Do you really know your decorating style?

Know when to call in the pros, because they know something you don't

Ann Hoevel | 4/3/2014, 4:03 p.m.
You have a new home or your first apartment and dozens of crazy ideas to make it look the way ...
Designer-blogger-photographer Emily Clark's living room features all her favorite things: A dash of blue, some black and white stripes, and the natural texture of plants. (From emilyaclark.com)

— "Taking chances and enjoying where you are and what you're looking at every day. It's better than sitting around looking at blank walls, worried about what to do," she said.

"My philosophy has been, if I don't love it to begin with, it can't get any worse. If I have a piece of furniture sitting here that I detest to begin with, slapping a coat of paint on it isn't going to make it any worse."

Through clipping magazine images from Southern Living or House Beautiful and looking online when she decorated her first home, she uncovered some obvious patterns, she said.

"There are things I am naturally drawn to," she said, "I love black and white stripes, I love blues, I love textures. I like a good mix of things."

What she doesn't like, even among her decor blogging peers, is the accelerated pace of decorating trends and how many bloggers adopt them, making those ideas feel a lot less personal.

"I want to know what you like, I don't want to know that you bought every Nate Berkus piece at Target," Clark said.

When she finds a blogger whose home shows a distinct personality, "it motivates me to get off the computer and do stuff to my own house," she said. "That's a good house!"

It's OK to call the pros

Alexis Kraft, owner of the Kraft Studio design firm and an interior design professor at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, teaches his students not only how to recognize and manifest the decorating styles of clients, but also how to do the same for themselves.

"A designer starts to realize early on in their education and in their career that they need to have a sense of style," he said. "They need to embrace and embody (a design style) that then becomes marketable for them: Their style becomes part of what (potential clients) are attracted to."

That ability is something of a superpower, he said. "I like to think anyone can be an interior designer, but it's not something everyone can do," he said.

He likens interior decor to music. "We all have opinions of (whether or not) music is good," he said. "Not all of us can be musicians."

The interest in design, an innate sense about art and an ability to understand the relationship between objects and space is part of why interior design is such a specific career path, he said. Interior designers spend years in school and internships learning little details like where to mount a toilet paper holder or how a kitchen tile can keep a remodeled kitchen looking fresh for decades.

Kraft can not deny the grip that a modern, DIY attitude has on Americans. Miraculous TV makeovers or bloggers who document their decorating adventures are compelling, motivating voices in the interior design conversation, he said.

But there's a chasm between the way we talk about design and the effort it takes to create a beautiful room in your own home.

"There is still an art to it that has to be developed," he said.

If you're not happy with the look of your home, you can work to hone that artistic ability -- or you can call for backup. Sometimes, he said, hiring an interior designer is the way to discover your style.

What's your decorating style? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter @CNNLiving or on CNN Living's Facebook page.


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