The Complete Guide to Finding Your Decorating Style

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Candi Randolph

Decorating your living space can be a challenging task. You might already have some ideas in mind, but when it comes to putting them into a tangible form, it can seem like piecing together a difficult puzzle. You know, one that has tons of little pieces and it’s so hard to see how they fit together.

There are different styles, colors, and themes to choose from, making it hard to find your artistic direction. What works for someone else may not necessarily appeal to you.

To make matters even more complicated, our decorating tastes often change as we age and become exposed to new influences. Finding your decorating style in midlife may seem like a daunting task.

finding your decorating style

However, don’t throw in the towel just yet! There are some simple steps that can help you discover your personal design style if you’re willing to put in some effort, as well as some helpful ‘find your decorating style’ quizzes to check out. And, we’ll explore some of the most popular furniture styles in this article.

By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have an arsenal of inspiration to kick off your next decorating project.

If you click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Our Style Perspective Can Change as We Age

Whether you are just starting out on your own (yep, that could be a thing in your 50s, 60s, and beyond) or have been living in your home for years, it’s important to know that your interior decorating style may change as you go through different stages in your life.

As we mature and experience new things, our preferences and taste may shift. For example, as a college student, you may have been drawn to bright colors and funky patterns, but as you transition into adulthood and become more established in your career, you may find yourself drawn to more minimalist and refined home decor styles.

The key is to embrace these changes and allow yourself to evolve while still staying true to your personal style. Discovering your style preferences as they are today requires that you stay open-minded and explore different design elements until you find what speaks to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colors, textures, and patterns, and always trust your instincts.

Remember, your home should be a reflection of who you are today, not who you were ten or fifteen years ago.

What Holds Us Back?

what holds us back from making home decorating decisions

Home decorating is something that should be exciting and fun, and is much like expressing yourself through clothing. From contemporary to classic, mid-century to boho, there are countless decorating styles to choose from.

However, many women find themselves hesitating and lacking self-confidence when it comes to expressing their unique style in their homes. More often than not, it is because they don’t fully understand their own decorating style.

Sometimes it helps to understand what it is that holds us back from being confident in our home decorating style, similar to our hesitancy with personal style. Here are some common things that can stop us in our tracks.

We’ll address most of these a little later as we come up with a plan!

1. Fear of Making a Mistake

One of the primary reasons women feel hesitant to identify and embrace their home decorating style is the fear of mistakes. It’s important to remember that there is no single “correct” way to decorate a home. Beauty is subjective and personal.

You should choose what you love, and not worry about others’ opinions. The key is to trust yourself and be confident in your decisions. Start by doing your research, gather inspiration from Pinterest or Instagram, or look through magazines. Take your time and be patient with yourself as you explore your style.

2. Feeling Overwhelmed with Options

Another reason why women may hesitate is that there are so many decorating styles to choose from that it can be overwhelming.

The best approach is to focus on what speaks to you. What colors do you gravitate towards? What designs catch your attention? What do you feel comfortable being surrounded by? Start by considering your personal style in fashion, where you live, and what you enjoy doing. This can help give you a general direction of style.

Once you have a good idea of your taste, start collecting samples of styles that you like and compare and contrast them.

3. Feeling Insecure About Creativity

Insecurity about their creativity is another major reason why women struggle to find their decorating style. However, it’s important to recognize that creativity is subjective and relative.

The key is to identify what makes you happy and try new things until you find what you like. Pick one focal point in your room, to begin with, such as one piece of furniture or one wall.

Then, build around it with accessories or additional pieces. This offers an easy way to begin expressing your creativity without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Limited Budget or Resources

Budget limitations can also impede women’s confidence when identifying their style. However, remember that you don’t need a lot of money or resources to create the space you want.

Start slowly by reframing some of your artwork or repainting your old furniture. The changes you make do not have to be substantial or costly, and small alterations to a space can make a big impact.

5. Negative Influence

Lastly, negative influence from those around can stifle creativity and inhibit self-confidence. If someone doesn’t share your decorating style, don’t let them dissuade you from your choices.

Remember that decorating your home is about reflecting your personal taste and style, not theirs. Look for inspiration in different places from books, photos of home interiors, social media, newspapers, or anything else that inspires creativity.

Start with a Quiz when Finding Your Decorating Style

Back in the day, I created a simple ‘find your decorating style’ quiz that many women found helpful.

It is long gone now, along with that website, but fortunately, there are a number of reputable sites that offer a simple interior design quiz to help you put a name to your decorating preferences.

