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Decorating Style Guide

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What's your decorating style? We all have a particular home design look that we gravitate towards. You may be more Midcentury Modern with a love for clean lines or Eclectic because you can't decide on one particular style that you enjoy. You love them all! Whatever home design makes your heart sing is truly what matters. Here are 8 easy decorating looks that may give you more insight on your own design style.

Rustic Farmhouse Decorating

4 Safari Court

If you love chunky wood, burlap, old farm equipment and large aged dining tables, your personal decorating style may just be Rustic Farmhouse. The ease and functionality of farmhouse living is a trend that many homes are adopting. Rustic Farmhouse living is more realistic to many that have children, animals or just bigger families. It provides worn and used aged woods to decorate and utilize on furniture to give an aged and more durable living space. You don't have to worry about banging up the kitchen or dining table or painting your distressed farm chairs because that's the look precisely that you are going for! There is also a comfort factor that farmhouse styling brings with its use of burlap table runners, organic cotton bedding and other natural fabrics on furnishing and accessories.

Shop for Great Finds

When you are on the hunt for Rustic Farmhouse items you will want to visit some local estate sales, flea markets and antique malls for unique pieces that have character and a time-warned look. Chipped painted side tables and hutches, crates, glass mason jars, etc. Old farm tools and equipment are also great to display in the home. Add unusual pendant lighting by reimagining some old mason jars. Try updating your newer fire place mantle with a more distressed and vintage mantle. Add retro steel dining metal chairs around a wooden table for the shine and metallic quality of rustic living.

Adding the Right Fabrics and Soft Goods

When you are considering a more farmhouse styling to your space you will want to choose cotton, muslin and other organic blended fabrics for your soft goods. In the 1800s when cotton was picked and made into the most natural fibers, they were then woven to make quilts, beautiful matelasse designs and muslin draperies. Use soft billowy white and off white linens on bedding and window treatments. Add these natural cottons to seat cushions and old flour sacs to throw pillows for a real country and farm design your spool chairs and wooden benches will love. Use laced crochet coverlets to drape over beds. These small touches are what will bring in the warmth and coziness of farm living.

Coastal Decorating

Tracey Rapisardi Design - Classic Summer House

Coastal decor can be airy, soft and easy on the eyes or can go bolder with a more traditional palette of nautical navy, white and red. Everyone has a different interpretation of what coastal living looks like. A more traditional approach certainly involves anchors, paddles, and drift wood hanging on walls and displayed on tables. It can cross over into a shabby chic coastal look with its whimsical and soft palette or it can go more farmhouse coastal with an emphasis on chunky furnishingand wood crafting.

Coastal style is really about the mood it sets rather than accessories that go to literal. Although maritime and seaside motifs feel appropriate, don't go overboard. Coastal living should be comfortable, relaxing and a breath of fresh sea air. Remember, you don't have to live on the shore to evoke the feel and sentiment of beach living. You certainly can make any home, anywhere, get on board with coastal decor.

Indoors and Outdoors

Coastal interiors truly marry the indoors and outdoors. The use of natural lighting and openness gives the feel of the coastline right outside your door. Having plenty of windows, glass doors and skylights will help cast more light into your space which are a necessity when creating the coastal mood. If you can't spare your budget to add these to your home, try adding lamps, sconces or pendant lighting to fake the mood. Window treatments such as heavy draperies and valances should be light and simple enough to enhance the sunshine glowing through the widows. Use cotton linen, muslin or sheer draperies instead of dark and heavy fabrics. If you do live by the water, never obscure the view. let it be a part of your interior.

Pillows and Accessories

Another great way to slowly transform a room to become more coastal is to add throw pillows and detailed accessories. If your home has darker furnishings try to lighten the room up with more pastel greens, blues, whites and turquoise. You can find wonderful nautical fabrics here on Designer Custom Source or purchase pillows at your local retailer. Look for large cabana stripes or smaller stripes for pillows and draperies. Add shells, starfish and candles on coffee tables. Look for drift wood and seaglass to use as decorative items in rooms. Purchase wicker baskets, shelving and plants to really bring nature inside your home.

