Decorate a Space that Screams YouOver my 30 years of designing everything from she-sheds to mansions, I’ve learned there is one critical, foundational design step that happens before everything else. This is a technique I now repeat with every client and I’m going to share it with you in today’s episode.

The design process doesn’t start with picking a paint color or a fabric swatch or even a Pinterest board. And, you don’t need to have experience with interior design to use this tool. The foundation for which your design grows lies in your design DNA.

In this episode, you will learn how to implement a simple technique that will help you create spaces that resonate with who you are. I’ll show you how to discover your own unique design DNA and explain how knowing this information will enhance your design success while making the whole experience more fun. If you’re ready for your space to feel like you, you don’t want to miss this.

To celebrate the launch of this show, I will be giving away 3 of my adorable monkey bowls. This cool accessory ends up in almost all my designs, from cottage to edgy. It seems to fit every personality type and promises to make you smile. All you have to do to is subscribe, rate, and review the show in Apple Podcasts and I’ll be picking the winners in an upcoming episode.

 Click here to learn more about the contest and how to enter.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Where the design process actually starts.
  • The 3 components of your design DNA.
  • Why I love unpacking the design process.
  • A simple technique that lays the foundation for your design.
  • My story of discovering this critical step in my design process.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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You are listening to episode one of the Decorate like a Design Boss podcast. Today I will be talking about discovering how to decorate a space that actually screams you.

Welcome to Decorate like a Design Boss, a podcast for design lovers who want to create beautiful spaces in their very own homes. My name is Kimberly Grigg and I’m a professional interior designer who teaches design lovers like yourselves how to decorate. And when I say decorate, I mean decorate like a design boss. If you’re ready to create a space that your family loves and your neighbors can’t stop raving about well, buckle up honey because it’s time to design.

Well, hello design lovers. Welcome to episode one of Decorate Like a Design Boss podcast. I’m Kimberly Grigg, your host, and a professional interior designer. In this episode, we’re going to cover where you start the design process and it might not be where you think. I’m going to teach you a simple technique that will help you create spaces that resonate and will look and feel just like you. This episode will lay the foundation for your design projects and I promise this tool is sure to enhance your decorating success plus it’s a technique that is easy to grasp and fun. You can use it too.

So here we go. So since this is my first podcast episode let me share with you what you might hope to gain on these weekly podcasts. The long and short of it I am obsessed with helping you create beautiful designs in your own home. I will bring you plenty of episodes about how to create rooms that function, that are polished and comfy at the same time. We’ll also talk about how to have plenty of style, work within budget parameters and tons and tons of tips and tricks that help you create spaces that you love.

Think of this podcast as an interior decorating playbook, a step-by-step approach to help you dive deep into the design process. Unpacking is a buzzword I’ve heard a lot on different podcasts. And it means breaking it down into smaller pieces so that you can better grasp a particular design concept. I’ve got to tell you I love unpacking the design process. One thing is for sure, decorating has a lot of moving parts.

And I’ve learned over 30 years of designing everything from she sheds to mansions that there has to be a system, a design strategy, a system that you can rely on, a system that works. So today I’m going to start at the beginning of the process and I’m going to share with you a tool that has become the foundation and the hallmark for enabling me to create interiors that meet a certain standard.

For me the space must be, one, gorgeous. Number two, it must function well. Three, it must have an element or two of comfort and livability. Number four, it must be unexpected. And number five and finally, it must resonate with the people who are living in that space.
Okay let’s get started. Starting the design process is not exactly where you think it might be. The beginning for me is not a fabric, not an object. It’s not even a paint color. In fact, for me it actually has nothing to do with design tools but everything to do with good solid design. This is when I say that people say, “Kimberly, can’t you just give me a design tool like a paint color, a focal point, a furniture layout, an accessory?” Well, while these elements are all important, they’re not the beginning.

Most people actually think you start with a paint color and for me this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not a good place to start. Using what I’m about to share with you works like a charm and I assure you it will produce results that are more accurate for you than any other tool that I can pull out of my design tool belt. I’ve taught many a person to use this tool and many fellow designers as well. This is not just look on Pinterest and find a room that you love and then try and copy it. It’s deeper. It’s also more solid.

Alright, I’m going to break it down so hang in there with me. The design process quite simply begins with knowing who you are. We are talking about your design DNA. Your design DNA is paramount with knowing who you are. It’s akin to your actual real DNA. We’re all unique and we’re all made up of different components, things like do you prefer straight lines or curves? Do you like neat and uncluttered? Do you prefer to be surrounded by objects and accessories or how much pattern can you embrace? Are you a person who needs only solids?

All of these components are what makes up your design personality. And this part cannot be skipped or overlooked. To be successful at decorating you must understand your design DNA. Design DNA is comprised of three parts. The first is your personality type and the one we’ll be diving into today. The second is your fundamentals. My mom used to refer to our fundamentals as our moral fiber. Well, your fundamentals in the design world are the preferences that you like to live in. I like to think of this as your design fiber.

