Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Designers' "Split Personalities"

As I've gotten older- or gotten to know myself better- I've realized that in my personal interior design, I need muted colors-- a sense of calm, and a nod toward minimalism (ok, scratch minimalism, let's say streamlined). While I love lots of bold colors and energizing spaces, I am too much of a stress case to live in an environment like that. But that doesn't stop me from loving those spaces.

Perhaps because of this dilemma, I imagine it must be great fun as a designer to express or illustrate so many different sides or styles of design. Sure, there's something oddly reassuring about a so-called trademark style. For example, there are some rooms that scream, "yes, that is a Miles Redd room." (though a glance through his portfolio may challenge some of our notions). Phoebe Howard rooms are very Phoebe to me- and I'm not sure I'd want it any other way (I LOVE Phoebe).

But here are a few examples of what I'm calling "Designer Split Personality" and in no way am I trying to be disrespectful. Admittedly, this is less about true styles or types, like midcentury modern, traditional, or my least-favorite term, transitional, but rather about the feel of a room.

First example- Sarah Richardson Design. I admit I had my own ideas of what I thought constituted Sarah Richardson Design. On the edge of rustic, a country European feel.

But then I saw these rooms. Did anyone else stop to take a second look, at these?

Amanda Nisbet also provides a lot of variety. Yes, lots of color pops in her room with fun and funky...

But she does elegant glamor just as well...

I also have very definitive ideas about Jamie Drake's designs. COLOR and very hip.

But check out these more muted rooms... the first illustrating a definite shift in style.

Ruthie Sommers portfolio is all over the board (pardon the pun) with some spaces I adore, and others are just not my favorite.

She has dark bold rooms with a "global" feel...

to streamlined updated traditional..

And Romantic "country" or European style.

Michael S. Smith differentiates among Beach House, Town Home, and High Rise, which give hints at different styles.

The City...

And The Country

So what do you think? Do you "buy" my theory of different personalities being represented? Can you see consistent themes of each designer throughout their work? Who else would you add to the list?



  1. We don't have enough houses or rooms for everything we like. I enjoy plenty of places where I don't think I'd want live every day. But I'm not sure I'd know unless I could try them all out.

  2. Oh wow...those are totally different looks...great, but different! Hope your having a great day girl! xoxo

  3. OMG what a great post.
    Fantastic photos to illustrate your point.
    I do love colour, bold colours. And the way i love to combine them is within a contemporary background with eclectic touches everywhere. Makes every space so welcoming.
    So much inspiration in here.

  4. I love those rooms, especially the country style ones :)
    I agree about muted colours in a house. I love pasteley colours - especially pale blues

  5. I think these style shifts are probably most likely the result of different clients -- after all, these rooms should ultimately reflect the people who live in them rather than the designer...and I think a designer's ability to shift based on a client's needs is the mark of a good designer. Another factor may be shifting taste through time...I don't know about you, but my taste has evolved over time!

  6. I'm continually surprised by the breadth of range for some designers! I was just recently checking out Phoebe Howard's work, and her rooms varied so much by client. Which is a wonderful testament to her talent. I really enjoy designers who have online portfolios organized by home, instead of room, which allows you to see how adaptable they are in a large scale.
    Personally though, I almost always love color! It makes me so happy.
    -Sanity Fair

  7. I think not having too consistent of a style, rather letting each client's personality shine through the decor is a true testament to the designers ability and talent! You chose some of my absolute favorites, and this is exactly why I love them!

  8. And just for clarification- I believe that most designers alter their style for each client. I just wanted to recognize, in my untrained estimation, the breadth here.

  9. lovelllyyy and fully agree with you... after all, the client hires us.. to give them beauty for them. xx

  10. good post! i think i can see some similar elements with each designer's portfolio. i think they always remain themselves, but tweak things a bit for every client to meet their specific needs. that's how i hope to be! :)

  11. What a great post! As a designer, I can say, it all starts with the client and his/her desires. I see myself as an artist, there, to paint the picture that my clients will fall in love with. And, that, is why I love what I do. It's different every day. Thank you for always stopping by RHS. I really appreciate your kind words and support. Hope you have a great weekend.

  12. SA, I can certainly identify with what you outlined in your opening paragraph! There is so much design beauty out there.

    There are definately many designers who have a signature look and become quite famous for it, but I think the design population in general works with "regular" people and must execute the best vision of the clients style possible.

    Really wonderful post and images!!!

  13. I definitely think I have a split personality too when it comes to design.

  14. Great post. I think my comment necessarily includes a discussion of $$.

    The designers you featured are wonderful but I'm unwilling to spend the amount of money necessary to hire them. Instead, if I'm to work with a designer, then I want to know that their style is consistent--since it's the portfolio that's interested me in the first place. I think I'd not be too happy if I hired a designer for a traditional look and got a modern response.

    But, if I had all the $$ in the world, then perhaps I'd be open to hiring a Ruthie Sommers and letting her do what she'd like. Instead of saying, "oh, I want traditional design" in my living room...I'm certain I'd say "oh, this is a Ruthie Sommers living room."

    Just my two cents. :)

  15. I loved this post with a capital L! I totally understand what you're saying! Each designer is clearly talented because they can do different styles so well, yet they all have such specific tastes! I'm definitely a streamlined traditional person but, also love romantic country or Euro style too! I loved the comparisons!
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  16. Wouldn't a designer be obligated to curtail their own style based on their client's needs? As a hairstylist, I sometimes do things clients want even though I don't think they are so wonderful. Through the consultation process we discuss and try and find common ground but ultimately, the client's choice is the one I must work with and not always follow my own preference.

    And, wow. That orange room is O.R.A.N.G.E. Interesting to look at but very hard to live with and this is coming from a person who loves color!

  17. Great post!! I struggle with my own split personality when it comes to decorating. Go bold, play it safe? Depends on the day!

  18. all i know is i have a major crush on sarah richardson. somehow just recently found out about her. i love pretty much everything she does!


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