Let’s Talk Personal Style In Decorating

When I first started blogging, I had a series of posts called, She’s Got Style. I no longer have the series on my blog, but I was reminded of it when I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a reader who wrote after reading my post about giving a unique name to your decorating style.

She loved the idea, but stated that she can’t seem to define what she likes to even come up with a style and then a name for it.

She asked if I could offer any tips that would help her do this – to be able to find the confidence to decorate in her own unique way and then be able to claim it and name it as a style all her own.

Further down in the post, I am showcasing 6 home decorating bloggers that I think have a style all their own. You know personal style when you see it and want it for yourself. Keep reading to get on the right path to finding and naming your unique to you decorating style.

Decorating Inspiration vs Imitation

Before we delve more into the topic of decorating with personal style, I want to clarify the difference between “inspiration” and “imitation” when it comes to finding decorating ideas for your home.

Fall mantel decorating budget DIY's

When Instagram and Pinterest came on the home decorating scene, “inspiration” slowly changed the idea of what it means to actually be inspired. Instead what has happened is the way homes are decorated have been becoming more and more identical.

We have fallen into a “group think” mentality – which is the need one feels to fit in, that they have to do the same as everyone else.

When it comes to developing your personal style in decor or anything you do in life, do the opposite of “group think” and look within, authenticity is key!

It may seem easier to just copy to achieve a look, but in the end the rooms you decorate will most likely lack depth and personality and you could end up not even feeling at home in your own home.

Personal style isn’t something that can be found through a quiz or curated by a professional designer. Cultivating your own requires being curious about what you love—even the things that surprise you—and then experimenting. That’s actually the point of true style, and the antidote for falling into the sameness trap in our own lives”. – Kate Arends of Wit & Delight

Finding Inspiration in Decorating Photos or Rooms

Here are a few ways that can help you figure out what you like when it comes to decorating your home.

When browsing through a decorating book, magazine, social media feed, are out shopping for furnishings or in someone’s home, ask yourself:

What do you see that catches your eye? – When you look at the furnishings, decorative items, colors and moods you like, gather them in one place so you can see them as a whole. Write down the words you would use to describe each item or take photos of each with your phone.

Include the colors, textures, feeling, age, condition, patterns, materials, and any other information about the items or the gathered items as a whole that comes to mind.

It can be anything – the sheen of the hardware on a cabinet to the soft way fabric is draped over a curtain rod. Take note of the details that make your brain light up.

Is there a common thread to these items? Is it the color or color palette you like? For instance, items that are white, have aged metallic parts, or have texture. List the details of these items. Maybe it’s nothing specific, but more of the feeling of the items, room or decor evokes in you – make note of all these feelings.

Is everything new, old, or a mix? Does it have a strong or soft color palette. Is it neutral, eclectic, rustic, traditional, modern or a complete mish-mash of all of the noted styles of decorating? 

It is fine if the items and colors you gravitate towards don’t fit into any one decorating style category or another. When you remove popular decorating style labels from your mind, some of the pressure to fit into one goes with it.

After finding items, colors and furnishings you like, it is now just as important to remove the things in a room that don’t fit into your list of words or simply you really don’t love. These can interfere with “your look” you are trying to create.

Whatever the items, colors and feelings you lean toward, know that they are your style! Go with them and continue to build upon it.

Once you find the confidence to decorate in a way that feels right for you, even if it is not “hip”, “trending”, or what some self-proclaimed decorating authority considers “in”, your style will begin to emerge.

She’s Got Style

Every home blogger decorates their home in beautiful ways, but not all of them do it with as much aplomb as the bloggers I am featuring in this post. They have personal style in spades. Each decorates in a style that is quite different from one another, which in my mind, is what personal style is truly about.

By just glancing at photos of their homes in a feed, you immediately know whose home it is because of the way it is decorated and styled. When I see personal style like this, I say to myself, “She’s Got Style” and I want to know more about them.

None of the bloggers I am featuring are famous, have a show on HGTV, written a best selling decorating book or have unlimited funds to decorate. But what they do have are homes that are all beautifully decorated, inviting, interesting and best of all – stylishly unique to them.

These women can go to a flea market or HomeGoods and see something and grab it, knowing it is perfect for them. They have no need to ask a friend, “What do you think of this?” As long as they like it, it doesn’t matter if anyone else gets it.

