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DDA Canada is the most influential association for decorators and design industry professionals in Canada. We foster the growth of our industry by connecting professionals, students and suppliers. We also help members prosper by offering year-round training, business growth resources and networking events.

As decorating professionals, we have a lot of advice to share with our clients. Its our responsibility to apply principles of style in order to achieve interior looks that are balanced and beautiful. We integrate fabric, finishes, and furnishings, and harmonize colour, scale and pattern. We address architectural challenges. We fight uphill battles against stubborn spouses, sticky kids, and shedding pets. Only when we have done all of this, as well as incorporate current trends and maximize the function of the space, can we say we have successfully produced a unified design.

But, the next step, as Picasso once said, is to look even further beyond: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Significant to every interior project is what I call, Design Identity.  Design Identity is the one element of style left open-ended by necessity, simply because its the one we cannot provide, only facilitate. Its the personal style of our client. And it doesnt always follow the rules!

Some clients find it difficult to pinpoint their personal style. This isnt a bad thing, as eclecticism can often be more fun to work with. I find Design Identity can usually be explored via these avenues:  Colour, Collections, and Character


Colour is a major key to your clients Design Identity. A persons colour preferences are inspired by so many variables: memory, travel, emotion. People often seem to fall into one of two categories… what I call “colour introverts” (pastels, greys, and other neutrals) or “colour extroverts” (jewel tones, bold/bright hues, and heavily saturated or dramatic shades.) Colour is an excellent barometer of personality, and when well executed, is not necessarily dependent on trends. There is no commandment saying that small rooms must be painted white, or that white rooms must have an obligatory “pop” of colour. Dont be afraid to bend the rules of Styling Principles to accommodate your clients relationship with colour!


Photo credit: anitafaraboverubies.com


People collect stuff, intentionally or otherwise. Collections – whether antiques, oddities, or art – are very personal, and Design Identity hinges on accessories. When grouped together, or displayed cohesively, collected pieces become an almost singular statement, not to mention providing style inspiration around which the rest of the space can be arranged. Making room for collections sometimes means abandoning certain design doctrines, such as “Less is more,” and embracing the abundance. Surrounding ourselves with the things we love is the best way to ensure happiness with our environment. This is especially true with home interiors.


Photo credit:  countryliving.com


Photo credit:  decoratingfiles.com


Remember the show, Frasier? “Character” is Frasiers fathers tacky, aging recliner smack in the middle of their otherwise impeccably decorated Seattle apartment.



Photo source:  neonduck.net

Its important to determine how our clients use their space, but so is recognizing how they see themselves within it. Some view their home as a sanctuary to escape to at the end of the day. Others see it as a busy gathering place for entertaining friends and family. “Character” is the story people want their house to tell, to both themselves and others. Thats why its a bit abstract, and can be hard to pin down. Its the living history of the home, and the day-to-day presence of those who live there. It is not about perfection and it is rarely magazine-worthy.

Character does not abide by any hard and fast rules of design; you cant create it, you can merely nurture it. But it truly provides the backbone to your clients Design Identity.


Photo source:  drawhome.com

Discovering Design Identity means tailoring style principles to suit the individuality of our clients – and ourselves. Rules are sometimes most helpful when you can either ignore or break them… or bend them to your will! Because above all, decorating is an exercise in personal expression, and capturing the individual spirit, while working to find the balance between form and function.

Dana Ruprecht, Hearth & Gable Interiors

Dana Ruprecht is an Interiors Consultant, blogger, and photographer at Hearth & Gable InteriorsDesign Identity




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