“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” said
In this article, we’re going to officially define stylish and then take an analytical look at a variety of “stylish” interior design choices. Some of them may resonate with you. Some of them may not. But the takeaway from this article should be that style is more a confident display of personal acceptance and taste than it is a choice of specific, finite design options.
In a nutshell, “stylish” is defined as being “characterized by or conforming to style or the fashionable standard; fashionably elegant, smart, or chic” –
In a historical context, design style (also referred to as “visual style”) is often associated with a given style that is “localized to a time, place, and purpose. … Many styles take the name of the time period (Victorian), aesthetic movement (Art Deco), or design philosophy (Swiss/International) that spawned them” –
How to Be Stylish
It might not be what some of us want to hear. We might question our own tastes and preferences and, consequently, seek guidance by the “experts” in determining what is stylish. However, while stylishness is influenced by the trends at a given time and place, those things are not the end-all to a comfortable, inviting, and reflective space.
True stylishness is the intersection between what is deemed “fashionable” and the influence those things exert on our lives for the better. Before this gets too abstract and overwhelming, however, one truth remains clear: there are so many versions of “stylish” floating around out there that we all owe it to ourselves to determine the one(s) that speak to us, reflect us, and inspire us.
THOSE are the stylish elements that we need to gravitate toward and incorporate into our interior designs. So what if everyone loves mid-century modern furniture and it’s a popular contemporary stylish design option, if we ourselves are drawn toward the more flowery, detailed curvatures of the Victorian era? Our home and personal space can be stylish because we make it so. We make it our own.
Oscar Wilde said, “She behaves as if she was beautiful… It is the secret of her charm” –
I’m not the only one who believes this, either. Shawn Ashmore said, “Style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality.” Orson Welles advised that we “Create your own visual style … let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others” –
Let’s take a brief look at the five most common design “styles” today – modern, contemporary, traditional, industrial, and eclectic. (You can read more about each of these styles in articles linked)
Modern Style – “The term ‘modern’ in interior design really refers to ‘mid century modern.’ It is recognizable by its clean, unadorned interiors” –
Interestingly enough, along with this emphasis on natural mediums, molded plastic and polished chrome and other metals are
Contemporary Style – There is a difference between modern style and contemporary style, although the terms are often used interchangeably these days.
“Silhouettes are slim without being dainty” –
Traditional Style – Traditional design, also referred to as “classic,” generally involves “deep wood tones, architectural details, and elegant furnishings”-
It’s important to remember that, although elegant curves and deep hues are an important
Industrial/Urban Style –
Worn wooden and iron pieces, repurposed industrial objects, exposed bits such as pipe, brick, and lightbulbs, and an overall functionally worn but stylistically intact atmosphere
Eclectic Style – Eclectic style is often misunderstood as a design strategy. While it is based upon mixing and matching, it’s not completely laissez faire. Eclectic style involves the blending of several other styles. This blending happens most successfully with “the use of various decorative materials: wood, stone, metal and glass, fabric; plastic fittings and furniture will also be appropriate if they blend harmoniously” –