Friday, February 1, 2013

How To Get Back To YOUR Design Roots


In my years of consulting I use to ask my clients specific questions while having a conversation with them about their home.

While I listened I would pick up on what I would call,“Buzz Words.”

These were words that they would repeat unknowingly in our conversation that would give me clues to what  the elements, and the feeling they needed to have in their home.

Basically I was getting down to their design roots for their home.

Since I am working on my very own home I felt like I needed to give myself a consultation.

I was losing my way a little bit in my family room re-do. This is a very easy thing to do when we have so much available to us in the design world.

We are all inundated with so many visual images that entice us that sometimes we go astray.

It is so important to stay true to who you are, and try not to be swayed. When doing this exercise on yourself, you have to be completely honest with yourself or it won’t work.

It was time for me to get back to my design roots so I marched right over to Pinterest where I have been pinning images that are pleasing to my eye.

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time going back to my own design roots so to speak. 

I made copies of the images that were some of my all time favorites. You are seeing a sampling of them throughout this post.

Under each picture I wrote what I liked and disliked in the image. It is just as important to realize what you don’t like as much as what you do like.

I then went back and wrote down all of my own personal buzz words. 

These are elements, and the feeling a room must have for me to feel like it will meet my needs for a well designed room in my own personal home:


  • Light and bright
  • Uncluttered
  • Clean lines
  • Fresh and Crisp
  • Patterns  in geometrics, stripes or checks but very few checks
  • High contrast in some elements
  • Not to matchy or contrived

Next I wrote down a list of elements, and how many times they were repeated in the images I was using. This helped me to see the importance of each element.


  1. Black urns 2
  2. Green 2
  3. Black lampshades 3
  4. Black spool chairs 3
  5. Greek Key motif 3
  6. White gourd or urn lamps 5
  7. Framed coffee table 5
  8. Basket 5
  9. Large bright artwork 5
  10. Touches of Blue 7
  11. Two Patterns 7
  12. Lanterns 8
  13. Trimmed out furniture pieces 10
  14. Blue striped or plaid rug 10
  15. Green plants 12
  16. Black and White 13

I found this list to be very interesting. I learned a few things about myself…….

There needs to be touches of black and white in the room, for high contrast.

I seem to like a blue and white striped or plaid rug.
 (This was a big surprise because I was recently telling someone I don’t like plaid fabric for my family room. Apparently I enjoy a mega plaid on the floor.)

Most of the green found in my rooms were in the form of live plants and flowers.

I also realized that I have to have lanterns and brightly colored artwork.

One of the many reasons I love the design world is we are constantly on the learning curve.

I hope this little exercise I did for myself can help you all in any future decorating projects.

The one crucial detail I have to emphasize is to be perfectly, openly honest with yourself. 

Try not to think about any particular project, just clip the pictures that speak to you for any reason and then analyze what you like or dislike about them..

Here’s to honest, back to your roots decorating!!!

I am participating in.....



Unknown said...

that's a good way of going about it! - i tend to just buy what i love and then find a place for it - i'm finishing my basement next - i can't wait for the END results!

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

Now that was smart....Its hard to be your own client and its easy to get off track!

Ivy Lane said...

what a great post! i am going to try this over the weekend! So many lovely images too!

Happy Weekend!


Patty Day @Pattys Epiphanies said...

What a great exercise for you! Now, gather all this information and put together your Dream Space!

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

I need to try this. I have to collect my photos and then I'll write a post like you did. Such a great exercise.

The enchanted home said...

This is brilliant. And could be so helpful to so many people in a quandary! I love your thought process and how you ended up figuring out what you love and how to stay true to it.....very good post!

michele said...

quite the analysis, dr. goodlife. and i concur...

i like simple, undecorated, casual elegance, effortless, serene, tranquil, with sense of humor thrown in. and you're right, i often complicate things for myself if i stray from such a foundation.

happy weekend from the heartland!


Linda {Calling it Home} said...

Oh do I know what you mean. It really is hard to stay focused on your own likes with all that inspiration. I have a magazine picture that is over 10 years old and I still love it. Great tips and advice. Thanks.

The Pink Pagoda said...

I know exactly what you mean. I like to much of what I see on Pinterest/blogland, but not all of it would make me feel happy if it were in my house. It's so good to have a clear understanding of what you really like and what would make you happy in your house. I've got it figured out, and I'm so glad. No more big, expensive mistakes!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Kathy Sue, This is such a helpful post! It is easy to lose my way when I am always loving everyone's decor! Thanks for these great tips to keep me on the right decorating path!
Please join me for TUTORIALS TIPS AND TIDBITS. Link goes live Wednesday at 8:00 pm. This will be a hit!

