Design 101: Turning Your Style Words Into Tangible Design

    Sheesh!  Is it just me, or is summer flying by?  I had hoped to post multiple times a week, & each time I go to post a new entry, I realize it's been at least a week since my last one.  But you probably didn't stop by to hear about my time-management skills (or lack thereof), so let's get down to business, shall we?
     In determining our style words, we can figure out what is truly important in our homes.  Homes & memories often evoke strong feelings - wouldn't you like your home's memories to be pleasant ones?  Style words are very personal & will be different for each person; along those same lines, the same style word can take on different meaning for each person.  Therefore, I think the easiest way to explain how to turn your style words into actual, touchable design is for me to walk you through what my style words mean to me, & how that shows in my home.

Classic, charming, kid-friendly, sentimental, joyful, cozy.

     When it comes down to it, I'm more traditional than modern, & I'm not super trendy either.  In fact, for my wedding, my mantra was "classic, simple elegance" (& the byline of this blog includes simple elegance as well).  To me, this means that a lot of my choices will hopefully stand the test of time.  They are not too flashy or ornamental, but are well-made & enduring. My big purchases are classics, & I hope I will still have them in 20 years.

Country Living
Audrey Hepburn via
     The two pictures above exemplify the word classic to me.  Audrey Hepburn's style continues to inspire; even her simple bike riding outfit of black sweater, cigarette pants, & flats can be found in stores today.  The chesterfield sofa has been around for over 300 years, & is a style found in both showrooms & retail stores - Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, & West Elm are all currently selling their version of this great sofa.  What I love about the one above is that, while the style is classic, the color is a little more fun, so the room could go in many different directions: country, retro, traditional, cottage.  But that's a lesson for another day.

     This is one of the more subjective terms.  In my home, it can also tie in with classic & cozy.  A lot of the charm of a home, for me, has to do with the details & architecture of the house.  Great millwork & lighting, flooring, tile work in the kitchen & baths.

This beautiful kitchen is from Joan at For the Love of a House.  There are so many charming aspects of this room: the fireplace, built-in cupboard, mix of countertop materials, flooring, lighting, etc.  Charm is often lacking in many of today's cookie-cutter neighborhoods.  You don't have to spend a fortune to obtain that charm; with just a bit of elbow grease & DIY skill, you can add your own woodwork to make your home stand out from the crowd!

     Kids can be rough on furnishings.  An errant marker swipe here or a shoe buckle scrape there can instantly mar a piece of furniture.  Between my dog & my toddler, things need to be resilient around here.  Luckily, there are more choices than ever that can stand up to the daily wear-&-tear of family life.  Leather, seagrass, slipcovers, outdoor fabrics - these are just a handful of designer tricks used in households with kids.  Some of my better investments have been our slipcovered ottoman/coffee table (easy to throw in the wash when dirty, although it wipes up with a damp cloth pretty well too.  Plus, it's padded, so no bumps & bruises from walking into it, climbing on it, etc.) and our seagrass rug.  Forgive the iPhone pic, but I was too lazy to get out my real camera & then edit. ;)

hcb interiors

Did you know that seagrass is more durable than sisal or jute?  Because it grows in water, it's more impervious to liquid stains since water is its natural habitat.  I won't go into graphic details, but let me assure that ALL types of liquids have cleaned up easily with our rug.

   I have always appreciated the history & memories of family heirlooms, no matter their value.  However, it wasn't until my mom's passing that I really became aware of how much it meant to me to weave family into our home.  Every room in our house not only contains family pictures, but also a piece of furniture, art, fabric, etc. from a family member.  The vanity my mom used as a child & teen is now my bedside table.
hcb interiors - excuse the iPhone photo!
We refinished different pieces from my great-aunt's dining room (like this sideboard on the left), & they are now scattered throughout our house.

    Beyond family heritage, I also want it to be immediately apparent to anyone visiting our home that it is the people, & not the things, in my home that are most important.  Reminders of the true blessings in my life are in abundance in our house.  There are some in the design world who believe a home can have too many photographs; I am not one of those people.  And I have multiple gallery walls to prove it.  :)

    I want our home to be a happy, loving environment.  A respite from hard times & a harsh world.  This can tie in with the sentimental items, as it brings us joy to see my daughter sleeping in my mom's childhood bed.  I am all about traditions, such as using a certain plate every year for birthdays, so those also create a sense of joy.  And finally, we like to fill our home with the things that make us happy - good books & music, art that speaks to us, and those gallery walls that capture our best memories.

     Cozy makes me picture fires in the fireplace, warm blankets on the bed, & the smells of fall in my kitchen.  But it also means good lighting (preferably on dimmers!), both natural & painted wood, & textures that are inviting to the touch.  It's an ambiance that invites people in, & makes them want to stay a little longer. Nine & Sixteen's kitchen renovation (shown below) is one of my favorites of all time.  It's not huge (& cozy usually isn't), but there seems to be a place for everything.  It exudes homeyness & warmth, has beautiful finishes, & is well-laid out.  Plus, the lighting kills me!  I am absolutely in love with her window placement, pendants, & sconces.  Didn't Tessa do a great job?  

     Whew!  That ended up being more of a novel than a quick lesson.  Hope it gave you some ideas of how to translate your style words into design.  And, of course, I'd always love to help you turn your words into reality!  Just email me at hcbinterors{at}gmail.com

Have a great week!


  1. thank, Holly! I'm very flattered to be included in this mix!! I ditto 100% of all your style words And to me, when someone says my home feels cozy I always take it as the biggest compliment! . xo, Tessa

  2. hi Holly, I agree with your design philosophy! Thank you for letting me know the kitchen was in this post.
    happy summer!

  3. Carrie your living room is absolutely gorgeous! Looks so spacious and cosy at the same time. Love your interrior style! chesterfield chair

  4. What a great post! I love them all, can't pick a favorite! Thanks for sharing. id