Discover Your “Unique to You” Decorating Style

What is your decorating style? Do you have one? Is it the right one, unique to you, your tastes and circumstances? Learn how to discover the “just-right-for-you” decorating style, one that will become uniquely your own.

I have a post to share with you that I wrote back in 2011. I had forgotten all about this post as it got lost deep in the archives of 12 years of blog posts.

Yesterday, a new reader found the post somehow and asked me a question in the comment section about the vintage decorating books in one of the photos. I didn’t remember the post, so I had to go in search for it.

Linda McDonald Design

After reading the post, I smiled. Smiled with personal satisfaction, realizing that what I wanted 10 years ago, I actually made happen.

What I love about the post more than my thoughts and images that I included, is that I discovered that what I wished for 10 year ago, I have slowly created without thinking about it much.

All I did was stick to what has always felt and still feels right when I go about choosing how to decorate every room in my house.

The photos in the post were found online back before Pinterest was a thing. They are old, but in my mind, not dated at all. They share a classic vibe that spans time.

So I thought I would update and share the post as I think it can be inspirational to anyone who enjoys the process of making their house a home in the best way possible – in YOUR own style!

I love what I love for no other reason than it makes sense in my head.  I have tweaked and edited my style over the years, but haven’t strayed very far from what I documented in the 10 year old post.

Others may not get it or even like my style, but that is OK. I am not trying to please anyone, only myself. My goal when decorating my home is to just stay true to what I like and or need, which in turn makes it authentically my own and perfect for my family.

Creating Your Own Authentic Decorating Style

I updated the original post with the addition of mentioning Pinterest and including new photos to show how I reached my decorating goals.

Here is the old post…

Like most of you, I keep clipping files and have Pinterest boards filled with ideas of decorating and more that show what I like and dream about having in my house. Some are lofty goals, but most are doable ideas that just take focus and time to see come to life.

Home Decorating Books by Dorothy Rogers

I refer to these magazine clipping files and pin boards as The House In My Head – named after the vintage Dorothy Rodgers book above on my bookshelf.

The book is her story of how she went about building her dream home.  One that would be perfect for the way her family would live in the new house as well as how to make it perfect to entertain in.

Since her husband was the Rodgers part of Rodgers and Hammerstein – they entertained a lot! I loved the title when I found the book at a thrift store many years ago.

Reading it was fun as so many things about decorating a home have changed, but just as many have stayed the same.

If you had my actual House In My Head file on your lap right now (without ever seeing or reading my blog) and began to page through it, you would definitely see what my personal decorating style in is all about.

How to Discover a Decorating Style That is Right For You

House-Beautiful-Magazine dining table and chairs.

My decorating style is a mix of styles, but it is not eclectic – it’s uniquely curated to fit my exact taste and needs. I am not shabby, nor am I chic. I am not beachy, but I love to live by water. I like modern, but it has to have soft comfy lines. I like stone and natural textured surfaces in an open airy setting. I like decorating using the color white with pops of color here and there.

My decorating style is just that– my style.  And your personal decorating style should be unique to you too.

If you struggle to make choices when it comes to decorating or if you often bring a piece of furniture or an accessory into your home to find its all wrong. Or if you feel like you can’t make a choice when you are presented with dozens of decorating options, then take the time to do this one simple thing.

How to Break Down a Decorating Style So You Can Claim a Name as Your Own

Can you give your decorating style a name?

Not just a general term like traditional, farmhouse, eclectic, modern- but something more descriptive that breaks the general decorating style term down even further by adding one or two more descriptive words to the style that better explain what it is you like. An even better way is to make up a decorating style name that is completely your own.

  • Once you come up with a name – write it down so you remember it.

For instance here are some examples of bloggers who I think have defined their specific decorating styles:

Collected Eclectic, Vintage Modern, Cottage Farmhouse, Transitional Neutral Farmhouse, Fresh Flower Vintage Beach House

Give it a Try – Name Your Decorating Style

It may take some time to come up with a name so no need to rush. Just put some thought into until you come up with something authentically right for your decorating tastes and preferences.

The name you give to your decorating style can become your personal decorating guide in a way. When decorating your home, keeping the style in mind will help you stay on course as you navigate the dozens of options to choose from.

