How to define your decorating style

Do you get confused by which style of decorating you like?  You can certainly be forgiven as there are so many styles around, many of them gorgeous and also many of them overlapping.  It can be difficult to define exactly what it is that you really like and why and how this can be translated to your home.  All styles will have their attributes, but you will find that you may like elements of one style and elements of another.  As the globe gets smaller, the world of interiors and the options available to us, expands.  It's like being a child in a sweet shop with so many gorgeous options.  I can help you to define your decorating style and shop with confidence for a look that you will love.

Define your decorating style – first step

I have some questions with lots of images.  If you go through these, look at each one and see which one you are drawn towards and why.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want a home that is ordered and more formal or would I prefer something that is a little more laid back and relaxed?
  2. Do I like to see displays of interesting curios and items I have gathered on my travels or would I prefer to see clean lines with perhaps just one or two beautiful items on display?
  3. Which colour schemes am I drawn towards?  Do I prefer a light or a dark option.
  4. Are heirlooms and antique pieces of furniture important to me.  Items that tell a story or have significance in my past?
  5. Or do I prefer to give these away to other family members and decorate with new pieces of furniture?
  6. Do I like lots of furniture or prefer to buy just one or two items that are more expensive?
  7. Am I a lover of colour or prefer a more pared back scheme that relies on neutrals and a mix of textures to create interest?
  8. Do I like my home to be perfect or prefer to live in an environment with a few imperfections?

From these different styles, which one would you lean towards?

1) A home with mid-century pieces of furniture, clean lines and statement lighting

How to define your decorating style
Image Zanui

The Potter dining chairs are a contemporary Scandinavian chair.  With its light colour palette and minimal furnishings, this is a Scandi style.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Apartment Therapy

The Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs and simple mid century style dining table with Paul Henningsen pendant is a classic Scandi dining setting.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Homes to Love

A light and bright contemporary living room in a Scandi style. The mantra of clean lines, little embellishment and light tones are a hallmark of Scandi style.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Homes to Love

Although this home is contemporary and the furniture is in a classic mid-century style, which is synonymous with Scandi Style, the dark colour palette and the earthiness to the scheme makes this more of a modern country style home.

2) A scheme anchored by classic style white and black painted furniture with over-stuffed comfortable sofas and chairs

How to define your decorating style

White painted display cabinets and bookshelves together with beautifully upholstered chairs and sofas is a classic Hamptons style.   This particular home is by Natalee Bowen from Indah Island

There are elements of Plantation style and a classic Coastal feel with this home which is a classic example of a style that has been adapted to suit its location and owner's tastes.  You don't have to strictly abide by one style.  You can add elements of others too.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Zanui

Black painted furniture is also a hallmark of a Hamptons style but the print above the console table lends itself to a more classical British Colonial Style.

How to define your decorating style

Blue and white ginger jars are a timeless accessory for a Hamptons style home.  The Botanical artworks in a dark frame lean more towards a British Colonial style while the touches or coral suit a coastal look.  A great example of how styles overlap.  However, there is no doubt that this is a pleasing hallway vignette that overall fits into a Hamptons style.  The wainscoting is also indicative of this style too.

How to define your decorating style

The two images above are from Indah Island too.  They are a great example of how you can adapt a style that has its roots in East Coast America to one that is more Australian with its classic coastal styling.

3) A light and white style of home – Coastal or Boho?

How to define your decorating style
Image: April & Oak
How to define your decorating style
Image: April & Oak

The two images above are of the same living room but are styled differently.  The top image is styled in a coastal way with soft light colours and accessories in cool crisp tones.  The second image has introduced a warmer colour palette with tribal patterned cushions and a quirky hanging plant which all lean towards a Bohemian look.  A new trend in interiors is the Coastal Boho look.  This second image is a classic example of how the fundamental look of the room is a coastal one but with the right styling you can add that bit of Boho.

How to define your decorating style
Image: diyblinds.com.au

Another clean, crisp white room with some Scandi elements in the rattan chairs and a little bit of Boho in the styling.

