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When designing a room, it’s helpful to have a style in mind. It organizes your vision and brings cohesion to the décor. But it’s altogether too easy to accidentally end up with a theme room. Here’s my two-word method that you can use to guide you through your decorating choices and make sure you get the style you want without going over the top.   

1.      Pick your two words. The first word is the style you want, the motif you’re aspiring toward. Asian, for example, or mid-century modern. The second word is how you want the space to feel. Are you looking for something edgy? Or maybe cozy? Chic? Think about the dominant sense you want people to get from the space.

2.      Select pieces that reflect either one word or the other. If you have your eye on something but it’s not Asian or edgy, it doesn’t come into the room. But remember that these are broad categories up for interpretation. Edgy can mean a clean-lined black lacquer table or one that is really hard-edged with an architectural vibe. What do the words mean to you?

3.      Design vignettes that make use of both words. Take care to layer elements that represent each word together, so no corner of the room pushes too far in one direction. Let’s say I chose an Asian lamp. I’m going to look for an edgier table to put it on, since I’ve already used Asian in that moment. Constantly layer pieces that reflect each of the two words throughout the space.

4.      Ask yourself or a trusted friend, is it sophisticated? When selecting items that have already met the litmus test of fitting with one of the two words, don’t forget to ask yourself whether it is sophisticated. Or, if you have a friend whose style you admire, ask them to evaluate your choices. Because no matter how well it represents Asian or edge, if it isn’t sophisticated, you probably don’t want it in your home.  

Here are another two tricks I use to rein myself in:

a.      Give yourself some boundaries. Find an inspiration piece to serve as a limitation on the colors you use in the room. For example, if you want to hang a really big Warhol lithograph reproduction with flowers in five different colors above the couch, then only use those five colors in the space. It may be loud, but it will be cohesive. 

b.      Use different scales of print. When mixing that leopard print with palm trees, make sure the patterns are of a different scale. If you use all large patterns, it will feel overwhelming and hard to absorb. Multiple tiny patterns feel cluttered and frenetic. But patterns of different scales will be just right.

Stick with this method, and you’ll end up with a well-edited space with the style and feel you were aiming for!

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