Eclectic Decorating

I think most of us can relate to homes that have a little bit of everything. Every corner and nook is filled with knickknacks and collectors' items that never seem to make sense in the space. In fact, it usually leaves your sensors on overload. However, there are ways to make unique, out-of-place pieces, look cohesive and beautiful in a room. Alison Kandler is one such designer that has the knack for putting together eclectic rooms by utilizing color, texture, and different furniture styling that simply look like they belong. Her love of traditional architecture paired with interior design of the '20s and '30s is evident throughout her Santa Monica home.

Color is Key

One of the first ways to add cohesion to an eclectic room is to allow colors to bounce off each other in such a way that there is a pattern of color that is working together throughout the space. The rug is the staple of this room because every furniture piece and accessory that is displayed is reflected to the colors in the carpet, which ties the space together. The Marsala-colored couch and black painted chair seats ground the room while the lighter shabby chic cream coffee table and yellow chair cushions add a light and airy feel that goes well with the white walls and spring vases collected on the coffee table. Although every item in this room is so very different, the color is what unites it.

Beach Cottage

Repeat Patterns and Scale

Another way to bring an eclectic room together is to repeat patterns. This pretty entryway is a darling example of just this. The floral paintings on the wall, the real-life arrangement of flowers in a vase, and the beautiful vine just outside the entrance are great ways to show unification through different mediums. These small touches help give depth, fervor, and earnestness to this space.

Patterns and scales come into play when you are designing any room of the home. A well-decorated room has hints of pattern, texture, and color throughout, but the most important is the scale of items in a room. One piece can throw off an entire space. Alison is a master at knowing how to keep proportion and harmony in a room. I love the way Alison has united each room of her 1920s California abode with colors. Her favorites are coral, periwinkle, and purple. Each is masterfully displayed throughout her jubilant home, leaving you feeling excited and elated for eclectic design!

Traditional Decorating

Traditional Dining Room

Traditional decorating has been around for so many years that it has aquired the name "traditional." The style is easy to live with because it has a sense of organization with its warm classic furnishings, earth tone colors that blend well together with refined and classic textiles, such as, brocades, toile and tartan. Traditional design is not always the loudest but it is quietly beautiful and well mannered.

Traditional Furniture

Most traditional homes have a good sense of symmetry and balance from architecture to furniture placement. Furniture usually is placed and positioned to invite conversation and chit chat. Traditional rooms are easy to identify when it comes to furniture. They are graceful pieces and elaborately decorated with violin shaped backs, cabriole legs, claw foot legs, curvy lines, and decorative finials. The most popular furniture styles for most traditional rooms are called Sheraton, Chippendale, and Queen Anne.

Soft Goods and Furniture

Traditional rooms are comfortable and homey. How could they not be with upholstered tufted sofas, soft billowy cushions, down pillows and decorative tasseled draperies which all help to dress up a room. While traditional is more formal, transitional style enjoys the comfort of traditional but use modern textiles on chairs and draperies with much cleaner lines.

Trim It Up

Wooden trim and molding is always a must in traditional spaces. Over the years, styles may have changed in the way of how much detail but it's still that beautiful clean touch that your traditional home loves. Whether it's wainscoting around a fire place, crown molding on the ceiling or functional chair railing molding; these trimmings look amazing in classic traditional design.Trim also can apply to your soft goods, such as, draperies, pillows with fancy trims and gussied up lamp shades. Although, too much of a good thing could cross over to an entire new look.

