How a Style Icon Helped Me With a Decorating Decision

Decorating a home from choosing the furnishings down to the smallest detail can be challenging at times when there are so many options, colors and styles to choose from. I have shared many of the home decorating tips and tricks I have learned over the years after decorating 5 homes. All using budget-friendly and creative ideas. I have another one for you today.

In a world that keeps pushing us to buy the latest and greatest decor all the time, sometimes when trying to make a choice we can get confused and pick something that isn’t quite right. This recently happened to me, until I remembered it’s OK to decorate in my own style and be confident in my choices.

I once read that style icon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis redid her bedroom in her 5th Avenue apartment in New York a few times. This seems normal over the course of a lifetime, but when she did it, she did it using the exact same red toile fabric, wallpaper and furnishings to replace the same that had just gotten worn and faded.

The room was decorated in her signature style that she liked. To change it to look any different wouldn’t bring her the same aesthetic pleasure.

The reason I am sharing what I read with you is that recently I was reminded about Jackie O’s confident decorating style when it came time to redo the dining chair slipcovers in my kitchen.

worn and stretched out dining chair back slipcover

Over the holidays I noticed that the white slipcovers I have covering the backs of the chairs were starting to yellow, even after washing them.

What was worse though, was that they had gotten stretched out gradually over the years that I didn’t even take notice just how out of shape they had got.

Wicker chairs around a round dining room table. Chairs have white slipcovers with a tied knot detail in the chair backs.

The chair back slipcovers used to fit snug on the chair backs as shown in the photo above.

White-decorating-color-scheme-for-dining-rooms

I originally made the slipcovers for the set of ladderback dining table chairs that were in the dining room of my previous home. When we moved to the lake house, I gave the dining table and chairs to my younger daughter for her home. She didn’t want the slipcovers so I stored them thinking I may have a use for them someday.

About 5 years ago when organizing my decor stash I came across the bag they were in and that someday arrived. I got the idea to try them on the woven kubu rattan chairs I had in my current kitchen.

Completed table showing the matte sheen on it from the light coming from a door.

The slipcovers fit, although differently than on the ladderback chairs. I liked the look and the covers have been on the chairs ever since…

…until the holidays when I saw it was time to dust off my sewing machine to make new chair back slipcovers.

I went to the fabric store to buy yards of new fabric so the chairs would get a brand new look with a trending pattern or color of fabric.

While at the fabric store, none of the rolls and bolts of colorful fabrics in the aisles popped out at me.

As I searched and searched, the more I thought about the chairs, I asked myself, “Why am I in this store looking to buy a different fabric when what I still truly like seeing on the chairs is white chair back covers”.

Plus, I knew I still had a big roll of the same white fabric, enough to make 5 new chair back slipcovers with no additional cost. I had bought a huge roll of white fabric about 18 years ago for $1 a yard. When buying it, I was confident I would use it all, it just took me 18 years.

closeup of seam sewn on a diy dining room chair slipcover.

When I got home, I went in search to get the roll of white fabric out of my fabric stash. I was extra happy when I found that I had saved the original pattern I made out of a cardboard display sign for the slipcovers which would make making new covers a few steps easier. I even saved the pattern I made for the chair seat cushion covers.

I am no pro when it comes to sewing on a sewing machine by any means. I am also not a perfectionist or I would have given up trying to sew home decor for my home years ago. I can sew a simple straight seam and that is all I needed to do to get 5 new white slipcovers made.

newly made white fabric slipcover on kitchen dining chair.

I made the new chair back covers in a slightly different way than the original covers. I didn’t make the knotted back accent and made the covers longer so the bottom hem was in line with the bottom of the woven back.

Kitchen table with 5 dining chairs around it each with a white slipcover.

I have Jackie O to thank for reminding me to stay true to what I really like.  The newly made white slipcovers may not have changed the look of the room, but they sure do look bright, cheery and they fit not only the chairs again, but my personal decorating style.