And then finally your style is the third part of your design DNA. Each of these are important and crucial to your design success. When I first tell people this, they still look at me longingly for a design tool like that paint color or an accessory. And trust me, all of this will come it’s just not the foundation. The foundation starts with knowing who you are and what truly makes you tick, no escaping it. So hang in there with me as I explain even further. We’ll be going over other elements of the design DNA process along and along.

But for now, let’s talk about understanding your personality type. So there are many different personality type quizzes out there from Myers-Briggs, Enneagrams, Peacocks and other animals, on and on it goes. I however have found one that really works for me and it’s relatable to the design process, it’s called BOLT which is B.O.L.T. And it stands for bulls, owls, lambs and tigers. Quite simply put it was created by a man named Charles J. Clarke III who was a psychologist and his specialty was understanding why people buy homes the way in which they do.

Over the years in his career he’s worked, and taught, and trained many realtors to actually understand this process so that they can help their clients select homes that would resonate with them. Well, let me share with you how I discovered that this personality test became a critical part of my design process. This story actually changed the course of design history for me. And it’s quite funny but it was a huge light bulb moment in my design career.

So my husband is a real estate developer and early on in my career he hired me to decorate four model homes at one of his projects. Now, my hubby and I have worked together on many projects and we’ve done so very well. I love a good project. So when he asked me to do this, I enthusiastically went to work designing these model homes. I went all out with my sketches, my mood boards. I was really proud of what I had created and I couldn’t wait to present them to my husband. Well, when I did, he promptly said and in disgust, “If you weren’t my wife, I would fire you.”

Well, I was devastated to say the least. I’ve never been fired from anything. And it took me a while but once I finally regained my composure I mumbled feebly, “Why?” Well, he said, “People essentially can be broken down into four personality types. They tend to purchase within the parameters of their personality types and purchase homes that best suit them. What you’ve designed are some marvelous looking spaces but ones you like and only your personality type would gravitate to.”

He concluded with, “I dare say we won’t be selling houses to many personality types other than yours based on these model homes. I think you need to go back to the drawing board three more times.” Wow. This was so curious to me. I began to study it and study it intensely. It was so moving for me that I thought you know what? I’m going to try it out on real clients and oh my gosh, it was true.

People do fall into these types of categories and I began hearing over and over when my work was finished for someone, “How is it that you just get me? You seem to know exactly what I need, and what I want, and how I want to live. My home looks and feels just like me.” So one afternoon I had sent a subcontractor over to someone’s house to repair something. And when he came back by to pick up his check, he said to me, and this was one of the greatest compliments in my career.

He said, “You know, Kimberly, if I hadn’t known that you decorated that house, I never would have guessed it. I happen to know the clients and what I took away from that is it looked, their space looked just like them.” Well, I knew I was onto something and I began to believe that creating spaces that truly reflect the people living in them, it became important. It became a mantra. And I went on a real mission to not have a style, but instead to make sure that what I created for people needed to embrace them.

So I went on about studying this for years and I find that really over and over it’s my go to for making sure that I understand the fundamentals of what makes a person tick, what makes their homes resonate with them. And it became my specialty.
I’m encouraging you to use this as a starting point for your own designs. You really can do this. It’s easy to grasp and it works. It will not only help you understand and decorate in a way in which your home functions but also how it lives individually for you. I like to say, “Starting the design process here is the way to create spaces that are beautiful but also make your heart sing.”

So now let’s discover your personality type. The personality type method breaks the personality down into four quadrants. This is the easiest form of personality profiles that I’ve used and I find it to be spot on in identifying your dominant personality type. I also find it easy to use and easy to identify. These are the basic clues that will help you know who you are, what the journey should be like and where you’re going.

Now, trust me when I say we could spend weeks on this topic but I’m going to just go over the highlights and the things that you need to know so that you can be more knowledgeable overall and discover whether this is a method you might want to explore as you start the design process in your own home.

Alright, I’m going to preface all of this by saying that no personality type is better than another. There is no wrong or right type. The world needs each and every type of personality so don’t wish yours away, just understand it and embrace it. Also know that we all have a little of each of the personalities within us. You are just looking for the most dominant. The most dominant is actually the space in which you make your decisions and it’s a real clue into how you like to live.

Also know that we can display different personality types based on our different roles. Like when I’m mothering, I’m actually softer and more nurturing than in my regular everyday life. I learned to find my inner tougher side by running a business and flexing that muscle on a daily basis, really just developed that part of my personality. You can develop other parts of your own personality especially if you’re required for some reason to develop it. But for now, let’s just go with your most dominant personality side.