Southwestern Decorating

Rustic Bedroom

If you love a desert sunset, old western movies and guacamole, you may be a lover of Southwestern design. Southwestern style is warm, rugged and earthy in tone yet has dramatic pops of turquoise, terracotta, salmon and yellow accents of color. Interior furnishings and architecture in Southwest design is chunky, solid and more unrefined than not. The mixing and matching of much heavier wood carved pieces, along with metal, such as iron and tin give a more balanced look to these rustic rooms. Organic shapes to walls made of stucco is another sign of this old western design. In most Southwestern design, you see a primitive American Indian influence in pottery, tapestries and throw blankets. Large wooden logs used for ceiling beams or mantels give a primal feel, yet elaborate patterns and motifs displayed on rugs, sofas and draperies bring in the softness to interiors.


In the American Southwest you will see plenty of stucco and adobe used on the outer walls. Spanish colonial and Mission Revival styles has influenced most Southwestern architecture. These homes dwell as chameleons by blending into the scenery and never taking away from the view. Because of its desert like atmosphere, this style home uses stone work, plaster, cactis and other succulents for its curve appeal. Native American motifs and exterior decoration is also a huge in architecture.

Southwest Accents

Southwest accent pieces have more influence on texture. For example, pillows are made to be noticed with the use of leather, suede and wool fabrications, rather than just cotton and polyester. Accessories and fixtures are often made from wagon wheels, deer antlers or other reclaimed pieces which are reinvented and recycled into something new. If you are an avid DIYer, this style is easy to get creative with.

Outdoor Spaces and Landscape

Southwest outdoor design usually incorporates the same design elements indoors, and brings it outdoors. You'll find there is a flow to both spaces in way of color and texture of Southwest design. There is much harmony and conformity. Outdoor furniture such as teak and wrought iron go well with the elements. Soft goods such as outdoor custom cushions and pillows will bring comfort and relaxation. This look is enhanced even more by adding terracotta or bright colored planters filled with native cacti and hardy succulents to give some green coloring throughout the space. Pools are wonderful ways to enjoy the summer heat of a dryer climate however, you can transform pots into water features which will create a soothing trickling water sound throughout your outdoor paradise and set the ambiance.

Mid Century Modern Decorating

Another huge styling that is on the rise is Mid century modern design. It is sleek, clean lined, with a seamless flow. Current Mid century modern design uses contemporary patterns and unique organic forms on furniture and accessories for a chic and present-day styling that looks very hip. Midcentury was really the first to create the bond between the outdoor and the indoor world by the use of large glass windows with little to no window treatments, glass doors and skylights which carries light into a room and allows the outdoor view to be a part of the home.

What is Mid Century Modern?

Midcentury modern is simply design from the middle of the 20th century, around 1930's to mid 1960's. Many of the key influences of mid-century design is from the Nordic countries. There are different variations of the styling but most hold these core elements:

• Combination of manmade, natural materials with technology

• Function and affordability

• Abstract forms combined with comfort

• Clean lines and geometric patterns

• Indoor and outdoor living spaces

• Contrast on colors, textures and aesthetics

Wood Elements

Wood has an organic component which helps to bring the outdoor elements inside the home. Wood used for wall paneling, furniture, tables and doors were very stylish during this period. The mix of wood were inlayed with dark and light patterns which were popular in the 1920's and carried on through midcentury decorating. Furniture was influenced by the industrial age so many pieces looked similar to buildings and other aerodynamic designs.

Comfort and Ease

Being comfortable in your surroundings is a must for any space. The one thing in which modern design is good at is creating a raw bones piece of furnishing and making it cozy and space saving. Eames chairs have been around over 70's years yet they are the quintessential chair used in mid century rooms because of their light weight fiberglass build and cool contemporary look. Plus these are very comfortable with or without a cushion or pillow. Kitchens were designed to have everything at your finger tips by allowing a more popular floor plan called ,"the open floor plan", where you can cook, entertain, watch TV and have conversation all in one space. Mid century architecture lay outs were allowing this open floor plan in homes and gave sitting areas comfort and functionality.

