How to Buck Trends and Find Your Unique Design Style

Quick question: What’s your design style? Are you Mid-Century Modern, all clean lines and elegant minimalism? Perhaps you gravitate toward the industrial or, on the opposite side of the design spectrum, a rustic vibe. Maybe your tastes lean more traditional, transitional or even shabby chic. Or, maybe you’re like many people and don’t know quite how to find your unique design style. The convenience of opening the latest catalog from a mass retailer and saying, “I’ll take everything on pg. 42” is too great. That’s where we come in. 


Our Founder and Lead Designer Emily Mackie has come up with a, shall we say, secret recipe when it comes to determining your own unique design style. This is the formula she uses when working one-on-one with clients, so, understandably, she’s reluctant to give it out. But we persuaded her to share, so here it is: 


Your unique design style is a combination of your past, your present and your future.


Determining Your Design Destiny


Let’s try a powerful exercise putting together a style board. You may be familiar with assembling a vision board to manifest goals or pinning images to your Pinterest pages. These are images that, for one reason or another, resonate with you. 


We’ll take it step by step. The first step is to consider the surroundings that are summoned when you think of your past. For Emily, who grew up in Texas and Louisiana, images of nature, sun-soaked pastures, Southern plantations with Antebellum wraparound porches and massive oak trees dominate her memories. What are the defining features of your past? That’s your default, your comfort zone. It’s part of you and ingrained in you (often whether you like it or not). 


How to Find Your Unique Design Style


Present Lifestyle vs. Future Aspirations


For step two, things get real. As you might expect, your present is comprised of your current surroundings. Do you live on a sprawling ranch in Montana? A contemporary Miami condo? A three-story family home in the Chicago suburbs? Those are very different residences with very different existing conditions that narrow design possibilities. 


Your lifestyle also dictates your present parameters. An empty-nester couple who can entertain a more sophisticated aesthetic most likely has divergent design needs than a young family of four for whom a more casual approach rules the day. 


For step three, it’s time to dream. What do you envision your future to look like? What design trends do you love, what architects’ work do you stan, which Instagram accounts do you follow? These are your aspirations, and they’re just as important as your past influences and your current situation. Ignore your design desires at your own peril.


How the Past, Present and Future Come Together


Now, spread out all of those images you’ve compiled to come up with the final equation. When you give equal credence to the pull of your past, the reality of your present and the longing for your future, you’re sure to see patterns emerge and certain aesthetics prevail. Through careful editing and a commitment to stay true to yourself, you begin to forge your unique design style.


This is a beautiful, valuable thing! Take a photo of your board and keep it on your phone so your vision is always accessible for instant inspiration, even when that totally-wrong-for-you sofa is calling your name. 


Finding Your Unique Design Style


Defining Your Own Unique Design Style

It may be easier to default to the latest interior design trends when renovating your residence. However, creating emotional connections to our spaces starts by determining what makes us happy in our homes, a process that involves some soul searching. Connect with the Inspired Interiors team to get started on a design journey that will reflect your past, present and future, resulting in a truly authentic aesthetic to last through the ages.

Top 4 Myths About Design Network TV Shows (HGTV & DIY Network Secrets)

We’ve all spent a Saturday binge-watching popular HGTV and DIY Network home improvement shows like Fixer Upper, House Hunters and Rehab Addict. And now, self-proclaimed designers are even showing off projects in 3-minute TikTok videos, adding to the mystique of what it actually takes to complete a complex interior design project. Stop the madness!


We thought we’d pull back the curtain to reveal what goes on behind the scenes of these ubiquitous productions. From who actually does the work to the time and money it would take the average homeowner to complete these full-scale projects, we’re here to dispel the myths behind this interior design magic.


Myth #1: The host of the show is the lead designer of the project.


Reality: Early in her career, our Founder Emily Mackie was a ghost designer for such well-known HGTV and DIY Network shows as Meg’s Great Rooms with Meg Caswell and Kitchen Crashers with Alison Victoria. You’re most likely familiar with these household names (at least in households that are design savvy). 


What exactly is a ghost designer? Emily was the person to meet with the homeowner; identify their needs; draw up the designs, 3-Ds and elevations; negotiate with each vendor to secure all of the product; and manage all of the budgets and pricing. Emily was then responsible to present the project to the network. 


The face of the TV show is often just that while the real work is done by a team of talented, dedicated and hard-working designers, contractors and builders. It truly takes a village (and a vision!) to create a cohesive, beautiful home design.


Myth #2: The planning involved for an interior design project can be wrapped up in a neat 60-minute time slot.


