Welcome to Interior Design & You, a virtual design seminar led by Alessandra Wood, Modsy’s VP of Style. In this series, you’ll learn some of the basics of interior design, as well as how to personalize your own home. Watch session two, How to Identify Your Personal Style, below—or scroll through the post for a recap!
Interior design is deeply personal. That’s because it involves the spaces in which we live. And we all want our homes (where we’re now spending more time than ever before) to be a reflection of ourselves. At Modsy, we love helping people discover their personal interior design style. But so many people don’t even know where to start when it comes to identifying or talking about their own interior design style.
So, if you’re wondering “How do I know what design style I like??” we’re here to help. In fact, that’s what today’s seminar is all about. Of course, we’d be remiss to not mention our style quiz, which is an easy way to help you hone in on your preferred interior design style, especially when giving our online interior design services a spin. But, beyond that, we have some other tips to share today on how to think about your personal style!
When we talk about style, we might use terms that are very stylistically (and industry) driven—terms like Mid-Century Modern, Minimalism, Boho, or Rustic. But all of these styles are really just a mix of some basic elements. We created a scale (which you can see above) that helps illustrate the five basic spectrums on which all interior design styles live. These spectrums are empty to full, old to new, formal to casual, organic to fabricated, and safe to adventurous. We’ll define each of these spectrums below!
But before that, a couple grounding thoughts to get us started…
We’re All Eclectic By Nature
In terms of interior design styles, most of us don’t fall squarely into one style category. Rather, we all tend to have a slightly eclectic mix of interests. We all have so many different inputs and sources of inspiration in our lives when it comes to style—from our parents or grandparents’ styles, pop culture, places you’ve travelled, along with all the beautiful images you see on Instagram and Pinterest. All of those things influence what you are attracted to and what you love. So, we want to show you how to merge it all into one space.
Style Is Super Personal
As we mentioned earlier, style is super personal. What you love is what you love—and that’s the most important thing. An interior designer can help you unearth what you’re naturally drawn to, but at Modsy we believe what’s most important is that you have a space that you love and that reflects who you are. That’s what drives what we do every day! Through today’s seminar, we hope you not only start to pinpoint your personal style, but learn to be daring and accepting of it!
Now, let’s dive into these basic elements and spectrums of interior design, explore how they come to life in a space, and help you figure out your own personal style.
Empty vs. Full
Empty or full? No, we’re not talking about hunger here. In interior design, empty or full spaces refer to how much stuff is in a room, whether physical objects or visual stimuli.
Empty: When referring to an emptier space, you might hear design terms like minimal, contemporary, and modern.
Full: If you lean more toward a style that feels full, with more objects, colors, and patterns, words that describe these spaces might be eclectic, bohemian, maximalism.
Somewhere in the Middle: But, like we said, these two elements are a spectrum. So, most styles will live somewhere on the spectrum rather than being completely empty or entirely full. Some of these style combinations that blend empty and full are contemporary eclectic, like the room shown above, and minimalist maximalist.
Old vs. New
On the spectrum of old versus new, you might be someone who wants everything to be vintage or antique. (We’re talking to all the Emily Gilmore’s out there!) On the other end of the spectrum are those who only want to fill their homes with new objects—to go to a store and buy everything off the shelf. But there’s a lot of in between here; you don’t have to choose just one extreme. In fact, a mix of old and new gives a lot of depth and a sense of story to your space.
Old: As we think of different style terminology that might align with the old side, you might think classic, formal, or American traditional.
New: On the new end, you might lean toward contemporary, modern, or mid-century modern.
Somewhere in the Middle: Some great examples of styles that meet in the middle are Victorian Farmhouse or even an “old meets new” style that combines one statement antique piece paired with furniture that has modern and minimal lines for added drama and higher contrast. (Want to learn a little more about decorating with antiques? Check out episode 2 of our podcast!)
Formal vs. Casual
It’s probably pretty easy to visualize formal and casual spaces. Formal spaces are those where everything is pulled together and not a pillow is out of place. There’s probably a lot of symmetry going on, with pieces designed for more formal entertaining. Meanwhile, a casual space is where you can kick back and lounge. Rooms with casual style tend to feel more welcoming and inviting and less precious and stiff.
Formal: Design styles that lean more formal are those like classic, Hollywood glam, and traditional.
Casual: Styles that lean more casual are eclectic, bohemian, rustic, and mid-century modern—styles that are all about livability.
Somewhere in the Middle: But, of course, there are always styles that are happy mediums. This includes styles like Traditional Comfort and Bohemian Glam.
Organic vs. Fabricated
You might be wondering how the terms organic and fabricated fit into the world of interior design. But in this realm, organic refers to the materials, shapes, and forms of furniture and decor. These are pieces that take inspiration from the natural world—whether in their materials or shapes, which are often evocative of nature. Fabricated pieces, on the other hand, are clearly designed. Their shape, form, or style have a clear guiding hand; you look at them and know that a craftsman or artisan created them.
Organic: Styles that fit into the organic realm are eclectic, rustic, farmhouse, and coastal.
Fabricated: Styles that align with fabricated pieces are industrial, modern, and minimal.
Somewhere in the Middle: Combined, you’ll find styles like Mid-Century Minimal and Bohemian Glam.
Safe vs. Adventurous
On the spectrum of safe to adventurous, you might not want to define yourself as safe—but In interior design, safe definitely doesn’t mean boring! It simply means it’s a design style that feels less bold and trend-forward, with pieces that lean more traditional and have a more neutral color palette. Adventurous designs, on the other hand, are more wild. They layer more colors, bold materials, and sculptural elements. People who lean toward adventurous designs indulge in trends and tend to change out pieces every few years to keep up with those trends.
Safe: On the safe side are design styles like contemporary, transitional, modern, and rustic (proof that safe can absolutely be stylish and beautiful).
Adventurous: If you want to go big and bold with color, pattern, and form, you probably lean toward eclectic, bohemian, and Hollywood glam.
Somewhere in the Middle: Styles like California Modern and Comfortably Chic do a beautiful job of mixing safe and adventurous design elements.
Putting it into Action
These are our five scales that we’re thinking about as we help you understand and think about your own style—and elements we take into consideration in your room designs. We hope they give you a good framework to think about your own personal style. And remember—you don’t have to stick with just one style. You may do different styles in different spaces within your home, or gravitate toward different styles at different times in your life. We contain multitudes—so there’s no need to limit yourself.
Now, you’ll be set to explore some interior design ideas to visualize these design elements in action. And if you’re curious to learn a little more about interior design styles, be sure to check out episode one of The Render, Modsy’s very own podcast, where we unpack how to discover your interior design style and what your style says about you
Want to work with an expert to bring your style to life?