Defining Your Decorating Style

I sometimes wish I had a magic wand and could figure out where home design was going next, but it seems that in the last few years, with blogs becoming so popular and so many styles and room designs out there, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to define a particular style.

Do you know your style?

I think I know mine, but even though I’m pretty true to what I love and live with, it’s influenced by so many factors and the truth is, we have never been so inundated with pictures and images of room designs, telling us what we should love.  It used to be we only had magazines to determine styles and trends, then along came HGTV and they brought things down to the normal folks and we all got more comfortable with DIYing and trying new things ourselves.

So, now it’s just a free for all on style and what works for everyone.  The internet is full of images of beautiful homes and rooms and I think sometimes this muddies up the waters and makes it even harder to find your style and stick with it.

Does that make sense to y’all?

None of us can afford to redecorate our homes over and over again, so usually it comes down to freshening rooms and updating with paint and fabric and I’m no exception to that.

What are all the styles we see now?  There are a lot of decorating quizzes out there that are supposed to help you define your style, but truthfully, most of us are a mix of a few styles.  It’s much more fun that way! 

Traditional – which used to be so easy to spot, with classic American/English dark wood furniture and fabrics which are traditional too.  Now Traditional has broken out of the box, which is a good thing.  I still consider my style Traditional, but love to mix in more modern fabrics and accessories too.  Under the Traditional umbrella could be French or English inspired décor, with all of those mixes.

Modern/Contemporary – Definitely not my top style, but a sleek and more minimal look.

Cottage or Farmhouse style – There are so many mixes of this look and style now, with white rooms and minimal color, to very neutral fabrics and textures.  White slipcovered sofas seem to be leading this trend still, while mixing in colors in rugs and pillows.  Coastal cottage seems to fall under this one too and coastal has been hot for a long while now.  Shabby Chic could also fall under this one.

Eclectic – A mix of several styles, bringing in elements of vintage and modern.

I’m not going to attempt to name all the styles out there, but there are plenty to choose from, that is for sure.

1-hbx-traditional-living-room-white-walls-0412-lynn-morgan-03-lgn house beautiful

I thought I’d gather a little inspiration around the internet and talk about styles and how things change over the years.  This image above, from House Beautiful, is a beautiful room, with traditional furniture and elements.  A mostly white room, with neutral textured rug and just a little bit of color makes this room a standout to me. Of course, having those beautiful architectural windows doesn’t hurt either, does it?  I do love white on white walls and have been happy that I went with a light neutral white on my walls with white trim.  With dark floors it all works for me.

2-american-casual-white-foyer-dec0407-xlg-53594481 house beautiful

This photo, also from House Beautiful, is one of my favorite pics ever.  There’s just something so serene and comfortable about this hallway, with the dark door in the background and light walls and trim.  The lantern is so classic and traditional too, just a lovely room with antique furniture.  I’ll never tire of antiques and that real wood patina on older pieces of furniture.

anthony baratta llc via houzz

Another beautiful staircase from House Beautiful, with beautiful molding and trimwork, this is certainly a Traditional look, always a winner.

Atlanta homes and lifestyles
This classic shot from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles also is casually elegant with Traditional bones.  You can’t go wrong with a patterned antique rug  and you can see that little color was used here too.


There is still a huge surge in reclaimed wood and all white rooms (via BHG).  Cottage style and farmhouse style rooms are still very popular and many people loved the casual lived-in feel that these rooms provide.  The all white trend is still going strong in blogland too, with pops of color here and there and lots of painted furniture.

country living bedroom

This bedroom from Country Living with lots of white and dark wood is definitely a classic and Traditional look too, along with Cottage style.

traditional-meets-modern-living-room-xlg house beautiful

Blue and white color schemes always seems to be popular, as they are just so easy on the eyes, like this room from House Beautiful.

country living

This hallway has a definite Farmhouse feel with white woodwork and walls, dark flooring and casual antique runner.  The eclectic mix of the gallery wall brings in much personality to this room and gives it a collected over time feel.  I love the feeling of these type rooms.

house beautiful 2

A pretty bedroom from House Beautiful shows a pretty soft green/blue on the walls, dark furniture, soft patterns on the fabrics, creating a very calm and serene bedroom.  This is definitely on the Traditional side of decorating.

Newberry Residence

An all white kitchen in House Beautiful is not boring at all.  Those harp-back chairs are certainly Traditional in style, although the whole feel to this kitchen isn’t stuffy but very crisp.

house beautiful rustic kitchen

The Industrial revolution is still going strong in home décor too with so many industrial elements and reclaimed wood being used all over the place.  I love it too, just wondering how long this trend will last? I don’t think it will continue being as popular as it is now, that’s just my gut feeling.


(via House Beautiful)

Iron, wood, vintage, modern fabrics, white walls, colored walls, it seems everything goes these days.

So, how do you go about finding your own personal style in this conglomeration of trends nowadays?  I don’t have all the answers at all and am right there with you.  I wish I had a magic formula to tell you all how to find your style and stick with it, but it’s sometimes an elusive thing.  It takes years of honing your eye and trying to see the things that will truly stand the test of time.

For me, I still try to stick to my Traditional roots. With many of the pics shown above, the classic look of Traditional furniture frames will never go out of style.  Changing out paint colors and fabrics is the easiest and most cost effective way to freshen up a room in a hurry.  Very rarely do any of us get to completely start over in a room. Don’t we always have a sofa, chairs, side tables to deal with when we want to do a room design?  So, by breaking down pics that we see and love, we can bring in some elements that are updated and fresh without completely starting over.

I’m going to be freshening up my den soon, when I add a built-in bookcase and make a reading nook/library on one end of my room.  And I may be recovering a chair in there too.  So, I’ll be figuring all of that out as I go along, keeping the other pieces in the room that I’ve had and still love and enjoy.

