily be implemented into every type of design style.

Photography by Travis J. Photography and Rebekah Westover
from our Traverse Mountain Modern project
a modern basement kitchen warmed up with wooden stools

When it comes to design, it is equally good to know what you do and don’t like and sometimes, pinpointing what you don’t like is a lot easier. Do you follow any designers on Instagram? What is it about their designs that draws your attention? Another way to figure out your style is to look within your own closet or dresser. What we choose to wear says a lot about what we like in design. Our homes should be a mirror of who we are and what we love, and more often than not, that’s exactly what fashion is as well. What stores do you shop at? How would you describe the designs of their clothing options? What colors do you usually gravitate towards? Or what colors do you usually shy away from? Do you like an outfit with lots of details and accessories? Or do you prefer a more subtle form of attire?

photography by Travis J Photography / from our Midway new build
a mix of styles: shiplap walls paired with modern chairs and a modern lamp, and a more traditional side table and painting

Another great way to determine your style is to look at what you’re drawn to on Pinterest. One thing you can do is to go through your boards and see if there’s anything you’ve pinned that no longer resonates with you. Take note of what they are, remove them, and then see what you’re left with. Chances are you’ll be able to gain a good idea of what your design style is. Now, if you really want to put a name to it, we’ve defined what many popular design styles are. If anything about any style resonates with you, then you can go ahead and say your style is that. And you can absolutely pick more than one. For example, you may be drawn to traditional elements in home finishes, but prefer more modern furniture. You can say your design is modern traditional. Or maybe you love the bohemian look, but also enjoy modern and industrial elements. You could then say you have a modern bohemian industrial style. Really, the options are limitless when it comes to defining your design style.

photography by Lindsey Orton / from our Modern Farmhouse project
a farmhouse with lots of wood, black and white in
materials that will work hard and look good at the same time

Popular Design Styles:
Modern – modern design is defined by clean lines, materials like glass, metal, and concrete, and a more subdued color palette.

Contemporary – contemporary is a little harder to define in words, as it really just means what is popular here and now. It can include a variety of colors and shapes, but really it’s what you’ll find most present in big box stores in terms of what is trending right now.

Mid-Century Modern – furniture and decor that dates back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. A lot of teak wood was used during this time and Danish furniture was all the rage. Mid-century furniture is usually clean and simple in design with angled legs. Colors are usually muddy greens and yellows and wood is the most common material used.

Minimalist – this style can be achieved within almost any design style, the unifying thread is that there is nothing in the space beyond what is deemed necessary. Usually a minimalist space is neutral and very open, with only the essentials present.

Traditional – here is where you’ll find a lot of molding (chair, crown, window, door) and lots of turned woods as well, usually found on stair newels and ballusters, and on furniture legs. Upholstered furniture is soft and there’s a lot of color and pattern mixing. Often times, traditional style is compared with being cluttered and full of nick knacks, however, there has been a big push in design over the last few years to make traditional a must have style with a more fresh, paired back approach.

Transitional – this a combination of traditional and contemporary styles. It’s a marriage between timeless and trendy in a way that is exciting, fresh and new.

Industrial – if you think of exposed pipes, duct work and brick walls, loft style living and open floor plans, then you’re heading in the right direction with industrial. These spaces are often found in converted lofts in large cities where the building zoning has changed from commercial to residential. In these spaces, the exposed, raw materials are a big part of the decor.

Scandinavian – this style features a lot of wood, white, and light. In the Scandinavian countries, they spend a lot of their year in cold, dark weather, so to counteract that, they create spaces in their homes that invoke a sense of peace and coziness. You’ll find furniture that is both functional and beautiful and spaces that are not at all cluttered.

Farmhouse – here you’ll usually find wide planked walls, wooden floors, concrete countertops and a lot of black and white finishes. Authentic farmhouses from back in the day were spaces that had to work hard for their owners who spent their days working hard outdoors. Having elements in the space that not only hold up to a lot of us but look good doing it are indicative of the farmhouse style of today.

Bohemian – this style often boasts a lot of vintage finds, especially in furniture and rugs, the use of a lot of colors and natural textiles in decor. Design “rules” are often broken and the space can be defined as eclectic and carefree.

European Cottage – the first word that comes to mind when describing a cottage is cozy. The European Cottage style mixes a lot of old with new, weathered furniture that doesn’t feel to precious, a space that feels lived in and is inviting to all. You’ll often find handmade items, particularly in the form of dishes and bowls in the kitchen. There’s an old world provincial feel, as if it’s always been around.

photography by Lindsay Salazar / from our One Room Challenge
we wanted a European cottage feel in this space, so we included vertical paneling on the walls, lots of white and wood,
a range with an old world look and feel, and natural elements found in the accessories

Now we’re dying to know, what is your design style? Tell us in the comments or tag us on Instagram letting us know!