Reality: There are countless steps that need to be taken before a design project gets off the ground. Think: executing space planning, considering existing condition drawings, mapping out materials, creating elevations, soliciting expert opinions, coordinating with contractors, getting a fair amount of bids … and the list goes on. There are reasons why people hire professionals.


In other words: This type of work doesn’t happen overnight, let alone in the span of an hour-long TV show. When Emily did this type of work, three months of planning, coordinating and buying products took place — and that was before the filming schedule kicked off.


Social media sites like TikTok can disillusion homeowners even further — what looks to be a simple living room refurnishing project most likely took days of measurements, making plans and sourcing materials.


Design Network TV Shows


Myth #3: The pricing reflected in the show is what the average homeowner can expect.


Reality: As one might guess, TV networks are offered significant discounts by vendors that want the high-profile exposure from their products being featured on their shows and marketed to audiences who are interested in home improvement projects. Big-name furniture, appliances and other home design companies get powerful product placements, but the actual dollar amounts are muddied.


Not only is the product pricing featured on these shows not accurate, it’s not attainable by the average homeowner. Because individuals don’t possess the buying power of these networks, they’ll purchase the products featured at full price. 


Myth #4: The completed project fits the homeowner’s long-term lifestyle and needs.


Reality: Even though Emily would meet with clients beforehand to determine their direction for each project, the show’s producers often had their own ideas about what would look good on the screen. These masters of illusion would persuade the homeowner to sign off on what the network thought was best, not taking into account that the family would need or desire out of their home in the years to come.


With a fast-paced production schedule, the construction and design of the project would move at a breakneck pace, often with paint still wet and items propped up and duct taped when the cameras started rolling. What was a set design for the crew is an actual residence for the homeowner, often leaving them high and dry.


Design Network TV Shows


Fact Not Fiction

While indulging in home design shows is great for inspiration, working hand-in-hand with a qualified interior design team in real life brings your long-term dreams to fruition without any pretense. To create a comprehensive home design that reflects your personality and fits your lifestyle takes a careful, collaborative approach with an interior designer — not someone who just plays one on TV.

Why Big Box Retailers Might Not Be the Right Fit for Your Home Design

We’ve all been browsing in a big box furniture retailer — think Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Walter E. Smithe and the like — and noticed that they offer in-store “design services.” While those offerings can serve certain limited purposes, they’ve also created some confusion around what exactly the title “designer” means. 


Here, we’d like to explore these misconceptions and explain why working with a trained and licensed interior designer builds a long-lasting relationship that goes well beyond the big box. 


Misconception #1: The title “designer” means the same thing across the board.


For the most part, the design services offered at chain stores are provided by salespeople without official interior design. This approach may suffice if you’re looking for accessories or small items to furnish isolated areas. However, if your plans include developing a theme for your entire home, multiple considerations come into play simultaneously, including planning out color schemes, thoughtfully mapping out functions of spaces, selecting interior architectural finishes, blending in texture and much more. This type of cohesion can only come from working with a qualified interior designer who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is professionally trained in these complex architectural assembly techniques.


Inspired Interiors Founder and Designer Emily Mackie likens utilizing a store designer with going to a Minute Clinic, while collaborating with a trained interior designer is similar to the doctor-patient relationship, which takes a person’s entire life and history into account when making decisions. 


Misconception #2: You can create an authentic, unique interior design from shopping at a big box retailer. 


Big box retail reps and licensed interior designers all shop at the same international trade shows. The major difference? The chain stores buy limited items in mass quantities, while interior designers have access to the full range of countless manufacturers and can shop from the entire spectrum when designing your home. This results in a home design that is highly curated and completely authentic to you and your lifestyle. People will ask “where did you get that” instead of “oh, I have that from Restoration Hardware, too.”


When you shop at a big box retailer, you only see what their buyers have selected for the store floor and their catalogue. Your options are narrowed, and your chances of having your home look like a replica are greatly increased.   


Misconception #3: You’ll get the same level of customer service from a store designer. 


When you order from a big box store, the customer-designer relationship usually ends as soon as the transaction is complete. It’s up to you to manage your order from home, from shipping times/days and delivery to your residence, to any imperfections, wrong sizes, missing parts and anything else that could go wrong. And, if for any reason you’re unhappy with your selections, you’ve wasted all of that blood, sweat and tears (and time!) of working with the retailer in the first place.


An interior designer takes care of all of that for you — from placing and overseeing orders to arranging the items properly throughout your space. A great way to avoid buyer’s remorse and get exactly what you envisioned for the project.


A Powerful Partnership


The Inspired Interiors team is passionate about partnering with select homeowners who desire a home design that captures life’s moments and reflects their one-of-a-kind uniqueness. We take pride in ensuring full-service and end-to-end services to bring our collaborative vision to life.