My Unique Design Style and How It Found Me

Over the years I have noticed a dramatic shift in my style preferences.  From my wardrobe and the way I like to decorate, all the way to how I have my dogs groomed (which sounds strange, but I'll explain).  

My mom has been a fantastic influence on me my whole life.  She has incredible taste and a wonderful eye for design.  Her style is unquestionably and un-apologetically traditional.  She loves antiques and tartan and prints of landscapes with cows in their original frames.  A classic Waverly Jacobean linen upholsters two club chairs purchased nearly 20 years ago and she still professes love for them to this day.  Think Betsy Speert with a slightly darker palette.  It is no exaggeration to say that I was weaned on antique malls and flea markets.

Mom's fireplace mantel decorated for Christmas 2015

I grew up in love with violets and the color purple.  My mom sponge painted my room a tone-on-tone off-white and beige, and had it professionally stenciled with violets and vines in all four corners.  It was very tastefully done especially considering how very tacky it could have looked.  I had a white wrought iron bed and was a die-hard fan of shabby chic decor a good five years before Rachel Ashwell hit Target.  

Chippy paint and floral upon floral and crystal chandeliers and it dripped with femininity.   

I made jewelry from buttons and vintage beads and antique watch faces.  I wore colorful aprons with rick rack trim.  If you search around enough (I had a store on Etsy for a while) you can see the kinds of things that I loved.  

Today, it makes me gag to think about.  

Somewhere along the way I gave up hanging chipped plates with pretty pastel rosebuds on the walls.  I sold my celluloid hand mirrors and hair catchers.  The barkcloth covered footstools were swapped for marble topped coffee tables.  My style became a bit more refined, transitional.  It completely threw my mom off.  I used to be the easy one to shop for!  But I still liked decorating my coffee tables and bathroom.  I still wanted pretty things on almost any flat surface.

Then I got really busy.  I was working in a beautiful showroom that accessorized every single nook and cranny that could possibly be accessorized.  I was designing and running around and at jobsite after jobsite day after day.  I became overwhelmed.  It was sensory overload.  Slowly - and strangely - I developed an appreciation for what I could never comprehend before.  Minimalism.  

I wanted clean lines and uncluttered surfaces.  Simplicity.  I yearned for it.  Tense personal and professional relationships contributed to the crazy and eventually even my psyche needed it.  Beautiful, peaceful expanses of nothing.  

This was weird.  

So. Weird.

I finally understood what was appealing about a space that previously I had considered barren...


I wanted everything to be as easy as it could possibly be.  I threw out the stacks of stuff that accumulate.  I was as ruthless about it as I could be.  I took down everything that wasn't necessary.  I lived in a rental at the time or I would have ripped out the ancient misaligned, arched top cabinets for new ones with slab doors and no hardware.  My wardrobe, which has always been heavy with the color black, became a uniform of nothing but neutrals that can be combined in almost any combination.  Jewelry became too cumbersome.  I stopped wearing the over-sized rings and earrings I have collected.  If I put on a necklace, it was one slim chain, not long and layered strings of beads and baubles.  I went so far as to cut off my almost waist length hair to a fuss-free pixie.  And I loved it.  And it helped.

Things have leveled out since then.  I am still wearing next to no jewelry and it doesn't bother me one iota.  (It kinda kills my mom, though.)  I still lean towards a less is more mindset when it comes to decorating, and I am constantly working on my own home which I bought in July.  It has a little to do with living with less work so when the snowy weather starts in and my dogs needed groomed, they got short summer-style haircuts because snow on my dining room floor is NOT happening.  Don't worry, they wear stinkin' cute sweaters.

Decoration eventually crept back in and what I have learned about myself is that even though I appreciate clean surfaces and sparsely furnished rooms, my roots are firmly set in tradition.  I can't help it!  I am certainly not a true minimalist.  I don't think anyone can go from not comprehending a subject to a die hard loyalist about it.  At least not when it comes to design.  I'm fairly certain such radical shifts are strictly reserved for love and religion.  However, the blend of traditional elements in clean, open, and barely accessorized spaces is so appealing to me.     

So what is this style?


As far as I can tell, no one has named this stylized simplicity.   There is too much of the traditional present to be considered contemporary or modern.  Really, I think it just is what it is...  

It's minimalist traditional.


Or maybe your version of it is minimalist transitional.  Really - it doesn't matter.  They only thing that does is that you can design and decorate your home the way you want it, or at least communicate what you want to someone like me.  I hope your change in preference isn't initiated by the stress and craziness that mine was.  If you want some help morphing your home into a minimalist traditional space I would start with this simple rule: lose only but your favorite of everything.  

Then, you know... call me. ;)


                                ~ Abigail

PS: I have a Minimalist Traditional pinterest board.  Check it out!