They have developed confidence in adding their own stamp on everything they do in such a way that it all seamlessly goes together in their homes perfectly.

When they do buy furnishings from designer catalogs, they don’t put together the decor in a room so it is replicated floor to ceiling to resemble a photo in a catalog. Instead, they pick one or a few items and put their style stamp on it one way or another.

Along with their personal style, they also have learned how to use the elements of design so everything they bring into their home is used or placed in ways that doesn’t neglect the design elements.

These elements are balance, symmetry, proportion, texture, contrast, emphasis, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, variety, and unity.

Don’t Do This

When browsing blogs, magazines and social media feeds, don’t overlook a blogger’s style or an image if you know that you don’t like that style, the colors or whatever.

Instead, even though the overall style may not be for you, look closely at the details and how they use color, pattern and style items together. Think about how you can arrange, group and style what you own in similar ways.

Take your time to browse around the posts on the blogs I have featured (links to each are under the photos) and I am sure you will agree with me that each has a unique take on how to decorate a room. Nothing cookie cutter, no imitation – just authentic personal decorating style shining through.

Emily A. Clark – Style: Colonial Glam

Emily’s style leans toward classic traditional, but with a little modern glam and a rainbow of colors and myriad patterns mixed in.

Emily’s Decorating Style Tips

I’m a bargain hunter, pattern lover and habitual re-arranger. I love taking the big decorating ideas I see online and in magazines and breaking down the details so that they are less intimidating and more doable.

Kelly Elko – Style: Collected Eclectic

Kelly enjoys collecting vintage items and scouring tag and yards to find items to decorate every room in her home. She loves everything she collects and mixes the old and quirky with new and trendy. No matter what she does, it always looks just right. I call her style Eclectible.

Kelly’s Decorating Style Tips

If you want to create a decorating style that truly reflects you, start collecting something that you love!

One of my favorite ways to decorate is to display favorite collections together for maximum impact. I’m partial to vintage collections and have too many to count.

Some of my favorites include demijohns (glass wine jugs), engraved loving cups (two handled trophies), ashtrays (they make great trinket dishes), cocktail shakers, drinking glasses, and old globes. It’s fun to move my collections around the house and incorporate them into my seasonal decorating. 

Julia at Cuckoo for Design – Style: Vintage European Boho

Julia at Cuckoo for Design calls her decorating style, Vintage European Boho. She grew up in Germany and like me, has a background in retail display. She is not afraid to DIY to get the look she wants for less.

You can see the European flair she adds to everything she creates. She is also known among cat lovers as she creates many spots around her home for her kitties to live in style also. Check out the hanging macrame basket in front of the window.

Julia’s Decorating Style Tips

When asked about how she goes about decorating, she said she always tells friends and readers to think about what pieces truly make them happy or feel comfy despite what the trends might say.

For me it is my family’s heirlooms and you can incorporate that with modern or trendy decor and shift towards whatever that will be in the future.

For me it is macrame right now because I enjoy making it, but I’m pretty sure I will get over that at some point too. Which is OK. The foundation of my family’s heirlooms and favorite pieces will still be there and work with whatever floats my boat down the road. 

I also always tell my friends and readers that I’m pretty sure that buying a full set at a furniture store will not make you happy. It doesn’t reflect your personality or personal style. It’s the pieces you collect over time that make your house feel like a home. 

As I get older I also notice that I want to change less in my home or buy less because I have collected/found pieces that I love. I have reached a level of contentment when it comes to my own home decor. 

Ashley at The Handmade Home – Style: An Artful Mix

Throughout Ashley’s home you can see her graphic designer background in every room where she features her colorful artwork as the focus. The decor follows the art which stays within her chosen colorful color palette.

Ashley’s Decorating Style Tips

I am passionate about decorating with personal style. It’s just as essential to soak up everything you love while fearlessly editing what you don’t.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is absorb it all while also pitching out what you may not even know you’re holding on to.

Watch the set design in movies and shows, peruse the flea market, and browse Pinterest. Flip through magazines and pay attention to advertising,… you never know when inspiration will hit.

Collect ideas and elements that speak to you on a personal level. Don’t be afraid to say no to those that you don’t. (AKA, you can let go of that guilt dresser your relative gifted you because they ran out of space but won’t let you paint it.)

