Decorate Like A Design Boss with Kimberly Grigg | Discover Your Design DNADo you like soft edges or hard lines in your home? What about carpet in the bedroom? Do you prefer your windows to have ledges, or are you more inspired by sleek and modern designs? If you’ve never considered these elements before, you’ll get a chance to today.

Before you can create a space that feels like you, you have to understand your Design DNA. And one step in understanding it is learning about your unique fingerprint. This crucial step is overlooked by most designers, but I’ve found it to be key to wowing my clients and nailing the design every time.

In this episode, you’ll find out why your Design DNA is like the window to your soul. When you understand it, you can answer all the questions listed above with ease and joy. Today, I’m walking you through an exercise to discover your unique design fingerprint so you can lay the foundation for space that truly makes you feel at home.

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:

  • Why knowing your Design DNA is crucial.
  • How I discovered the Design DNA.
  • The 3 things Design DNA is comprised of.
  • An exercise for finding your design fingerprint.
  • How to do this test with your significant other.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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You are listening to episode two of Decorate like a Design Boss podcast. I am your host, Kimberly Grigg and today we are talking about discovering your own design DNA.

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 there design lovers. Welcome to episode two. And in today’s episode we’re going to explore a concept that I have had great success with in the design world and it’s called your design DNA. We’re also going to talk about the importance of knowing your design DNA and of course we’re going to figure out how you can understand yours. So I’m an interior designer who believes in sequencing.

I grew up sewing and I quickly learned that you can’t fit together certain aspects of a garment until you complete other aspects like when you put in the zipper, as a seamstress you must know that the sleeve can’t go in first. Other parts of the garment have to be stitched together to a certain point before you can get the sleeve eased in. In sewing, sequencing is everything. Well, believe it or not interior design is also all about sequencing. I like to think of it as logical sequencing, you can’t put the cart before the horse or is it the chicken before the egg or vice versa?

In the design process this is also important. In other words, you can’t pick the paint color or accessorize until you’ve laid the proper foundation. And you can’t lay a foundation until you know more about what you’re trying to accomplish. I believe it all begins with knowing who you are in the design world. It’s about discovering your own unique and utterly important design DNA.

So I know for many of you this is really kind of a new concept. And I know that you’re coming here to discover more about paint colors, and accessories, and styling, and your typical design tools. But I have to tell you, design DNA is crucial. It’s not a term that I’ve ever heard before and it’s not often really mentioned in the design spectrum. Most designers don’t know what this is and most don’t start here although I’m not really sure why because I think it’s the most important step in the process.

So bear with me because if I didn’t think that this was critical to your design success, well, we wouldn’t be talking about it but we are. And we’re going to talk about it in a way that is simplified so that you can understand it and you can apply it to your own décor. So I discovered design DNA along the way actually quite by accident. I had long since been thinking about the personality types that I refer to in episode one. And this was for sure part of the way there. It helped my designs so very much.

And on referring back to the personality types, it really did help my designs. But for sure it helped me understand how to appeal to people, how to sell my jobs to clients and how to understand the core of my clients’ personalities. But it seemed like there was more. It seemed like I could even go further. Plus, when I would finish people’s homes with my finishing touches, they would unfortunately but inevitably send some of the items that I had placed in their homes back into my retail shop. Well, if any of you run a business you know that this is not a win.

So I began to wonder why, why am I not hitting the mark here? And after some contemplation I started noticing that some people like pattern, some people like a mix of things. Some people like heavy ornate window treatments, some people like simple. I began to discover that if I combined the personality type with another component, a deeper dive, then my goal of creating homes that resonate would in fact become a reality. So I decided to ask more and more questions.

I am sure that in the beginning my clients felt like I was a detective and I was interrogating. And I guess in a way I was. It was important to me to discover the essence of my clients so that I could really create spaces that would make their heart sing. Eventually I committed all of this to paper so that I didn’t forget a single important aspect. And over time I added all of this to the formula to create a system that would allow me to hit the bull’s eye every single time I decorated. So to better understand this, again you can download the worksheet, you can see that in the show notes for details.

So on with the topic and on with discovering your own design DNA. So design DNA is comprised of three parts. Number one, your personality type, we talked in depth about your personality type in the previous episode, which was episode one. If you haven’t listened to this episode you’ll want to as it is full of good information that will also be important in helping you understand how to create a home that well, that screams you.

Number two of the three parts of design DNA is your fingerprint. Think of this as the qualities that you possess that make you, you. Yours is different than anyone else’s, just like no two people have the same DNA or the same fingerprint, no two people possess the exact design DNA. Your fingerprint is what we’re really discovering today. It is the number two component of design DNA.

And the final component of design DNA is your style. We’ll be getting into style but for now let’s discover your fingerprint. Your design DNA, your personality and your style are all uniquely different but when combined they form a strong foundation and help you create spaces that look and feel just like you. When properly understood and implemented I like to think of this as design success. Not only will your home look like you but it’ll function the way that you want it to function. I also happen to know that this is a sure-fire method for achieving designs that resonate with you.

So here we go, don’t forget there’s a downloadable worksheet that outlines this information. You can access it via the show notes and this will help you further understand your own design fingerprint and will serve as a reference as you start your own design projects. So here are the highlights.

Number one, I want you to go to Pinterest, or House, or a decorating magazine, or decorating book, whatever source that you find design inspiration. And there I want you to identify 20 photos that you’re in love with. Now print them or photocopy them, or whatever you can do to gather 20 photos that resonate with you. They can all be different; at this point you might not see one single common thread. But I want you to find 20 photos that you’re in love with, that you feel like you could live there, that you feel like you want to see more of.

