Why naming your style can be dangerous for your project - Episode 4 (Season 9 - KEEPING IT REAL)


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What style is my house? And my preferred taste?

Do you find yourself asking this question when renovating or building?

Everyone wants to know “What style is my house?” But naming your style can be dangerous and limiting.


One of the things I see that’s really prevalent in the world of reality TV and online building and renovating is this desire to name the style you’re seeking for your project (and future home).

It’s a common question others will ask you too. “What style are you doing? … Hamptons is SO popular right now!”

With names like Scandi, Plantation, Industrial, French Provincial, Coastal, there’s a huge range of descriptions for an apparent choice of style, look, finishes, colours and fabrics.

And you’ll see many online renovators and builders teach you to ‘pull together your vision’ … or create your vision board or scrapbook to show others the look you want for your home.

They recommend it as a great way to get clear on what you want, and also explain it to others.

Whilst I do believe that images are a brilliant way to explain your preferences to those on your team, I have this warning …

The names of these styles all have origins in specific times, cultures and locations. And they were created for specific reasons.

Sometimes it was related to climate, material availability, building technology and trade skills. Sometimes it was the next-stage development of an existing style. Sometimes it was a complete rejection of the status quo or traditional way of doing things. Sometimes it was socio-economic.

When you look back through architectural, design and art history, the style names we’re grabbing and applying to how we want our home to ‘look’, are usually based in meaningful history and motivations at the time.

When you seek to name the style of your future home, without truly understanding the historical origins of that style or its specific characteristics, this can be confusing for your project and design team. And you can seriously limit your project as others interpret what you want and don’t want.

And if you’re basing your choice of style on a series of images you’ve grabbed from a range of houses that actually aren’t that style at all … well, the confusion continues.

Styles aren’t simply names of detailing, fabric and colour choices.

I know homeowners feel it works for them to name their style, but what worries me is that it can (because I’ve seen it happen) create inauthentic designs that are a veneer over terrible planning and functionality.

It’s also worth understanding that a style name and a vision board is not a brief.

A brief is the main communication tool you need for your project - whoever you’re working with, and wherever you’re building or renovating. And some of the best briefs I’ve received don’t ever mention a style. They describe a feeling.

Appropriating cultures and styles from elsewhere that don’t have suitability for your local area can cause issues with the performance of your home, and also making it difficult to get planning approval from your local council.

More importantly, it means you can miss an incredible opportunity to express YOUR style.

A style that is specific to its time, location and climate … and suits you and your family authentically.

In this episode, I talk about what are the problems with naming your style, and how to instead think about your wishes for your home so they can actually be delivered by your team.

If you want a home that is functional, and feels complete, authentic and whole, then listen to the episode now.

This episode is brought to you by my online course “Manage Your Build”.

Are you planning to build your new home or renovation? Do you fear it will be a stress-filled ride of budget blowouts, compromises and dramas?

MANAGE YOUR BUILD provides you with industry-insider knowledge, checklists and strategies to save you time, money and your own sanity when building your new home or renovation.

A collaboration between Amelia Lee, Undercover Architect, and Duayne Pearce, of D Pearce Constructions, Manage Your Build shares know-how, expertise and experience from over 45 years in residential design, building and renovation.

This online course will prepare you for your construction phase so you can know you're actually getting what you're paying for, and avoid the heartache and drama of a horror build.

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