Ann from On Sutton Place said...

This was very interesting...I tend to like many different styles and don't mind mixing them up in my home. It's the colors that I stay true to more than the design. Blues and ivories are always there! I don't think I could live in a home that was void of blue. :o) How fun to be re-decorating too!

Mumbai said...

I didn't know that decoration requests psychological questions. But when you want a perfect design it makes sense to do so. I tend to buy peace by peace (more emotional) and mix it up. Surprisingly it works very well.

Karena said...

KathySue, this is an excellent way to get to the basics of one' design style and loves! Love how you made your list from each room.

2013 Artists Series

La Dolfina said...

You are a design genius!
I am so excited for you.... I have noticed a trend with you.
You love to start a new year with a project. It is like a gift to yourself!!!!
So happy to see you enjoy your own process!!!

La Dolfina said...

You are a design genius!
I am so excited for you.... I have noticed a trend with you.
You love to start a new year with a project. It is like a gift to yourself!!!!
So happy to see you enjoy your own process!!!

Victoria said...

Great advice, Kathysue. I am sure your room will be exactly what you want because of this exercise. Thanks for sharing it.

Sarah said...

Kathysue, this is an excellent post! I often get overwhelmed with so many choices, so this is very helpful. Your inspiration photos are beautiful. I could live in some of those rooms. Good luck with your project. Can't wait to see it all complete.

Linda in AZ * said...


I've TRIED to "learn" Pinterest... SOMEtimes it works (some of your pics got there, MOST some did not!), ALOT of times NOT on other pics I wanted to save, and there are even SOME things on "my" site that I've never even seen!!! (HELP?)...

THANKS AGAIN~~~ (I'll never stop being a "gal from Cal"... EVER... no matter HOW long I don't live there anymore!!! (Smiles!)

Big hugs you sweet, pretty lady!

Liz@ HomeandGardeningWithLiz said...

Excellent post! Great guide and smart ideas! This is like the positive and negative list my sister taught me when I'm struggling with an issue. When you write it out it becomes more clear. In this case when you analyze yourself and write down/save your ideas you start to see a pattern. It's a perfect way of helping you whittle down the big pile of ideas! Sometimes we get scattered all over the place! You've shown some fabulous rooms and I'm quite sure in the end you will love what you came up with. That's all that really matters in the end...that you like it!!
I will remember this kind of execution for myself in the future!

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Kathysue, Great post! Blue and white is my favorite color combo so I love all these rooms.
xx, Sherry

JeanneW said...

This is the first time I've found your blog. How lucky for me that the first post shares this incredibly helpful exercise. I read design blogs all the time and I have to rank this post as one of the most helpful. I have found myself losing my own roots this last year and it's left me confused in my choices. Thank you for helping me get back on track!

Leslie said...


This is wonderful and I need to consult with you! What a wonderful way to come up with the perfect design for a home/room.

Gorgeous spaces here and I'm loving all the blue. Your decor preferences are so beautiful and I like the uncluttered feel to the rooms.

{you are up on my blog.. took forever for me to get this done so I'm way behind on responding to my blogs!}


Melinda said...

SUch a useful and helpful post Kathysue. I have been deliberating about cushion fabrics all weekend, in fact all year, but this helped me think about it in a more analytical way and think about what I really like. It's so easy to get sidetracked and tempted by other things, and I lose my way all the time. I adore all your pics, and they would sum up my decorating roots exactly. And thanks for including mine!

Melissa said...

Thanks Kathysue. This is such a helpful post. I am planing a whole new house and I will sit down soon and do exactly what you advise. I think those French doors with multi pane glass will be high on my list.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Love this Kathysue! It's especially hard to find our own style with all the blogging fodder out there. I see so much I love, but have to remember what works for me in my home with my current furniture. Great plan on how to do that! I love many of the same things you do. I'm still working on uncluttered. I can't seem to part with my collected accessories, but trying to use them in moderation now. I'm definitely more streamlined than I used to be, although I'll never be a minimalist.

Jamie-So Much Better With Age said...

Wow! This is awesome. Thanks for sharing ;) I'm your newest follower!
Jamie ~ Better With Age

Sharon @ mrshinesclass said...

Thank you for sharing this post with me. It's very insightful and I plan to follow your advice to write down what I like and don't like and go from there. Great advice!

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

such sensible advice. you make it sound easy to figure out a room using your tips an tricks.