You are listening to episode three of Decorate like a Design Boss podcast. And today we are cracking the code for discovering your signature style. What I want to say right up front is that if you think this is another one of those typical style discovery quiz-type approaches, well, you might be quite surprised. This is a unique and in the design world a fairly unorthodox, method to determining your real style, the one that is totally individual and unique to you.
Today we are talking about becoming the queen of your own signature style. And I don’t know about you but I know I love being the queen of anything.
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 all of you gorgeous design lovers. You love interiors and this means you are my people. I am absolutely obsessed with teaching you how to decorate your own spaces. I’m also really excited that you’re here today as we talk about style, and specifically how to discover yours. As I’ve said previously your style is the third component to discovering your very own design DNA. And if you want to know more about what design DNA is and how to discover yours, well, be sure that you listen to episodes one and two.
So I want you to understand right up front that this not your typical lesson on discovering your mainstream style such as boho chic, or industrial, or Hollywood glam, grandmillennial or any of the other more traditionally labeled styles. Instead, just like there are no two design DNAs that are exactly alike, I’m going to show you a way to define your style that is a bit unique and definitely more about you and your preferences versus how style is traditionally imposed and labeled.
No more fitting into a mainstream box, let’s just get deeper than this. And I know for sure that you and your home deserve it. This won’t be that common check a box and find out what you are most like, but rather it’s a method. It’s a system, a system that will crack the code and help you discover your very own style one that is yours, it’s personal and it’s really a fun process.
So first let’s define style. Style is that distinctive aspect or form that sets you apart. Style can also be very, very elusive. It’s hard to even put your finger on its definition. It can also be even fleeting. But if you’ve ever experienced anyone who has a very definitive style, well, then you truly know it just by the way that they enter a room.
So when I was growing up, I had some very influential and stylish women in my life. The first, my grandmother was an extraordinarily creative and bold woman. Let’s just say she was Vice President of a bank in the 60s when women hardly even worked. When she walked into a room, well, you just absolutely knew it. She was dressed a certain way, hint, hint to the nuns. She brought her potluck dishes to the company picnic in her own way, very stylish. She smelled a certain way. And if you ever received a handwritten note from her, well, it was a work of art, her way.
Her style was bold, creative but most importantly it was hers and only hers. You just knew who she was and there was no denying her style.
The second woman who influenced me was a much calmer version of a strong woman. Her signature style was quiet but it was definite and evident. She didn’t need to scream who she was but she exuded a certain confidence and really a solidarity that said I am a logical clear-thinking woman who knows what I want. I express it through my choices and I show it in everything I do.
Another woman who really influenced me and my fascination with style was my best friend’s mom. She was the most elegant woman I have ever known. She reeked of style. And when she walked into a room, well, all you could say is, “Enough said.”
So what did these women all have in common? They were very different in their styles and in their approaches to style. But the common thread was that they embraced what they loved. They would settle for nothing less and they used their style as their own distinctive signature in most everything they did. You would see it in their homes, their choices of clothing, their fragrances, their food presentations, their gift wrap, even the stationery that they used. And I’ll venture to say that their pets even reminded me of them and their styles.
So I took these queens really with me through my own artistic and creatively expressive journey, kind of as I discovered my own style. Over time and after hearing many clients complain that they just simply don’t know what their style is, I thought, hmm, and I finally developed a little two-part system that will help you better define what your style is all about.
The first part of the system is a group of exercises that you record in your own style file and then there’s a style guide questionnaire that I will ask you to complete. You can access the style guide questionnaire in the show notes or of course at kimberlygriggdesigns.com/podcast. Both parts are really easy and it’s a great way to get in touch with how you express in ways that you might not even have noticed.
So to fully understand your style you do kind of have to make a little commitment to do a little soul searching. And you will need to get real with your likes and your dislikes. But once you have determined your style, well, you have to be brave enough to own it and embrace it. But when you do it’s like making an investment, the dividends are definitely worthwhile.
So when my children were growing up and would say things to me like, “Mom, I want what the other kids have”, or, “Mom, I can’t do that, I won’t fit in.” I would respond with, “Who cares, dare to be different.” As the old Oscar Wilde statement goes, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” So what about you? Have you ever thought about your own personal signature style?
