Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Defining your style & how to identify it


I've been planning a series on the blog called, "Making your house a home in a rental", since we first moved into your place last year. I've been planning and planning and then other things stepped in and took priority (like jobs that put food on the table. Novel thought!). So I thought that maybe if I just state it publicly it will happen. If you build it, they will come. Wishful thinking? Let's find out!

Let's start with defining my style. Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press recently wrote a blog post labeling her style as Minimal Bohemian and she mentioned it as a breakthrough in the full rebranding she's been implementing with her company. I applaud her for her courage to remain true to her style. In a similar vein, Merrilee Liddiard wrote a description on her evolving style on her blog, Mer Mag, and has labeled her style Moody Modern Playful French Industrial (a bit wordy, but descriptive of her style). After reading their insightful posts, I, too, have decided to consciously and verbally depict my style. Yes, I have 21,000 pins that describe my style and tastes, but I think there's something about taking it to pen (or keyboard) that connects the dots in the brain and can shed light on who you are.
Can describing your style really illuminate your identity?

I think so. Your style can reflect who you are. I say "can" because I know plenty of people who don't pay much thought to their surrounding environment and that's perfectly fine. BUT, I think knowing your style can add to your personal understanding and dare I say, help you in other areas of your life.

A number of years ago before I married Paul, I went out with a guy whose mom was an interior designer. I was in graduate school for interior design at the time so I suppose it was a natural question for him to ask, "what's your style?" However, the question took me SO off guard. I even found it a bit obtrusive. It was as if he had just asked me a truth or dare question and, by not fault of his own, I had been put in this very vulnerable position. I think I mumbled something generic to appease the question, but I was secretly holding out.

I knew exactly what my style was. It was Swedish French of course. So simple, yet it meant so much to me.
Back before Pinterest, there were these things called accordion files--maybe you've heard of them. As a teenager I would rip pages from magazines and fit them into labeled files. One for living rooms, one for kitchens, one for gardens, etc. Because I had been collecting images I loved for so long, I knew what I loved.

What I loved were the interiors and design that I had grown up with. My mother was an interior designer and owned a French Country furniture and gift shop in Corona del Mar, CA selling the furniture that my uncle made after his years in France and training with some of the best French furniture makers here in the states. Being sick (or playing sick, rather) meant that I got to miss school and go with Mom to her store where I was surrounded by some of the most lovely furniture and interiors I had seen. I felt like I had been transported to France where I was one step closer to my childhood heroes, the Impressionists. I envisioned myself in Monet's Giverny and Van Gogh's sunflower fields in Provence.
At the same time, I was completely tied to my Scandinavian ancestry. Though I was totally unfamiliar with Scandinavian modern design until college--it just wasn't a thing in still new Orange County--I poured over the Swedish Gustavian books from my mom's collection. Swedish Gustavian design originated with King Gustav the III when he spent time in the French courts and brought back the aesthetic to Sweden. It then became a stripped down, white-washed version of the ornate French design. And I LOVED it. It's a bit too much at times, but the elements are so beautiful.
I've now had the opportunity to travel and live in other countries and cities and acquire a deeper range of things and aesthetics I love but I would still keep the title of my style the same--French Swedish--because it captures the spirit of the style but now the very unscientific recipe is much more eclectic:

1 part French Country
1 part French modern
2 parts Scandinavian folk (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian folk blends)
1 part Swedish Gustavian
1 part Scandinavian modern
1 part vintage American
1 part American farmhouse
1 part bright and colorful Boho
1 part Minimal Bohemian (thanks Eva!)
1 part Moody Modern Playful French Industrial (thanks Merrilee!)
1 part English countryside
1 part Industrial garden
2 parts floral everything

I've included some of my favorite images to exemplify this here on this post.
  1. Mid-century with a touch of Italian
  2. English and mid-century
  3. English and French.
  4. Bokkse hanging planters. Industrial garden.


Would you say that you can label your style?
It might be fun to try. Here are some things to consider when defining your own style.

