How to create your personal style in home dcor

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Home Improvement

A how-to guide with tips for creating personal style in your home décor - by Katrina

There is decorating, and then there is style.  There are decorators, and then there are stylists.  I am a stylist. Each stylist/decorator has their own version of decorating which is what makes them unique. My fans love my ability to marry form and color, they love my ability to blend styles and solve problems. I listen to my customers and help them to discover how to live better visually and emotionally . I work with what you love, and I help you to discover what each space needs to reflect your personal living.  I believe in having a collection of pieces that were hand-picked vs buying a furniture store display. There are certainly many other aspects that go into styling a space, but to get started I have given you some basics to follow - read on.  

Start with an inspiration item – this does not have to be furniture.

I once decorated a home based on a favorite bracelet.  It could literally be anything that inspires you.  Once you have your inspiration piece, set about taking photos of items in stores that pique your interest - things that speak to you.  Don’t buy all your décor at one time or in the same store. Don’t be in a hurry.  One piece introduced at a time will tell you what the space needs next. This should be a fun process – you will be on a mission with new eyes once you know what you like and what you think you need next. 

Apply the 60/30/10 principle.

This is a general rule of thumb in terms of colors, patterns, shapes, etc – it can be broken if you are very confident in your artistic ability.  If you watch the original Ocean’s Eleven with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, you will notice that there is a theme in color placements. Almost every scene will have a small pop of orange somewhere.  It is the 10% color.  Choose your color palette with 60% one color theme, 30 percent a secondary color theme, and a 10% pop.  This pop is important and to be used sparingly.  It also applies to décor and patterns.   Example, 60% clean lines, 30% percent pattern, 10% percent industrial items. This rule is a general guide to help you mix things up with clarity. 

Mix eras, woods and metals – you have my permission.

I often hear, I cannot buy this piece, but I just love it. It will not match my current furniture. This is where buying what speaks to you becomes important.  Decorating is pat, style is created.  If you are a Farmhouse style type of personality, but really like modern pieces – who says you cannot find a way for them to live together. Eyebrows are not the same, neither should your furniture be.  The trick is pulling it together with an anchor piece like a rug, window treatments or lighting.  

Don’t overdo the embellishments

Wall color, pillows, throws, plants, glassware, mirrors and pictures – all guilty of being overused. There is beauty in a bare wall, don’t be afraid of it.  A well-placed mirror or picture can sing a solo if given the chance. Try new methods of grouping and layouts with your pictures/mirrors – and make it the eye candy of the room. The less is more theory will help you to enjoy your pieces visually and emotionally. Personally, I like color in my furnishings as my mid-century orange, clean lined sofa will attest. If your furniture is bold, keep your walls subtle and vice versa. Simple.  My orange sofa is paired with a black Scandinavian chair with wood framing. To set it all off and tie it together I added a white milky two-tier round glass top with metal framing and industrial wheels along with a graphic rug. Simple and high visual impact that invites you stay in swanky, casual style.  My dining room table is a glass top Polynesian/Hawaiian style that I married with 6 tweed fabric mid-century chairs – in a soft grey blue color. A simple, natural rug lies underneath and only a metal, gold toned starburst mirror adorns the quiet wall color.  My kitchen table is a white tulip style with Lucite chairs, set against a tall sidebar with Polynesian flair. The table itself is the art so I keep it simple and unclutter.  A table does not always need a centerpiece. This way you can really enjoy the pieces as functional art.  

With that you can easily see my personal style is Mid Century Modern with a Polynesian overtone, mixed with 10% industrial pieces.   60 /30 /10. Chances are your personal style lies somewhere between two or more stylistic outlines as well.  Embrace it and have fun.  Call me if you need help – most of my customer base have a general idea of what they like and just need my special touch to pull it together. If you cannot determine what your style is, I’d be happy to consult with you.  At the end of the day if it makes you happy, it makes me happy. 

BONUS: A quick guide to every decorating style – enjoy.

On behalf of Steve Martin Homes Group,


Katrina Smith is owner/operator of Little Black Dress Home Staging in Sarasota County. She is also a licensed Florida Realtor with Steve Martin Homes Group and RE/MAX Platinum Realty. A home décor specialist from the Gross Point Michigan area, Katrina has been professionally preparing and staging homes in and around Sarasota County since 2007. Katrina has also held a full cosmetology license since 1997.