4) A home with a laid back hippie vibe

How to define your decorating style
Image: Jojotastic

Lots of greenery, hanging plants, quirky furniture and richly coloured rugs are a hallmark of a Bohemian style home.  The leather Moroccan style pouffe in the image below is synonymous with this style too.

How to define your decorating style
Image: GreenWeddingShoes.com

Do you like this style of decorating but prefer less colour?  A contemporary Bohemian style has many of the elements of the traditional look but with a pared back colour palette.

How to define your decorating style

5) A comfortable home with vintage finds complemented with antique pieces

How to define your decorating style
Image: Zanui

If you are drawn towards antique furniture or pieces that have a history and are perhaps a little knocked around, then a classic country style look may be a preference for you.  Or if you like a Hamptons style look but prefer natural oak finishes and French style armoires and dining chairs, then the French Provincial look may be more your style.

How to define your decorating style

The image below is a classic country style theme with wall panelling, a soft off-white colour palette and a window seat in natural linen.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Homes to Love
How to define your decorating style
Image: HelloLovelyStudio.com

Hand painted furniture in mellow tones with lots of baskets and curios are typical of a country theme.  While the use of more colour in soft grey tones brings a mellow feel to a classic country style look.

How to define your decorating style

Fresh white is not out of place in a country home, particularly on horizontal wall paneling.  While the introduction of some antiques cements the look.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Homes to Love

6) Reclaimed furniture and light coloured rattan sideboard, chairs and cabinets

How to define your decorating style
Image: Zanui
How to define your decorating style
Image: April & Oak
How to define your decorating style
Image: Studio McGee
How to define your decorating style
Image: April & Oak

If you love these images, you will like a classic Coastal style.  With a predominantly light, white and airy colour palette, soft blues and texture from rattan elements this look is perfect for a home by the beach.  The look can either be more formal or relaxed depending on the way that you like to live.

7) Exotic pieces with carved wood, floor seating and metal furniture

How to define your decorating style
Image: Zanui
How to define your decorating style
Image: Decorpad
How to define your decorating style
Image: Archilovers.com

If this is more of a look you relate to, then you are a fan of Moroccan style.  With its rich and warm colour palette, low seating and ornately carved accessories and furniture, this is a gorgeous style for those of you who like something a little different.

8) Dark rattan chairs with heavy, dark antique furniture

How to define your decorating style

How to define your decorating style

How to define your decorating style
Image: Zanui

How to define your decorating style

How to define your decorating style
Image: Etsy.com

If you love this more sultry colour palette with the heavier colour tones, dark furniture and trunks and greenery for accessories this could be the look for you.  British Colonial Style, which is sometimes referred to as Plantation Style, is the pre-cursor to the East Coast Hamptons style.  There are many shared elements and often the two styles are combined, as seen here.  The main point of difference is the use of dark and heavy tones.

If you have more of an idea about where your heart lies, I have extensive posts and information on the site about each style to help you confirm that this is the look you love:

Scandi Style

Scandinavians don't over-decorate.   Rather they stick to the decorator's motto of ‘assess a finished room and then take one thing away'.  Clean lines and simple joinery are important for this look.  To recreate Scandi style for your home, remember the mantra of light, white, texture, natural finishes and simplicity and you can start to get a feel of how to successfully incorporate this look.

I have a very detailed post which will give you an in-depth look at this style.  5 key elements to Scandi Style

How to define your decorating style
Image: Pufik Homes

Hamptons Style

At home on the East Coast of America, the upmarket, but very understated Hamptons style has swept the globe.  It seems that every second house that I work on is based on this classic style.  Whether it is the delicate colour palette of soft blues, greens and greys or the relaxed styling, which still manages to be tailored and elegant, it is a style that I believe will endure.

