Lelanie Slater On Personal Design Style

“For about a year now, I have been following Lelanie Slater’s “of Beauty and Love” blog posts, as well as touching sides with her here and there via email. She is both writer and Interior Designer. As you can imagine the combination of the two skills make for very interesting reading. Recently Lelanie has touched on a very thought provoking issue about developing your personal design style / manifesto.  I was so moved by it, that we asked Lelanie to guest blog for The Design Tabloid on these same issues. The outcome – below you will find a condensed version of her three posts, which if this article grabs your attention, you can pop over to her blog to catch the in depth discussions. Enjoy…”  – love,  Rose 

By Lelanie Slater

I recently realised with a shock that so many designers tend to produce the same results. No matter who you enlist, the end result will be pretty much the same. Almost as if the designer has no personal design manifesto or compass with which to guide his clients through their individual style.  What sets that compass-less designer apart from the crowd??

But designers aside, let’s acknowledge that we spend so much of our time at home. Why not be as particular and personal in our homes as we are with the outfits and accessories we wear.

A home is the most personal thing. It reflects hopes, dreams, desires and it reveals an awful lot about the residents. So why are we so reluctant to make it our own?

Why then do so many South Africans tend to resort to the ‘design strategy’ of: mimic my favourite shop to achieve the show room quality? Replicating the rooms that are to be found on Retail Showroom floors, – a malaise that concerns me greatly and something that I have called ‘shop houses’. Where is personal taste in this?

In an ideal world we should each have a manifesto. Not just a design philosophy, but a personal manifesto, stating in black on white what we stand for, believe in, live for and love.

A constant reminder - Lelanie keeps her personal design manifesto close by.

Over a period of time, I developed a personal design manifesto.  It encapsulates my design philosophy, found in my company name, Of Beauty and Love.   I believe that each and every item in a space should be beautiful and fondly loved by the inhabitants. In short……

            “Design should be a tale of Beauty and Love”….

This manifesto is popped on my desk, and I refer to it when doing any design, styling or other creative work. Sometimes, all of us need a bit of guidance. That is why I love having my manifesto close by, plus I revisit it regularly.


The most important thing with a personal design style, philosophy or manifesto is to be true to you. The first question to ask is if there is a specific style that appeals to you? What decorating style have you used in your space? Country, modern or none? If you have no idea which design style you gravitate towards it is time to enlist our secret weapon, for step number two. Magazine tear sheets. There are few things as accurate, therapeutic and enjoyable as dedicating 40 minutes to tearing beautiful pictures out of magazines. It’s the ideal way to check what your subconscious really prefers.

Tear out images that automatically speak or appeal to you. No matter how different it is to your perception of your style.

Once you have a nice stack, you can begin to sort them. You will need a scrapbook, a display file with clear sleeves, a box or a large envelope for storing these. Go through the images you have selected. . Write it on the image what appeals to you (or use a post it.)

When going over them, begin to follow the clues to your personal design style, by noting colours that repeat and why they might appeal to you. Look at the details in the pictures. If you simply like the overall look of an image, the key to its appeal might lie in the colour palette, the height of the ceiling, the feeling created etc. Try to ask yourself the following:

  *  What appeals to me in this image?

  *  Do I like the colours and why?

  *  What is it about the decor that appeals to me?

Now you can proceed to the next step of the investigation. Ask yourself the following questions:

  *  What decor style am I most drawn to? Why?

  *  What palette am I most drawn to?

  *  Would I be comfortable living with this?

  *  Which are my favourite home magazines?

Remember that this stage, there is no need to begin defining your style.  Just begin to recognise the styling elements that reflect your person.  As it emerges, your style could be Modern Romantic, Whimsical Cottage or Salvaged Chic.  As long as it’s true to you, there is no wrong answer.

Which tools do you like to use when defining personal style or looking for inspiration? Would you like to try any of the above?

Be sure to check out Lelanie’s blog: here

Mood board images via: 1, 2, 3

One thought on “Lelanie Slater On Personal Design Style

  1. Oh I love this! As an artist I have been doing variations of this all my life. What started out as torn bits of magazine favourites ‘prestik’ed to my girlhood bedroom walls are now real things in my life or still evolving on my Wish Board. My personal design manifesto comes through in everything I create. Beautifully written Lelanie and thanks Rose for ‘finding’ her!

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