If you feel like this is a good jumping-off point for you, take a peek at one of these:

1. Bobby Berk: Take their interior design style quiz to discover your design style and start decorating your home. Take the quiz

2. HGTV: Find Your Design Style and explore different decorating styles to see where your preferences take you Take the quiz

Do a Little Bit of Your Own Research

how to use research to discover your decorating style

I spent over 25 years helping clients create a beautiful, comfortable home interior that was a reflection of their personal style, taste, lifestyle, and budget. So I know a thing or two about the process.

I wrote a short eBook a number of years ago that has been helpful to many people. It’s simple, to-the-point, easy on the budget, and gives step-by-step instructions that anyone can follow. Read more about Love Your Home.

Here are a few simple steps you can take that will help you identify your preferred style (or a blend of styles) and gain confidence when it comes to making purchase decisions and forking over the dough.

Create a file

When it comes to finding your decorating style, there are countless options to explore, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s where Pinterest and magazines can be incredibly useful.

By curating a Pinterest board of rooms, pieces, and colors that you find appealing, you can start to identify some patterns in your preferences. Whether you’re drawn to bold pops of color or sleek minimalist lines, pinning images can help give you direction.

And for those who prefer a more tactile approach, flipping through magazines and creating a physical file of inspiration is a great way to stay organized and have tangible references to hold onto.

These are just a couple of simple but effective tactics for honing in on your decorating style – give them a try and see where they take you.

Find your why

Identifying your favorite pieces currently in your home is a great way to get started on the journey to finding your decorating style.

Take a good look at these pieces and try to understand why you like them. Is it because of their color, texture, or design? Do they evoke a particular mood or feeling?

Once you’ve identified your favorite pieces and understand why you like them, you can use that knowledge to guide your decorating choices.

By incorporating similar styles or elements into your decor, you can create a cohesive and visually appealing space that truly reflects your personal tastes and style.

Check the closet

Take a peek at your clothes and see if there are any consistent colors or style themes. Do you tend to gravitate towards neutrals and earthy tones? Or are you more of a bold and colorful dresser?

By analyzing these patterns, you can effectively translate your fashion sense into your home decor. Not only will this make the decorating process easier, but it will also ensure that your home feels authentic and true to you, not just a look you saw on Instagram and tried to duplicate.

Identify the no’s

When it comes to finding your decorating style, identifying what you don’t like about your current decor is just as important as discovering what you do like. Acknowledging the aspects of your home that no longer excite you or perhaps even make you cringe can lead you toward discovering your unique sense of style.

It may seem counterintuitive, but recognizing what doesn’t work for you can lead to a clearer understanding of your personal tastes and preferences. Perhaps you’re tired of the cluttered, maximalist look and crave a more streamlined, minimalist aesthetic.

Or maybe you find yourself drawn to natural textures and organic shapes, but your home is filled with sleek, industrial furnishings. By honing in on the aspects of your current decor that leave you feeling uninspired, you can start to focus on finding design elements that truly speak to you.

So, take a step back and ask yourself, what would I change about my current space? The answer just might help you discover your decorating style.

Find the patterns

So, you’ve created a board, file, or list of what appeals to you as far as furnishings, accents, styles, and colors. Great start!

You’ve contemplated what it is in your current home furnishings and decor that appeals to you, and what drives you crazy.

And, you’ve taken a peek into the closet to see what colors and styles of clothing you consistently gravitate to.

Now it’s time to take what you’ve gathered and see what patterns emerge, my friend. While the magic words “my decorating style is (fill in the blank)” may not pop into your pretty little head, you’ll most likely see some consistencies with what you’ve pinned on Pinterest, found what you currently like in your home, and the colors/styles living in your closet.

All of these put together will help lead you to understand what type of decorating style appeals to you.

More than one

It’s quite possible that you’ll find your preferred style of decorating encompasses more than one look, and that is quite common.

Some people are totally immersed in traditional style, French country, or modern style decorating. But most of us find that a mix of a couple of styles is what works for us.

My home is a blend of transitional with some rustic farmhouse-type accents, and it suits me quite well.

Common Home Decorating Styles

I’ve selected a number of common styles of home decorating for your reference. It’s kind of a lengthy section to read through, but the benefit is that you’ll get some tips and characteristics for each, which can be helpful if you want to put a name to a particular style.

There is no particular order of importance so I opted for alphabetical. 🙂

Boho Chic

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Boho chic style is a laid-back, eclectic decorating style that draws inspiration from a variety of different cultures and eras. Boho chic often includes bright colors, bold patterns, natural materials, and vintage or antique accents.

