Step 4: IDENTIFY YOUR STYLE.
Style is personal to many people and can be elusive. I think it is important to know which broad category your style fits into before proceeding with a renovation. Do you like more classic looking settings or casual? Light and airy or dark and moody? Hard finishes are not changed often so I personally suggest you steer your renovation towards something classic that can stand the test of time and works well with the style of the house itself.
How to identify your style.
There are several ways to identify your style. Clothing is a good indication. Clothing falls into categories like: classic, casual, bohemian and formal, but this can sometimes confuse the issue. You may have to dress more formal for work, like wearing a suit and tie, but want a more relaxed home. Determine if you like to have a more simplified, relaxed look or you prefer something that looks more formal and “tucked in”. It is easier to live with a relaxed looking home if you have children or you like to put your feet up on the coffee table when watching television. If you host more “formal” parties, you may want a more formal feel to your hard finishes. For example, marble flooring is more formal in feel than Saltillo tile. Some tiles used is backsplashes look more formal than others. Dark tiles can create a moody feel in a room. Light tiles with a glaze create an airy feel.
Magazines are great resources for trying to identify and define your style. Gather images together in a way that allows you to see the images side by side. Pinterest has tons of images of interiors and these can be saved to boards defining rooms or mood. Spend lots of time gathering images for all the individual rooms you will be renovating that contain hard finishes such as, living rooms, family rooms that are open concept with a kitchen in the background or closed kitchens and of course, extra bathrooms and master bathrooms. Don’t forget laundry rooms and entry ways if you have these in your home. Hard finishes are found on flooring, countertops, backsplashes, shower walls and tub surrounds and tiled walls in laundry areas.
Don’t forget to gather images of hardscaping in your yard if you can see these areas from adjacent living spaces. Coordinating or carrying a material from the inside of your home to outside helps give the illusion of a larger living space if that is the look you are trying to create.
Look closely at the images you gathered and study them for what is important to you. You might really like the light and airy feel of a room in one image and decide that is the look you would like to recreate in your own home. Images are tricky. Know that you can try to recreate a general feel of a room, but many factors will influence the final outcome. Particular elements, such as, the natural lighting in a room, artificial lighting, the proportions and ceiling height, the connection or non-connection to other rooms in the home all come into consideration. Study how the hard finishes go together or don’t in the images you gathered. Study if the room has a certain vibe to it. Study the images in terms of your lifestyle. Will this look be hard to clean or maintain over time? Will this look work with my pets, children or for a couple that likes to host frequent parties?
My opinion on style.
I am of the opinion hard finishes are best when they are timeless and reflect the overall style of the house. There are many great looks that can be created to "contradict" or play off the style of the house, such as a modern interior in an older home. These interiors are tricky to pull off. They also may not be allowed if you live in a historic neighborhood. Removing interior historic elements may also affect the overall value of your property. Cohesive style, particularly in elements that remain with the house once you move, is best. I wish more flippers thought this through.
Trends come and go quickly in fashion and in interiors. Hard finishes are expensive to replace and therefore aren’t replaced as often as other elements in your home. Add “trends” with finishes that are inexpensive, such as, throw pillows with a pop of current color, plants, books, throws and photos.
If you are looking for a comprehensive package of hard finish suggestions, shop my various finish schemes for sale. The PDF download is a materials list of coordinated hard finishes and appropriate foundation whites for kitchens or baths. Be sure to get both corresponding rooms if you are planning a complete remodel.