What would people say about you if you couldn’t speak up for yourself, what words would they use to describe you? Would they describe you in the same way over and over? Do you make a statement even if it’s a quiet one with everything you do?
So to get started let’s do a couple of simple things first. The first thing I’d like for you to do is get yourself a lovely little journal or notebook and name it your style file.
Next comes the scan and assess phase. What things do you currently own and love? I mean things that you truly value. These can be home décor pieces, treasures that might have been passed down to you, artwork, a set of China, a beautiful piece of clothing. Things that if you knew there would be a storm or some catastrophic event that then these would be the items that you’d love so much that you’d want to take them with you.
Name at least five or more things that you own that really matter to you, mainly because you find them to be beautiful. What do these things say to you? Why do you love them so much? What meanings do they hold? Write these answers in your style file.
Clip photos or pictures from Pinterest or other sources of inspiration that you love. It can be rooms, outfits, artwork, or even objects that you admire and/or love. It can be iconic people, just things, people, objects, etc., things that speak to you. Then I want you to simply glue them into your style file. You will want to include things that you find beauty in, things that speak to you or move you, things that resonate, styles that you love, words that describe how you want to feel in your own spaces, phrases that describe how you want your style to be defined.
Then I want you to create a descriptive words page, or better yet, a descriptive words section in your style file. And any time you hear or read a word that describes you in some way I would love it if you’d list it here. Place an asterisk beside any descriptive word that you have listed more than once.
Now, I want you to look ito your closet and tell me what are your favorite pieces of clothing, what outfits make you feel like you are living your best life? List these in your style file. Describe what your favorite pieces of clothing and clothing choices are in your closet and what they say about you. Try and be as descriptive as possible. Don’t be concerned with whether the words are spot on or whether they are the traditional descriptions of style. At this point we’re just doing an assessment. We’re observing.
Don’t put pressure on yourself, have fun with this. Are there colors that you’re drawn to? Are there repetitive types of garments? Do you love blue jeans and a T? Are you a person who loves glamour silhouettes with high heels? Do you like to feel casual or pulled together or combinations of lots of styles? Do you like current edgy pieces that are on trend or do you prefer tailored classics? Remember there are no wrong or right answers. These are just descriptions of what you are specifically drawn to.
Now is a good time for you to revisit your 20 photos that I had you print from episode two. These were used to help you discover your design fingerprint. Do you notice any repetitive elements of the styles? Do you see a common thread with the rooms that you chose, rooms that are bold, rooms that are quiet? Are there colors that you were drawn to in these photos? Are there any crossovers between your closet and these photos? If so, list all of this information, these are clues to you, clues to the styles that you really love.
Make sure to note any descriptive terms in your descriptive section in your style file. As an example, when I did these exercises, this is what I discovered about my own signature style, maybe this will be helpful in helping you know how to really do this exercise. So my treasures and things I love most include my spectacular window treatments which are cobalt and lilac and are made of velvet and silk. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I really do love these things.
I also love my entry foyer chest and the beautiful mirror that hangs above it. There’s an antique French hut in my kitchen that I really would never want to live without. My blue and white porcelain collection I started at the age of 10 and it’s significant to me, it’s also sentimental. I love original artwork that ranges from abstract and quirky to cleverly framed meaningful boxes from stores like Tiffany’s, when my husband bought me a special gift once from there.
My closet, well, there’s stylish edgy clothing in there, but I do also love a classic elegance. I also love to buy an occasional signature couture type piece that is totally unique. And this usually takes form in the form of an accessory. My clothing is very colorful and it is full of personality, but this is one of the ways I like to express myself. I’m especially drawn to blues and unique color schemes.
These adjectives began to emerge as I had recorded different adjectives in my style guide. So I came across the words edgy, couture, blast of color, elegant, curvy, unexpected, blue, whimsy, personality, accessories, quirky and sentimental. Now, don’t worry if at first you have difficulty coming up with your adjectives and descriptions. This is meant to be fun, low key, enjoy it. Let the process flow and allow the words to come out easily. If you struggle, well, stop and come back and start again when you’re really calm and relaxed.
