I am a sucker for quizzes. What career should you actually have? (Writer. Phew!) What city should you live in? (Paris. I know.) What animal are you? (Otter. Otter?) So when I was offered an advanced copy of “The DIY Style Finder: Discover Your Unique Style and Decorate It Yourself,” (Harvest House Publishers, March 5, 2019), which included a “Find Your Style” Quiz – even though I should have that figured out by now – I raised my hand.
Itching to find out, I turned first to the 15-question quiz. As if putting on the Hogwarts sorting hat, I waited: Into which house would I fall?
Spoiler alert: The quiz inside “The DIY Style Finder,” by KariAnne Wood, author of the popular Thistlewood Farms blog, may not help you determine whether your look is strongly traditional, farmhouse, transitional, contemporary, or coastal — the five looks she explores in her book — but it will help you divine what you like about each, see that they can beautifully intersect, and there, in that junction, discover your style.
I didn’t get this at first. In fact, I thought I’d failed the quiz since my answers gave me a toehold in every look. But I called Wood, who reassured me – THAT IS THE POINT. Whew! I felt as if I not only passed, but I also got the trick question.
“Although the book is divided into five design styles, the reality is there are five million styles,” said Wood, whose book features her design work in one category (coastal) and the work of four other home bloggers. After the style quiz and a meet-the-bloggers section, the book moves on to devote one chapter to each room in the house. Each blogger offers up her home as an example, so we get to see, for instance, five styles of kitchens side by side, plus tips for every room.
Here’s a sampler of room takeaways:
• The dining room – Make it easy to add and subtract seating to fit your gathering. Have a leaf you can insert or remove from the table, and benches and pull-up chairs nearby. They don’t have to match.
• The kitchen – Big drawers backfire. Use drawer organizers, and, where possible, a series of small drawers dedicated to one type of item, like measuring cups. Label shelves for faster finding and easy inventory checks.
• The bathroom – A rustic ladder propped against the wall makes a great towel rack. A lazy Susan under the sink can create order out of chaos.
As I looked over the rooms, however, my self-doubt returned. “If I’d had to guess which style each lovely room belonged to, I would have been wrong half the time,” I confessed to Wood. The farmhouse dining room looked a little contemporary; the transitional living room leaned traditional.
“I know what you mean,” she said. “Though each blogger has a certain tone, all have crossover in their style. Carmel Phillips, for instance, is 100 percent contemporary, but she has incorporated pieces from her grandmother.”
So I’m not an imposter.
“And that’s reality, isn’t it?” I said. “Anymore, real rooms in real houses don’t fall into one pure type. They have a bit of beach driftwood here and a splash of modern art there.”
“Exactly,” she said. “I encourage that. So much social media and many blogs tell people do this and do that. I say, just do you. At end of the day, we all have our own style. We don’t fit into one bucket. I know this sounds like a Hallmark answer, but if you put what you love into your home, you will love your home. And it will be your style.”
For those curious about which way their style leans, here’s a quick overview of the five styles in Wood’s new book. Don’t fret if your home is a little of each:
• Traditional homes look as if they have always been there. They are filled with classic, timeless antiques, paintings that look inherited, plush rugs, blue-and-white china, crisp white moldings, damask pillows and boxwood topiaries.
• Farmhouse celebrates the chipped, the worn, the distressed, and every barn door that has ever gone before. These are homes that have a chicken coop as a coffee table, and a galvanized metal windmill over the fireplace.
• Transitional combines pieces from different décor styles in creative, unconventional ways. Here you might find a bold piece of abstract art over an heirloom sideboard on a vintage kilim rug.
• Contemporary homes are exciting, irreverent and vibrant. Here you’ll find glass tabletops, chairs you can see through, brilliantly colored upholstered furniture (turquoise and red), mirrored end tables, big bold graphic designs and leopard print chair covers.
• Coastal looks embrace fresh airy textiles, such as stripes and polka dots, against white linen and painted wood. Sea glass in a jar, Adirondack chairs, sand dollars and seashells in a driftwood bowl are all at home here.
Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of three home and lifestyle books, including Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go (Sterling Publishing). You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.