Style is personal to many people and can be elusive. One way to determine your style is to think in broad categories before proceeding with a renovation. Start with these questions. Do you like more classic or casual looking interiors? Light and airy interiors or dark and moody spaces?
Permanent interior finishes such as stone, tile and hardwood flooring, are not changed often so I personally suggest you steer your renovation towards something classic that can stand the test of time and works to compliment the exterior style of your home.
How to identify your style.
There are several ways to identify your style. Begin broadly and then try to get more detailed. Don't forget to take your partner's style into account if you share a home.
Clothing can be a good place to start. Clothing falls into categories such as: classic, casual, minimal, bohemian and formal. Check your closet and determine if you have a strong leaning towards a specific style.
Determine if you want 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 pets or if you like to put your feet up on the coffee table when watching television. If you host lots of “formal” parties, you may want a more formal feel to your permanent interior finishes.
Housing style can also influence your interiors. Think formal house verses cottage. Think large house with a strong, defined exterior style verses a condominium without much definition. It is not so important that you "replicate" the exterior style on the interior of the house, just that you choose finishes that compliment the overall style.
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, whether that is physically or digitally. Pinterest has tons of interior images and these can be saved to boards based rooms or mood.
Spend lots of time gathering images for all the individual rooms you will be renovating that contain permanent interior 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. Permanent finishes are found on flooring, countertops, backsplashes, shower walls and tub surrounds and tiled walls in laundry areas. Don't forget to include existing images of your home for the spaces that will not be renovated. Integrating your new renovation with your existing home will be key. Keep your style consistent throughout your home so it looks cohesive and spaces don't appear dated.
Don’t forget to gather images of hardscaping for 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, such as, the natural lighting in a room, artificial lighting, room proportions and ceiling height, as well as the connection or non-connection to other rooms in the home.
Study how the permanent finishes go together or don’t. 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 children or pets? Does this style work for hosting formal parties or large family gatherings?
My opinion on style.
I am of the opinion permanent finishes are best when they are timeless and age well. Some would say this might make your house boring or dull but I would argue it will allow you to create a backdrop that can work with many different styles over time. Personal style can and does change over time.
An important factor to keep in mind when renovating the permanent finishes in your home is whether your home is a historic property or in a historic neighborhood. Removing interior historic elements may affect the overall value of your property or may not be allowed. Check your local building codes and requirements in your area. Cohesive home style, particularly in elements that remain with the house once you move, is best.
Trends come and go quickly in fashion and interior finishes are no exception. Permanent interior finishes are expensive to replace, both in material and installation costs, and therefore aren’t usually replaced as often as other elements in your home. To keep an interior looking fresh, keep the role of permanent finishes as backdrop and add "trendy items" in small doses. Throw pillows, throws, flowers, plants, books and photos will add color and style to your interior and can be easily and relatively inexpensively changed over time.