Here are the classic looks that I see in the above pics that appeal to me so much that are timeless and always in style:

  1. White walls and woodwork.
  2. Wood floors and classic wood furniture always are welcomed in a room too.
  3. Lanterns
  4. Collected art
  5. Patterned rugs or neutral textured rugs (these are fun to mix up)
  6. Glass and pottery pieces
  7. Plants and flowers
  8. Mix of textures, shiny and matte
  9. Mix of pillows
  10. Lamps with interesting shapes

Have you figured out what your style is and do you stick with it? 

My likes have changed over the years, but I’m really striving to find a classic and timeless look that I don’t feel the need to change with all the trends every few years.  It’s hard NOT to fall for a few trends, but there are some I know will not stand the test of time like some of the classic photos above will do.

What are some things you are tired of seeing in decorating?  Go ahead and tell me and I’ll share a few of mine.  Even though I have a little bit of chevron in my house, it seems to have been way overdone and I think it will be on the way out soon, along with all those antlers and animal heads that have been so popular the last couple of years.

I also have to wonder how long the reclaimed wood  and the everything vintage trend  will last?

Is it a classic or not?  Time will tell!

- Rhoda


  1. I enjoyed your post. I too have grown weary of seeing chevron everywhere I look. And the animal heads are also on my list of things I wouldn’t necessarily decorate with, although I think they are a great alternative to the “real” thing. Also it seems like when people do pick color for a room they seem to pick such muted tones, you see a lot of gray. I love gray and even have a gray kitchen. But I think it would be nice of we start looking at more bolder tones and not be afraid to use them as wall colors.
    As far as style, I think it’s nice to mix a variety of styles and just create a space all your own!

  2. gayle olson says:

    I don’t have any trendy touches, no slipcovers, no burlap, no animal heads or chevron but my house still looks current and timeless. It was decorated 16 years ago when we moved in and the only things I have changed are pillows and lamps. White sofas and limestone floors, big white moldings and dark wood pieces make a traditional style look good always. I love making my home pretty and because the basics stay the same I have to use different table vignettes and plants and flowers to change up my look.
    Good, thought provoking post. I love to look at all of the blogs but I stay true to me!

    • Gayle, you make such a great point, if the basics are good then all you need to do is change accessories and you are up to date! It is amazing to look through old magazines (which I keep and look at for years) and so many of the rooms just need tweaking and it is suddenly a room for today! I find that my style might change some but it is always me! If I do anything trendy I make sure it is something that can be put away and I don’t have to feel guilty about spending to much money on it. But there are MANY of the trends that I will never use in my home and hopefully will go away soon. LOL

  3. I have to agree with Karen on the need for more color. All the magazines I look at seem to be all white or gray with very little color to make them more interesting. I guess I’m not with the leading edge of design there! I like color on my walls and on the floors, like big oriental rugs with lots of colors that can be pulled out and used as accents throughout the year. I like decorating with stuff I love. One piece that travels a lot in my house is a very versatile sofa table that has lived everywhere but behind a sofa. I like art on the walls, but evidently not mirrors so much. I like traditional styles with modern interpretations. I like looking at other peoples’ decor because it gives me ideas for my own home. I love fresh flowers on the tables and in the bathrooms. I like a pretty laundry room. I wish my pantry was stylishly organized but that’s a work in progress.

  4. I am Traditional. I have pieces from my family, which I will always use. In my N.J. house it was done Traditional in earth tones, brown, rust, beige. I have moved to Kentucky (not happy) and I am still Traditional, with family pieces, but went Blue and White, because I collect Blue Onion. I like the bright feel of my house. I do not need to put lights on during the day. I will always be Traditional, do not follow trends, I know what I like.
    I think you have done a fantastic job re-doing and decorating your house.

  5. Gay Crissman says:

    I enjoyed your post on decorating trends and styles. I am a traditional gal too but want to comment on a trend that I am baffled by–chalkboard paint. I’m not talking about on furniture, I mean the black paint that allows a person to write on it with chalk. As a school teacher, I can tell you the last thing I want is chalk dust. It is messy, hard to clean, and makes most people sneeze. We are no longer using those awful chalk boards in many/most schools now, so I am amused and puzzled by those who want this in their house. To each his own, as the saying goes…..

    • Come on Gay, the chalk does NOT have to make a mess, just use a damp paper towel to wipe it off!! Or use a chalk pen, easy!

      • I’m with Gay…gives me the heebie jeebies. And yes, it makes a mess. As a minimalist, I have no space in my life for chalkboard paint.

    • I’m also baffled by this obsession. You can wipe it off with water sure, but you still have a chalky, dusty mess on a board that never actually looks clean again after its first scribbles. I think it’s popular with people who believe it’s an antiquated form of communication. Similar to those who purchase telephone receivers with curly cords to attach to their cell phones. WHY?

  6. I couldn’t agree more. I like chevron, but I know it won’t be around forever. I’m so tired of the mounted antlers! And, although I like a little ‘chippy’, I think that has been overdone also. I don’t want everything I own looking like my grandfather’s old house. It seems like everyone is on the farmhouse decor kick.

  7. Elaine in Laguna says:

    I’m on the West Coast in a small home I decorated in Coastal Cottage – Shabby Chic. I have a few pieces of white furniture w/ some family antiques sprinkled throughout. I stick to blue ‘n white w/ a little bit of raspberry tossed in on my pillows and kitchen chairs. I collect Blue Danube so that’s my inspiration. But I also like traditional style and your projects! I love what you’ve completed in your house and look forward to seeing what’s going to be done on the landscaping.

  8. Becky in 'Bama says:

    May I please address the pillow issue? Nothing makes me crazier than to visit someone and I have to fight the pillows for a spot on the sofa (or anywhere else for that matter). What are you supposed to do with the pillow once you move it to sit down? My belief is pillows should be for a purpose – not to fill up a space. Enough already. As one poster noted, I decorate my spaces for the long haul- changing up lamps, or a throw pillow or a picture every so often. Not that I cannot afford to do more, but learning to be happy with what I have has been a hard lesson (particularly when retirement is looming on the horizon). If you have the cash – knock yourself out; I’ll visit and enjoy your handiwork. 🙂

  9. Gay Crissman, I too cannot imagine having a wall of Chalkboard in my home. I guess when you first paint it would look okay but after a few weeks of people writing and erasing…..well I just can’t imagine the mess. I also have never been a chevron fan, not a mason jar fanatic either. I tend to stick with warm colors with my leather furniture and sometimes change it out to brighter colors. I just change pillows and accessories since everything else I have kept very neutral. This way I can change super cheap when the mood strikes me.

