Naming Your Style

It’s high time you knew exactly what your own design philosophy is. Take stock of these techniques.

Updated on August 08, 2017 17:08 pm

Camille Besinga

defining your personal style for home renovation

Has someone ever asked you to describe your style, and you realise you don’t really know what it is? You’ve looked through plenty of design books, magazines, and websites (heck, you’re even on Cromly!), and you definitely know what you like or don’t like. But when it comes to actually defining the style that screams you, you can’t even put your finger on it.

Naming your style is important, especially when you’re about to embark on a renovation or some redecorating tasks, as it gives cohesive vision to your project. It would even help you when you’re leisurely window-shopping in your favourite home stores. If you don’t know how or where to start identifying your style, consider following these steps.

1. Find inspiration—everywhere.

It’s only natural for you to get pegs from design and decorating books, magazines, and websites, but these aren’t the only resources you should utilise for finding inspiration. Non-design literature, movies, art, fashion, travel sites, and ordinary locations, even your own personal belongings—these could all be mined for valuable home design inspiration.

your personal choice of tableware helps you to define your personal style

Your morning cuppa as colour inspiration

Dolce & Gabbana 2015

Wong Kar Wai’s “Chungking Express”

Loving the look of your morning cuppa in your favourite blue mug? That’s a cool and calming colour palette of coffee-brown and powder-blue, right there! Did the latest fall/winter fashion collection from so-and-so designer excite your senses? The patterns and textures of the models’ clothes could inspire your living room’s upholstery. Seriously into Wong Kar Wai films? Let that brooding intensity colour your study.

2. Brush up on design lingo.

Learning what designers mean when they bring up a particular style will help you get on board with them as quickly and as painlessly as possible. If he says “mid-century modern," you should know it’s more Mad Men than Austin Powers; that “Mediterranean” is more Mamma Mia than Notting Hill.

learning design style terms help you define your personal style

Don Draper’s office: Not a place for the shagadelic Austin Powers

Here’s where design books and libraries will come in handy. Scour the home and design section of the bookstore and try to get an understanding of what your favourite styles are all about. (We’ve got the lowdown on Midcentury Modern, Contemporary Scandinavian, Bauhaus/International Style, Art Deco, Modern, Contemporary, Classical, and Asian, French provincial, the New York loft, and the Parisian apartment look right here on Cromly.)

3. Start filing your favourites.

get home decor and renovation inspirations from magazines and online sites


You can use a scrapbook filled with tear sheets from books or magazines, create a folder in your computer for images culled from all over the Internet, or make an account on Pinterest and start pinning images of your dream home. It doesn’t matter what medium you end up using. Compiling every image that makes a connection with you will help you eventually identify what styles resonate with you.

Once you’ve got your collection going, try to study if there’s a recurring theme among the images you have. Do you tend to gravitate towards laidback setups? Does your collection include a lot of windows and sunlight? Do you notice patterns or hues appear several times?

When studying your collection, ask yourself with every photo, “Do I really like this? Is this really something that I can live with?” This will help you gradually trim down your compilation to what is really and essentially your favourite style.

4. Now it’s time to name your style.

You might want to get a dictionary or a thesaurus with this one. Think up words that best describe the common threads among the photos you’ve collected. Don’t limit yourself to just a few words; our styles are always a mix of this and that, here and there. You may love casual arrangements and traditional forms; feminine pinks with edgy blacks; exotic Oriental with minimalist Scandinavian.

There is no right or wrong answer here; just a lot of creativity (and exercise of your knowledge of vocabulary perhaps) to think up the terms that best describe your style. Feel free to also make use of the design terms you learned about while researching. Glamorous industrial. Comfortably ladylike Zen. Punky romantic with a dash of theatre. French provincial sweetness with a little smart-alecky New York wit. It’s all you.

Below are some images of homes whose styles we’ve tried to identify. You can try coming up with different descriptions for these to practice this step. When you think you’ve finally mastered the art of determining one’s style, then go ahead and start your reno!

Bare Mid-Century

bare mid-century style living room

Apartment at Punggol Field by Icon Interior Design Pte Ltd

Rustic Elegance

rustic elegance style living room

Sandy Island Dining Room by HC Design Interior Design

Calm Contemporary

calm contemporary style bedroom

Yishun Street 51 by Artis Interior

Homey Eclectic

eclectic retro style living room

Design by Meter Square Pte Ltd

Monochromatic Casual

monochrome casual style living room

Teresa Ville by Studio XMSL Pte Ltd

Vintage Pop

vintage pop style living room

Tim and Kristine’s Home

Graphic Cosy

graphic cosy style dining room

Kaye and Justine’s HDB flat

Wooden Warmth

wooden warmth style living room

Kim and Adeline’s HDB

Modern Nostalgia

modern nostalgia living room

Khairul’s Apartment

Laid-back Lovely

laid back lovely style apartment

Ann & James’ Home, with design help from Artistroom

Cover photo courtesy of Icon Interior Design Pte Ltd

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