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Is Personal Style Born or Made?

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The first new sofa I ever bought was for a bachelorette pad I rented in my mid-20s. I had previously lived with roommates, lounging on garage-sale finds and exercising first-job thrift. I was finally becoming a grown-up with a career in the city and I wanted my apartment to look as groovy as my idol Mary Tyler Moore’s digs on TV. She was the consummate professional woman after all. Mary’s bright studio apartment with the tiny kitchenette and dual platform dressing and sleeping areas was a bold and modern statement. Although shag carpeting was out of favor at this point in time, I knew I wanted something cool. So I set out to shop for furniture, excited by the chance to show the world who I was. Well, a trip to one store led to a second and by the third one, I was facing a full-on existential crisis. What is this sofa going to say about me? What do I want it to say about me? What color should I choose and why aren’t I married yet? Even I, who had gone to design school, was paralyzed. Who was I?

I decided to enlist the support of a friend. Surely, two heads were better than one. The quest commenced and we combed through dozens of swatches. We debated the options for weeks. Exhausted, I finally pulled the trigger on a fabric and placed the order. Twelve weeks later, I was the proud owner of the most nondescript and epically beige couch in existence. As it turns out, this endeavor wasn’t about design at all. My personal issues slugged it out on the sales floor of every furniture store in town and when the tussle was over, I was punch-drunk with ambivalence. Since our outer world is merely a reflection of our inner world, I was not able to come up with a clear picture of who I was because, at that age, I was still waiting to find out. No wonder I chose furniture suitable for a waiting room! Years later when I bought my first place, I felt so self-assured that I went out and a got a modern and deliciously splashy, red sofa. It was so me.

Since we are never really done progressing into the people that we want to be in life, hopefully, we evolve and change for the better over time. Our personalities are honed like a stone polished by the constant wear of life’s tumultuous waters. This process of becoming is how we develop our unique “personal style.” Are you a rugged individualist? Then you might be drawn to an eclectic style of living. Are you an optimistic extrovert? Then you probably like a little bling in your environment. Real style isn’t something you can shop for and purchase. It comes from within. An interior designer’s job and ultimate success depend on mining the quintessential qualities that make you, you, and then translating them visually. Your style is both born and made. Your natural proclivities combined with your active choices form a distinct picture. Be sure to frame that picture in a style that “becomes you”… pun intended.

By Jane Morgan

Jane Morgan is president of Jane Morgan Interior Design, a boutique design firm in Westchester County. Go to www.janemorganinteriordesign.com to see her work.

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