    • I had chalkboard paint in my home office in my last house. Not a whole wall, just a poster-sized area that I framed out in molding. It was fun with the different-colored chalk and a lot nicer to look at than a white board as an at-a-glance way of keeping track of my work assignments. I don’t remember it being particularly messy, not using a damp cloth to clean it off. I do like the idea of having a framed section of it, though, instead of a whole wall– I’d imagine that might be good for a kids’ playroom, too.

    • I painted two large walls of chalkboard paint (adjacent to one another) in my high school sons room, accent walls a deep baby blue. One of four children, all their friends who visited loved to put their signature or saying or Bible verse on his walls. It was great fun to see what they would do or draw- decorated with school pride or for Christmas! I would leave it for a while then clean it off and let them start fresh. (with a damp old hand towel) We recently moved and I know he misses the built-in entertainment for all. I just bought a fresh can of chalkboard paint……..

  10. After kissing a lot of frogs, I found a designer who understands exactly what I mean and seems to know what I’m looking for when I can’t verbalized it. I’d say my style is Southern Tradional with a French Country twist. And usually, if everybody is doing it, I don’t want it in my house. That said, I never want to be that old lady in the dated house. I will never forget walking into a former neighbor’s house and thinking that you would never imagine that an 80+ year old couple lived there because it was stunning, classic and current.

    • Kim, I think you helped me finally name my style. I have always thought my style is eclectic, but sitting here looking around my house… I AM Southern Traditional. I love my old family pieces (though not really antiques). I collect old cameras as an homage to my dad who was a photographer back in the day. I collect transferware because it reminds me of one of my grandmothers. I use quilts handed down through generation in everyday life. All that being said, my style’s roots come from my southern heritage. As an emptynester, many “doodads” and framed photos come from the years I raised my family. All of the accessories on my side tables bear a memory of some kind…a sweet framed saying from a friend, a plate picked up on a getaway….etc. My home reflects the things that I love and value. Thanks for “pegging” my style for me!

      • Wow Susan, I think we may have been separated at birth! 🙂 I’m “Southern Traditional” as well and I love my style. As a matter of fact, “Southern by the grace of God” is my favorite saying! My Dad is a retired photographer as well, however I don’t collect vintage cameras since I will inherit his collection of them some day. They will mean the world to me. I have lots of family and sentimental pieces and they are a huge part of my decor. I have an old ladder from my Papaw’s barn that holds my favorite quilts so I can see them every day. I also have the kitchen table that he built for my Granny when they first got married – it’s now my kitchen table and I couldn’t love it more. A giant blue window from a local factory that was built in the late 1800’s is one of my most favorite possesions. I collect and decorate with things that remind me of my Southern roots and family ties, my travels, or of new memories made with my husband and son. I do have a couple of “trendy” things in my home, such as the chevron rug in my living room. It looks really nice and wasn’t expensive, so I can switch it out when I get tired of it. The locker-style cabinet that we use for a TV stand was in my son’s room and is really just a case of using what you have instead of buying something new. I do kind of like it mixed in with all of my traditional stuff. As long as my home reflects the things that are meaningful and important to me and is aesthetically pleasing to ME is all I really care about, but it is nice to have an official name for my style!

  11. I am so happy to see the comments for more bold colors, less fads, more function, and not being afraid to be you and be different! Hooray! I’m tired of white rooms, white kitchens, trendy pieces etc… I hope to continue to refine my style as we move into our new house. I’m hoping the move will help us to edit (delete some furniture and decor that we don’t like before we move and delete some that doesn’t fit in after we move). I have always wondered how people can spend so much on decor, but then I went to a couple stores in Franklin, TN and noticed the prices are MUCH lower than up by me in IL and WI! Yippee!!!

  12. Hi Rhoda: This is a thoughtful post that is much needed now. Another blogger talked about a similar subject and I would like to throw my two pence in. I feel that the internet/bloggers have totally changed the face of design and how we define it. My real complaint is that all the design is starting to look so similar, I can’t tell one from the other. It seems to start with the graphic designs – chevron, etc. that are just everywhere. I love the look, but, I’m concerned that a certain individuality is lacking in the aesthetic of many. As you said, it does seem to have ‘muddied’ the waters.

    • HI, Sarah, I so agree with that too. I do see lots of similar decorating going on and it makes me want to be even more of an individualist. Got to find the balance!

  13. Rhoda, I am a traditionalist but I try to fill my home with things I love so I do have some french country things as well as a few country things. I try not to go with the current fad as I know it will pass and something new will come along. I am not a fan of the white walls that seem to be everywhere today. They seem so cold. Right now my living room is Benjamin Moore’s Nantucket Gray and I love it. My other walls are a light taupe and my bedroom is Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Blue. I do like the new idea of painting interior doors black and I am thinking of doing that to my back door. Always enjoy seeing what is going on at your house!! Love your new porch!!

  14. I am very tired of all the white and painted wood. Real wood is so beautiful, why cover it in paint. My house is on the opposite end. Every room is painted in a color. The same colors are used through out the house; gold, pear green, cobalt, coral, honey browns. We do have some white accents, especially the new built ins in my craft room and living room, crown molding. Everything else is oak. The furniture is a mix of antiques and new, not sure about style. That is probably a mix as well. I collect cobalt depression glass, yellow ware, and books. Our house is a new cottage on the water, tiny sand beach at high tide.

  15. I really appreciate this post, Rhoda! I came on the blog scene 3-4 years ago and found it very helpful, particularly in convincing me that I could do a great deal on my own for less. I, too, noticed that the many (not all) of home decor sites seemed to being doing the same thing and I had to sit back and ask myself if it was something that I could live with long-term. There are some things such as board and batten/wainscoting and white kitchen cabinets & subway tile that are a definite yes and some like painting every single piece of wood furniture that’s a definite no.