Sleek Bio-Forms

We can't forget the unique shapes and formations displayed in a space of mid century artwork, furnishings and architecture. There is no such thing as a straight edge when it comes to mid century room design. Curves, twists and bends on furniture, coffee tables and more are what keep these rooms interesting. Despite the minimalistic design approach, bright, bold and saturated colors and patterns in the way of fabrications, lighting, and artwork bring out the playfulness in midcentury. Colorful starburst and color blocking on fabrics, wallpaper and rugs give a hip and bodacious vibe to these spaces.

Cottage Decorating

A cozy lived-in-look is the essence of cottage living. You are surrounded by soft cottons, well loved furnishings and accessories which give you a homey atmosphere that invites you in to stay awhile. Cottage colors are soft washed colorways that will shine on a bed of fresh clean cotton sheets. The essentials of cottage living is comfy, casual and personal to the home owner. Fabrics don't have to be pressed and in prestine condition, rather more forgiving. Wrinkles are welcomed to the primarily linen and cotton fabrications.

Chips and Dents

If you haven't already noticed, cottage decorating embraces what some may call, "The chip and dent item throw aways." However, these hidden and well used pieces are treasures with personality and charm. This includes chalk painted coffee tables, antique metal bed frames, chipped cabinets, mixed china dishes, fresh flowers and lots of vintage flour sacs and ticking fabrics used for table linens and other soft goods.

Light and Airy

Cottage decorating incorporates a lightness and openess to natural sunlight. Simple window treatments that don't block all this warm and bright goodness is key. Select sheer and lighter fabrics to adorn windows. Tie tops or tab top draperies are a nice choice in cottage rooms because they can be easily pushed to the side to let in light or closed for more privacy. If you are lucky enough to have a window seat or bay window these are perfect opportunities for another cozy space that flows well in a cottage styled home. These window nooks are always a plus to let in more light. Add soft cushions and pillows in forgiving cotton materials with lots of floral, pastel and toile designs to stress an English cottage styling.

Floral Frenzy

Florals are trending, and for a wonderful reason. Homes need flowers and plants to really make it come alive, and cottage decorating can never go without either. Whether you add fresh roses and blossoms to a table or add silk flowers, these garden gems are a must. Even more on trend for these casual shabby chic spaces are floral fabrics on bedding, tablesettings, curtains and tossed pillows. Don't be afraid to bring the garden party outside. Wicker furniture, bisttro sets and casual folding chairs are a great start to your garden party. Look for tea sets, lovely baskets, and other salvaged treasures to place outdoors.

Art Deco Decorating


The Art Deco design explosion was between 1920s to the end of the 1930s. Also, known as The Roaring Twenties or Art Nouveau, this period was a new age in aerodynamics, industry and decorative art. It was obvious that Art Deco was unique by not only the architecture on infamous buildings, such as Radio City Music Hall and the Chrysler building, but through the likes of fashion and design, this era was unlike the past generations. It earned the reputation of exhibiting luxury and sophistication, even by today's standards.

Shine and Glitz

One of the components of Art Deco is the love for shimmer and shine. Whether it's on coffee tables, glamorous light fixtures or furnishings, the need for sparkle and reflective materials was certainly a feature in home design. Even architecture was made to look ostentatious and over the top with its flashy gold chevron and geometric patterns. Accessories in rooms were sculptural and ornamental with an Asian flare. Common materials were silver, crystal, ivory, jade and lacquer. Long after the great Depression it was cheaper to mass-produced materials like chrome, plastics, and other industrial items to help accommodate the populating middle class which was also influenced by this high fashioned period.

Exotic Fabrications

Art Deco is also known for wild and exotic fabrics and textiles. The use of animal skins, such as, zebra-skin, shark-skin were just some of the unusual materials used on rugs and accessories. Animal motifs were displayed on ornate silk fabrics for pillows, tapestries and fancy room dividers. Wild life and Audubon's were framed and hung. Walls were wallpapered in unique material such as bamboo for great texture and dimensions to rooms. Light and dark wood inlays created a pattern of sunbursts, chevron and other designs that repeated itself on bed frames, doors, cabinets and tables.These usually had an intricate design that really was modern and industrial for the time.

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