If your brain immediately goes to math when you hear the word “formula,” stay with me. The formula I want to talk to you about today isn’t algebra or trigonometry or any of those related subjects in school that I dreaded showing up for (and if you are a math whiz who lights up at the word formula, I’m sorry to disappoint you—the formula we’re talking today is design—and more specifically, starter style).
Have you ever walked into a space and thought, “Wow, this is beautiful—but I could never make a room look like this!”?
Well, don’t despair. That’s exactly what my Starter Styles series is here for: to teach you how to create beautiful, timeless rooms, ditch trends that will be out overnight, and avoid expensive design mistakes.
But first… A Primer on Starter Style
Beautiful rooms don’t just spontaneously come into being. The best design starts with a plan, and I’m going to walk you through how to put together your plan, using the Starter Style Formula.
The Starter Style Formula: Steps 1-3
Step 1: Self-Reflection + Identification
- What? This is the step where you look back at your homework from last week’s post (Starter Style: Where to Start?). Before you can design a room you love, you have to know what you love. The first step is identifying the styles that you are drawn to. Once you’ve done that, you need to identify the elements of your lifestyle that you need to plan for in your design choices. Do you have young kids? Or big dogs? These are things you are going to want to take into account as you design your home.
- Why? You can have a technically beautiful room—but if it doesn’t reflect your style, or work for your lifestyle, you are going to hate it. You want your home to reflect your preferences, personality, and work for your everyday life.
Step 2: Base Palette Selection
- What? This step can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very overwhelming. Choosing a color palette for your home is a big decision and there are so many options. Start by looking at your style inspiration from step one. Take note of what kinds of colors keep showing up on the walls in the inspiration pictures you are looking at. This can help you narrow down the options. When it’s time to choose, you’ll want to go with a neutral or subdued color palette. Think of it as a canvas for your home. Don’t pick the trendiest or boldest, brightest colors for your base palette—save these for accent colors! Consider what’s going to work in the main areas of your home, and grab some sample cans of paint to throw on the walls. Paint chips are a place to start, but don’t let them make the decision for you. Paint some good-sized swatches in different areas of your home, and live with them for a few days. Notice how they appear at different times of the day and in different areas of your home.
- Why? Taking your time and choosing a good neutral palette that works for your home is going to provide flexibility for future updates without you having to do a major paint overhaul.
- Resources: Once you’ve decided on a palette, use our Printable Painting Guide to keep track of which colors you’ve used in different areas of your home. This will make life easier down to road when you need to grab a new can of paint for touch-ups! If you need some paint color inspiration, click over to this post where I share all the paint colors we used in our last home. Also be sure to read these some common paint mistakes to avoid before you decide on colors!
Step 3: Quality Over Quantity
- What? I love stuff. I love to collect it, and I love to display it. But clutter isn’t cute. I’m not saying everyone should jump on the minimalism train (I myself am much more of a maximalist than a minimalist), but the cliches are true: less is more. Quality over quantity. When you choose to invest in fewer, high-quality foundational pieces instead of filling your home with stuff that works “for now,” but won’t stand the test of time, your home will instantly start to look more stylish. High-quality doesn’t have to mean expensive (though of course, if your budget is unlimited, go for it!). Thrift stores and estate sales can be a great way to find quality pieces at lower prices. Be patient—you don’t have to fill every spot in your home right away. Take your time looking for solid, well-made pieces that fit your style. And don’t be scared to get a little creative—if the bones are good, a little elbow grease and a can of paint can go a long way to bringing an older piece back to life or updating it to fit your style.
- Why? Focusing on quality over quantity will help you create a refined look that will stand the test of time. If your foundational pieces are high-quality and well-made, you have a solid base to work with.
Self-Reflection & Identification + Base Palette + Quality Over Quantity + ? = Starter Style
The Starter Style Formula: Steps 4-8
To get access to the next five steps of the formula, join my community of Substack subscribers.
What else do you want to know about Starter Style? I’m having the best time with this series and I’d love to know what questions you have!