I’m introducing the four personality types as bulls, owls, lambs and tigers. The bull, think of the animal and you have about captured the essence of this personality. Bulls are decisive leaders. They prefer straight lines, bold colors, especially black and white. And usually, that’s popped up with a red, or a bright orange, or a cobalt blue.

Bulls like trophy rooms and they love to show off his or her accomplishments. They like clearly defined spaces, angular furniture. They tend to like transitional styles or contemporary styles. Their favorite phrase is, “I am right”, or, “I am right again.” Bulls are risk takers and they get to the point very quickly. They are on time and they make decisions in rapid-fire. They’re often coaches and leaders.

The second personality type is the owl. They are the deep thinkers, they prefer neutrals and grays, geometric shapes and patterns make them happy. They need order and a sense of balance. If you actually put pattern in an owl’s space the patterns must match up, the repeat must be spot on or else they are just out of balance. They need order and balance. They’re inquisitive, they need their questions answered. If things are out of place for an owl it is very confusing to them. Their favorite phrase is, “Aha.”

They are slow paced and are typically accountants and engineers. They need orderly spaces which include transitional styles. They often prefer framed family moments because it feels familiar, although they don’t like a lot of accessories; to them they’re just unnecessary. They need their own spaces that no one touches or bothers. They particularly need things like their own home office.

The third personality type is the lamb. The lambs are often referred to as kind artist. They are friendly, and gentle, and they like to have their friends help them decorate. They’re slow to decide and often change their minds. They need a friend or a loved one to tell them that it’s okay and it looks great. They love pastels and soft colors. They really like cozy and things that feel like home, cozy, comfortable, overstuffed furnishings are a must. They often gravitate to shabby chic, cottage décor, coastal décor and homes that quite simply feel like home.

They detest controversy but they love picture frames of families and friends, and things that are familiar. They love memorabilia and meaningful sentiments. Lambs are often nurses and teachers.

And the fourth and final personality type, are the tigers. The tigers are known to be the life of the party. You always want to include a tiger on your guest list. They’re whimsical, eclectic and showy. They love a great story. Their homes are often reflected in this way. They want all the bells and whistles. And their favorite color is whatever is trending today. Their favorite phrases are, “Hey look at me”, or, “Oh my God, do you love it?” They often take on a more is more style and are happy and vibrant. They often entertain in their homes. They love and need recognition.

Tigers are often hairdressers and artists; they are the creatives. Their homes tend to change a lot and they are typically very eclectic and spontaneous in their style.

So when you begin to understand why your personality matters in the design process, you’ll better understand what you need to surround yourself with. So that you can live more comfortably and in a way that supports your personality and supports why you’re drawn to the surroundings that matter to you. So, make sense? I sure hope so. At this point, many people want to dive deeper into the personality types. And I really encourage you to do so.

If you want to take your own personality quiz and explore more about your personality type then you can just simply do that by taking the BOLT personality quiz. We’ll link it here in the show notes so you can easily find it.

So what can we take away from today’s lesson? Remember, you can’t really get to where you’re going without a firm foundation. And a firm foundation begins with understanding who you are and what makes you tick. Knowing your personality type helps you know how you really make decisions and what types of environments resonate with you and why. In a nutshell, think about your own bank account.
Are you the person who has your balance show up for your accountant or your bookkeeper on a daily basis and you’re alerted about funding limits going below a certain amount? If this is so you are probably a bull.

Are you the person who double-checks the bank’s math just in case? Do you fret if you think something in your account is a bit off? If this sounds like you and you find yourself looking up records and confirming amounts then you are most likely an owl.

Are you the person who glances at your bank account and if there is a discrepancy you wait and wait before confronting the situation just to see if it earns itself out? You could contact the bank but you are sure it will just work out. If this sounds like you then you are most likely a lamb.

Are you the person who never checks the bank balance and can’t find the password to the account? Well, if this is you and it is most certainly me, hint, hint, then you are most likely a tiger.

Alright, there you have it. This episode is in the hopper. I’m glad that you’re here and I hope you will continue to join me on this podcasting journey. I’m really joyful about providing you with a step-by-step playbook to help you know more about decorating your own spaces, especially ones that feel like you.

So to celebrate the launch of this show I will be giving away three of my adorable and favorite monkey bowls. This cool accessory ends up in almost all of my designs from cottage to edgy, even the contemporary ones. It somehow seems to fit every personality type and it is adorable. It promises to make you smile. Most of my clients end up giving theirs a special name.

The monkey bowl is perfect for fruit, candy, holding memorabilia or even hosting an arrangement of flowers. I’ve reserved monkey bowls for three lucky listeners who subscribe, rate and review this show.

Visit to learn more about the contest and how to enter. I will be announcing the winners in an upcoming episode and I’ll be back next week. And as I always like to say, don’t wait. Today is a great day to decorate.

Thanks for listening to Decorate like a Design Boss, if you want more info on how to decorate your space like a pro visit

See you next week.

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