    My style? Traditional Coastal mix and a small dash of modern. I have inherited some beautiful antiques that I would never paint – aged oak and cherry and mahogany are stunning. And I have collected shells all of my life.

    LOL, I broke out of my “wall color phobia” by going from builder beige to Mindful Grey (Sherwin Williams) for the common areas (so far)and find it a perfect back drop for those beautiful woods and shells, and reminiscent of the Atlantic Coast I grew up on and still live near. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life having to completely redo rooms. I want to just change up with accent colors at my whim!

    That’s me! I think that’s what matters for all of us…staying true to ourselves. You have been an inspiration to me to “stay myself” all the while encouraging me to step out of my box when I see something that I really do enjoy! Thank you!

  16. Thanks for that Rhoda. I too roam the net, not for new ideas, but to see what people are doing currently. My colours are not other’s choice, but then I live here, they don’t! My Guest bedroom is grey and lime green (red accents). My own bedroom is grey and cream (yellow accents). My bathroom is grey with either fucshia or lime green towels. And the sitting room, which has been pale turquoise for 11 years, is going to be darker this time around too, because I find that I like that warmth that darker shades give me. Not doing animal heads or chevrons, but do paint furniture from time to time because you can give an old dog a new life that way!

  17. I’m the traditionalist, using a lot of family stuff which has value only in my memories. All sorts of different styles and wood tones, but the side table given to my parents when they married and the dish cabinet which was given to my grandparents when they married are part and parcel of who I am. The one concession to style I made when I built 4 years ago was to go to a 9′ ceiling, which I love. And my colors, centered around greens, are also just me, and I don’t need them to be trendy, because they just make me happy!

    But my pet peeve, as a biblioholic, is bookshelves styled with books just purchased for their color or decorative value. My bookshelves have books I have read and refer to and loan out – it’s related to my vocation as a pastor. I can’t imagine not having lots of books in my home, nor can I imagine having books I haven’t read. I do admit to getting most of my magazines and mysteries electronically these days, but even my professional stuff is often electronic.

  18. I am definitely Traditional, but I am completerly over GRAY! I like neutrals, walls, fabrics- adding a little color with accessories, but does the neutral always have to be gray?? I agree with the comment that says that all the bloggers seem to do the same thing and all of the homes and projects have started to look the same. I guess there really isn’t too much new under the sun.

    • I’m curious about gray too. Rhoda what is your opinion about gray walls? When you mentioned white on white walls what did you mean? I was thinking of painting my family room a medium gray with green undertones, but I’m wondering if the gray wall thing is just a trend. I have dark wood floors with Benjamin Moore “Mayonnaise” trim which is a creamy white. What color would you suggest for walls that would be timeless. I’m getting tired of painting these tall walls.

      • HI,Vicki, that can be so hard to decide. I do like gray and put some gray in my dining room and kitchen, with the countertops and tile grout. And I’ve seen homes that have done lighter gray walls with white trim and it does look really good with a lot of colors. It really is a neutral backdrop too just like beige can be, just a different neutral. I painted my main walls in my house a creamy white with pure white trim and I really love that too. I used Moderate White by Sherwin Williams with Pure White trim. I’ve really enjoyed that neutral backdrop for all my dark furniture especially since I opted for dark wood floors. I think gray probably is a bit trendy, but will should be around for a few more years. It’s hard to tell!

        • I was using slate gray with pops of yellow here and there in the mid 1980’s so, I guess it will always come back in style.
          Each decade I seem to want a change in color but I think I will stick with slate blue from now on. I tend to like “French Country” and look for items at consignment stores and thrift stores and add them to family pieces, cherished mementos and family pictures. To make everything match, I have things re covered, painted and look for that French “leg” to get a cohesive look. I used Dunn-Edwards Inside Passage, Cottage White, and Sandcastle among other colors but usually stay very neutral so I don’t compete too much with other colors in the room. Love the look of the rooms in this article. Neutral has a calming effect for me. Thank you for this posting!

  19. My style is pretty traditional with a little french country thrown in. I’ve loved red accents for the last 15 years and don’t see that changing any time soon. It seems to me that many blogs show the same things now…lots of white, lots of gray, animal heads, chalkboard walls, etc. The funny thing is that I don’t have any friends in real life who decorate with those things. It’s kind of a bloggy thing, it seems.

    There’s room for all of us to do what we love. I’m 50 and don’t feel the pressure to make my home look like everyone elses. Just using what my husband and I love and feel comfortable with. 😉

  20. Susan G, I’m with you on purchasing books just for their decorative value! My home is filled with books and I love to see other homes with books that are read and appreciated. I think homes should reflect yourself and your family not things purchased just for decoration. I am horrified by the trend of removing the covers from books and tying them together!
    My husband is a ship captain so our home has nautical antiques, seashells and corals collected in our adventures, plus, I’ve got over 50 Japanese glass fishing floats collected during our years spent in the Marshall Islands that are all scattered around our home and backyard. A couple of years ago Pottery Barn started replicating fake versions so now my house looks like PB exploded in there! But I love it and everything has meaning to us. Long after that trend dies, I’ll still keep the real thing around!
    My decor is traditional with some family antiques and quiet colors but mainly I want my home to be comfortable for my guests while displaying things that mean something to us.

  21. Marianne in Mo. says:

    Don’t like white walls, reminds me of apartment rental days! Don’t get the chalkboard thing either. A little chevron is nice, but it’s overdone these days, as is burlap. I favor traditional, but add a bit of country french. No hard edges, but no curliques that were so big in the 90’s, like all of that wine country that was long in the tooth! So glad it’s going by the wayside. I stick with neutrals,have a dark rather sofa, a bit of black, and may never get tired of a white cabinet in the kitchen. But have a dark island, did that just as the trend was coming on, and still love it. The all white kitchen is pretty, but not my look. We have open floor plan, and I need it to flow! That said, would love to try a dark charcoal feature wall in a bedroom, and am once again loving tangerines and turquoise. Just not sure it will stand my test of time! Beadboard is classic, and I love it! I see the blog trends, but don’t feel I have to do it!