  1. If you have a blog, consider doing your own post about it--just vocalizing your journey will help. If you don't have a blog start a Pinterest board and call it "My style", or start your own accordion folder or journal by pasting things into it. Anything where you have your OWN place to collect your favorite things.
  2. Collect only things you absolutely love. You can't just like it, you have to LOVE it. Maybe you only love one thing about a room or object, but you have to nearly DIE over it. It's the same with clothing--I never buy something unless I've fallen in love with it. You end up wearing only things you love, right?
  3. Don't concern yourself with what other people like. This is YOUR style. Not your husband's or your sister's or your mom's or your kid's. YOUR style. Compromise comes later :) 
  4. Once you've collected your images, notice things that are in common. Are the chairs similar in the images? Are they always mid-century modern? Perhaps you have mid-century tendencies! But perhaps the chairs are always accompanied with a farmhouse table. You're going eclectic! 
  5. If you don't know the terms or labels of interiors and furniture, familiarize yourself by following tastemakers on different social media platforms like Pinterest or Sulia or Houzz. You'll start noticing the same terms over and over. 
  6. Once you've identified patterns in your selections, give it a name. Either your own name or a well-known term. I find that giving it your own label makes it more personal to you and it becomes your own. So, when you're out shopping you'll start noticing, "Oh, that's so Minimal Bohemian" or "that's so French Swedish."
  7. Once you've given it a name, write a short description of what the label is. For example, the recipe I give above is my description of what French Swedish is to me. AND, I always allow for breaking the rules. I can like something just because I like it...it doesn't have to fit into a category. There's room for all in the inn. 
Alrighty. There it all is. Perhaps these tips will help you as you begin your style journey. And do let me know how it's going. I'd love to hear from you! 

I'm excited to kick off this new series with you. Expect some DIYs, befores/afters, collaborations with some companies (are you interested in collaborating on some fun home makeovers? let me know! thehousethatlarsbuilt@gmail.com), and hopefully, beautiful projects ahead. Let's do this!


Click on pictures to be taken to their sources

12 comments:

Kelly said...

I LOVE this post! Especially since I am currently living in Paris and feel panic to collect while I can. It is funny how I have almost been forcing myself to buy super mod furniture (which I do like) yet my eyes (and heart) always wander back to French and industrial. I feel silly thinking I need to be "brave" and just OWN what I love instead of trying to be on trend constantly. If you ever need a paris flea market buddy give me a hollar!

Brynn Grover said...

Ironically, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I love what you said about buying things you absolutely love. I'm going to try out your tips!

Bryn said...

I always discover another piece of myself after spending a few moments on your blog. Thank you for helping me put the pieces together.

The House That Lars Built said...

oh wow! That's the greatest thing I've heard. Thanks Bryn!

Jessica (Coco & Mingo) said...

This is really genius, Brittany! I have a few different styles that I associate with and I can't wait to put it all down and try this out for myself!

Kerry said...

I love this! Sometimes I feel like I'm super all over the place when it comes to my style and I change my mind all the time. I think these tips will be so helpful in letting me really narrow it down!

emily said...

fantastic post! i've always had a hard time defining my own style because, like yours, it's a mash of lots of things. this makes me feel so much better about my style, which is a really long list of things that make me happy. thanks!

Eva | Sycamore Street Press said...

Love this, B! You are totally Swedish French. And it's funny, so many things you share about growing up we have in common. The mom who is really into French country, the Scandinavian heritage, the love of those two cultures, the magazine tear pages and accordion files, and the love of Mary Englebreit!

mer said...

This is lovely! Perfect thoughts on defining your style. And my style definitely needs some shortening! Think Playful French Industrial it is. And now I'm excited to delve more into your tips! xo Mer

mer said...

This is lovely! Perfect thoughts on defining your style. And my style definitely needs some shortening! Think Playful French Industrial it is. And now I'm excited to delve more into your tips! xo Mer

Jacqueline said...

I love love love this post! I think it's time for me to sit down and discover & put a name to my style. Thank you! :)

Maya from House Nerd said...

Awesome post, and something I need to do - all part of branding. You are right, images help a lot - but there is always something about sitting down to write your thoughts out that helps make it real. I just discovered your blog through My Paridissi - love it. (P.S. your childhood sounds lovely!)