Written by Leslie Gregory Haukoos   Illustration by West Maätita

We all make quick judgments of other people. It’s human nature.

We sense things about people and their personalities through the cues they send out. Our social antennae are the detection device, like a cat’s whiskers. They’re what we use to figure out who we are encountering, how we discern who we want to be with and who we’d rather orbit away from.
He’s talkative and forthcoming; I bet he’s warm and has a generous spirit.
She discusses big concepts with insight and wit; she’s probably well-read and intelligent.
That kid is well-spoken, polite and confident; I think she’s going places.
In the same way, our homes say a lot about us—and they are often very revealing.

Not an accessory out of place; perfectionist.
Artsy doodads everywhere; free spirit.
Cozy throws on every sofa and chair; nurturer.

In the last several years the field of design psychology has been growing steadily. The basic concept is that, through analyzing a person’s psychology, a designer can assist in creating an environment that is not only appealing and functional, but is a perfect fit for that person. Before purchasing a single can of paint, a designer will analyze a client’s color associations, childhood memories, dreams and fears.
But for most of us, personalizing our homes is much less an intentional process. We usually just follow our gut instincts, purchase the things we like and pick the colors that feel good.
When it’s hard to tell what those gut instincts are, many designers point their clients to magazines, asking them to tear out pictures of places they like, then look for the common characteristics in those images.
Do you tend to collect pages that show clean, contemporary rooms? Or are you more likely to tear out pictures of the cozy, cluttered ones? Do you drool over sleek granite kitchens? Or do the vintage kitchens with painted wainscoting and a home-baked pie cooling on the cooktop catch your fancy? Do you prefer bold and daring wall colors to calm neutrals? Or is your dream room starkly white-on-white?
Dressing a home is a lot like dressing yourself, a very personal and creative expression of who you are. Living in your home once it’s all put together is like rumpling up the pillows once you’ve climbed into bed, getting them just right.
The result is a place that looks and feels like home, one that says a lot about who you are to anyone who is listening.

What’s Your Style?

1. What are the predominant colors in your home?

A. Deep earth tones

B. Stark white

C. Soft pastels

D. Neutrals

E. Bold and/or bright

2. How much stuff do you have around?

A. Just about everything displayed has a story to tell

B. My surfaces are clear of clutter and easy to dust

C. Quick! Someone call a home organizer!

D. There are so many fragile things I cringe when children come over

E. My tabletops and shelves are overflowing with my favorite “thing of the day”

3. What’s your kitchen like?

A. Stacks of cookbooks piled on the counter have dozens of post-it notes sticking out; my hanging pots and pans have oxidized copper bottoms

B. The counters are clear with only a few artful accessories, things I’d have to move if I ever were to cook

C. Yesterday’s dirty dishes are waiting patiently just where I left them

D. It’s filled with lingering aromas from all the gourmet meals

E. My kitchen table has so many papers and craft projects that I eat my meals on a TV tray in the den

4. What’s on your walls?

A. Photographs from exotic travel

B. Memorabilia and awards from professional and civic recognition

C. Dozens of family photos hanging crookedly on every available surface

D. Framed artwork gallery-like on otherwise empty walls

E. Framed finger paintings from the children in my life

5. What’s hiding behind your closet doors?

A. Stuffed to the gills—proceed with caution

B. Poster child closet for one of those organizing companies

C. Clothes left over from the ’80s (that haven’t fit for ages)

D. My half of the closet is 50 percent bigger than my spouse’s half

E. Not many clothes—my closet’s the rest of the family’s storage shed

6. Describe your home’s emotional temperament

A. Warm and eclectic, adventurous

B. Cool and picture-perfect

C. Feels like the windows haven’t been closed for years

D. Feels like the windows haven’t been opened for years

E. Come on in and sit down—just shove the dog off the chair first

What It Means?

This is a fun exercise, not meant as a primer on how to create the person you wish you were. It’s more of a quick take on how your home reflects who  you already are. But since most of us like to tally and categorize–even ourselves–here’s what your answers might indicate:

3 or more A’s: you are a free spirit, artsy, happily dwelling amid your creations and those of your unorthodox flock of friends.
3 or more B’s: you’re a no-nonsense kind of person, efficient, accomplished, always on the go, always getting something done.
3 or more C’s: you’re an outgoing, friendly sort, more interested in getting to know a new person than spending a day cleaning the garage.
3 or more D’s: you’re a perfectionist, most comfortable with ordered peace and quiet. A bit fussy and traditional. Old for your years.
3 or more E’s: you are a family-first kind of person, comfortable with the chaos that comes with kids, or grandkids, or the neighbor’s kids.