Boldly curating a home you love is the ultimate act of self-love for yourself and those who dwell there. Break the rules, do what you love, and tell your story.

Donna at Funky Junk – Style: Repurposed

Donna at Funky Junk is a professional sign maker by trade. She incorporates her love of making signs with making furnishing by repurposing junk and decorating her house practically for free.

I think she nailed the name of her style when she named her blog many years ago – Funky Junk Interiors.

Donna’s Decorating Style Tips

I don’t even know what to call my style in all honesty. I just throw elements together that I love. A mix of antiques and rustic, and repurpose collected things to get there so it’s unique, higher quality while affordable for all.

I’m still driven to Repurposed because it’s an affordable way to live. This drives back from my roots when I couldn’t afford to buy anything. I will always have that take no matter what.

What goes in or out of style has no meaning to me. Making my home mine are the only rules I make.

Take note of the yard stick used in the mirror molding.

Yvonne at StoneGable – Style: Redefined Country

Yvonne at StoneGable calls her style, Redefined Country. No one else I know does elegant, but casual beige and white rooms like she does. Even though her home interiors are mostly done in a neutral beige color palette – it is never boring!

She mixes shades of beiges and whites in a masterful way. Her secret to her success at putting the beiges together is the study of contrasts between the lights and the darker accents in the room as well as a mix of textures and a pop of color with seasonal greens or florals.

Yvonne’s Decorating Style Tips

Moving from a big farmhouse to a downsized home on a golf course (still in the same area) was a huge shift in my style. Our home did not work with the farmhouse style I was used to and loved.

It has taken me almost four years to find and embrace my new style. However, as I have become more comfortable with my new transitional style in the Tanglewood House, I feel my style is ‘Redefined Country’!

Our home still pays homage to the beautiful bucolic area we live in, but works for our more contemporary open-concept home. Sometimes, you have to redefine your style and make it all your own! We are never really done decorating!

“Stay in your lane! Don’t let all the amazing and beautiful home decor tempt you to off-road and make unwise decor decisions. And don’t let trends trick you! Only use those you love and will work with your style!”Yvonne Pratt

Now It’s Your Turn

As you can see, each of the bloggers I shared in this post decorate their home in their uniquely individual style that sets them apart. Like me, they are passionate about decorating in their own style and wouldn’t even think about doing it in any other way.

If you are struggling to find your personal decorating style, following the bloggers tips will get you closer to pinpointing what you like and in turn will give you the freedom to style the items you love in new ways while appreciating them in a whole new way.

Working through finding what works for you may take time. You may not even see your style evolving yourself, but others will and they may even come up with a name for you. So keep at it.

Finding a Name for Your Personal Decorating Style

Coming up with a name for your decorating style will help you keep focus as you begin as you figure out just what your personal style is, instead of trying to fit it into one broad decor style category. It will set you free to combine what you love in new and interesting ways.

When coming up with a name, don’t overthink it. Brainstorm, be serious, be silly, and apply the words you came up with to start figuring out what your personal decorating style truly looks and feels like.

Once you come up with a name, it will help you to stay focused when adding new items from time to time or seasonally.

Now you will no longer have to worry about common decorating styles like Traditional, Modern, Boho and others going out of style because your unique to you style no longer will fit into any of these.

Knowing that what you love will never be out of style is the best feeling. It will evolve and grow even stronger as your confidence does as you stay focused on your likes and dislikes.

“Have courage in your vision, embrace the process, and relish the art of making a house feel like a home.” Shea McGee

I am sure you can add to this list, but to keep this post from getting too long, here are a few more decorating blogger’s whose personal style shines throughout their home.

Tasha’s ColorPop Modern style, Sarah’s American Classic style and Deb’s Old World Reinvented style, plus many more.

4 images of rooms decorated in various home decorating styles. Text overlay says how to find your personal decorating style and name it.

More Personal Decorating Style Posts

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  1. I’m behind on my blog reading, but as I catch up, I just had to let you know how much I appreciated this post. It’s thought-provoking and gives me hope that, even after a couple decades of not really being able to tie things together, I will be able to figure out my style! Emily is one of my faves and now you’ve introduced me to a couple of others that I think have such a great eye. One of the issues I have is, I think I like to things that traditionally don’t all “go together”. But maybe now I can find a way to marry some things.

