In this post: When you’re a beginner do-it-yourself decorator, it can be hard to know where to start decorating. It can also be difficult to find your unique decorating style. I’ll show you how to do both in this post! 


When I was just starting to play around with decorating our home many years ago, it took a lot of trial and error and time to get it to a place that I loved and would call beautiful.

hml entry june 21 bench and wall

Back then, there were no blogs or online courses to teach homemakers how to decorate their own spaces. The best we had were magazines filled with perfectly styled images of professionally designed homes. 

No one told me where to begin, or how to find my own unique style, so I fumbled around trying to figure it out for myself. Eventually – after a few years of practice and some time and money spent – I got the hang of it and then sorted out the best order for non-designers to decorate in. 

And I discovered that it doesn’t matter where you live, how many homes you’ve lived in, or how many times you’ve attempted to decorate before, where to start decorating is exactly the same. 

Where to start decorating

You need to start with your unique decorating style. 

Defining your decorating style is the FIRST STEP in creating a beautiful home because every decorating choice you make is based on the decorating style that makes your heart go pitter-patter:

  • Paint colors
  • Patterns
  • Furniture
  • Rugs
  • Curtains
  • Art
  • Lighting

When you know your decorating style, these choices become MUCH easier to make. 

4 Reasons Why Knowing Your Unique Style Makes Decorating Easier

There are 4 reasons that knowing your style makes decorating your own home easier.

1. Knowing your style gives you “bumpers” (guidelines)

This one is by far the biggest reason you need to know your style.

Do you remember those bumpers that they used to put in the gutters for little kids at the bowling alley? They were designed to help guide the bowling ball down the alley to the pins. Even if the ball was thrown a little wildly, those bumpers provided success for the beginners by keeping the ball on the right track.

Well, knowing your unique decorating style gives the same sort of guidance to your decorating endeavors. Especially when you’re a beginner. Knowing your style keeps you from veering wildly off-course as you pull your home decor together because you have a framework to guide you.

Guidelines are good, my friend! 

2. Know your style means you can describe it

Imagine if someone tells you you don’t need to know your own style, that you don’t need to know how to describe it. Or they tell you that you do know what it is…”inside” (vague much?).

Okay, now picture walking into your favorite decor shop and trying to ask for a lamp. Or doing a search online and simply typing in “table lamp”. How overwhelming do you think those results would be? I’ll tell you…966,000,000 results overwhelming (I just Googled it!).

But what if you know your style and can describe it too? Just by adding the words “French country” before “table lamp” in the same search above, the results are reduced by over 900 million!

3. Knowing your style saves you time and money

When you know your style, you will no longer be buffeted to and fro by whatever you see, unable to make a choice. You won’t waste any more time and money. With a firm grasp on what you know you love and what you don’t, you will be able to make decisions based on that. And you will be able to say “no” to things that don’t fit with what you’ve decided your style is!

Let’s take my style for example. I like 35% French country, 35% Transitional and 29% Farmhouse. For all you beautiful math lovers, the other 1% is made up of a myriad of styles.

Now, truthfully I like lots of things and can appreciate a lot of decor styles. But those are my top three favorites, which make up the basis of my unique style. 

If I were out shopping for a clock and saw a beautiful ivory-colored Mora clock for a price that was in my budget, I’d buy it in a second. It’s French in origin, with classy lines (which hits the Transitional button) and it’s neutral (hello, Farmhouse). Perfect! 

But if I were out shopping and saw a big industrial clock with gears and metal and a grungy look (still in my budget), I would not buy it. Would I love it? Yes. Would I find it unique and interesting? Yes. Would it tick all my boxes – and therefore fit in with my decor? No. 

By following the guidelines I’ve set for myself with my unique decorating style, I no longer waste my time or money on something that won’t work in my space!

4. Knowing your style gives you confidence

Finally, when you know your decorating style and you don’t waste any more time or money, you can feel confident in your choices. A lack of confidence in decorating can all but be eliminated when you know what you’re doing. And being able to identify and describe your unique decorating style is the first step in knowing how to decorate your home! 

How to Find Your Unique Decorating Style

1. Think about how you want your home to feel

Do you want a home that is refined or rustic? Classic or Whimsical? How do you want to feel in your home? Jot these things down. 

2. Gather inspiration

Look at the magazines and HGTV shows you like. Look at your Pinterest boards. What do all those things have in common? What shapes, colors, textures are similar in the inspiration images you like? Pay attention to the details and make a few notes. 

3. Narrow it down

Now collect those observations and create a new Pinterest board that has ONLY the images that speak to the feelings you want to convey through your home and the details you love. This will give you an idea of your unique decorating style. 

Take My Decorating Style Quiz to Find Your Unique Decorating Style

If the above steps didn’t make it clear what style you like, I highly encourage you to take my “What’s Your Style?” quiz to learn which home decor style is the best match for you! 

Take the quiz!

shannon round pic and xo signature

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21 Comments

  1. Your quiz nailed me to a “T”.
    1. Rustic
    2. Farmhouse
    3. Boho/Scandinavian

    Although, I do lean more towards Modern than the traditional or country Farmhouse style.

  2. Hi Shannon, this is a really fun quiz, but it kind of had me stumped. I took it twice with the same results, but the funny thing is that it identified me with “coastal cottage” at about 30% when in reality I’m not into “coastal” at all. Now the “cottage” part, YES, just not interested in the coastal part. I’m cottage, french country, and traditional in my own terms. (Maybe a little farmhouse) I didn’t even want to live by the sea, so I’m not sure where that part is coming from. Like I said, it’s a fun post, but the quiz itself was just a little off from my own experience.

    1. Hello Debra,

      I’d be curious what your second and third style quiz results were? I’m guessing you got Coastal Cottage likely because Coastal and Cottage as separate styles have a lot of elements in common: neutrals, light, laid back, etc. It’s also casual and charming like French country. 🙂

  3. I got Country, Farmhouse and French Country. What is the difference between Country and French Country?

  4. You absolutely nailed it! Mostly farmhouse with a bit of beach and French country! I do love a little bling and the curved legs. I also like antiques and would kill (not really) to live in a 100 year old farmhouse!

  5. In several cases I choose the “best” answer because none of the choices were exactly correct. I’m sure that’s why my results aren’t accurate. I got 38% Boho/Scandi; 38% Coastal Cottage and 25% Farmhouse. I call my style French Country or European Country. Your bedroom furniture question didn’t have an option that covers painted French Country so I choose the thrifted/chalk paint option since that was the closest description. I think your style breakdown of French country/transitional/farmhouse is closer to my style. The “neutral with pops of color” was also a difficult choice. I almost chose the blue and white option since that’s what I used in my master bedroom/bath and the dining room rug is ivory/blue. The living room has two chairs with a blue background and a floral print with a deep red, greens and tans. The print coordinates with the beige sofa, the linen chair, the tan chair and the deep wine-colored drapes. The unifying colors used throughout all the rooms used to be burgundy and forest green but now it’s blue! Maybe I should take the test again!

    1. It sounds like you’re in the midst of transitioning some of your decor – ie the color changes. You could try taking it again. It seems quite accurate most of the time, but every once in awhile it can’t quite figure someone out. 🙂

  6. The quiz said I was
    Coastal cottage
    Farmhouse
    French country
    I would agree plus a little transitional. ..
    Thanks, that was fun.