Finding your interior design style can be challenging with so many choices to love and gravitate toward. I’ve often thought I need at least three or more houses to get my styles fully expressed with all the interior design choices we have today. I’d have an elegant traditional home with luxury fabrics in colorful patterns, florals and lots of big spectacular furniture rich in architectural details and finishes. The next home would reflect my love of the cowboy West using big plush sofas, leather and nail-head trims, Western artwork and lots of whimsical details on fireplace screens, door handles, towel racks, lamps and wood-carved furniture. And my next home would be a sophisticated soft contemporary place with clean-lined seating, geometric patterns, glass and metal tables, colorful big abstract art and a few traditional pieces to keep it from having a cold, hard-edge appearance. Alas, if I could only win the Mega Millions jackpot!

How do you start to establish a stylish interior for your home? There are so many ways to approach this interior design puzzle that it can be a challenge. Sifting through a list of possibilities is often one way to add or eliminate things that will work to establish your style.

What are your emotional responses to dramatic and serene situations. Do you get so much stress on the job that an interior with a lot of visual stimulation would not renew you at home. Or perhaps you are an “A” personality that loves excitement and are thrilled with lots of inspirational interior elements. Are you someone who likes things peaceful and calm and would feel refreshed in a neutral surrounding of textures, colors and patterns. Would you would like to designated certain rooms for different emotions such as a calm, luxuriously appointed master bedroom and bath while keeping the busy kitchen colorful, cheerful and exciting. Drama or serenity can be the determining factor that can define your interior design style.

Nothing says interior design style like patterns. Patterns can be the focal point of the room or the splashy accent in pillows, artwork and accessories. Patterns can make a statement that says this is a classical, country chic or modern style interior. Colorful patterns can be the major design element on the wallpaper, area rugs, fabrics on the upholstered furniture, or on the multicovered windows treatments. In monochromatic color schemes, textured patterns fit well in neutral layers. Patterns can be a damask, a toile, a floral, a geometric, an ikat, stripes, or embedded with glass beads for sparkle or shine with metallic inks. Patterns can definitely be the starting point in establishing your interior design style.

The eclectic interior style encompassing a mix of furniture styles collected over the years with a dash of inheritance pieces can be a great personal style but it is much harder to put together. Often, grandmother’s secretary is pushed into the corner because it’s the only place it would fit. But with a new finish or even painted, it could become the focal point of your new style. When mixing eclectic pieces, there should be a common thread that pulls them all together such as color, scale or form. An example is a contemporary glass-top dining table surrounded by French arm chairs upholstered in a bright contemporary print. Another example is using several different-sized living room lounge chairs coordinated by using the same color of creamy white but all in different patterns. In this case, the color is the common thread that pulls them together.

The eclectic approach is the most challenging to coordinate but can give the most character to an interior style. No matter what style you want to incorporate, creating your personal style can be rewarding, exciting and satisfying. So, how would you define your style?

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit

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