If you’ve ever renovated or redecorated a room before, you’ve probably been asked by any professionals involved with helping you—from your painter to your interior designer—about your design style.

For some, this preference rolls right off the tongue. But if you have difficulty pinpointing exactly what you like, let alone describing it as a particular style, keep reading. “Something that looks like this,” while referring to a photo in your favorite furniture store’s mailer might be your common response. Sound like you? Here are a few tips for discovering your design style—and details on what some of the most common design styles mean.

Identify your favorite and least favorite colors/color palettes. One of the easiest decisions for most people is picking colors they like. Think about both your walls and your furniture and décor. Consider the wide array of colors that make you feel relaxed, happy, and inspired (depending on the space in your home) and make a list of your top three or four.

As a quick reference guide, if you’re drawn to one of the color palettes below, it might lead you toward the corresponding style.

  • Neutral, airy colors: Minimalist, modern, transitional, or contemporary
  • Bold, dramatic colors: Victorian or Southwestern
  • All white: Beachy, farmhouse, or Scandinavian
  • Earth tones: Mediterranean or craftsman
  • Gray, neutral, rustic: Industrial
  • Pale pastels: Shabby-chic

Do you prefer ornate or simple shapes and textures? Generally, do you fall in love with furniture and patterns that are more intricate and elaborate—like scrolled armrests and velvet fabrics? Or do you prefer simple, clean lines on furniture and décor? Your preference will lead you toward your design style.

If you’re drawn toward one of these shapes/textures, it fits with the following styles:

  • Sleek (metal, chrome, glass): Modern
  • Silk, velvet, cashmere: Traditional
  • Metals, cement: Contemporary, transitional, or industrial
  • Wood, glass, steel, metal: Transitional
  • Distressed, vintage: Shabby-chic or farmhouse
  • Wicker, rattan: Beach or farmhouse
  • Arches, swirls, columns: Mediterranean

Decide how you feel about accessories. Certain design styles embrace the use of accessories while others lean toward a “less is more” approach. Think about whether you prefer a clean look to one with lots for the eye to take in. Or maybe you love warming up a room with lots of heirlooms and décor.

Here’s a little guidance. If you have any of the following preferences, you may be drawn to the corresponding styles.

  • Few accessories: Contemporary, transitional or Scandinavian
  • Bold, practical accessories: Industrial
  • Embraces white space: Modern
  • Nautical accessories: Beach
  • Vintage, reclaimed accessories: Shabby-chic or farmhouse
  • Lots of accessories: Mediterranean, craftsman, rustic, Victorian, or Southwestern

Now for a brief rundown of the different styles mentioned (and note that this is certainly not an exhaustive list):

  • Contemporary – The design style of today; borrows from other styles and is constantly changing
  • Modern – Defined in the 1920s-1950s; clean, crisp lines; simple and sleek; no clutter, lots of white space; uses natural materials like wood and linen
  • Transitional – Borrows from traditional and modern design; embraces textural elements; neutral, sleek, and inviting
  • Scandinavian – Simplistic; artistic; All-white and natural; pops of color in art work and minimal accessories
  • Industrial – Unfinished, raw look; uses metals and old woods; neutral color scheme; minimalist
  • Shabby chic – Vintage-inspired with a feminine twist; antique, distressed furnishings; white, creams, and pastels
  • Beach – Light colors mixed with bright hues; nautical, beach-inspired furnishings and accessories; organic materials
  • Mediterranean – Ornamental decor; columns, arches, and large features; bold earth tones
  • Victorian – Ornate and decorative finishes; elaborate furnishings and accessories; rich, bold colors; complex, extravagant patterns on textiles and upholstery
  • Southwestern – Bold, vibrant colors (furniture and accessories); lots of textures including iron and clay; bright patterns on textiles and upholstery
  • Farmhouse – Vintage with a rustic flair; natural materials; lots of white; lots of shiplap and tongue-and-groove paneling

Need help? If you’re moving to a Trilogy community soon, the team at the Shea Design Studio can assist! Speak with them about general design, your preferences, and what style—or combination of styles—fits you and your home best.

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