  22. Carolyn Roach says:

    I totally agree with many of the comments here. I love traditional type decorating and don’t see that ever changing. I cringe when I see beautiful cherry and mahogany furniture being painted white or some such color. I could never do that because I love my furniture ‘as it is’. It seems to me that many people have no idea of their decorating style so they just do what everyone else is doing. So, for now, most blogs are all the same – painted furniture, chalk paint, burlap, white rooms, etc. It all gets very boring after awhile. Give me color and warmth.

  23. I grumble about this subject all the time but only to myself! Coming of age with Lynette Jennings, Kitty Bartholomew and others I learned and agreed with the “no boring beige walls” and this included white! If you had beige or white you needed to just try a color for your walls, any color, it’s only paint!! And I still agree with that philosophy. I have a very light green paint color running through much of my home and love it! I have NEVER liked white walls with white sofas with white chippy anything. Reminds me of a sanitarium short of funds!! Seriously though, why is blue the ONLY color shown besides white and grey?? Really?? And yellow with grey?? Now that’s a homey look!!!! Who believes this?? Madison Avenue dictates these trends and they know if you see it enough you start to believe it looks attractive. Does that mean we mindlessly buy it because “Well that’s the style now.” I don’t see attractive fabric now unless its bought through a designer and isn’t easily affordable. Why?? I can’t tell one room from another. One word describes them all now. W H I T E. Or we see the other route and it’s elementary colors for adult rooms. I look at these rooms and I wonder what does the husband think of this and where does he sit??

    • I agree with everything you said.

      This post is very timely, and Rhoda is preaching to the choir here for a lot of us, judging by the comments. On my own blog I have railed on about these silly fads (because that is what they are) and the mindless “following the herd” that so many seem to do.

      I used to be a decorator, and design has been one of my passions for fifty years almost, beginning with the studying of my mother’s magazines when I was a kid. I can say this with impunity: when you start seeing a “trend” in WalMart and Kmart, don’t even THINK of putting it in your house. For example: Chevron and Burlap and Zebra.

      Some of the “looks” which crack me up are ‘Farmhouse’ and ‘Industrial.’ First, I know firsthand what a simple farmhouse looks like because both sets of my grandparents lived in them, and they were poor and shabby, indeed. Second, the industrial/loft craze often looks like somewhere Charles Dickens’ characters have taken shelter. No one would voluntarily go live in a place as sad as these, and copying those elements and calling it design is just plain silly.

      I may have to do another post on this myself, since I have apparently stepped up to my soapbox again!


    • Linda Weeks says:

      Oh that brings back memories. I loved Lynette Jennings and Kitty Bartholomew both, and miss them so much. Once you’ve found someone whose taste you admire, how can you just jump into whatever and whoever is in style! Candice Olson is another person who I really thought had a lot on the ball! Thank you Rhoda, for being yet another voice that I enjoy and respect!

  24. Great posting and very thought-provoking. It’s tricky to list what I don’t like without offending those who might love it. We should all have the courage to decorate our homes with items that are special to us, even if they are not “on trend.” Surfing the blogs gives me ideas for tweaking my own style, but it can be a challenge to resist all of the trends, especially in places like Pottery Barn where everything is displayed so beautifully. The thing to remember is that we are being told what to love by advertisers who are in the business of selling. For example, for years HGTV shows made it look like the ONLY acceptable kitchen combination was granite countertops with SS appliances. People were ripping out perfectly good kitchens to achieve this look. As for the trends that I am tired of seeing: the painted or vinyl inspirational phrases on walls; chalkboard painted walls; cardboard animal heads; painting antique furniture to make it “current.”. My two cents.

  25. ok- so here’s another 2 cents for all it’s worth! – My style is exactly that. MINE. It is a collection of the things that are important to me and the pieces that speak to me. I guess you’d say my home is Traditional but I like to think it is the history of our lives for the past almost 33 years- growing up on Long Island with trips to the city for a modern touch, Florida for the lighter colors and seashells, Tennessee for a taste of country, old world from our trips to Europe, a taste of the sea for our vacation home in Rehoboth Beach DE. Most important of all are the pieces my husband hand built and the 75 year old cedar chest my father built for my mother when they got engaged. There is nothing here that I don’t want- someone said “get rid of it if you don’t love it” and I do try to follow that, yet my home is not empty and austere or cluttered and filled with chotchkes. I think if you love something, it will go, but I never buy something and then find a home for it because I must have it (I avoid trends) and have never gotten rid of a major piece and then regretted it. I love following all the blogs to see what others do and if it speaks to me and it is meaningful to me it’s a go. Mostly I think I read them to drink in the confidence these talented bloggers share with us- and I see what it takes to make my home my sanctuary! I do not buy magazines any more, because I love what I see on the web better, because it was created by real people for real lives. Bravo for you Rhoda for being on my list of inspirational women!

  26. I love these inspiration photos, Rhoda! This is a great post, the internet sometimes makes it harder to determine your own style. I know it can sometimes make me second guess myself. I’ve learned to stay away from google and just go with what I know I love.

  27. Rhoda, a very thought provoking post. I have always thought that my style was eclectic with a traditional lean. I love layers and textures and well loved treasures in a home. One of my favorite blogs is ” for the love of a house” Joan has created a very individual, and comfortable home, and her blog posts describe the history and the where and the why she chose each object and piece of furniture. She decorates to create a home that she, her husband and their beloved Ella are comfortable in. I enjoy following “The Urban Cottage for the same reason. Steve’s latest kitchen project is fascinating to me. My favorite color is blue and I find myself drooling over Georgica Pond, the Pink Pagoda, Chinoiserie Chic, and the Enchanted Home. And many of the blogs I follow push me outside of my comfort zone and convince me to try and incorporate some new things I might never have tried in the past ( such as a pink, blue and white contemporary painting on my navy blue library wall…. I love it) I have friends whose homes are decorated with the mauve and burgundy and greens from the ’80’s and when they decorated their homes I wanted to see every inch, was so inspired. Being a young mom and poor to boot I could not decorate and redecorate my entire home to fit the popular trends of that time. Today when I walk into those same homes they are dated and lack the imagination and individuality I thought they expressed when first decorated. What I am trying to say is that I want my home to be timeless and reflect who I am, and expresses who and where I am today in my life. That it is a place where my family and friends are comfortable and inspired by the home I have come to love.

