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How to make a style guide for your home

About a year ago I wrote a post about how I was using graphic design and what I know about building a brand from the ground up to decorate my home.

I thought this was an incredibly helpful exercise when I did it a year ago, and have found myself looking back at my guide when I’ve felt stuck over the past year of decorating and renovating our home. 

If you don’t already know, a brand style guide is a tool in graphic design that takes the heart and soul of your design and translates it into an aesthetic guide. The best brands have flexible rules that can adapt well across different formats and still have strong visual recognition. When I apply this framework to establishing a strong style for my home, I end up with cohesion from room to room.

However, it’s about time for my home to get a rebrand. My mission and values haven’t changed a whole lot, but my aesthetic interpretation of them has.

Step One: What is your mission?

I always start a branding project by first pinpointing the goal of the brand. In this case, I try to find words that resonate with my home aspirations. Think of this as a personal mantra. I look to quotes, my own goals for our space, and the feelings I hope my home sparks when I try to put together my home mission. 

My home mission is all about intentional design and favoring timeless and sentimental pieces over trends.

  • “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ― William Morris

  • May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.

  • “Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” – BILLY BALDWIN

  • I want to feel relaxed and refreshed when I am at home.

  • “There are two things that make a room timeless: a sense of history and a piece of the future.” – Charlotte Moss 

  • “The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them.” – David Hicks

  • This house is a fun place to be a kid.

Step Two: What is your vision?

The vision step starts getting into what you want your house to look like. The easiest way to do this section is to think of some adjectives that define your style. What do you want it to feel like? What styles do you love? Choosing any number of the below adjectives is a great starting point. Last year I selected 12 adjectives, and narrowed it down to 6 this year. I suppose that is the outcome of refining your style?

  • Minimal

  • Organic

  • Eclectic

  • Fun

  • Cozy

  • Warm

  • Cool

  • Traditional

  • Vintage

  • Casual

  • Calm

  • Bold

  • Colorful

  • Neutral

  • Bright

  • Relaxing

  • Vibrant

  • Soft

  • Clean

  • Timeless

  • Contemporary

  • Rustic

Step Three: Collect inspiration

This is my favorite part of the process—collecting the images that inspire you the most. I’ve been loving natural materials and subdued colors and this collection has all the right vibes for me. Look to Pinterest, scroll your favorite Instagram hashtags and save away! Even if you aren’t sure what you love about a single image right away, you’ll be able to pick out repeating elements that you are drawn to.

Step Four: Choose a palette

This step was hard for me last year because I wanted to use all the colors, and this time around it is hard because I don’t want to use any colors. Last year I chose some of my favorite things in my house and created swatches inspired by them. This year I’m basing my choices off of paint colors in use and swapping out color swatches for materials and textures instead. I’m learning that materials are just as important as colors, so I gave myself wiggle room to use both in this step.

A great place to start with building your home color story is with the paints you have on your walls! And take a look at your decor to see what colors you naturally gravitate towards. 

My favorite tools for generating a color scheme:

  • coolors.co is great if you’re looking for that magical last color. If you’re set on your foundation of colors, just press the space bar until you find something you love. 

  • Colormind is my go-to when I’m looking to build a palette off of one specific color.

  • Next time you are at the hardware or paint store, pick up one of those brochures of color collections! The paint color collections were put together by the pros and you really can’t go wrong with them. 

Step Five: Put it together

Time for the mood boards! This is how I visualize how everything is coming together before I change up my furniture or decor. I layer in new pieces of furniture mixed with what I actually have and play with it. I sometimes look only at small corners and sometimes look at mood boards for an entire room.

I’m currently in the early phases of designing a kitchen and love using mood boards to see if the aesthetic is cohesive with the rest of my house.

Are you ready to tackle putting together a style guide for your house?!

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