Over the course of many years I have fine-tuned my signature decorating style. I learned that decorating is all about editing – lots of it until you are left only with what you truly, truly love.

It doesn’t matter if no one else gets it – you only need to listen to your instincts and have confidence in your choices. It is like finding your happily ever after.

Once you have defined your decorating style, the best compliment anyone can ever give you is when they say…“That is so YOU!” 

How I Made the Chair Back Slipcovers

To find out how I made the chair back slipcovers, head over to this post: How to Make Simple Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

What Is Your Signature Decorating Style?

If you aren’t sure you have a signature decorating style, I encourage you to make a list of the furnishings, accessories, colors, patterns and details you enjoy seeing in your home like I did below.

It will help you hone in to see what your decorating style is all about.

The Furnishings That Tell What My Signature Decorating Style Is About

Kitchen drawer used as a desk drawer.

Baskets – I have been collecting all sizes of square and round baskets since I was in high school. I use them to organize little things in drawers and big things on the floor like throws and pillows. I use them as side tables and I make pretty labels for them. I once even made an ice cooler out of one for outdoor entertaining.

Lots of White – I have experimented with many paint colors on the walls in my home, but know that I like my spaces light and bright so that whatever I bring into the room I never have to worry if it matches.

Most of the walls in my home are white with the exception of my bedroom and accent walls in a few rooms.

I use white slipcovers in my family room, white dishes, serving ware, and sheets. If I am at a loss as to what color to paint an item – I know I will not go wrong with white.

Vintage/Thrift Store Finds – I like old pieces or items that bring back a fond memory.  I am not into collecting it, but if something makes me smile and I get that happy nostalgic feel – then I want to add it to the mix.

Decorating for spring using White dinnerware and white pitcher filled with purple hydrangeas on a wood table.

Flowers – Purple/pink hydrangeas and pink peonies are my signature flowers. I wish I could have them in my home all year long, but I don’t have the budget for that. I search high and low for high quality faux florals that I can place in vases and urns to enjoy the fresh happy color all year long.

Comfort First – If it is in my house and needs to be sat or laid upon – I make sure it is comfy before adding it to my decor.

Fresh Color – Even though I like lots of white, the only way white in my mind looks good is when it is paired with colorful decorative accessories.

a stripped glass fronted cabinet used as a sideboard

Painted & Stripped Furniture – I started painting furniture when I was first married as a necessity to transform all the hand-me-downs I had been given. Over the years I began to enjoy the process and liked the look of the brightly painted pieces amongst my other furnishings.

I also found that I liked the look of stripped pieces to accent a room.

Unadorned Windows – I like to see outside so I do not cover the sliding glass doors and window in my house with complicated window treatments. For the sliders I made the drapes and hung them so the stack back of the drapes doesn’t cover any part of the glass when they are open.  When we need privacy or to shield the sun, I can close the drapes, but I rarely do.  

Seagrass Rugs – I love the neutral texture they add to a room and the feel of it on my bare feet. They also are easy to care for which I love since I don’t want anything in my home that requires too much upkeep.

My signature style doesn’t quite fit into any one style of decorating and I like that. It is the best thing about decorating with personal style…when you put things you love together…they just do – go together… like it was meant to be.

If you would like to read more about how to gain confidence when decorating in your home using items you love, you may like these posts: Discover Your Unique to You Decorating Style and also Let’s Talk Personal Style In Decorating

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34 Comments

  1. You speak the truth and thank you for sharing!! The slipcovers came out beautifully and I like your simple tweak with the design. My sewing skills are the same as yours :). I can do simple table runners, curtains, but nothing too complicated. A great savings throughout the years when you can sew your new pillow covers etc rather than buy!

  2. Great post! At Christmas time last year, I struggle to get the latest, greatest color trend and, thankfully, failed. When I got out my 50 year old collection of ornaments, I was thrilled to see my oldies but goodies. I’d also been applying that same sense of comfort to liking my own style in my home. Your post was like being with a like-minded friend. Thank you.

