It was one of those things you don’t learn in school. The picture took shape in dozens of conversations with clients about their own visions for the design of their homes – what they want to see and think and feel when they are home. Somewhere separate from “traditional,” somehow more personal than “contemporary,” and something more definitive than “transitional,” there is a personal style we stay tuned to hearing about when we confer with clients.

Call it the cosmopolitan style. With confidence and drawing on the experiences of a lifetime, the cosmopolitan style deserves a discussion of its own.

Where the Style Originated

Hilton Head Island, from the earliest days, attracted interesting people with original tastes. Some of the folks who were here to greet the original resort property owners are still around, and one of them put it this way: “People came to Hilton Head Island who had been everywhere and who could go anywhere.” Becoming the choice of such experienced travelers, the style of the island has always drawn from a wide range of influences, the very definition of cosmopolitan: cultured and cultivated, worldly and urbane.

These influences transcend traditional and create a statement somehow more personal than merely contemporary. One of the reasons this experience is reflected in style is that people often bring with them tokens from the experiences of their lives. The cosmopolitan style finds ways to build in, to accommodate, and to distill those tokens and mementos into a distinctive look that reflects a life of awareness.

When the Result is Achieved

The homes tour of Modernism Week in Palm Springs – a celebration of the style known as mid-century modern – once included a rare visit to the vacation home of Broadway legend Mary Martin. Known to generations as the person who portrayed Peter Pan and who performed the role of the unforgettable Navy nurse in South Pacific, Mary Martin’s home was striking in its willingness to integrate family heirlooms and glamorous memories among the furnishings and décor – even as the overall environment achieved the calm of minimalist modern lines.

The varied patterns, colors, and textures that find a home in cosmopolitan design are often the result of orchestrating this blend of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Celebrating the present moment while treasuring the experiences that led to it is the achievement of cosmopolitan design at its best.

Casual Yet Not Careless

A degree of precision is called for when blending the influences of the cosmopolitan style, because the border between effortless and careless can be crossed, unless the look is orchestrated with vision and discipline.

The essential background is modern, even minimalist, and neutral colors frequently compose the best background. Within this overall setting, striking elements and colors can take their place with a sense of belonging, rather than intruding.

When the design reflects a dialogue among these elements, then the best of the cosmopolitan style can be yours. That dialogue of design elements begins with a conversation about your vision, and how the experiences you bring to it can be reflected in design. We’d welcome the opportunity to have that talk.