3 Tips to Focus Your Decorating Style

I love design. Always have, always will. But the thing I hear the most from clients and friends about decor is a lack of confidence when decorating their home. They say they aren’t sure of their style and they are afraid to mess something up. Today I’d like to share with you my favorite 3 tips to focus your decorating style and how to create the home you want.

classic blue and white kitchen with beadboard paneling on ceiling
kitchen white cabinets

Tip One: Take Your Time

Before you freak out and start naysaying me, let me explain.

I am ALL ABOUT the ‘I want it now concept’. In fact, I can’t say that I invented that feeling, but trust me, I’m a longstanding freak of ‘needing it yesterday’.

However, I have lived long enough and owned many different homes in my adult life, that I have learned a few things along the way.

creative home office space

Taking your time to find the right sofa, meaningful decor, great surface layers (paint, wallpaper, flooring, etc.) will lead you to a room you love.

Resist the need to walk into one store and buy everything in one place for the sake of ‘getting it done’. A home will reveal itself to you in time.

I tend to know quickly what is needed to decorate a space. I can often see the color scheme, the change required to have the rooms flow, and know how to make it happen.

Other times, I needed a bit of a break to get to know the space, and romance it a bit. Only one time have I been completely stumped and went totally blank not knowing the color scheme and style I wanted for a house.

over decorating is okay

The Time I Didn’t Know Jack

When we were ready to be true empty nesters, meaning our last child was getting married, I was caught up in a ridiculous timeline.

We had been trying to sell our larger home, in a recession for over 2 years, and had taken it off the market due to planning a destination wedding here. Of course, local realtors still knew about it and we got two offers in one week like 30 days before the wedding!

What a contrast to all that waiting. We decided we had to take one and jump into crazy land. With a short escrow, our plate was ridiculously full!

Long story short, we bought another/smaller house, and I had no clue what I wanted in it.

From a design standpoint, I could immediately see what it needed to flow better, and I was able to redesign the floor plan and begin construction.

But I had sooooo much overload going on in my brain, that I couldn’t figure out what the crap I wanted for decor, and I just wasn’t seeing it. The house wasn’t telling me.

great paint color on the wall

Lucky for me, I was able to not panic and handle each day as it came. And let me tell you, there was a lot (so many stories, I will have to spill some out on social media) many lessons were learned along the way.

But when the moving/getting rid of tons of stuff/wedding dust settled, I came home from the wedding and my brain opened up. You can see how the wedding turned out here.

I had a bit of clarity and I could finally see what the house wanted, how it needed to be decorated, and the plan rushed in.

over decorating

Study Decorated Homes

If you are unsure of what your space needs, start by studying the decorating of homes in magazines you love.

Of course, Pinterest is a great place to do this because you can pin what you admire about a space. Creating very specific boards is the best way to organize your page, and make notes on the pictures as to what has drawn you in.

Check out my boards and follow me to see how they are categorized and get your own working for you.

Whether you are looking to renovate full rooms or just select a dining table, the more you pin point a board the easier you will see what common styles you are admiring and how you can decorate.

I like to use a heading such as DECOR | bathrooms or something like DECOR | Camp Style so I can really focus on the styles I’m saving. If you are searching for furniture ideas, make a board for FURNITURE | coffee table or FURNITURE | chairs. This is a great way to keep your boards tidy.

And when you go to decide what you need, you will have an example of what you’ve been drawn to that can lead you to your best choice. Trust me, there is joy in organization!

empty nest house

Live in the Moment and the Space

If you have been living in your home for awhile and are looking to decorate and update, you will need to do a little soul searching.

Really think about how you live in the space, look back on what you’ve been pinning, and find the common thread.

Are you loving a more formal space? Something light and casual? What wood tones are you drawn to, along with colors for the space?

Does the home want to be light and airy, or is too much stuff more your jam? And most important, where is the home located and how will the location and lifestyle outside influence what the inside needs?

You may need more space for a collection, or want a break from a cluttered look. Or maybe with a few tweaks, your beloved pieces can get mixed with a few different styles for a fresh look.

Sometimes just organizing the garage and controlling clutter can change how you live inside the house.

Budget Restrictions

Of course the big buzz kill in any renovation is the reality of a budget. But actually this is my favorite part.

Anyone with a giant budget can hire a professional designer, buy whatever they want, and live in a spectacular home that looks like it just graced the cover of Architectural Digest or Southern Living magazine. Easy peasy, chicken squeezy.

But for those of us who live in reality, we do have restrictions. Whether that is $100 for a budget refresh, or $5,000 for a full room update, or $200k for a whole renovation and beyond, we need to consider the budget.

A budget, for me, requires creativity and planning. But this is sometimes when the magic happens. You are not restricted by a budget, only by your imagination. Read that again.

Also, YOU CAN DO THIS! Keep reading and I will explain in tip two. But I’m going to shout this for those in the back, YOU GOT THIS, no matter your budget.

maintaining a home

Correct Those Mistakes

I understand that sometimes you just need stuff and so you rush and buy something. And then you start hating it.

But now you’ve spent too much money, and you feel guilty about spending more, let alone admitting you were wrong the first time. So stop it. Stop living with what you don’t love.

That’s why God invented Facebook Marketplace. Simply sell the thing you don’t love, and move along to what you do.

If you need to save your pennies to get what you truly want, then do it! Use what you have, or live with a hand me down until you can afford the thing that you truly want.

