There are as many decorating styles as there are people who want to decorate. Which immediately presents the age-old question: "Where do I start?"
Or even "Why should I bother?"
Understanding styles can give us a head start when we come to our own furnishings. We don't have to invent it all for ourselves.
Further down this page are links to pages illustrating some of the different styles in use today. These will help you understand what makes each one unique.
Decorating styles are based on many different factors, including cultural and historical. They are also influenced by fashion, various discoveries in science and technology, taste, climate conditions, affluence and necessity.
What defines style?
Even if you know very little about the terminology used, you wouldn't find it difficult to distinguish between many of the styles used today.
Suppose you enter a room which is very sparsely furnished. There's a couple of rugs on wood floorboards. The walls are bare, and brightly colored pieces of fabric are loosely placed over simple furniture.
You'd probably think of ethnic influences.
Now you go into another room with wall to wall carpets. There's heavy curtains and drapes, and as much upholstered furniture as you could fit into the room. The walls are covered in wallpaper, and much of that is covered with pictures.
Now you'd most likely think the word 'victorian'.
It's easy to see that styles are made up from all the usual decorating elements - color, texture, patterns, etc.
Find your own style...
You'll be able to narrow down the choices and options by looking at your likes, dislikes, and the overall suitability of a particular style.
...and some styles you can use
Cottage style is one of the easiest to achieve, provided you have the right sort of property.
Here's a style which has always had its supporters. Could it be what you're looking for?
Always a favorite, and can be easily adapted to suite circumstances and budgets. You don't have to live in the country to use it, and its color schemes are very useful in many situations.
Probably the most popular of all styles, but what exactly is it?
The Victorians were innovators, and their style of decorating reflects their adventurous spirit. Often looked down on in later decades, it has many attractions for today's interiors.
Why do you decorate?
There are people for whom the way a room looks is not a priority. They are more interested in books, mathematics, gardening, horses, or a hundred other subjects, than in how their homes look.
But most of us like to have what we call 'nice' homes. We may not know very much about interior decorating, and we may not even be interested in learning much either. But we want homes we're proud of, which we find comfortable to live in and look at.
And let's face it, just a little bit of pride comes into it. When relations visit, or old friends call, we want them to admire our homes, to be impressed by them.
So decorate first of all for yourself, to make your home a place you're glad to be in, and proud of how it looks. If you do that, other people will also like it.
Use a style as a basis for your own schemes
Once the decision is made to decorate, the questions then begin.
- What interior decorating style should we use?
- How do we know which style is suitable?
- Will we like it when it's finished?
Sometimes the age or style of your house or apartment will indicate what style to use. But don't feel you need to follow that particular style if you don't want to. By carefully selecting different features of a style you can adapt it to suit your own circumstances. Recognized decorating styles give you a head start in deciding how to deal with your own interiors.
Styles are very useful if you're unsure of where to start. By selecting a style you like, you can use its features for your own decorating. If you want to, you can imitate the style to the last little detail. But you can also use it as a basis for your own decorating, and adapt it to suit your own likes and requirements.
You might also like to see the pages on Period paint colors which shows some of the historical styles you can use.