  28. Love this post, AND love all the comments here. For the most part, it sounds like all of us are basically traditionalists who don’t mind not following trends. But I wonder if we all have that confidence because of our age. Do you know the average age of your readers? When I was young in my teens and twenties, I probably followed every fad in home design there was. I wanted to be “current”. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized #1 – it was too darn expensive to keep doing that, and #2- it didn’t fit our home or our family’s style. So over the years, I developed my own style and figured out what I truly did love and what worked for our family’s casual lifestyle…It has been a journey, but if the basics are good, I can be happy just updating pillows and some accessories seasonally (which is what it sounds like your readers are doing as well.) As far as what I am tired of…I never bought into the gray scene. I love color too much. (But I will always love white cabinets in kitchens, forever and ever amen!) And antlers belong in cabins. And as much as I love graphically designed prints in fabrics, I think they are on their way out. Oh, and while we are talking “traditional”, do you view Traditional Home as a magazine with traditional rooms?? just asking….

    • Kelly, I think most of my readers are definitely more mature women, like myself. I know there are some younger ones too mixed in, but probably 40 to 50 is the median age most. And I think you are right, it takes more age and wisdom to become confident in our styles and not to fall for every trend that comes along. I have gone through a few phases. Ten years ago I had a new found love for toile and had that in my bedroom, but when it came time to update, I abandoned the toile for something fresher, but I still like toile. I do like graphics prints too, but don’t want them to overtake my house, so small doses for me. I do think Traditional Home still does a good job of expressing Traditional style and I enjoy House Beautiful too for the mix of traditional and modern.

  29. I am definitely traditional with quite a few lovely French antiques, but I’m having a lot of fun adding some modern touches with fabrics and art. One thing I am grappling with at the moment is the space above kitchen cabinets. I have about 39″ between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. I have a lot of “stuff” up there now, but want to freshen the look and declutter. I’m afraid that taking everything down will look vacant. Any ideas would be appreciated! Thank you.

    • WoW Barbara–39″ extra–!?!
      As a former-kitchen designer, have you considered stacking another layer of cabinets and shelves up there?? A great “architectural” look–extra storage–and meaningful display!

    • If you add an extra row of cabinets at the top as Catherine suggested make sure they are shorter than the current wall cabinets. The finish could be a different color than the current cabinets. (Not knowing what your cabinets look like, this could either be striking in a good or not so good way.) Glass doors would allow you show off some of your pretty serving pieces or a collection you enjoy. Good Luck.

  30. My decorating evolves as I do and it’s taking awhile to find my style. I like mixing vintage, cottage and throwing in some modern pillows or lamp shades. I love the traditional examples you provided. I loved all the rooms except the last one. I really like mixing painted pieces of furniture with natural wood and dark wood tones.

    You can’t go wrong when you surround yourself with things you love. In blog land things are getting a bit boring and all the rooms are beginning to look the same with the exception of eclectic (mixing styles effectively) The trends I think are overdone are chevron, chalk paint walls, numbering everything, big huge EAT signs in the kitchen, Keep calm and carry on signs, planked walls, pallet signs, words on walls, all industrial look with wire lamp shades and homes where all the walls are white, and the furniture is white. I really like the collected look (like what you have) You have a nice mixture of traditional, a few modern pieces and color mixed in.

  31. Sandy Cunningham says:

    Would love to hear people’s take on use of fake plants? I mean really good ones. Is that a no-no. I am moving into the Atlanta area in June and am wondering what everyone’s take is on this. Thanks, Sandy

    • HI, Sandy, I mostly love real plants if you have even low light, you can grow many things. But, a few fakes here are there on bookshelves or low light areas, I think are fine. I have one or 2 that look good and real too. I don’t love big fake trees, however!

  32. Loved, loved, loved this post! The pictures were great! I worked for a lady in Texas that had her small home professionally decorated just before the II World War broke out. It was very traditional and was still very stylish when I worked for her in the 80’s. I wish I had taken pictures of her home but I can still remember most of it. They used dark flooring, lighter walls of green, creamy white for all the wood trim and doors, dark wood furnishings with cream, red, and pops of turquoise in the furniture. Thanks for the great post! I feel like I just read a great magazine!

  33. I am sort of a traditional/casual/comfortable person with family items and just things that we like.
    I am tired of antlers. chevrons, those poofy tissue balls hanging from ceilings, and those book page and coffee filter wreaths. I am also tired of the sunburst clocks and aunt had one when I was a child, and they are not new..but just seem dated and tired.

  34. michelle ferrer says:

    Oh, goodness. Name a style. I strive to make our home welcoming, comfortable, and elegant. That’s a trick since I’m not formally trained in what goes with what. But, I love it when people tell me that they feel so comfortable when they come in despite some formal pieces. Our dining room is country French. The living room is warm wood walls, rock fireplace, a mix of silk covered chairs, chenille sofa, and a mirrored angle-plane side table. Family room has large windows with red toile at the windows and light green/blue/rust oriental rug, butler tray table. Kitchen and breakfast room green walls with warm wood cabinetry and red plaid café curtains. Putting a name to it? I suppose “Relaxed Formal Eclectic Southern and French Traditional”. Goodness, that’s a mouthful 🙂

  35. O.m.gosh, what a read through! Great post! And–interesting comments!
    I’ve nEVer been driven by trends-the color of the year-the latest styles…but rather, take inspiration from the parts of it I’m drawn to and create MY OWN interpretation! Including building my own stuff–lucky I used to build homes and design kitchens–I can do it!
    The best description of my style would be– Timeless, Collected, and Evolved.
    The best home-STYLES (I think) are the ones that “explain” who you are without you saying a word! ; D
    Again, fun post Rhoda–

  36. You have just inspired me to get back on my soapbox. I have plenty to say on the subject myself, and you have just opened the floodgates.

