When it comes to designing, one thing is certain: there are limitless possibilities for creating the perfect space. Think first about your lifestyle and how you and/your family use the space in which you live. Are you big on entertaining family and friends? Do you like to surround yourselves with all the things you love or do you prefer instead to keep your space sleek, clutter-free and no nonsense? Are there small children living in the household? Does you live alone or are there other family members with varied lifestyles and needs to consider? All of these points to ponder will help walk you toward making a decision on a final look for your home.

Trying to narrow down options and hone in on your personal style can feel like an overwhelming task, one that sends many people running and screaming. Personal space is a reflection of personality, lifestyle and interests. Trying to look at the big picture can be tough when you don’t even recognize the individual elements. There are two bits of good news when it comes to deciding the interior design of a home. First, it’s a personal choice, and doesn’t necessarily have to fit strict guidelines. Second, nothing is forever. Your taste and style today can change slightly or even drastically over the next 10 years and that’s okay. But for now, let’s work to establish your basic “style prescription,” a handful of preferences that one can be certain about when it comes to interior design style. Once a pattern in overall style preferences is recognized, pulling all the pieces together will be much easier. Great exercise is to collect 3 photos of rooms you love and 3 you dislike. This quickly helps you determine a direction.

While basic style categories such as traditional, contemporary, classic and rustic still exist, it isn’t unusual for today’s interior designers to use a blend of more than one category or to create a more eclectic design product based on the likes and dislikes. And while some designers stick hard and fast to stringent boundaries regarding style, others view the boundaries more as guidelines available merely to fall back on when they need help pulling a look together.