The Great Debate: What Is Good Taste?

What is good taste?

This past Thanksgiving, like so many before it, my family had yet another of its memorable great debates. There are no holds barred on the subject of our debates, which often range from entertaining to completely absurd.

Take this never-ending debate for example. Would you land in the same spot if you were to jump in the air as high as you can while standing on a barge that’s heading upriver? Some argued that you couldn’t possibly land in the same spot. When your feet come off the barge, you are no longer moving in the same direction or speed as the barge. While others maintain you do land in the same spot because you’re moving at the same velocity as the barge and your feet are in the air for only a brief moment. There were no winners in this debate, and, sad as it may be, it continues even to today. Silly? Sure. Entertaining? Absolutely.

So, back to the last great debate. The subject: good taste.

When it comes to style, what is good taste and who has it? Our discussion was all over the place. People with good taste are just born with it. People who are creative have better taste than those who aren’t so creative. People with money can afford to buy nicer things, and, because these things are expensive, they’re considered good taste. Uh, no, that can’t be right. What’s the answer then?

A quick Google search on the topic will produce millions of varying definitions and views. There doesn’t seem to be one foolproof, definitive answer to the debate. However, at its core, is understanding the difference between taste and style.

Taste is all about what you like and what you don’t like. As a general rule, I don’t like pink, for example. It’s not my preferred choice or taste in colors. That doesn’t mean my taste is better or worse than anyone else’s. It just means I’m not fond of that color.

My aversion to pink isn’t a complete reflection of my style, though, because I actually like — and own — a lot of things that are that color. For instance, I have a hot pink golf shirt embellished with faux diamond buttons and an Italian zippered collar. It’s the combination of the color, buttons, zipper, and overall cut of the shirt that created a style I liked. I bought it and added it to my wardrobe, even though it’s pink, and I love it.

Taste and style work together, each influencing the other. Whether it’s a shirt, a couch, or a picture, the choices you make are truly your own and a reflection of who you are. And I believe that everyone has it within them to create and apply their own decorating style in their home without having to hire a professional or scrapping everything they already have and starting over.

Be on the lookout for an upcoming post on tips for creating a decorating style using your own personal taste — what you like — and making your home uniquely your own.

Until then, enjoy.

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