  2. Thank you , thank you! Very helpful!

  3. Diane, you have such a wonderful way of breaking down complex or overwhelming ideas into manageable parts! Your writing style is so conversational and approachable. Always a pleasure to read your posts, thanks for this one!

  4. Wonderful post Dianne….I’ve already read it twice. I think it takes a long time to hone one’s decorating style, simply because there are so many choices. (I’ve been at this for almost 50 years.) Once I figured out that I was only going to purchase what I absolutely loved versus trendy, it was much easier to incorporate family heirlooms. I’ve named my style, Vintage Eclectic. It works, and most important…we love it! Enjoy your day! ;)

  5. Liz Feldman says:

    I am fairly newly widowed. (4 months) and am no longer living in my own house. Many years ago I lived in a house my husband lived in. While we lived there I collected stuff that spoke to me and when we eventually moved into a house that I chose, everything fitted beautifully and looked tremendous and I was often complimented on my style. I had no idea I had a style but I think it must be ‘listen to your inner eye’ mixed metaphor I know but it worked for me. Trying slowly to do this with my new abode. Regards Liz

  6. Kelly Elko says:

    What a fun post Diane and thank you so much for including me! My tastes have definitely changed over the years but one thing has remained the same and that is that I continue to do my own thing just as you do! Here’s to making our home a reflection of who we are and not a cookie cutter house.

  7. I think I am country, boho, collected eclectic, rustic with a touch of Miami Vice, lol I need to find a better name.

  8. Christy Keyton says:

    GREAT post! I have been following your blog for years and have tweeked a lot of your ideas for my style, as our homes are very different, but your decorating tips are always so good and adaptable to any style. I, like many people I am sure, have a style that has changed over the years. When I was a newlywed in the late 80’s, it was all country – think ducks and mauve and dusty blue! Then I went through a white farmhouse stage with a lot of jadeite green. Now, at 61, I remodeled a home about two years ago and I have settled into a more traditional style which I call English American Cottage – lots of William Morris wallpaper, vintage fixtures and furniture, traditional English colors on my walls and cabinets (Farrow and Ball colors), and books everywhere. I actually turned the living room into a library! It’s my favorite room in the house. I am confident in my own style now and that’s a good thing!

  9. This is a great blog! There are so many styles and trends out there that have some, or a lot, of appeal that it is difficult to figure out just what a style is. There are aspects of several somewhat similar styles that speak to me: modern farmhouse, cottagecore, refined country, with a little traditional thrown in. I wonder if “Cluttered Chaotic Country Cottagecore Combo” is a style??? Or maybe the “ADHD Modern Traditional Farmhouse but Not Quite” style??? I think I need to rethink this whole style situation and declutter and purge before naming my style….What do you think, Diane?

  10. One of the very best of your blogs… I absolutely love it! I still use and tell my friends to use pinterest to collect images of furniture, style, layouts, patterns and colors they love and after a while, you do start to see patterns emerge. I found this very helpful and often refer back to my decades old boards to remind myself when in a decorating dilemma. Although, I agree, pinterest is getting more and more homogenized and it’s getting difficult to find the original and/or clever approaches to decorating! I especially, like when people think outside the proverbial box and get creative with their decorating – using collections, recycling pieces and having a sense of humor. Thank you for this very thoughtful and insightful article!

  11. This is a great post. You have included many different bloggers/designers as great examples of different styles and explain things so well!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – Thank you so much. XO Decorating with personal style has been a long time passion of mine. It is one reason I named my blog what I did. :-)

  12. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Thanks so much for having me Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julia – You were the first blogger I thought of as your style is so YOU!!! And I have actually been in your home to see and feel that magic that decorating with personal style can add to a home. XO

    2. Wonderful post! I like antiques/older furniture because it’s so much better made. I have given up/dropped so many blogs because they have gone so trendy.

  13. Jennifer Howard | Cottage On Bunker Hill says:

    This was a fabulous piece! So many great points & ideas to take away after reading it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Jennifer – I have been working on the post for a few weeks after getting the question from a reader. I was happy that the bloggers I asked to tell me about how they went about developing their style were on board.