Have you ever heard the disparaging phrase, “Her taste is all in her mouth?” It usually refers to someone who doesn’t conform to the norm of “having taste.” You may not thing you have taste, but the fact of the matter is that you do have taste. It is just a matter of how well you have cultivated your taste.
According to Mary Jean Alexander, author of Decorating Begins with You (1958)*, it seems like there is a conspiracy to reduce your confidence level. Just because the glossy magazines and home “improvement” shows say a certain look is “in,” doesn’t mean it is right for you. She wants you to understand that taste is an “enlightened choice” that implies the ability to make choices based on sound principles of design. As you study good art and design–and what makes them good–your taste will develop. You will gradually learn to appreciate the nuances of design and color. Your standards will improve.
Miss Alexander says there are basically four categories of taste: Flawless, good, fair/passable, and poor/bad. She doesn’t concern herself with the flawless or bad. The person with flawless taste doesn’t need any help. And, she suspects that the person with poor taste isn’t even aware of what they are missing. She believes that most women fall into the two middle categories and that is why their confidence in themselves is on shaky ground.
The good news is that if you fall into the either the “good” and “fair” categories, you can improve you level of taste with enough study and focused effort. And the first step is being true to yourself and your likes and dislikes instead of giving in to the conspiracy that says you don’t have any taste if you aren’t decorating a certain way.
The first step in developing your taste is to make two lists: one list of what you emphatically like in reference to the way you’re living and another list of what you emphatically do not like. This should include function, appearance, and personal whims. Don’t be vague and don’t be obscure.
Next, create a scrapbook or Pinterest page of design elements that appeal to you. Don’t self-edit. If you like it, in it goes. As you start gathering images, your taste will start to become evident.
Some people like vanilla ice cream, some people like chocolate ice cream. One is not better than the other. It is simply personal preference. And so it is with interior decorating.
You have taste. Be confident of it!
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