When you stick to your true desires, not just what the latest TV designer is showing, you will have lovely things that bring you joy.

I tend to shop vintage, where the quality is usually so much better and the prices make more sense.

decorating ideas

Tip Two: Trust Your Gut

There’s two sides to this concept. One is that you don’t have to do something just because Joanna Gaines did it. In fact, you shouldn’t. She creates for great TV shots, which are not always how someone is going to actually LIVE in the space.

Accept the nod of what someone created, then make it your own.

Second is, the decorating police no longer make house calls. So no one is going to come to your home and tell you that your house is ugly and you decorated it all wrong.

Your mother-in-law might, along with your snotty sister-in-law, but outside of that, who cares? They don’t live there. Which is exactly what I have told snarky contractors in the past when they have questioned my choices.

Really my dude, you don’t live here, so I ain’t worried about your opinion.

slanted ceiling with beadboard

Trust yourself that YOU KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE. Why am I shouting? Mainly, because I see this too much…people who buy crap at Hobby Lobby because they saw something like it on TV. Let’s stop doing that, shall we?

Create rooms for how you live, and who you are. Trust yourself to make good decisions, because you have listened to tip number one, and are taking the time to figure out what you really want.

Don’t fill your walls with boring things the rest of the world has. Trust your gut and go with what speaks to you.

Over Decorating

Is there a thing as too much decor? Can my room be over decorated? Depends on who you ask.

Not everyone loves so many layers. But here’s the thing, the greatest compliment that I have ever received and ever given is this “the room looks just like you”.

Especially when I know that person and I see their personality everywhere in the room. That is what success looks like.

It might mean that the room is not magazine ready, and you don’t need to fix that. And in contrast, too much color makes a room feel different to many people.

But when you live with what you love, with collections and art on the wall, or negative space or too many pillows, you are making yourself happy.

We all need to find balance in our lives, and I’d rather have happiness in a room than a simple room that makes a great post on social media.

Sure, over decorating may be a fine line, but it is one you can cross if you want to.

You Don’t Have to Define It

Why is everyone so obsessed about having to label who they are? You love mid century modern, then great, you do you.

But you might have some stuff you really adore that were heirlooms, and you want to incorporate them. Don’t just hide them away because they don’t fit that label style.

If you love it, then live with it, and you are on your way to creating your own home that is really YOU.

Allowing your personality to become the focus of your decorating puts you on the path to creating a home you will always love. Yes, paint trend colors will come and go and one style maybe more popular than another soon.

But your individuality should be your clear direction to creating the home of your dreams and the true beauty that will stand the test of time.

Good decorating will come when you are authentically you.

full bathroom remodel

Turn the tables on a trend to suit who you really are, and it will also have lasting power.

Being an individual rather than following a pack, gives a room a sense of history and longevity.

I mean, how many homes have you seen around your town that are all white with black windows and a modern farmhouse vibe? About every other one over here these days.

Break that mold, and make your own style that doesn’t need a label other than YOU.

Tip Three: Design For How You Live

You simply cannot follow every design trend, especially when they don’t fit your time of life.

If you are in the mode of childbearing years, and have toddlers running around, there should be more practicality to your design choices.

You can have balance of decor and reality, and limit excess for a cleaner look to keep your life less cluttered (on many levels).

If you have teens and want them to hang at your house, then you’ve got to consider those needs. They will need a living room where they can enjoy being with friends, and have items easily accessible for good clean fun.

Empty nesters can pretty much do what they want, while still creating spaces to entertain visiting family.

Hobby areas can usually be provided as extra rooms become available when children have grown and moved out. Create a space for what you need and how you live NOW.

Too Much Clutter

It is always important to assess this at every stage of life. Organizing and cleaning is the first free and easy fix to many decorating dilemmas.

Don’t be afraid to live with a bit of empty space for a time, as it may lead you to know how you really want to use the space. Sometimes we get used to having our own clutter around and don’t even notice it.

When the clutter has become the focal point in a room, you know it’s time to fix that and rethink the space.

In a family room or living room, that is used by many family members, work to create inviting spaces for many ages.

Comfy chairs for reading, game playing, snuggling and conversing are important to how the room lives and works for you.

No one can really rest on a sofa if there are 47 pillows and no where to put them. Think of having less, removing the clutter, and not over decorating.

Live With What You Love

Admittedly I am a lover of stuff. I like a collection here and there (as long as it is usable) and I love vintage art.

Things mean something to me, especially items I have from my parents that I have been looking at my whole life.

Living and decorating with what we truly love will always keep our spaces authentic.

If you are fun and flirty, your rooms should be too. When beauty and calm are your jam, your decorating will probably showcase many lovely things.

Collectors will have small objects within their decor, or gallery walls filled with great art or photography. A living room should be a room you LIVE in.

Stick with what speaks to you and build your decorating around that.

Don’t Be a Copycat

In closing, learn to trust yourself, take the time for thoughtful decisions, and decorate your home in a way that is not over decorated from someone else’s ideals, but focused on yours.

Trends and styles come and go, but once you decide to make decorating more about you and your family, you are less likely to end up as a copycat of someone else’s space.

And your ultimate success will be when you walk into a room and know, it feels like you. That’s decorating done right, and a job well done!

If you enjoyed these tips, check out this post on being unique or this one about where my decorating influences have come from.

Follow me on Pinterest, I have many boards for great inspiration.


  1. Great post with great information!!

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