Then I want you to lay them all out on a big surface, a surface like your dining room table, it could be your floor, some space where you can really view them. Now I want you to become a detective. You are looking for commonalities, common threads that are woven through the photos that you’ve chosen. Now, we’re going to break it down a little bit further, while you’re looking at these photos, I want you to think about an artist. To be a good artist you must really look.

I am in fact an artist. And as an artist if I have learned nothing else on the journey of my art, I have truly learned to slow down a minute and really take time to look, study. I want you to think and act like an artist and start really noticing what you see in this conglomerate of photos. They might at first all look super different or super alike. You might see some common threads or in the beginning not many at all. You’re looking for clues, for example, let’s take color.

Notice in your photos what colors you’re drawn to, neutrals, soft colors, bold strong colors. Do you see repeats of any colors in particular? Do you see that maybe yellow is in all of your photos? Maybe it’s millennial pink. Maybe it’s a neutral. Where do you see color in the spaces that you’re drawn to? Do you like color on your furniture, your draperies, artwork or everywhere? How much color do you like? Do you see a pattern of color on the walls, no color on the walls?

Do you have photos that have both? If this is the case you really aren’t schizophrenic, you just can go in either direction. Remember when you’re doing this there are no right or wrong answers. This is just simply all about your preferences.

Now, if you are decorating with a significant other, I want you two to take this design fingerprint test separately. I don’t want you to compare answers at this point. I want you to each do this in your own way because there are no two design DNAs or fingerprints that are exactly alike. And it’s important when you’re decorating with a significant other that you consider each other’s thoughts and preferences just like you consider your own.

So let’s keep going. So as you’re looking at these photos how much pattern do you like in a space? Where do you like your patterns placed? What types of patterns do you prefer, graphics, large scale patterns, geometrics, stripes, prints, florals, chinoiserie, animal print? Do you like pattern mixes or does this concept seem to make your head hurt? Think about space. When you look at these rooms do you prefer rooms that are open and airy and have very little in them or rooms that feel cozy and lived in and have a lot of stuff?

What kinds of textures are you drawn to? Do you like nubby and natural, or smooth and shiny? Do you like sleek textures like glass, plexi and metals? Where do you like your textures placed, on the walls, the ceilings, pillars, throws, draperies? Style, style is also a part of your design DNA.

Remember, design DNA is comprised of your personality type, your fingerprint which is what we’re doing today and your style. Most people think when I say design DNA that I’m referring to your style. But I’m not. What I’m referring to when I mention design DNA is comprised of three components and style is just one of them.

We’ll be getting into style a whole lot more in the next few weeks. But for now, I want you to look at your photos and see if you can detect from your images whether you see any repeat occurrences in a particular style. Are the rooms that you selected tranquil and calm, or energetic, or vibrant? Did you select rooms that are warm or rooms that are cool? Are you drawn to clean and simple lines in your style or more ornate and elaborate?

Sometimes there will be a little overlap but overall, you will start to see that you lean more one way than another. For example, do the photos you select have a lot of items in them or are they clean lined and streamlined? You’ll begin to see some things emerge. And when we get into style it’ll be crystal clear that your style is also unique to you.

Now, let’s talk about flooring for a minute. Study your images and begin to notice if anything came up about flooring? Are you drawn to floors that are dark, mid tone, light, floors that are wood, tiles, stone, carpet? Do you like rugs, what types? Think about when you get out of bed in the morning do you want to put your feet on something soft and squishy? Does that mean you like carpet in a bedroom or do you like a bedroom that is a harder surface covered with rugs? Again, no right or wrong answers, just preferences.

Did you notice the windows in your photos? Did your images reveal whether or not you like window treatments, simple ones, fussy and ornate ones, tailored, flowy? Did the materials in the window treatments have any type of texture or pattern? What about materials, are you a material girl? Were you drawn to particular metals? Did you notice that you selected photos with a lot of gold, brushed silver, satin, nickel, shine, no shine, copper and grounded materials, natural materials?

Do you need organics in your life or are there materials on the walls such as brick or some other texture like wall panels or wallpaper, or even fabric? Did you choose photos that have chandeliers, fans, fandeliers? What materials were these items made from? What kinds of shapes do you prefer, curves and swirls, straight simple lines, circles, other geometric patterns?

This topic actually surprises me with my clients. It’s a definitive element with people. I have clients who despise circles, but oddly they love curves. I have clients who like clean and simple lines but don’t like rectangles. This can get super tricky but I tend to find that when I break it down, and I mean break it down with this series of questions, then they’re just preferences. And I don’t really need to over-think it. I just need to note it.

So what can we take away from today’s lesson? Your design DNA is like the windows to your soul. These are the clues that determine how you truly like to live. I typically give clients my design DNA worksheet, which is this fingerprint worksheet in the beginning or I fill it out for them through a series of questions that I’m asking in the beginning. For me it’s systematic and it’s the start of the sequence. Knowing this information is really necessary and important to the success of the design.

I have clients who rave and rave that their homes look so much like them. How did I achieve this? Well, it’s simple, I spent the time getting to know and understand their personality, their fingerprint and ultimately their style. So I invite you to take it a step further, learn about your own design DNA. Go into the show notes and print the downloadable worksheet for your fingerprint, pour you a good glass or a cup of something and enjoy answering the questions and discovering more about your own personal design DNA. Well, here we are at the conclusion of episode two.

And to celebrate the launch of this podcast I am giving away my favorite design accessory, my infamous monkey bowl. He is the perfect accessory for any home and any design DNA fingerprint. Three lucky listeners who subscribe, rate and review this show will receive one. You can learn more about the details of the contest at

I’ll be back next week and remember my friends and design lovers, I like to say don’t wait; it’s a great day to decorate. Bye for now.

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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