Style Lessons Learned the Hard Way

I set out to redecorate my entryway. This seemed easy enough, and I have always enjoyed decorating projects. This time around is not the same.

I started with a relatively blank space. I found an image on Pinterest with a mural of oversized flowers on a dark wall. I quickly got to work painting. I painted the entryway wall a rich navy blue, which I love! Then I added my floral mural, but I’m not super pleased with it. It’s placement is off, and for 11 and a half hours of work, I had highwe hopes. I thought I’d like it better once I placed some furniture in the space. Yet, my furniture is cheap and ugly or just doesn’t fit my vision. While it is an improvement, I find once again that I’ve created a space that doesn’t reflect my true style. I keep painting spaces expecting more. I look around my house and think, “this just isn’t me.”

You might think that an artist would have a strong grasp on his or her style, yet style is often a journey. Personal taste changes and evolves. In addition, I enjoy numerous styles, which is reflected in the mash-up of styles my home displays.

Having a taste for different styles is helpful when working with clients. I have always been good at reading other people’s style and creating spaces in their home that reflect that style in a beautiful way. As an artist, I have an eye for that sort of thing. Yet, when it comes to pin-pointing my own style, it’s a whole other ball game! I’m kind of all over the place.

One style is consistent: modern. I’ve always enjoyed modern design over any other. So, when I decorated my home, everything had a modern feel. I found inexpensive items & filled my house. But after living with cheap furniture and dcorating my house around the expected destruction of 5 kids (and after many broken purchases!), I find myself and my style lost in most of the rooms. There are only a few parts of my house that I love: the walls and black/white and gold accents in my loft area and my floral faux wallpaper in my family room. I also love my white sofa and many of my art pieces displayed around the house.  

I feel more at home looking at those things, yet I’m quickly distracted by the cheap short cuts I made with furniture choices. I love IKEA & Target, don’t get me wrong! The prices are wonderful, but the veneer furniture I bought has definitely seen better days. I’m over the scratches, broken bits and all around cheapness. Functionally, my furniture has been great! Aesthetically, I’m ready to throw it all out and start over!

Over the last year, I’ve been on a personal journey of sorts. I’ve learned more about who I am and what I crave out of life. You could say that I’ve grown. I think my design sense has grown too. That shouldn’t be a bad thing, but when you can’t afford to redo your decor, how do you create a comfortable home that reflects the “new” you?

First, I turned to Pinterest and started pinning every photo that had that “I wanna live in that room” feeling. When I look through my pins now, they are cohesive, calming, creative, modern, minimalistic and everything I feel my style has become! I get so excited scrolling through those images and imagining my home evoking those same feelings.

Now, how to recreate those Pinterest looks in my home and in my budget? Paint seemed like the easiest first step, yet we know how that turned out. So, on to the next game plan. Instead of trying to revamp each room or take on redecorating projects that I can’t afford to do properly, I’m deciding to baby-step it.

Taking a baby-steps approach to redecorating will pay off in the long run. Here’s my plan:

  • keep saving images that reflect my style and allow me to really study my new tastes, finding what draws me to certain rooms over others
  • Sell/donate/throw away anything I don’t need or don’t love (if it isn’t serving a purpose, it’s just taking up space)
  • Save for my future decor. Building a redecorating fund into my budget will help me choose only pieces that I love & that fit my true style, rather than opting for cheaper versions that will become trash before the room is finished.
  • Be content with what I have now. It’s often easier said than done when you’re someone who is so emotionally & mentally affected by their environment like I am, but if I look ahead to the desired end results, I can be happy with the process. Cherish each baby step and each little contribution that gets me closer to building the design my heart desires.

Too often, we jump into things without a well thought out plan. My home is a testament to that! Another design mistake is decorating without a full understanding of your own personal style. I’ve learned my lesson there! And finally, purchasing cheap pieces just to fill a space quickly will most likely end in disappointment. I’d say that describes my current situation perfectly! I am learning that it’s better to save for quality pieces that speak to you than to settle for others that won’t stand the test of time.

Here are some tips on discovering your true style:

STUDY: I know, you’re thinking, “more school? No thanks!” But this kind of studying isn’t hard & can be fun! Start looking at photos of rooms. Look through home magazines or online. As you look, take note of the feelings you get from each room. Does it say, “come in and sit here” or make you feel happy? Find a way to create a collection of images of rooms that call you into them. Pinterest is great for this! Once you have a collection, go back through & edit, looking harder at each image and asking yourself questions like, “do I like it or LOVE it?”. This is your style board. It should encompass your true style & design taste. Then, finally, go through again and notice what the images have in common. Is there a similar color palette? Do all the images evoke similar feelings like: airy, sophisticated, rustic, quirky, etc.? Are there common lines or decor elements? Many of my images had potted plants and various textural elements as well as bold art pieces.

DON’T SETTLE: As you shop or browse for new decor items or furniture, don’t stray from your style board images. If you truly loved the rooms you saved, any piece you purchase should easily fit into those rooms, and therefore look fabulous in your new design! Don’t let sale prices dictate or be led astray by a piece that “might work”. In my experience, sleeping on it is sound advice! If you see something you think is a must-have, snap a photo of it and give it a day or so. If you feel the same after comparing it to your style board (and can afford it), buy it.  If it’s the last day of a sale or a small purchase, walk away from the item and shop for other things. If you forget about the item that you thought you loved, then it wasn’t really love, and you just saved yourself some trouble. 

Well, I hope you can benefit from my design mistakes and avoid making them yourself! If you enjoyed this post, please share it or tell me what you liked about it in the comments. And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Want to see my style board? Visit my Kelly Gene Life Pinterest page and view the My Home Palette board. And if you’re curious, my style is modern eclectic-minimalist.


2 thoughts on “Style Lessons Learned the Hard Way

    • I’m glad you found it helpful. The tips discussed have made a world of difference in my decorating. I’m finally finding myself reflected in my home & enjoying much more cohesive style throughout.

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