Since moving into this house 18 months ago, Sam and I have been continually trying to get a better handle on our personal aesthetic as a couple and - taking it a little further - as a family. We've given up trying to find a nice & neat label by now; none of the concrete styles really seemed quite right. But we are, bit by bit, getting a more defined idea of what we want in our home and what fits.
Back in December, I mentioned that part of our difficulty with narrowing down the nearly endless styles in current design has been that part of me is drawn to part of nearly all of them. I see beauty in lots of different looks and I enjoy the mood created by many different types of rooms. (At least I was able to conclude from this observation that we're working toward some sort of eclecticism). But, I want a degree of order, too, and I want our home to feel cohesive and not all over the map. I want serenity, but I want fun. I want comfort, but I want a little formality. It's kind of an elusive balance, I think, because it's deeper than just following some formula like "3 different textures, 4 colors, 1 bold pattern" in a room. It's really about getting totally comfortable with who we are and what we find beautiful and comforting in a home.
There can be a lot of personal, introspective thinking in design.
It's also about being totally comfortable with knowing what our style is not. And this is where I left off last December. I had come to terms with the fact that several styles needed to be cut out of my blog list and magazine browsing. I knew I wasn't a traditonally cottage gal or that we aren't a "coastal" or "beachy" family. These styles can be strikingly beautiful, but they just aren't us. I went through my list of blogs and removed the ones that I knew for certain were not helping me define my style. In fact, several were confusing it. This editing of input has been, without a doubt, one of the best things I've done so far to clarify our home's design direction.
*That sounded way too serious. Put another way, I just mean that getting rid of the styles that definitely weren't us really helped me focus in on styles that might actually help me gain clarity.*
Shortly after this culling of blogs, I added Lauren Liess' Pure Style Home to my reading list. I thought it was worth while trying to get a few new blogs up for a trial period to see if they were helpful or not. Lauren has most definitely been helpful. In fact, I'd say that her blog has been one of the most influential for me in the last 6 months. This post on undesigned spaces and this recent post on truth in design, in particular, echoed thoughts I had had but also took those thoughts beyond my current level and challenged me. Those posts made me think and Lauren's killer approach to design inspires me without confusing me with a style that doesn't fit us.
Now, I'm realizing, it's time to make a few cuts again. Not that I won't ever read the blogs I'm about to cut. I just know that I need to step back from lots of varied input for a time - just until I know I've found my feet. I've spent 12-18 months looking long and hard at lots and lots of inspiration photos/articles from all kinds of angles. Now, I need to get a tighter vision, and that means a conscious editing of input.
The blogs I'm removing (but, sometimes, still reading because I feel some strange emotional attachment to a couple, in particular - I *like* these bloggers!) are really wonderful blogs. I mean really wonderful. But they are muddling my thinking in one way or another. My first edit has been so profitable that I really think the next step is a necessary one.
If you're still trying to figure out your own personal (truly personal!) style, I'd recommend first spending plenty of time looking, looking, looking at lots of rooms from lots of sources. That step was critical for us. But, then, when you start to get a solid idea of where you are and are not heading with your designs, consider editing your influences - for a time - to help get a clearer direction.
That's where we are at this point. So, every design blog that's listed in our sidebar right now is there because I think it's helpful in further defining our style. Some are not design blogs, but are just blogs that I enjoy and that have something to do with making our home. Some are up there "on trial" - I'm checking them out for a bit to see if they're helpful. If you think you might have a personal style similar to our own in some ways, I encourage you to check them out. You might find a new one that you really like :)