  3. I love your blog and your style. I also love that you continue to help remind us that it’s OK to update economically! So many of the blogs I used to follow have now only starting listing the products they want you to buy (even though they haven’t bought them) so they can get financial support. I totally get this as well. . . . but I really appreciate you and your blog.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Denise – Thanks so much for the nice comment and reading my posts. :-) I know what you mean about many blogs that have now become nothing but affiliate links for products beyond just sharing decor items shown in a room or project supplies used or needed in a post.

  4. Donna Marie says:

    Have you tried Molly Suds? It really whitens things!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donna Marie – I have tried Molly Suds and also the Oxygen Brightener. They work well. I use them to clean all my slipcovers. The chair covers were too stretched out, even if I could get the yellow out of the fabric, their time was up. :-)

  5. I love that you are true to yourself and your style. Always. Your down to earth approach to decorating is so refreshing! You give me hope and confirmation. Thank you for that. Also, thank you for all the great ideas you consistently have and share with all your readers.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Delanie – As always thanks for leaving me nice comments – it makes me happy to hear that my posts give you hope and confirmation.

  6. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    My style is your style. Great advice.

    I think all white needs is some wood.in the room, be.it cutting boards, baskets,.or a.s!all piece of.furniture. I liked your white flowers in the pitcher last week.

    Questions:

    What white fabric did you use for the chair covers?
    Would canvas work? Or is.it to stiff?

    Seagrass rugs:
    Can they be.used on hardwood floors?
    Will they require a pad?
    How do you clean them?

    I so like your table and covered chairs. Any hint where I could.buy them?

    Waiting for your nect.post. Thank you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nan – The white fabric I used on the chairs is a canvas like stretch fabric that I bought 18 years ago at a discount fabric store. Canvas would work great as it has weight like upholstery fabric. The stiffness is what makes it lay nice. It is what Pottery Barn uses for their slipcovers.

      I do not use a pad under my seagrass rug as it has a soft fabric backing. If you found one that didn’t you could use a pad, but it is not necessary. To clean it I run the vacuum over it and spot clean with a damp rag and dish detergent. I have had it for 12 years.

      My kitchen table I bought at JC Penney’s 25 years ago. It had a black wrought iron base that I painted white. The original top was pressed wood, that I refinished a few times and then replaced with a DIY wood plank top. You can read how I did that in this post: https://bit.ly/2Ut0EMj

      I haven’t seen one similar, but if you check out your local furniture stores and thrift shops you may find something similar. Here is one that I like that is an oval, but has a removable leaf to make it round: https://bit.ly/488kfBy

      The chairs are called Kubu Rattan. I bought them at Pier One Imports that is no longer in business. Here are a few similar that you may like: https://bit.ly/2Ut0EMj. and here: https://bit.ly/3w49wLo and one more: https://bit.ly/3HSm0s5

      Thanks for reading my posts all these years. XO

  7. Lisa Marie says:

    At the staging part of the house selling step. I’ve been told NOT to paint or do anything else but would still like to paint the third bedroom as it is currently a lilac, which I think is a big turn off. My front driveway gates could also use some spray paint as the previous owners used water-based paint on wrought iron – that’s a no go in Arizona! Now the rust is coming through. I never knew how much money went into trying to sell a house!

  8. Jen @ Migonis Home says:

    Love it, Diane! I love using white slipcovers and seagrass rugs too! :)

  9. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I love your style and feel like everything you do is so inside me and it is my soul…… just that I never knew my style, till I found your blog.