Key characteristics of Boho Chic style decorating include:

  • Bold Patterns & Textures: Expect to see lots of patterns and textures in a boho chic room such as floral prints, embroidered fabrics, and beaded details.
  • Bright Colors: The colors are usually bright and bold with pink, orange, yellow, blue, and green often used in the design. Having said this, though, I have seen and utilized beautiful, subtle shades of these colors as well as neutrals, in boho style decor. You choose.
  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, jute, wicker, and cotton are often used in the design.
  • Vintage Accents: Boho chic decor also often includes vintage or antique pieces such as Persian rugs, macrame wall hangings, and brass lamps.
  • Bohemian Details: This style also often includes bohemian details such as feathers, crystals, and colorful tassels.

Boho chic style is all about creating an eclectic and inviting space with a carefree, laid-back vibe. With its bright colors, bold patterns, and vintage accents, this decorating style can add a unique touch to your home. It’s the perfect way to show off your creative side and add a cozy, inviting atmosphere to your living space.

Coastal Style

coastal style living from from BHG.com
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Coastal style is all about creating an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility, inspired by the beach and coastal living. This decorating style typically features bright colors, airy fabrics, natural materials, and a mix of rustic and modern elements.

Key characteristics of Coastal style decorating include:

  • Airy Fabrics: Expect to see cotton, linen, and sheer fabrics in coastal interiors for an airy feel.
  • Light Colors: The colors are usually light and bright, with white walls, blues from the sea, greens from the plants, and sandy tones.
  • Natural Materials: Coastal style often includes natural materials such as wood, jute, rope, and rattan for a beachy vibe.
  • Rustic Accents: Rustic elements are also used to add texture and interest to the decor. These might include distressed furniture pieces, weathered mirrors, or galvanized metal.
  • Marine Details: Nautical accents are also often used to evoke the spirit of the beach, such as seashells, starfish, oars, and anchors.

Coastal style decorating is all about creating a relaxed atmosphere that will help you feel like you’re on vacation every day. With its airy fabrics, light colors, and coastal accents, this style can help you achieve a calming and inviting atmosphere.

Contemporary Style

contemporary style bath from BHG.com
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Contemporary style is all about creating a modern and sophisticated look. This decorating style includes sleek lines, neutral colors, clean shapes, and minimalistic details for an updated feel.

Key characteristics of Contemporary style decorating include:

  • Clean Lines: Furniture pieces often feature clean lines for a modern look.
  • Neutral Colors: Neutral colors such as white, gray, and black are often used in contemporary interiors.
  • Minimalistic Details: Accessories should be kept to a minimum for an uncluttered look.
  • Geometric Shapes: Furniture pieces with geometric shapes add a modern touch to the design.
  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal are often used in contemporary interiors.

Contemporary style decorating is a great way to add a modern touch to your home. With its clean lines and minimalistic details, this style creates an elegant atmosphere that is sure to impress. Whether you’re looking for a timeless look or something more trendy, contemporary design can help create the perfect space for you.

Eclectic Style

eclectic style kitchen from BHG.com
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Eclectic style is all about blending different elements from various designs to create a unique and personal look. The focus is not on any one particular style or era, but rather on creating an interesting and inviting space through the careful combination of furniture pieces, fabrics, colors, and textures.

Key characteristics of Eclectic style decorating include:

  • Mix of Textures: An eclectic room will often feature a mix of different textures to add visual interest.
  • Colorful Palette: The color scheme is usually composed of bright and bold colors that create an eye-catching look.
  • Personal Touch: Eclectic style lets you express your personal style. It’s all about mixing and matching pieces to create a unique, one-of-a-kind space.
  • Variety of Styles: The furniture pieces in an eclectic room can range from modern to vintage, classic to contemporary.
  • Unexpected Accents: Eclectic decor also often includes unexpected accents such as oversized artwork, patterned rugs, and unusual accessories.

Eclectic style is all about personal expression. By carefully mixing different elements from various design styles, you can create a unique and inviting space that reflects your individual taste. It’s a great way to show off your creativity while still creating a cohesive look.

French Country Style

French Country style from BHG.com
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French Country style is inspired by the rustic farmhouses of the French countryside. This decorating style features natural materials, muted colors, relaxed linens, and vintage accents for a warm and inviting look.

Key characteristics of French Country style decorating include:

  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, stone, and wrought iron are often used in this style of decorating.
  • Muted Colors: The color palette usually consists of muted colors such as white, cream, gray, and blue.
  • Relaxed Textiles: Linens and cotton fabrics are often used for a relaxed feel.
  • Vintage Accents: Vintage pieces such as antique furniture, flea market finds, and chipped pottery are often used to add character and charm.
  • Natural Accents: Natural elements such as wreaths, floral arrangements, and dried flowers are also often included in the design.