For instance, back in 2011, I didn’t have a name for my decorating style. Now I do. I call it White and Woodsy.

When out shopping , I see many things I like, but always ask myself, “Will this work with my white and woodsy style?” If it does, I consider purchasing it. If it doesn’t, I know to pass on it.

Adding a color to your decorating style name can help reinforce decision making if you find yourself not knowing what to choose when faced with color decisions. For instance – Blue & White Refined Ranch or Turquoise Boho Beach Shack.

My Decorating Style Goals Reached Without Me Really Realizing It

What I actually created may not be exactly like the photos I shared 10 years ago, but what I have been able to do was create a resemblance of them within my means and resources. Living by the water – white, texture – all came to life.

Even though when I wrote this post 10 years ago I didn’t have a name for my decorating style, I can see in these photos that my white and woodsy style was emerging.

The View of water from a stone patio

What I Wrote in 2011: The most important decorating element to me – is all about “the view”.  I would love to look out to this, but as long as I have something far and wide to look at out my windows I am pretty happy.  It could even be an apartment on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park – I’ll take it.

How I Made it Happen: We moved to live on the shores of a large lake.

Home with living room view of the sea

What I Wrote in 2011: To enjoy “the view” I like lots and lots of windows. My style is all about light.

White drapes that are affordable
Dining chair and table in kitchen showing new neutral cushion covers on chairs made from fabric from the fabric of a broken patio umbrella.

How I Made it Happen: I didn’t cover any doors or windows with heavy drapes or window treatments that would block the light or view. Instead I made affordable custom made extra-wide white drapes that are set off the glass.

Cohen-and-Hacker-Kitchen window wall.

What I Wrote in 2011: This is my kitchen in my next house. I really love this white counter/cabinet window combo and lots of light!

Fun fact: Just the other night when watching Longmire on Netflix, I noticed in a house scene that the character, Cady’s kitchen had a window like this. My eyes went to it right away.

White Kitchen Makeover that is light and bright.

Still trying to make this happen if we ever add on to our existing kitchen.

Cohen-and-Hacker-Architects house exterior that is neutral in color and classic in design

What I Wrote in 2011: The style of the exterior of The House In My Head would look something like this.  Plain and simple with lots of windows and classic trim.

View from the water of lake house
Exterior House Paint Makeover using Glidden Premium Paint and Primer

How I Made it Happen: I did have the exterior of my house painted a neutral color. It may not be quite the same as my vision, but I didn’t stray too far colorwise.

4 images of rooms decorated using white with pops of color.

What I Wrote in 2011: My style consists of white or light colored walls with pops of color strategically placed. 

Home Decorating ideas on a budget using a mostly white color scheme.

How I Made it Happen: I have kept my interior color palette the same through the years using white with a few colors pops of these colors: green, pink, blue and purple.

Double swing hung from tree with two girls on it.

What I Wrote in 2011: My decorating style is pretty casual. It is all about enjoying the simple pleasures in life – an outside swing really makes me happy. It is the best way to enjoy “the view”.

chair and fishing pole in yard along the shores of a lake

How I Made This Happen: I don’t have the swing yet, but Ed and I are working on it. For now I enjoy sitting here.

Decorating That Authentically Says YOU

If your home doesn’t look or feel like what you have been clipping and saving through the years, it may be a reminder to do something about it so you can create a home you will truly love. One that will feel just right for you and your family.

Have you taken a look lately at your decorating clipping file and older decorating boards you created on Pinterest years ago?

It is an insightful way to see how your style has evolved over time and if you have reached your decorating goals without even knowing it. This should make you feel good about your decorating efforts.

When you become a curator of sorts for everything related to your home and what you think you can do and bring into it, the more you will begin to see a decorating style emerge that is yours to claim. No one else can do it the same way you can.

When you hear– That is so YOU!  You will know you have been successful at fine tuning your decorating style.

Photo Credits:  Cohen & Hacker Architects, House and Home, Beautiful Homes, Atlanta Homes Magazine

Decorator Secret Why you should give a name to your decorating style

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  1. Michele M. says:

    Oh this is such a great post and I know a few gals I know will benefit from it greatly and will forward it to them. Thank you for sharing!

