March, 2007 Contest: Has your design style evolved over the years and if so how?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Danielle Villegas of Plainsboro, NJ

I believe my design tastes have changed simply because I’ve matured and changed. The older I have gotten, the more apt I have been NOT to do what everyone else has, simply because “that’s the way it’s done.” Rather, my design style is what *I* like. Sure, some of what I like is mainstream, but some isn’t.

I think the other part of what has changed is that I have a better understanding of what designs best fit a house. For example, an older Victorian house would not look quite as good with 60s post-modern furniture as it would with 19th century and turn of the century pieces. I’ve also evolved, personally, from liking very traditional design to preferring more modern or transitional design. When I got out of college, I lived in an area of the U.S. where very traditional country and colonial styles were prevalent, so there was a type of “peer pressure” to do the same in my home. I also had just completed a degree in British History, and so I liked the idea of incorporating old maps, old reproduction items into a room. As time went on, I found that many older pieces and styles were too ornate for my personal tastes. This is not to say that I still didn’t appreciate an older piece, but I was a little more particular about what I liked and didn’t like.

I actually have to thank cable TV shows for opening my eyes to the possibilities! It showed me that I didn’t have to go with a cookie-cutter look, or have a traditional-looking room for it to be beautiful. And it didn’t have to look like it was out of the mod scene of the 60s and 70s to be modern or contemporary. I have a better appreciation of clean lines and looking at design from a slightly more minimalist approach, much like what Lauri Ward does. She sees what’s there, and streamlines things. Putting lots of stuff in your house does not equal good design! You can have some old and some new and make it work.

I’ve just moved into a new house (or at least new to us) and the previous owner had it decorated with very traditional furniture and painted in outdated colors. In the process of our slow renovation, being that it’s a late 20th century design (a split level), my husband and I have decided to bring more transitional and contemporary design to the house, because it’s more fitting. And, it’s what we like better anyway, so it’s a good match. We’re working on putting more classic colors in the house, but adding some modern punches both in the design of the furniture, as well as some of the accents.

For example, just today as I am writing this, we are painting mint green walls (yuck, great for ice cream, but not walls) in our living room, dining room and hallways into a classic light camel/tan/beige color. Sounds boring, but we happen to have a bright orange chair and ottoman, a dark tan leather couch, a serape colored area rug (think the colors of salsa and a touch of violet too), and black side tables in the living room. The dining room attached in the open design has an iron wrought and glasstop table with dark cherrywood chairs, and reproduction Tarkay artwork on the walls. The idea being that if there was too much color on the walls as well as with the other elements of the room, you’d need sunglasses. By balancing the neutral walls with the bolder, deeper colors, it provides some interest to the room, without alienating visitors.

And I still appreciate something that’s older and classic in the room, like a framed map. In the case of our living room, we changed photos from a trip to Paris of the old palaces and architecture from color to black and white, matted them on some poster board, and framed them in black frames. They look like something out of the high end furniture stores! 🙂

When I got out of college, I had no understanding of this kind of balance. Everything would just be bought and done willy-nilly. Now I understand more of the concepts of balance of color and shape, focal points, etc. so I feel that my design style has matured as a result.

Just like the evolution of traditional to more modern design, my own tastes have actually followed the same path. And I’m always looking to learn more ways to make my home look less like a dorm room or “early mortgage” decor to a comfortable home, but with a high sense of style — myself too — in it.