French Country style decorating is all about creating a cozy atmosphere that evokes the feeling of being in the countryside. With its natural materials, muted colors, and vintage accents, this style creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in any home. It’s a great way to add some rustic charm while still creating a stylish look.

Industrial Style

Industrial style living area from BHG.com
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Industrial style is all about creating a space that is both functional and stylish. This decorating style includes raw materials such as exposed brick walls, concrete floors, metal details, and industrial lighting.

Key characteristics of Industrial style decorating include:

  • Exposed Materials: Raw materials are often left exposed to create an unfinished look.
  • Industrial Lighting: Vintage light fixtures such as industrial pendants and Edison bulbs give the space a unique, urban feel.
  • Neutral Colors: The color scheme usually consists of neutral colors such as white, gray, and black.
  • Metal Accents: Metal elements are often used to add texture and interest to the design. These might include metal furniture pieces, steel shelves, and industrial-inspired hardware.
  • Reclaimed Materials: Reclaimed materials such as wood planks, old doors, and salvaged windows are also often used in the design.

Industrial style decorating is a great way to add character to your home. With its raw materials and industrial accents, this style creates an urban vibe that is both stylish and functional. Whether you’re looking to create an industrial loft-style apartment or just add a touch of the industrial look to your home, this style is sure to impress.

Mid-Century Modern Style

Mid Century Modern style from BHG.com
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Mid-Century Modern is an iconic design style that draws inspiration from the 1950s and 1960s. This decorating style includes iconic pieces such as the Eames Lounge Chair and the Saarinen Tulip Table, as well as bright colors and organic shapes.

Key characteristics of Mid-Century Modern style decorating include:

  • Organic Shapes: Furniture pieces will often feature organic shapes for a modern look.
  • Bright Colors: Bold, bright colors such as orange, yellow, and pink are often used in mid-century modern interiors.
  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, leather, and metal are often used in mid-century modern furniture pieces.
  • Geometric Details: Mid-Century Modern style decorating will also often feature geometric details such as chevron patterns, striped rugs, and diamond shapes.
  • Retro Accents: Accessories with a retro feel such as vintage light fixtures, tufted furniture, and globe pendant lights are also often used in the design.

Mid-Century Modern style decorating is a great way to add a touch of timeless style to your home. With its iconic pieces and bright colors, this style creates an inviting atmosphere that will transport you back in time. It’s a fun and stylish way to add some personality and character to your interior design.

Modern Farmhouse Style

Modern farmhouse bedroom from BHG.com
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Define modern farmhouse style, including a list of bullet points that characterize the main elements, in about 300 words.

Modern farmhouse style is a blend of traditional and modern design elements that creates an inviting and cozy atmosphere. Drawing inspiration from the classic American farmhouse, this decorating style typically features light colors, comfortable furnishings, and rustic accents for a homey vibe.

Key characteristics of Modern Farmhouse style decorating include:

  • Neutral Color Palette: The color scheme typically consists of white, beige, gray, and other light neutrals.
  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, jute, linen, and cotton are used throughout the home to add texture and warmth.
  • Rustic Accents: Farmhouse decor often features rustic accents such as distressed furniture pieces, galvanized metal, and mason jars.
  • Industrial Touches: Modern farmhouse style also often includes industrial design elements such as exposed piping, wood beams, and vintage light fixtures.
  • Natural Light: This decorating style emphasizes natural light with large windows, white walls, and bright colors that help to create a bright and airy atmosphere.

Modern Farmhouse style decorating is a great way to add warmth and character to your home. With its comfortable furnishings, rustic accents, and natural materials, this decorating style offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere that will make you want to stay at home all day.

Modern Style

Modern dining room from BHG.com
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Modern style is all about embracing the latest trends and creating a fresh look. This decorating style includes bold colors, sleek lines, geometric shapes, and modern accents for a stylish feel.

Key characteristics of Modern style decorating include:

  • Bold Colors: Bright colors such as yellow, pink, and orange are often used in modern interiors.
  • Sleek Lines: Furniture pieces often have sleek lines for a modern look.
  • Geometric Shapes: Geometric shapes such as chevron patterns, diamond shapes, and circles are also often featured in the design.
  • Modern Accents: Accessories with a modern feel such as globe pendant lights and metallic furniture pieces are also often used in the design.
  • Natural Materials: Natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal are often used to add texture and interest to the design.

