“Good taste is innate!” I’ve heard people say this. In many cases, that may be the case, but I would say that this is a skill that can be developed like any other.
But what exactly is taste? The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that it’s subjective. unfair controversy, fulfilling the Latin maxim: You cannot describe taste. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; Chacun a son goat Such.
“For my part, I read only to please myself, and prefer only what suits my taste,” said Voltaire. I’m with him when it comes to decorating the house. A truly interesting and timeless interior should reflect the identity of the home, not just the people who live there, but no one else.
But then a former colleague of mine, designer Guy Goodfellow, suggested another maxim to me. “Everyone needs a second opinion.” That’s why when faced with the need to spend their hard-earned money on furniture for their home, many people hire a designer to help them discover their style and make educated decisions. In other words, it’s insurance against wasting money.
How do you approach this task if you don’t have an expert? Especially since we’re constantly bombarded with different styles and tastes, thanks to Instagram, Pinterest, and countless home decor magazines and TV shows. I am. Maximalism? Yes, please! Country house style? It’s in my blood. modernism? In the right context. Minimalism? Soul-breakingly sad, absolute nirvana, not only for me but for others as well. However, you can’t have all of these things in a room, or even in your entire house, at the same time. Sarah Morris of McWhirter Morris warns of ‘sweet shop syndrome’. Too much of a good thing can lead to too many choices.
So before you start, ask yourself a few questions: who, what, where, when, how, or really how. This is a common structure, but it applies when you’re trying to develop your own style. First, who am I (or “we” if I’m decorating my family’s home)? What am I decorating with? Where will things go? When should you prepare it? So how do you use it? How can I afford it? And how do I want it to make me feel? As you gradually begin to understand the big picture, the tasks become less difficult and the choices you make begin to come naturally.
Start with “who”. Designer Lucinda Griffiths suggests starting by examining your wardrobe. What you wear is a good indicator of what you like to surround yourself with. One of my beloved clients only wears navy in the summer and brown in the winter. It’s a very well-tailored, no-frills piece of clothing. Similarly, her interior is also considered and, although not minimal, there is no extra baggage. Griffith also says that her interior is like her market, the best farmers in the world, and I agree. All are delicious, but not all at once. She compares choosing a decor to choosing from a menu. Once you’ve decided on chicken pie, it becomes easier to narrow down the options by asking, “What goes well with chicken?”
It’s very easy to get seduced by seeing what others are doing, so it helps to have rules of engagement. Once home to Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, his glorious Charleston-like home in East Sussex epitomizes the joy of intensely personal interiors. The first time I went there, I was so excited by the decorations on the walls and furniture that I dug out my watercolors to try to mimic the decorations on my bookshelf at home. Her then-husband wasn’t too impressed and chased after her with her J-Cross, obliterating my attempt. Strict but fair, our house wasn’t like that.
My first rule is suitability, suitability, suitability. My co-managing director, Philip Hooper, is decorating a Georgian house in Somerset in a country style. After all, our ancestors, John Fowler and Nancy Lancaster, are credited with inventing the look of comfort, antiques, quality curtains, and chintz. But as the sole occupant of London’s Pied-à-Terre, a former school-turned-school, he completely reconfigured the double-height room so that the entire space flows and decorated it with angular modernist furniture. did. Great for cities, but inappropriate, uncomfortable, and unconvincing for country homes.
Next is “what.” Whether you’re assembling one room, an entire house, or just buying bedspreads, thinking about your overall plan can be very helpful when deciding on your style. Layout, scale, proportion, volume. All of these are, first of all, more important than color or fabric. It may seem boring, but practicality comes first and taste comes later.
Therefore, plan your room carefully. Mark where you want everything to go. Create your own mood board and review your ideas to see if they all come together. Time frame is also important. This can limit your design decisions. Delivery time for sanitary ware can take up to 16 weeks. Fabrics may be out of stock and may need to be specially woven. This means that it can take up to 14 weeks to reach the curtain maker, and the curtain maker’s delivery time can take up to 12 weeks.
