Is there a right or wrong approach to styling your custom home?

By Dotty Brothers | June 15, 2021
Is there a right or wrong approach to styling your custom home?

One thing people struggle with when working on the interior design of their custom dream homes is figuring out their own style. Traditional? Modern? Rustic? Modern Farmhouse? Boho? Minimalist? Contemporary? Industrial? Coastal? Scandinavian?

Honestly, the list of design styles is almost as long as a list of people who are interested in them, or scared off by them, or trying to resolve the parts they like of any number of them. It doesn’t have to be so hard!

We know that designing and building a custom dream home is a huge project for our clients. In many cases, it’s the largest investment, both physical and financial, and sometimes even emotional, they’ve ever made. As we work with clients through our design/build process, we’re privileged to learn a lot about them: why they want this dream home, how the home has to work for them, what their hopes are for the home. We also learn a lot about their individual style. Often, we’re working with couples or families, so that means we’re learning about individual styles, and coming up with creative ways to incorporate lots of different tastes and preferences.

To say nothing of the tact that all of that is before we even consider the outside inputs. Friends, extended family, coworkers—everybody with an opinion is ready to divert you from your track. Let’s not even touch on social media for now—that’s a tool that can be a great way to home in on your style, but it can also be a vehicle for you to second-guess everything you loved, or thought you loved. No matter what, for a project like a custom dream home, everyone will have an opinion to offer, sometimes whether you ask them for it or not.

We spoke with local interior designer Cassandra Doolittle from Northern Design Co. about personal style, and how to figure out what your style is. She’s an interior designer in the Brainerd Lakes area who has a long track record of helping people create stunning, personal spaces in their homes.

We asked her about different design styles, and how people can reconcile the varying aspects of those styles that appeal to them, especially with regard to interior home design.

This is one of a series of video interviews we did with Cassandra, discussing a wide range of interior design topics: her process, what her goals are for her clients, reasons to hire an interior designer, best practices for staying on budget, how to develop and incorporate your personal style, as well as some common mistakes people make that can be avoided with the help of an interior designer.

A key point from Cassandra revolved around the idea of “right or wrong” with design. Clients worry that one design choice or another—everything from room layout to surface finishes—is the “right” choice or the “wrong” choice, when really there isn’t such a thing. There’s no right or wrong design style, there’s just your style.  And a good interior designer will help you realize your style in a way that makes your dream home yours.

Keep in mind that everyone has their own notion of what various design styles mean. Ask two people to describe “modern,” “rustic,” or “modern rustic” design (the last is a type especially prevalent in the Brainerd Lakes area) and you’ll hear a lot of different answers. The key is to figure out what those styles mean for you. As Cassandra notes: “It’s okay if you like five different styles. But what is it about each of those styles that you like?” That’s how an interior designer helps you develop your own style. It’s not about staying true to some outside aesthetic, although there are people for whom that is their style. But the key thing is that lots of people get hung up on specific styles or ideas, but really good interior design isn’t restricted by a single design type: it’s there to help and serve you, in your home, so it looks and functions how you want it to.

Designing and building a dream home can be as stressful as it is thrilling. There are so many choices to make, and each of them seems fraught with implications, but they all boil down to: is it right or wrong? What we’ll help you see is that there isn’t really a right or wrong, there’s just what’s right for you and your family. (Okay, obviously there are some rights and wrongs: we’re not going to build a home suited for the tropics on a northern Minnesota lake, subject to northern Minnesota winters, but nobody’s really asking for that, anyway.)

Your style is what brings you joy, something that makes you happy and comfortable in your home. That’s what we want, too.

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