    As for my home – I have always been very honest with my style and very seldom lean into trends. I have done each room frugally and slowly to get it where it feels completely right to me. I am blessed with a husband that gives me total domain over decorating and never complains about changes, which happen often enough to warrant concern that one day he will enter a room in the dark and break his neck cuz I moved furniture as he was sleeping, haha.

    I rec’d one of the best compliments of my life just a week ago – not even made directly to me. My little sister screen-shot a text from her youngest daughter (college sophomore) that said “Visiting Aunt Shells house is like getting a cozy and warm hug of love.” Sigh. Guess I nailed it, eh? That’s about as good as it gets to validating a FEELING through decor using light, sounds, scents, cleanliness and decor choices. She really made my day.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michele – I love hearing that you are confident in your style and choices. So many people are not. My husband is like yours. He gives me free rein to do whatever and never questions me. We are lucky for that. The only thing that he cares about is a comfy place to sit to read or watch tv. I love how your niece described your house. That is the best compliment ever and I totally understand how it would make your day. :-) A pretty and cozy home = happy life.

  2. I’m so glad you said we should give it a name. When my husband became an officer in the army I noticed most of the wives owned several things passed down through the family… I had none. Little by little I collected many things, BONUS, they had childhood memories attached. So i guess I’m “collected traditional” I look around and realize I have EXACTLY what I always wanted.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sheryl – What a great name for your decorating style – I love it!

  3. Diane-
    Absolutely love your blog. You have such smart and realistic ideas. And you share them in such a friendly way-that allows your readers to believe in their ability to style a home.
    Thank you & Happy Easter

  4. I loved this post! I’ve really struggled with decorating a home that really isn’t representative of who I am. Because of the housing market being tight and a necessary move, I’ve really struggled with my identity in a split level house I don’t adore. I constantly catch myself saying “If only…” For years I’ve found inspiration in magazines and on Pinterest, however until I read your blog I’ve never put a name to what I truly desire. Since I love my back yard with a variety of shrubs, pine trees, and perennials I now realize bringing that space indoors will bring me joy. Luckily, I have two big windows that look out into the backyard and two that look into the front. I will name my style Nature’s Sunlight. My colors on a base of white are yellow, green, and grayish taupe. Thanks to you, I think I’m on my way to finding myself.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – I love hearing this. XO Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and tell me. I love your style name – Nature’s Sunlight. Perfect for the way you described your style. :-)

  5. Wonder if anyone can help me name my style. The words I have are: Crisp, bright, nostalgic, curated, navy, white, cream, black, wood, metal, uncluttered/orderly, pretty but not overly feminine, maps, places and water, reflective of who we are, easy care.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Connie – From your list of words, you definitely know your style. :-) If you keep thinking on it, I am sure the right name will come to you. It took me a while to come up with mine.

  6. Giftbasketworldwide says:

    Remarkable Blog Posts!! Great work Buddy.

  7. Really good advice Diane! It also might be helpful to point out that if you like/love several styles and are having trouble pinning yourself down to one personal style…… look to the bones of where you live for inspiration. My last home was a farmhouse built in the 1880’s. We remodeled it for 25 years, added 1000 square feet and a turret! Our style evolved from country to Victorian, both of which I still love. It was also easy to accessorize Victorian, as my family had kept a large amount of family heirlooms! My house now though, is a lodge style with bark-on cedar stairway rails and other cabin-like features and woods. Some of our furniture still works! But many decorating accents (some heirlooms) had to be given to other family members or discarded….. too small and “clutter-ey” for this house! The master still boasts the Victorian “Eastlake style” family heirloom bedroom set where it now helps soften the rustic look into a more refined European “chalet style”. After 12 years, our “lodge” is still evolving like your home Diane!

  8. Hi Diane, Interesting post! I always hear friends, family members, YouTubers, bloggers, etc. say, “My decorating style is…”. It just rolls off their tongue, without hesitation and said with conviction. I shrink a little each time someone asks me, “What’s your decorating style?’. I used to fish around trying to find words to sound like I knew what I was talking about, I stopped doing that, it was too hard and to be honest…silly. The fact is, that I have no idea what my decorating style is because I don’t have one. I’ve always wanted to have a “decorating style”, I definitely know what I like in colors, textures, furniture styles and decor accessories, I’ve simply not been able to put it all together. I’ve come to consider myself a hopeless case. There have to be other “no-stylers” like me bumping around out here, right? Fun post, Diane, food for this no-styler’s thoughts.