I’ve also learned over the years how beneficial it is to interact with designers, friends, or anyone you share a home with. Spilling out thoughts and exchanging ideas is the best way to sift through and identify what you want. When helping clients, I like to know how they want to use their rooms and homes. What do they need from it? For example, how many people would you like to have around the table for dinner?
Of course, where you start also depends on what you want to start with. Let’s say you start from scratch with a completely empty entrance hall. Think about hard finishes first. Is the floor stone, tile, wood, or carpet? Your preference may be parquet, but if your child rides a bicycle around the house, you may want a more practical tile. yeah. Here are some great wood-look porcelain tiles — Here we go!a happy combination of taste and practicality.
Being honest about how much you can spend is also a subtle but useful way to improve your taste. You may want to use brass in your bathroom fixtures.Brass teeth Beautiful, but only at the top end. Are you worried about your budget? If so (actually, if you’re not, any time), you’re better off buying Chrome. Swags and tails require not only tall, elegant windows, but also experienced drapery makers and large amounts of fabric and decorations, so simple pole-mounted curtains or roman blinds are a better choice for your windows and purse. may be suitable for Images saved on Instagram or cut from magazines are very useful archives of information, but they should not be followed literally. If you sift through these, you can quickly throw away half of them because they don’t suit the building or the budget you’re working with. However, you’ll find plenty of information and ideas that you’ll come back to again and again.
Let’s fast forward: Let’s say a big decision has been made, but you’re not too excited about the outcome. At this stage, it’s easy to be tempted by what others are doing. Your friend may have a rug that you find much more interesting than yours. Your Instagram room might have the perfect coffee table.
First, remember that the grass isn’t always greener, and copying the lock, stock, and barrel look is not a good reflection of who you are. Also, not everything has to have a “wow” factor, nor does it have to be decided all at once. My colleague Lucy Hammond-Giles says that a good decorator’s job is to create a house that looks completely undecorated. It needs to evolve and look like it reflects the people inside.
The most successful interiors evolve over time, and it’s okay to move things around and change them. I love the story of my eternal hero, David Hicks, building a room. Since it’s May, they arranged lily of the valley into a cute jug. When I returned home in winter, I was surprised to see a bunch of the same flowers. Regarding this he was told, “Well, it’s hard to get year-round, but I thought it was the only flower allowed.” The point is that it’s foolish to stick too tightly to the formula, and the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.
Well, my experiment with hand-painting my furniture may have been a failure. But it taught me something valuable. Painting is one of the cheapest and most impactful ways to reflect your taste. It’s also one of the best ways to cheer up a room if your choices err on the side of “safe.” Sticking to a color just because it’s stamp-sized or because you saw it in someone else’s home and liked it are easy pitfalls to avoid. Instead, he applies two or three coats of the color under consideration to a large piece of lined paper. Post these on your wall and review them at different times of the day. In your own environment, surrounded by your favorite furniture and objects, do the colors still look as captivating as they do on Instagram?
Finally, when you are influenced, think about who or what inspires you and why. Each King Louis of France considered his own style of furniture to be exquisitely tasteful. However, when the next Louis appeared, all that was thrown away, and a generation of “exquisite taste” continued. I have worked on many homes for French clients in London and France. She has always impressed upon me that I don’t care what anyone thinks about her taste, I just have to please her like Voltaire.
As a result, the homes we have worked on together are (like hers) sublimely confident, elegant, resourceful and loved by all who are lucky enough to visit. Not everyone has the courage to install bright pink rubber floors or cactus-shaped radiators, but these things are perfectly at home because she loves them. Similarly, for an American client who loves sunflowers, I paid homage to the cheerful flower by creating a bedroom with an embroidered bed canopy and curtains. Winston Churchill said: “My tastes are simple and I am easily satisfied with the best.” But what? teeth the best? And when it comes to matters of taste, does it really matter? here we go again!
Emma Burns is joint managing director of Sybil Colefax and John Fowler
Check out the latest stories — Follow us @FTProperty Twitter and @ft_houseandhome on instagram