My post – Hamptons Style – 7 steps to achieve this look tells you all you need to know about this look.  I also have lots of other posts about Hamptons style homes which you can link through to from there too.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Bunglo

Coastal Style

Clean and fresh with an understated colour scheme derived from the beach and ocean, coastal style is an all-time favourite look.  Often adapted to incoporate some Hamptons styling, a touch of Boho or some smart Scandi touches, Coastal style is a universally admired way to decorate.  Each country has it's own take on a coastal or seaside style.  I have written about Australian coastal style together with lots of other posts about this gorgeous look.  You can start your reading here if this is a favourite style of yours:

Australian Coastal Style – 7 steps to achieve this look tells you all you need to know about creating a quintessential Australian coastal look.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Adore Magazine

Country Style

The most important element for a country style that works is to ensure the look is relaxed and comfortable.

The appeal of country style is that the edges are softened and the look doesn't have to be perfect.

This doesn't mean that the look can't be contemporary.  I have come across some beautiful modern country homes in Australia but they still have that element of comfort that is different to an urban style contemporary home.  A modern barn conversion, for example, can be very contemporary, wherever it is in the world, but being a country home, the one thing it can't be is too precious.

I have written a complete Guide to Country Style which tells you all you need to know.  If you love this look but your heart lies with a French theme then My Guide to French Provincial Style will provide you with lots of insight and inspiration.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Hookedonhouses

Bohemian Style

I would hazard a guess that the majority of us have introduced a little bit of Bohemian style into our homes without even realising it.  Remember there are no new ideas, just reinvented ones.  I am happy to say though that these are usually improved upon versions.  The hippie days of the late 60s and early 70s are back with a vengeance.  Combi vans are much sought after and are being lovingly restored and the idea of taking life at a slower and happier rate is all the rage.

A good place to start is with my post 4 key elements of Contemporary Bohemian style

How to define your decorating style
Image: Bedthreads.com.au

Moroccan Style

The appeal of Moroccan style to designers around the globe probably stems from the influence that France had on the country, particularly in the early part of the twentieth century.  The colours, designs and architecture created by the Moors across North Africa have been tempered here by French design and the outcome from this fusion of two beautiful styles is magnificent.

The design and colour palette of Morocco is soft and relaxed and can therefore be incorporated very well into many global styles including Australian country style.

My Guide to Moroccan Style will tell you all you need to know.

How to define your decorating style
Image: Anthropologie

Plantation Style

This style is appealing as it is very similar to a Hamptons style but is a more serious version.  For those people who like darker colour palettes with the addition of some antiques, this is a gentle look that is refined and perfect for many settings.  It can be adapted for a country style home or for a light and breezy one by the ocean.

British Colonial Style – 7 steps to achieve this look shows you how to create this style in your home and demonstrates how you can adapt it to incorporate more of a Hamptons look too.

How to define your decorating style

How to define your decorating style – a final word

I hope that this inspiration has given you a starting point to help you narrow down the exact look that you really love.  You can't have them all but I hope you can see that you can often mix them up with a very successful outcome.

  • Bohemian style can be a full on traditional hippie look or it can be pared back with a simplified colour palette.  Elements of it can be introduced into a coastal look and it blends well with Moroccan style influences.
  • Country style can be elegant in an English sort of way or more relaxed with a jumble of favourite pieces and collectibles.
  • Classic Scandi style, loved around the globe, is one of the smartest styles with its reliance on good quality and expensive items of furniture and lighting.  The beautiful mid-century pieces of furniture synonymous with this style also sit well with a Bohemian look too and of course can be adapted to an upmarket country home.
  • Hamptons style is a new and updated version of Plantation or British Colonial Style and again, the two can be interspersed.

Decorating isn't always easy and trying to define your own style that you are happy with in the long term can be a challenge.  Rather than look at what is popular, carefully assess these styles and think about which one will make you happy and comfortable in your home.

How to define your decorating style

I always recommend that before deciding on a decorating scheme for your home that you put together a mood board.  I show you how to do this in my free e-book which you can download from my Free Resources Library. 

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