  37. I have been told that my style is the ultimate in Eclectic. I disagree, only because I think it’s not useful for people to think that they must be confined to one style or theme in order to be considered worthy. My style, if there is one, is composed of things that I LOVE … after a while, the look blends together and becomes cohesive.

    In our house, which was built in 1848, I cannot bring myself to adhere to what others think its style should be. Antique furniture from a lifelong habit of collecting blends with thrift shop finds, antique and worn Oriental rugs, contemporary Ikea shelving and storage, antique wood floors. If we like it, we do what we can to find a place for it. My newest find is a mid-century modern record player/stereo that I plan to repurpose into a TV console. Does it match anything else in the house? Nope, but that doesn’t matter one bit.

    Blogs and Pinterest and HGTV shows are great inspiration, with a potential negative side. Some people, eager to be stylish, will subscribe to a trend because that’s what we see all over the place. (Burlap, chevrons, etc., come to mind.) In fact, I found this post via a pin on Pinterest … that first photo from House Beautiful … wondering what the designer was thinking by putting those dining chairs in the way of whoever may be sitting in the white upholstered chairs.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever visited here before. I’m off now to see what else you have posted recently. It’s great to ‘meet’ you!

  38. Home fashion trends come and go, just as clothing fashion trends do. In a consumerist society, these trends are continually designed and redesigned, and this keeps the wheels of commerce turning. We follow, wanting to claim our spot in whatever is the current “in” thing. We are a herd species, finally.

    That said, sometimes being part of the herd is a good thing. The current interest in up-cycling is a very good thing, particularly if it prevents us buying yet another potentially disposable (read: faddish) home decor trinket.

    I believe the best-evolved homes are not “decorated” in any one particular style. They are instead thoughtfully collected over time, displayed not in ostentation but in a gracious desire to share an environment that says “Here is warmth and comfort and contentment.” To me, that’s true style.

  39. Pam - New Hope, TX says:

    Rhoda, thank you!! I am 51, been married almost 32 years. I have wanted to start a blog for over a year, but I didn’t think I would fit in! We bought a new home 8 months ago that was built in 1983. It is a Cape Cod/Farmhouse. We love it, but it definitely isn’t all white on the inside! We love color and don’t follow trends. I have been going to flea markets long before it was popular. I am very eclectic and love all styles, I have even painted a few pieces with ASCP. Not until I found Brenda (Color My Decor), did I think many people decorated with color. Love your style and blog!

  40. After renting a home for the last two years and before that, living in a military housing apartment in South Korea, I’m trying to find my style as I transform our new home bringing it out of 1989. Sigh… It’s hard because I’ve been overwhelmed for these last few years with all these ideas on the web and not able to do much with the ideas. Now it’s overwhelming trying to pull it all together. I need to stop and let it take the time it needs. But, this is our retirement (from the military) house, so I want it complete now! Homes are never complete though, are they?

  41. Great topic and post, Rhoda! I think of decor styles in the terms of modern, traditional, casual and vintage. It makes things easier for me when I’m evaluating a piece to determine if it will work for me or not. I would have to say that my style is vintage. I love iron beds, quilts, wood furniture especially oak and pine pieces. My walls are pastels but I never include pink. I love florals, transferware, vintage fabrics (think ticking and checks etc.) and antiques, furniture that reminds me of the 30’s era though I wasn’t born until the late 50’s. I love old traditional houses and what most consider to be the American farmhouse but that’s mostly because of the way I was raised I think. My roots are in farm country and I grew up in an American four-square. Still I tend to add bits and pieces of what’s trendy and current (white sofa, slipcovered chairs) just to keep things looking fresh. I guess I could be happy in any of the cottage/farmhouse/country type styles you mentioned earlier but I can’t do the white walls/white trim. I need color and nature in my life. I found my style in 1982 when I opened my first issue of Country Living magazine. Back then it was a pretty rustic magazine and I guess they have evolved over the years just as I have though they are far too modern for my tastes now. I can easily look back at those old issues and see that many people are still living with and loving such similar styles just a bit updated and similar to my own tastes today, over thirty years later. I’ve tried to change my style a few times and it just wasn’t me. I’m not comfortable any other way. I love looking at blogs and pinterest even though a lot of what I see isn’t my style. I still find decorating and design to be fascinating, I just don’t need most of it in order to be okay with myself and my style. As far as trends go I dislike chevron type graphics and love planked walls! To each their own, whatever makes each of us happy is what is important.

    • Griege sounds like a virus. Antlers are cool all made into a big chandlier in a big log cabin. But hanging on the wall in a house in a subdivision is confusing. Book pages and coffee filter anything will be thrown away shortly. I am betting granite counters and stainless steel appliances will be the avacado, harvest gold and mauve of years past, just more expensive. I sound really curmudgeonly, don’t I? I am fixing to paint my kitchen yellow and there will not be a single “pop” of gray.

  42. Rhoda! Another thoughtful post. Thank you so much. I was thrilled to read the responses too, and thus find that there is a big contingent of “Traditionalist-Individualist” home decorators out there who have the confidence and conviction to stay true to themselves and buck the Trend. I have the honor of living in a house built 1910 – 1911 and even have some records of correspondence between the Lady of the House and the Architect/Builder who designed a number of homes in our town, as well as the Train Station and the original High School building. We love the original old-growth oak millwork, the high ceilings and wood floors. We fell in love with the proportions and openness. Since it is a much bigger house than I have had before, I did find a need to add a bit of furniture here and there, and we chose color! And pattern! But no chevron, burlap, neutral. We have upholstered grass green velvet love seats, oriental rugs, multi-color patterned fabrics on hand-me-down side chairs, patterned colored red and beige chenille “splotch” pattern on two boudoir size tub chairs. All the paint colors in the house actually register as color, rather than tone, and they play off the dark oak of the panels and door frames: Yellows, Greens, Dark Red, Light Blue, Taupe. Our furniture is not Period to the House, but speaks of our life together as a couple and a family, and our accessories are accumulated over our 21 + years of marriage – travel – special occasion – my thrifted “finds” – heirlooms/pass downs. It is a “work in progress” but it is warm and welcoming and obvious that it is lived in and loved. Recently, after finishing an upholstery project, I hosted a Gals Night In at my house, and was so gratified to hear compliments about my unique and interesting style. The comments may well have been a euphemism for “weird” but that would be fine with me too 🙂 As with some of your other readers, I change up lampshades, and move things around, but on the whole nothing “Big” happens. The re-upholstery project was necessary for the chairs, sofa/loveseats after 20 years of use! I am waiting for a new-to-me coffee table update to speak to me on Craigslist or at a local estate sale or auction. I’ll know when it calls my name…

