Define your decorating style

Jul 28, 2010 at 3:55 p.m. ET

To create a home environment that nurtures and inspires, you should understand your personal style -- what feeds your soul and lifts your spirits. What are you drawn to? What look will make you feel comfortable when you come home at the end of the day? Here's how to define your personal decorating style in a few easy steps.

HruskaDefine your decorating style

Take stock of who you are. What is your lifestyle? What is important to you? What types of clothes do you wear? There is a reason you own the things you do, and whether it's clothing or furniture, their style serves as clues to your tastes.

This doesn't mean that you have to keep the same look if you are in the mood for a change, but it is worth looking at items in your home that have been dear to you and made you feel comfortable. Is there a quality that is consistent throughout the things you value? If you can answer this question, it is the first step in defining your style.

Read and look

When I begin a project with a design client, I ask her to read magazines and pull out photos that stand out to her. Whether she likes one thing in the photograph or the entire look as a whole doesn't matter. Finding inspiring photos is a great place to start when defining personal style. Once again, look for consistencies in what catches your eye.

Barr TannGo Shopping

Start your day of shopping with nothing specific in mind to buy. While you're still defining your style, it's premature to make purchases. Use this shopping time as an opportunity to "fish" for things that call out to you. You'll always know if something is right for you if you are still thinking about it a few days later. Magazines are good starting points but only show off a small percentage of what is available.

Have an open mind

Feel free to be eclectic and mix things up. Think out of the box and fuse styles. If you love a contemporary look, add a few antiques to make things interesting. If you are inclined toward English country, mix it with Asian or Indian pieces to create an unstudied look. I have often placed modern works of art and contemporary details in more traditional homes and vice versa. The mix is really what "defining your style" is all about! No one is going to mix and match things the same way that you will.

Don't judge yourself

You may consider yourself a person with modern tastes but find yourself drawn to traditional interiors -- or perhaps you are a more traditional person but find yourself attracted to new designs. There are no rules! Just know who you are and trust your gut reactions.

More on defining your style

How to define your style with lighting

The lighting in your space is perhaps the most important element to define your style. Neil Fleisher of Connecticut Lighting Centers and Mark Okun of Restoration Lighting Gallery explain how to choose the right style and layer the lighting in your home to create the ambiance you're looking for.

More home dé?cor ideas: