By Annette McLeod
Many of us are a little (OK, a lot) obsessed with home design so it's only natural that it comes up in dinner-party conversation or during a girl's night out. Or at the bus stop, or in the dentist's chair.
Sometimes, however, we're stuck for a quick way to sum up our aesthetic.
Here are 10 ways to communicate your home decor style succinctly -- so you can even do it on an elevator ride.
Since casual comfort is a primary tenet, you'll often hear it shortened to "Boho." Stemming from "Bohemia," a medieval region of the present-day Czech Republic, the word "Bohemian" has come to denote creative artists and intellectuals living mainstream-alternative, free-flowing lives. Think plants, bright colours, patterns and vibrant fabrics on floors, windows, furniture and, oh, a couple hundred pillows.
Nothing matchy-matchy. You still dig beaded curtains and your furniture is reclaimed and previously enjoyed. Acceptable accents include battered guitar cases, empty picture frames and the entire container-gardening section from the local used bookstore.
Contemporary country embraces a rustic style in which the wear of time is a badge of distinction. Hand-me-downs from Grandma and flea market finds are your core furniture sources. Accessories are often handmade and older than you are.
Natural materials like wood and rattan probably have a role to play. Palettes are often muted, but shots of pure white, red and black can smarten-up a modern country look. You have no interest in stowing every kitchen item away -- you'd rather hang your copper pots from the ceiling.
Mediterranean style takes its cues from Greece, Italy, France, Spain and the other countries near the Mediterranean Sea. Your colour palette evokes an exotic landscape: earthy terra cotta and sea-inspired cobalt blue mixed with lavender and sand, olive green, sunflower or the burnt orange of a summer sunset.
Your furniture choices run to chunky, broad-based pieces, and you'd rather eat an Ikea catalogue than shop from it. Finishes are stucco or Venetian plaster and you love an abundance of metal and tile.
4. Mid-Century Modern
Thanks in part to the TV show Mad Men, Mid-Century Modern style is once again an obsession for many a home-happy decorator. It's "Modern" with a capital "M", not to be confused with small-m "modern" meaning contemporary, as it harkens back to the middle of the 20th century.
Clean lines with minimal curves dictate your furniture choices, and you've got wall coverings and accent pieces with natural motifs. Rooms are kept simple and clutter-free.
5. Art deco
Art Deco hit the world stage between the First and Second World Wars and embraces a highly ornamented verticality epitomized in New York's Chrysler Building.
Hard angles, geometric patterns and symmetry are featured in interiors that include generous helpings of expensive-looking metals like gold and steel. You know mirrors aren't just for hanging on the wall -- the entire surface of your dresser reflects your taste.
Smooth stainless steel, chrome, glass and inlaid wood may mean the hobby you spend the second-most amount of time obsessing about is dusting.
Organic, light and bright, coastal style lets you surround yourself with natural fabrics like canvas and sisal. Your chosen colour palette likely features white, blue (especially turquoise or navy) and perhaps red and yellow, but may take accent inspiration from the colourful inhabitants of a coral reef.
Live-edge tables and bleached, wide-plank hardwood make you positively swoon, and while you'd never be so obvious as to scatter seashells on the sideboard, there's nothing wrong with a spectacular wave painting or an artfully displayed antique sextant.
These days, "eclectic" is sometimes used as a throw-away adjective to mean hodge-podge, but the heart of eclectic style is you, in all your glorious individuality. Eclectic style takes the best from other styles, and expertly mixes and matches disparate elements into a coherent space. Your colour palette may take inspiration from the red in a French toile fabric from a consignment shop, a lime-green carpet you spotted on That '70s Show, and a gold gilt mirror frame like the one you obsessed over at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The key is that they're integrated judiciously.
The hallmark of every carefully curated piece in your dream interior is that it was chosen by you for no other reason than that you love it.
8. English Country
Rustic, relaxed English Country style is anchored in wood and overstuffed furniture. Chintz florals, stripes, plaid and gingham patterns all make your heart happy, and colour palettes use limited contrast to create a soothing environment.
While some investment pieces may be brand new, you also scour antique markets for framed botanical prints and Gainsborough reproductions.
When it comes to design, "traditional" style doesn't mean staid; rather, it reflects your careful attention to authentic detail and a love of classic silhouettes.
A successful traditional space, which reflects classic European interiors of the 18th and 19th centuries, uses symmetry to achieve balance but with a tweak here or there to avoid becoming boring; perhaps your occasional tables are set at an artful angle or your area rug has an irregular edge. Wing-back chairs and claw-footed bathtubs make your heart sing. Abundant wood mouldings? Check. Lots of well-stuffed cushions? Check. Fabric curtains? Elaborately carved furniture legs and candle stands? Ivory walls? Check, check and check!
You think building materials are as worthy of highlighting as furniture pieces. Especially appropriate in urban spaces like live/work lofts and condos that once were manufacturing plants, you would sooner cover the Mona Lisa than cover up your exposed duct work, and fully embrace the notion that concrete is the perfect finish.
Your space may have an unfinished look, but au contraire -- each piece and detail is selected to create a chic, warehouse-inspired environment. Your preferred colour palette is neutral, and you don't believe that white is just for primer; rather, it provides the perfect contrast to the pipes overhead and the metal grommets on your DIY bookshelf.
About the author: Annette McLeod writes mostly about homes, cars and personal finance when not obsessively moving around all the artwork in the house she shares with her partner, son and a furry fleet of four-footed companions.
Originally Published at Toronto Storeys.
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