  43. What a great post. I loved reading all the responses. I have decorating A.D.D. bad! There is something about every style I just love. I try to find a common element amongst what I love and blend it together so it is uniquely mine. I am tired of Chevron and don’t think it will last. I did this painting to my daughters room 3 years ago and she’s painted over it already.. I guess we are ahead of the trends! Right now I am loving some industrial/rustic/with a bit of Mid Century Modern (love it) thrown in. See, decorating A.D.D…. I like the idea of the animal heads though I don’t have any because I don’t know how they would fit in and where I’d put them, but I do like them! I also like to collect things from when I travel and use them in my decorating, so I’m all over the place. I do have a chalkboard door in my kitchen and I’ve had it for years, again before it was trendy! I made my own chalkboard paint and painted my door to the garage in my kitchen for my girls to color on. I still have it though they are much older now, but they still enjoy writing on it! Again, the Chevron can go away anytime now for me! AND I’m tired of white walls… yuck! I don’t know how people keep them looking fresh and clean, too much upkeep for me.

  44. Excellent post! This is why I have started my blog. So much to choose from.

  45. I am tired of the overdone neutrals, chevron, turquoise, fake antiques, painting every piece of furniture in a room, lamps that were ugly in the 60-70s and are still ugly, unpolished silver.

    My style? With all my hand-me-down stuff from dead relatives, I call my style “Mama’s basement/Granny’s attic”

    Great post!

  46. I am eclectically me, with a bit of my husband thrown in. Modern and traditional mix very smoothly with our late19th century/ early 20th pieces from European auctions. I especially favor a barly twist side table and a burled wood wardrobe we picked up at auction for less than $75 combined, which share the same space as our very modern, but handcrafted bedroom set. I think that modern and traditional work together when modern is kept classic.
    Design trends I’m tired of: The first would be the over use if the mason jar. I use mine plenty, but for their intended use, preserving food & and holding lilacs (or other abundant summer flower). The forementioned chevron & burlap for all of the forementioned reasons. I’m tired of the “industrial” interiors look so cold and tired. I know this one won’t be popular, but I do believe “shabby-chic” is an oxymoron, in my book anyway. Along with the industrial, the shabby is just tired, and if not played well it just looks like you picked from flee market left-behinds.
    The waters are muddy in home design, with everything looking the same. But that is true in so many industries these days. Look at photography, there just aren’t originals anymore; all baby pictures, senior high school, engagement, and wedding photos look the same.
    Thank you Rhoda for the post, I really enjoyed it.

  47. Hmm. I will try not to be that one person who always seems to ruin the comments thread, but I feel a bit bummed out reading these comments! I guess I just happen to like all the trends out there. Zebra is out, btw. I get extremely tired of my decor and change it out every few years. There is no way I woul decorate my home and leave it for 16 years. I diy most everything, and I paint furniture like nobody’s business. Why? Because I dont like it the way it is. Chalkboard paint is extremely fun, but who said you had to paint an entire wall? To each his own, but everything in all of your houses was the latest trend at some point. Be true to yourself, even if that self is a trendy decorator. Your house should make you happy, if its in style or not, if its traditional or full of burlap, chevron , and chalkboard paint, PERIOD.

  48. My least favorite design style is mid century quirky with mod patterns, danish style furniture pieces, nubby upholstery and lots of period nick nacks. I adore old movies and vintage fashion, but for some reason, even when done well this style gives me the willies.

  49. All these rooms are so stark. I find white to be cold and unwelcoming. I like color and a welcoming vibe. My living/dining room has a branch chandelier that I made after seeing one online I liked for about 2k (out of budget), a spring green on the walls, turquoise print chairs and for now a purple sofa(looking for a vintage mid-century orange). Everyone that comes to my house comments on how much they like the room. Art is reclaimed wood, local artists and a Wyeth reproduction. Floors are hardwood with no throw rugs due to three large rescue dogs and ceilings are high and beamed. Not fancy, but our house is the one everyone wants to gather at.

  50. This is an interesting topic. There are a few trends that I am tired of, but I tend to avoid trends.

  51. I love reading blogs and getting new ideas. Our house was built 15 years ago and has beautiful honey oak trim and cabinetry throughout the house. I made that choice because I thought it would be a “classical” look rather than picking white or the “pickled” look that was so popular back than. Now, I feel like my house is so “dated” when it is still nicely done. I have seen blogs that are are painting their oak cabinets, but I cannot bring myself to paint this beautiful wood for another trendy look that will be outdated in a few years. So…. I feel almost ashamed and embarrassed of my house being out of style even though it is still beautiful and I love it. These trends make it so hard….

    • I read somewhere once that if you want to identify your style, you should look at your choices in clothing and accessories. Interesting concept.

  52. Rick Hamilton says:

    Great post. Having an overall style and vision can really affect the cohesiveness and flow of your home. Other notes on Traditional styles speak of comfort, warmth, and familiarity. In contemporary style, clutter is nonexistence. Elements of neutrality, clean, smooth, and subtle reign supreme. Casual features a lack of rules and never gives an appearance of contrived or formal. What message do you want to give to your guests? And what vibe do you want to come home to?

  53. Phillip Holbrook says:

    Nice article, but here’s a friendly suggestion: Please let go of the much overused “out there” prepositional phrase. Just.a suggestion..

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