Defining your aesthetic may not be simple. And no, "controlled chaos" doesn't count. But once you do, you'll find it easier to give your rooms personality while paring down clutter and unnecessary purchases. From our three looks, pick the one that inspires you most. Then follow our pro advice and check out the shopping list specially geared to your taste.
By Petra Guglielmetti
Modern decor is all about clean lines—no swag curtains, colonial furniture, or chintz here, says New York-based designer Jonathan Adler. But sleek needn't mean staid. "Being overly monochromatic is a snooze fest," notes Adler, who likes to pepper rooms with bright color and eccentric conversation pieces.
To Get the Look
—Stick to unfussy furniture in solid colors—neutral or bold works best (don't go dusty rose). White-on-white is a superchic choice and gray a foolproof one, but if a jolt of red calls your name, go for it!
—Add shine with mirrored black-lacquer, Lucite, and metallic accents, like lamps and tables. Think smoky glass vases, hip design books, and witty knickknacks that work with the color palette.
—Let accessories and artwork be "exclamation points" in your room—choose graphic patterns or vivid colors that really pop against your furniture. Or make your exclamation point one brightly painted wall.
—Keep the space uncluttered. "I follow that old-fashioned maxim: 'Before you go out, look in the mirror and take one thing off.' The same applies to a modern room," Adler says. Let just a few cool items set the tone.
—Get ideas from magazines and books—art, interiors, fashion, landscape, anything that captures your imagination. "Who knows? A model in a red dress might inspire you to paint your walls crimson!" says Adler.
—Opt for right angles and simple shapes.