Modern style decorating is a great way to bring some color and life into your home. With its bold colors and modern accents, this style creates an exciting atmosphere that will make your space truly stand out. Whether you’re looking for something contemporary or something more daring, modern design can help create the perfect look for your home.

Traditional Style

traditional style living room from BHG.com
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Traditional style decorating is rooted in European sensibilities and draws inspiration from 18th and 19th-century decor. It is characterized by classic furnishings, symmetrical arrangements, and a rich yet subdued palette that create an inviting and relaxed atmosphere.

Key characteristics of Traditional style decorating include:

  • Classic Details: Traditional interiors often feature detailed woodworking, like wainscoting or paneling, along with architectural details such as cornices and moldings.
  • Rich Color Palette: The color scheme is typically composed of warm, muted colors like beige, cream, and burgundy, with occasional pops of royal blues, rich greens, and reds.
  • Symmetry: In traditional decorating, furniture is usually arranged symmetrically to create a balanced visual appeal. Pairs of chairs, lamps, or accessories are common.
  • Refined Furnishings: Furniture pieces in a traditional room are often antique or reproduction pieces, with classic lines and rich fabrics.
  • Luxurious Textiles: Expect to see a variety of textures and patterns, including damasks, paisleys, stripes, and florals. Materials are usually luxurious and include silk, velvet, and brocade.
  • Elegant Accessories: Traditional style accentuates decor with refined and elegant accessories, such as ornate mirrors, candle holders, vases, and art pieces that add a sense of richness to the space.

In summary, Traditional style decorating is all about comfort and elegance. It offers a sense of predictability and consistency, with each piece of furniture and accessory fitting together to create a timeless and harmonious interior.

Transitional Style:

Transitional style kitchen from BHG.com
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Transitional style is a blend of contemporary and traditional decor, striking the perfect balance between modern and classic looks. It fuses together elements from both design styles to create comfortable and inviting interiors that are neither too outdated nor overly trendy.

Key characteristics of Transitional style decorating include:

  • Soft Neutrals: The color scheme typically consists of soft, muted neutrals like whites, beiges, grays, and taupes.
  • Subtle Patterns: The fabrics used for upholstery and window treatments tend to feature subtle patterns that add visual interest but don’t overpower the room.
  • Natural Textures: Transitional interiors usually employ natural textures such as wood furniture or woven rugs to add warmth and texture.
  • Sleek Lines: Furniture pieces in transitional style will feature clean lines and simple silhouettes with few frills or unnecessary details.
  • Contemporary Accents: Transitional decor is often spiced up with modern accents such as geometric art prints, geometric vases, and other accessories that give the space a contemporary flair.

There is No Right or Wrong

When it comes to understanding and interpreting your interior decorating style, there is no definitive right or wrong. Each style reflects unique tastes, preferences, and personalities.

Some people may be captivated by the simplicity and elegance of contemporary styles, while others may find joy in the bold, daring aesthetics of modern design.

Others still may be drawn to the carefree, eclectic vibe of boho chic.

Remember that these styles are not rigid templates we must follow (or else be caught by the decorating police) but starting points, launching pads for you to explore, experiment, and ultimately create a space that feels like home.

The key is to choose what resonates with you the most, and don’t be afraid to mix and match different elements to create your unique blend. After all, the best design style is the one that makes you feel the most comfortable and truly reflects who you are.

How to Start

So, what is the next step? Well, at some point you need to make a start toward creating the space that truly personifies who you are and how you choose to live.

  • work with the pieces you already own and enjoy, and fit into the style you’ve chosen – remove the others if you can
  • consider a new paint color that fits into your desired decorating style
  • if the budget is small, add some lower-cost accents to help create the new look – an area rug, lighting, wall decor, etc

Just take a step, my friend, and be willing to make the first change in your style of decor. It can be very exciting!


Discover Abode

If you need some inspiration and want someone else to do the shopping, sourcing, curating, and selecting for you, here is a cool option that I recently found: ABODE.

It’s a subscription service that works for you, and periodically sends you beautiful accessories and finishing touches for your home, all tailored to your personal style and taste. Or, you can shop for items individually. You’re not locked into the subscription service, although that’s really what makes Abode so special.

And, because you’re so special, your first order will receive a 10% discount with this code: Candi10

Interested? Click on the image below for all the details!


Conclusion

No matter what style of decorating you choose, it’s important to remember that the goal is to create a space that reflects your individual taste and captures your personality.

Have fun with the process and don’t be afraid to experiment with different elements until you find something that speaks to you. With a little creativity, you can create a space that you’ll love for years to come. Happy decorating!

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the complete guide to finding your decorating style

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