The Art of Personal Style | Series Part 1

I was telling a friend recently, who suggested I start compiling "mood boards" on Pinterest to prepare for the decor of another house (a home we've yet to even find) that these days I'm feeling slightly burnt out on such things. Not to undermine the handiness of Pinterest - surely there are great things to be said for a site dedicated solely to fluttering the wings of inspiration, but with that I also feel the threat of overdoing it. In part because I think we are currently so inundated with a scripted array of polished homes, staging, and on trend (hip) decor, that the uniform settings of such stylish homes has almost, dare I say, become boring to me.

It's not that these interiors aren't alluring to the eye - they are - utterly, but because so much of the same is what I see commonly praised and adored on social media, it feels generally void of any real or defining character from what I can tell. Rarely do I run across a home that speaks boldly for the person who inhabits it. For instance I think I'm currently following 15 ladies on Instagram with the exact same white country kitchen, bedroom, loft and mud room with the same peg hook littered with the same exact utensils! Where, on the other end, the much expected white walled / Vintage Kilim (insert overt green plants and macrame) makes up the other percentage, fostering it's own wild grasping 70's themed decor cult outside of the quieter, "cuter" country dream house.

All of it has me wondering if we've somehow lost the unique ability to personalize our home spaces with things we actually like, things that make us happy, in exchange for things we know fit a certain aesthetic we're trying so desperately to secure.

I'm victim of it myself. Absolutely. Realizing at certain points of indecisive rearranging / decorating (which I know we are all prone to whenever areas of the house fall in dire need of a little sprucing up) that some of the things I'm going for aren't even really my taste. For instance, the whole wicker and macrame 70's trend that set the Instagram home porn hub ablaze a few years ago - and swept me up for a hot minute too - wasn't something I might have been actually all that fond of had it not been for the million of photos I scrolled through daily telling me I should be. Like so many things, it's something I appreciate in other's homes but it only occurred to recently how much I was fighting my innate love of more plainly handsome, wood pieces with a sleek modern edge that I really crave, because I was trying to lean on trends the majority of people I saw on social media embracing in. So much so that I had a startling epiphany a few months back, struggling to hang a long vined plant from a uncooperative ceiling beam, when the realization hit me. "Do I even like hanging plants in my house?!" What I concluded, in a short sweaty afterthought, was, not really.

The naked hook hanging above the window stands as small evidence of my disgruntled awakening.

In that realization I began to consider more about what it was I like, instead of the onslaught of what social media tell breeds and clings to. I would argue that before, it was almost easier to settle on what we loved before the influx of Pinterest inspired house hunts overshadowed our inner adoration for things based on personal style. For instance, I has always been fond of a few things, no matter the trends of the moment: cozy clutter over sparse corners, natural jute rugs, worn leather seating, old Danish side chairs, eclectic photo wall galleries and scattered (off beat) art, shaker tables, and arts and craft style lighting. With a healthy dose of books piled wherever they seem best suited. Linen bedding, white quilted covets.

Through the years, whenever I've strayed too far from these tried and true basics I find myself caught in a constant state of cycling items in and out of our home space because at some point, they start to irk me. I've learned this lesson too many times with loudly pattered throw pillows the same as I did with my love hate relationship with bold Kilim and Moroccan rugs. Really, I prefer more neutral textiles and had I just accepted that in the beginning, I would have saved myself a whole lot of time and money devoted to pulling them in and out of my house. And as much as I'd love to incorporate that adorable farmhouse trend, I'd never be content if what surrounds me doesn't feel like an authentic extension of who I am. Messy bookshelves, muted bed tones, linen drapes, rugged antique side tables and swanky sixties side chairs. Classic lighting, shaker cabinets. All the same things I was drawn to with out first home. Nearly 12 years ago now.

In juxtaposition to what the most celebrated homes on the web seem to cling to (especially here on the West Coast) spending some time in New York this Fall was a serious eye opener. The lofts and homes I was exposed to felt exceptionally unique and far more daring in their embrace of off kilter decor entirely outside of what I'm use to here in So Cal which has basically become a stunted formula we're all recycling to a certain degree. The fig leaf instead of the ficus. The Turkish pillows instead of the neon stripes. The wool fiber hangings instead of the wild abstract art print. The white subway tile as opposed to the something (anything!) else. So much on repeat that at some point it starts to erode whatever sense of taste we might carry innately ourselves. And is why I feel so oddly attached to certain homes I go into, that convey a deep sense of individualism as opposed to anything else.

Certainly there are people out there who have a real knack for styling and making things they love work out beautifully, easily even, but more than that I think it takes a little gut. To follow your inner decor interests. And while I'm not claiming to hold any special powers in that particular skill, I just hope in my next home, given the chance at another major renovation, I'll be a little better about tuning our the endless means of "inspiration" being tossed in front of me constantly and put more time and money more where my heart is. Both with, and without the polished Gods of Pinterest there to guide me.

* photo of Dian Keaton's spectacular home, a favorite of mine since it landed on my mother's doorstep via an Architectural Digest subscription a decade ago, now routinely cycled on the home decor sites but clearly, refreshingly all "Keaton" felt and styled.

Design Sponge on The White Wall Controversy  for more on the topic.