  9. Best post! So much clarity to consider for my “house in my head”.

  10. Thanks for making me think about this, I tend to be a lazy thinker lol. My style would probably be too much for most. I am a photographer. I have photos of Nature displayed everywhere. They make me happy. Three of my Woods Scenics are 16 x 20 and framed in “mirror frame”s”. I carry that “Glam” with Silver/Brass to my end tables. So I am calling it
    Natural Nature with a touch of Glam ?

  11. I love this post. I have been trying to determine my decorating style for years. I will be going back and looking at all those magazine clippings and Pinterest’s I have saved. Should be fun. Thank you once again Diane!!!

  12. I love this post! I especially love that you have been able to look back and see that you are moving towards the house in your head. You are living the dream on our beautiful shores for sure! I have only recently reopened my blog mostly to reinspire myself. I know that sounds silly but being able to look back at where I’ve been and where I want to go now with my home decor really helps me feel more alive. My life is so busy right now with caring for an aging parent, working part time , and living with this new norm of life behind a mask it’s hard sometimes to stay inspired. I know I will always be working towards the house in my head but cannot name what my style is as it is always changing. I can look back and see some constants so that is something to think about. Thank you for the inspiration to keep defining my own style!

  13. I live on a farm so there’s that plus I enjoy elements of steampunk AND shabby Chic so my style is SHABBY FARM-PUNK. ?

  14. It’s really wonderful to see how aligned with your dreams your current life is.
    Really enjoyed this update to an old post.

  15. Marilyn Holeman says:

    Hi Diane, I would call my style Collected Cottage Garden or Vintage Cottage Garden. I have had people say that my home is so me, which is so fun! My problem is color. I remember my mom telling me in high school that “pink and green don’t go together!” Hmm. Think of a rose. Anyway, I’ve loved pink and green for a LONG time, but also love lavenders and purple–and lately turquoise! The background for our home is green. Fortunately, my husband likes green and turquoise, too, and puts up with my pinks and purples. I guess I just need to be balanced. I love your blog, and would love to see more of your old posts updated.

  16. I’m sitting here at lunch reading this post, trying to think of a name for my style. It has to have Blue in it somewhere, since that color appears in every room in my house and I have had shades of blue as long as I can remember. I do know that I have narrowed my style down over the years because I don’t really find myself just buying things all the time. I thought the Blush & Champagne Gold was just beautiful when I would see photos, but I also know that I would really tire of the combination. Instead of buying for myself, I bought for my nieces in those colors. :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kelly – I am sure you will come up with a name for your style. You are halfway there knowing blue is part of it. Smart choice to buy blush and gold items for someone else. It is a nice feeling when something that attracts your eye, but know it’s really not right for you. :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Alison – I have so many older posts that get lost in the archives. After seeing this one, I am going to start looking for more to update that readers may find inspiring.

  17. Linda L Weeks says:

    I’ve always admired your particular taste, it’s clean and pleasing, and after reading your post today, I realized I do have a name for my style, very consistent throughout the house, I call it “Dirty Windows”!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Ha! I have that style going on in my house also Linda. :-)

  18. Rhonda Steelman says:

    Thank you for this simple yet effective tip! I spent some time thinking about my personal style and think I have something I can use. I definitely struggle with being all over the place when it comes to decorating and then not being satisfied.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rhonda – Creating a name for your style really can help. Now that you have one, it will help you to stay focused on what you really like and edit out the rest.

  19. “That is so you!” , is something I’ve heard from several people over the years but it covered a myriad of areas in my life, not just decorating. Oh, how I wish I had paid more attention to them because now I remember the phrase but not the subject! I need to think about an appropriate name for my style, but until then I would have to say it’s My Style until I can afford to start over with a clean slate! Lol. Loved the break down and side by side comparisons with your how you made it happen explanations, Diane.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Sharon – It was a fun post to update. I remember the first time someone said “That is so you” to me was when I was in college. I had bought a new shirt and put it on and my college roommate said it to me. I loved that shirt for years. :-)