So by now you have a style file, a descriptive word section in your style file. And now it’s time to introduce the style guide. The style guide is part two of the cracking the code to your signature style system. It’s a downloadable tool that you will find in the show notes. And I find it helpful, especially with my clients. And I think you’ll find it helpful too to help you further define your style and help you ultimately craft your style statement.
In this guide you explore questions like, who’s your favorite character in Sex and the City? You’ll find out what would happen if you mixed your favorite female icon with your favorite male icon. Would a style child emerge? And if so, what is this style? So when you complete the style guide questionnaire you will start to see your style emerge. And when you combine it with your descriptive words, well, you’re going to be able to craft that style statement easily.
Use the prompts in the style guide based on your answers and the descriptive words you used in part one and you’ll create a statement that reflects the elements of style that are most important to you. Remember, this is not a statement written in blood, keep it light but thoughtful. Enjoy the process and if at first it doesn’t seem easy, just give it a little time to marinate, it’s worth the effort, I really promise this.
Here’s an example of some of the answers from my style guide that ultimately helped me to craft my own style statement. I’ve changed my style statement many times and I’ve updated it often as new interests emerge and develop. So when I answered some of the key questions in the style guide, I discovered that I relate more to Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. And when asked to select my favorite design icons, well, it was a true toss up on the females between Jackie O and Dorothy Draper.
Again, no rules, you can have several if you have difficulty deciphering or narrowing the choices. I love Jackie because well, she’s a classic. But I love Dorothy who was the design genius behind the Greenbrier who had a forward way of mixing patterns and shapes that was dramatic, quirky, edgy and definitely memorable. As for male icons, well, I admired a lot, but I think I really love the style of Cary Grant who exuded a sense of glamorous easy flowing elegance.
So now I can add to my list of adjectives these words: glamorous, elegant, classic, unusual color and pattern combinations. You’ll also discover how your favorite animal plays a part in your style, as I love the sleek strong sculptural and dramatic jaguar. Even deciding your favorite places to shop will help you know about your style preferences. With this guide you will learn about what would happen if your favorite style icons got together and had a style child. What adjectives would be used to describe the baby who would be born to this union?
The goal from both phases of cracking the code to your signature style system is for you to be able to craft a style statement of your own that uniquely describes your preferences. This is a different and unique approach but one that I have had much success with. Your statement won’t be the typical descriptions of style like Hollywood glam, or classic traditional, cottage, town and country, boho chic or even coastal.
But rather a style statement that better defines specifically who you are and what your preferences really are. In fact, your style statement won’t look like anyone else’s. After completing both parts of the system here is an example of my style statement. Remember there is no perfect style statement and there are no set ways or rules to do this. Your statement can be short or it can be a paragraph, or it can be a page or 20 pages long. It can be descriptive or it can just have a few adjectives. In other words, again, there are no rights or wrongs.
This is about you and about discovering what makes you happy in your own style. And heck, it’s meant to be fun and informative.
So here goes, here’s my style statement. If Cary Grant, Dorothy Draper and Jackie O got together and had a style child it would prefer a colorful mix of patterns and shapes that incorporates color in distinctive ways but is also grounded in elegant classic style with a touch of modernity and whimsy. This style child needs an easy living feeling that is still dressed up, but flows like a good jazz band. This style child enjoys a lux designer brand feeling but one that never takes itself too seriously.
So how about you, are you ready to take the style plunge and truly discover what resonates with you? It’s worth the time and the effort. And I think you’ll be amazed at the details. And you will most likely be surprised at some of your answers.
Well, alright, that’s it for this episode. As you know this podcast is just in its third episode. But your feedback is very important to me as I plan and prepare content for future episodes. To celebrate the launch of this podcast I’ll be giving away my favorite monkey bowl accessory. You can get a sneak peek of it on the website. I’ll be giving it to three lucky listeners who subscribe, rate and review this show on Apple Podcast. Go to kimberlygriggdesigns.com/podcastlaunch to learn all about the details of the contest.
I can’t wait to bring you more interior goodness on next week’s episode. But until then I like to say don’t wait; today is 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 kimberlygriggdesigns.com. See you next week.