  10. So glad for the day you decided to share your ideas with the rest of us! Like Beth commented, I was reading and shaking my head up and down throughout as well. I picked up several great ideas I am going to try now. I have many pieces of traditional furniture I want to paint or strip but have had too many well-meaning friends ask “are you crazy??” when I tell them what I wold like to do. I could just say “DITTO” to everything you wrote…lots of light, casual inviting rooms, unadorned windows, no clutter…. And best of all your comment that no space was going to be safe from editing while you purge, lit a fire in me to do the same. Thank you!

  11. Linda Weeks says:

    yep – your casa es mi casa – I don’t know how much I learned from your posts and how much I’ve been learning subconsciously as I read blogs all over the internet, but your taste is my taste! and your blog is my very favorite!
    thanks for all the help!

  12. I’m a lover of white and neutral backgrounds mixed with pops of color too! Love reading about your signature style and being in this fun series with you! I totally agree about comfort first as well! ~ Heather

  13. Daune | Cottage in the Oaks says:

    Diane~ So refreshing and fun! Seeing your home makes me smile! Love it…… xoxoxoxo

  14. It’s really true, Diane, that your “signature style” is SO you! It seems that the one thing that is not “you” is the house itself- its very traditional and I picture you in an easy-going beach cottage. Do you agree? Maybe someday, right?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bettsi – I am dreaming of that someday!!! :-) The house of my dreams sits on a cliff by itself and overlooks the Chesapeake Bay. It was in the movie Patriot Games with Harrison Ford. I fell in love with the house and location. I would have all the windows and doors wide open so the fresh air and bay air could blow through. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a house like this.

  15. Jackie Lee says:

    Your style is what I have been trying to implement in my own home! I could not put it into categories in order to have a complete game plan now I do! Thank you!!! I am now your #1 fan forever!!!

  16. Mary Ann Howat says:

    I am a new reader of your blog, and I really enjoy it. It’s so conversational and personal. I am learning a lot from your posts. I need a little more courage before I take up my paint brush and paint that vanity cabinet that looks so tired. Maybe next month I will be able to tackle this project. You are giving me courage!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary Ann – That is so nice to hear – thanks. If you want to get the courage up to paint your vanity cabinet, find a piece of scrap wood and experiment with the technique to improve your skills and confidence. Once you get the hang of it, then tackle your vanity. Once you start you will start to look at everything with new eyes and want to transform it all into your own vision.

      1. Mary Ann Howat says:

        Thanks Diane. We do have some scrap wood, and I will try the color out and glazing on the scrap piece. Why didn’t I think of that!

  17. Diane, I have always admired your style. You know just where to add the perfect amount of color! And you are so right – it doesn’t matter if everyone else hates your style – as long as you love it! That’s almost identical to what I just wrote in my post for tomorrow!

  18. love your use of color! so fresh and pretty! and i agree that the best compliment is when someone says “that is so you!” i love that. :)

  19. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I so agree about lots of white and color. Love it and love your post.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julia – Looking forward to yours tomorrow! Loving your posts from your trip, too. XO

  20. We have many similarities in our signature styles! You have a beautiful home and I’m so glad you share it with us.

  21. Jessica @ Decor Adventures says:

    I love all the elements you brought together for this. They are definitely your style! Lots of white and brightly painted accents.

    Have fun nesting this fall – I’m doing the same myself. They we will be ready for the holiday season right?!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jessica – I keep telling myself this – to get organized so that I can sit back and enjoy fall. I am hoping this year I can. XO

  22. Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} says:

    I love how fresh and open and airy your style is. I think it’s all the white. LOVE!

    1. Why miss with a good thing? I also like the white slip covers on the chairs and especially that you updated the style. Looks great!

  23. This is fun blog theme! It helps me so much to read bloggers define their own style. I’m a late-comer to decorating and have to fight the urge to “include it all.” Mentally, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can say I want to decorate in style x and use that to edit my choices. Great blogs like yours have helped me come a long way!

  24. Beth of designPOST interiors says:

    I read through your lists just nodding my head! I love white slip covers and stripped furniture. It immediately makes the space more welcoming and comfortable!