Picking a “Design Aesthetic”

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Doesn’t that sound so pretentious? I can’t even, but I’m not sure how else to describe deciding on the vibe of our living area.

First of all – THANK YOU for your advice on the last post!! Super helpful, and now I have a whole new list of appliance makers to look at. I knew you guys would be wise.

So – one of the biggest roadblocks in this remodel was getting my husband and I on the same page about what we wanted the overall feel to be. Our design comfort zones are fairly diametrically opposed.

I’d call my style “Pottery Barn meets Norman Rockwell.” I grew up with Pottery Barn catalogues and something about the neutral couches/red accents/oversized country accessories really stuck with me. I loved the vibe of the pretty yet casual living rooms, complete with lounging yellow labs and the silver framed (and monogrammed!) black and white photos of beautiful families. If I could afford any painting by any artist, Norman Rockwell would be way up there. Something about his work speaks to the kind of domesticity I aspire to. BTW – his work was more important than you might think.

Darcy calls my design aesthetic “pedestrian.” I would classify his design taste as “fancy dentist office.” He loves everything super modern, white, stark and minimal. It’s – not for me. So, we’ve had to try to meet somewhere in the middle.

Over the last few years, Darcy has been working with some really talented people who specialize in writing about remodeling and home design. I think it’s safe to say speaking with them probably heightened his expectations, in a good way. He was very focused on making our remodel thoughtful and considered in every regard, which was frustrating in that the planning phase took two years. Yes, for real. And not gonna lie – I have gotten frustrated at the speed from time to time.

At one point, Josh Groves with Remodelista came over to speak to us about our project. In addition to giving great tips for the remodel, he had me focus on what place really resonated with me from a style point of view. And I realized it was London. In our neighborhood of Notting Hill, we were invited over to several neighbors’ homes, which were very old and beautiful on the outside – the buildings were Georgian in some cases. But the living spaces were modern and clean and stylish in a really fresh way. I wonder if it’s the weather, but I think no one has quite figured out how to make homes lovely and inviting like the British.

Once I made that leap, it was easier to gravitate more towards the modern, and meet Darcy in the middle. I could keep some warm, inviting touches yet be more contemporary.

Anyway, that’s where we are in terms of design. If you could design your home in any style, what would it be?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Picking a “Design Aesthetic”

  1. I would probably lean more towards your “Pottery Barn meets Norman Rockwell” style… I would say our house is more casual/country. I like dark wood & earth tones. I find the whole white/stark/minimal style that’s so popular right now very cold & unfriendly… I look at the magazine photos & it’s hard to believe that people (children??!) actually live in these places. No toys, no books, no family photos, no remote controls on the coffee table (no TV sets, for that matter, lol)…! I know, they clean up & move things around before they shoot the photos, but still…!

    I do think consulting a designer is probably worth the money, even if you just talk with them for an hour to get some ideas (vs hiring them to do the whole thing for you). I had a “colour consultant” from Benjamin Moore come over to help me pick out some paint colours the last time we painted — I paid $75 for an hour of her time, & she had some really great ideas (and not just for the paint)… she didn’t push anything too wild, but she did make some suggestions that I never would have thought of trying, and they wound up looking really good.

  2. Esperanza

    Is IKEA-chic a thing? Because that is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of my house. 😉

    I’m so excited you’re finally getting the remodel you’ve been waiting for. I hope you love the result!

  3. I would say Ryan’s aesthetic is more like your husbands he likes very clean lines and for the workmanship of the craft to be really prominent. Architectural features, use of quality wood, amazing bathroom features etc etc. I like those too but I like my house to be a home not a display piece so I like to mix things up. I hate clutter so it has to be clean and not crowded and I don’t like lots of knick knacks but I do like having pieces that mean something to me and generally they are the one’s people comment on! You’ve inspired me to write a non infertile / parenting blog post as I have been struggling with design mojo lately!

  4. Interesting! Can’t wait to hear more. R and I have somewhat similar design tastes (modern but not dentist-y… which made me laugh out loud, by the way) but very different color palettes. He would build every room around red if I’d allow it!

  5. My style is so so so modern. Clean surfaces, minimalist everything.
    Does not mesh with a 5 year old for sure.

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