Can you define your furnishing style? Most of us don’t think like that. Our homes are a hodgepodge of stuff accumulated over time, with no particular design agenda. Even those who are truly adept at interiors rarely design in a specific, definable style. They do their own thing and their homes inspire because they are exceptional.
Sometimes a style can evolve over time. Minimalism, for example, is often fueled by an aversion to excess. A style can also serve as an excuse for how things happened. Too much stuff and most of it collides? Excuse me, I’m a maximalist (it sounds so much better than a borderline hoarder). However, the home decorating process usually begins with some online research.
Style definitions are useful in this regard because they guide us through a bewildering array of possibilities. Type the word “kitchen” into any search engine and you’ll get the range. The term “modern kitchen” or “country kitchen” is more correct. It helps narrow down your preferences. Similarly, Industrial Style Lighting brings out angular metal lights photographed against a raw brick background. “Boho lighting” opens up a world of rattan and macrame.
According to research by Liberty, a London-based fabric design company, people living in cities around the world show that style priorities have a clear geographical bias. The report makes interesting reading. The world’s most searched for home decor style was “farmhouse”. The style was most popular in New York, where 38 percent of home decor searches focused on farmhouse decor.
But how many real farmhouses are there in New York? In 2018, the Office of New York State Comptroller reported a total of 35,000 farms across the state. Ireland has around 137,500 family farms according to the 2016 Teagasc Farm Structure Survey. But still only 6 per cent of Irish searches were for “farmhouse decor”. It seems like the style of decoration known as “farmhouse” has very little to do with actual farms. The modern American interpretation of the farmhouse style consists of light, airy rooms with neutral colors, reclaimed wood and large, comfortable pieces of furniture. The style is poor in accessories and patterns. Gingham and floral fabrics are more country than farmhouse.
If we track our searches, the Irish are interested in “modern interior design” (18 items), closely followed by “scandinavian interior design” (14 items). Reading between the lines, I would guess that the two categories are pretty much interchangeable. “Modern living” has clear lines and handle-free kitchen units. The “Scandinavian” style is similar but a little softer, with more emphasis on natural materials.
Especially wood. In 1969, William Walsh, director of the Kilkenny Design Workshop, said: “Anything that doesn’t have curly legs is considered Scandinavian by some people.” The point is that the perception of a style can be different in different contexts. These days, an Irishman who wants a Scandi-style interior probably aspires to shop at Ikea.
“People come to me because they don’t know what style they want,” says Jackie Carton of Carton Interiors, a Dublin-based interior design and interior design service. “If they knew, they probably would have gone themselves. They might say they wanted a modern interior, but that can mean anything. Modern means a variety of things to different people. We need to sit down and tease it out.”
While many Irish don’t have the words to explain their style, they have a very clear idea of what they like. “When I look at pictures of what they like and don’t like, I can always find a common thread,” explains Carton. “The design process isn’t about committing them to a style. It’s about really getting to the core of what speaks to them and making it work for their space.”
After Modern and Scandinavian, Ireland’s next top search was for ‘Boho Decor’ (12 pieces). As Carton reports, the style is hugely popular with young Irish women, particularly between the ages of 18 and 25. “They all want this style for their bedroom, whether they know it or not. This age group has a strong tendency towards natural materials: cane, rattan and plants. And everyone wants a hanging chair. Not to mention the fairy lights.”
Because the look is designed to be mismatched, it’s easy for young people to achieve. You don’t need to be in control of your entire living environment to go boho. Accessories are inexpensive and, apart from the hanging chair, the look does not require any infrastructure. Consequently, the style works for renters, roommates, and those still living at home.
Boho Decor was the second most popular search globally, topping the charts in Los Angeles (22) and Sydney (20). As a style, boho tends to be bright and carefree, with lots of color and patterns. It’s a bit hippie, with macrame and fringed tapestries, and its popularity in these cities may have something to do with the climate.
Other popular searches in Ireland were “industrial interior design” and “maximalist decor” (both 9pc). Both are easily recognizable styles, but Carton thinks people who searched for these terms were probably looking for individual elements – like industrial-style lighting – rather than an overarching look. “The Irish tend to be more secure when it comes to design. There are mutliple reasons for this.
“One of them is the budget. You don’t want a style that might be outdated. The other is the Irish mentality of not wanting to attract too much attention. People want something they’ve seen before, not too loud or unusual, and just live with. As a designer, I can work with that and still create something personal for them.”
Other Irish searches included Georgian Interior Design, Nautical Decor and Shabby Chic (5 of each). According to the Liberty study, “Parisian interior design” was the most searched style in Paris. Only 1 percent of Irish searches searched for Parisian style. Because why should we? It’s a style closely associated with the architecture of Parisian apartments – high ceilings, tall windows, wall panels and herringbone parquet floors – and therefore difficult to replicate in other countries.
Interestingly, “shabby chic” was the second most popular search query for Parisians, possibly because the style works best with a good dose of French chic.
See cartoninteriors.ie and libertylondon.com
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/interiors/are-you-minimalist-or-boho-from-scandi-to-farmhouse-there-is-an-interiors-style-for-everyone-41858744.html Are you minimalist or boho? – from Scandi to Farmhouse, there is a suitable furnishing style for everyone