Today I’m back to share part two of how I found my style. In case you missed it, your can read part one here. Just a fair warning, this post is a bit long…
When Anthony and I started building our house, I was so excited. It was a dream come true. But with that, I also had a lot of decisions to make on the finishes that would go inside. I knew that we couldn’t get everything we wanted, so I started with our “must haves” and went down from there. All the while I was a bit worried that I was picking something out I wouldn’t like years, or even months, down the road.
On the “big money” purchases I stayed pretty neutral. Our hardwood flooring was a classical choice for me, and in a way I built the interior of our home off of our floors. And you know what? I still love them! When it came time to pick the color of our cabinets, Anthony and I went back and forth. I wanted to go with white kitchen cabinets and have the darker cabinets in the bathrooms, but Anthony wasn’t loving the idea, at all, of having a white kitchen. He loves him some wood grain, so dark cabinets won out throughout our entire house. And you know what? I love them everyday, except when I see an absolutely stunning white kitchen. Then I just sigh… and remember that I have a pretty spectacular dark kitchen.
After Anthony and I had the big decisions made, I was determined to find a style that I loved. A style that I could base our entire house off of. At first it was all bright colors and satin nickel fixtures. I didn’t want to bring decor out from our previous home because most of that was all black or oil rubbed bronze. And there was no way I was going to mix my metal finishes. That was just a big no no!
Scared to mess something up in our house, I sat idle for a little while. Before we moved in, I painted a few pieces of furniture, so it felt silly to repaint them after we had just moved in because I didn’t like the way they looked. So I didn’t do anything. I’d walk by a room every day and think, “It’s just not me” or “I don’t like how it looks”.
But even though I sat idle, I really wasn’t. During that time I started to realize things that I did and didn’t like. And I began to see a pattern with myself. The first room that I really started working on, was our breakfast nook. It was the first room that appeared to be something it wasn’t.
It was one of the first rooms I tried to “make” into the style that I kept seeing. I spray painted a thrift store light fixture, spray painted the dresser black, added glass knobs to the dresser and made new curtains for the room. Even though after each project I felt accomplished, once I put everything together I was disappointed…
To me, this room looked like a jumbled mess. It looked like a room with personality issues. A room that had a whole bunch of styles going on in one place. At first, I was set on painting the table. I assumed that since everything else was freshly updated, the table needed it too. And since I didn’t like the way it looked with the black dresser, the obvious choice would have been to paint it. But what color?
As each day passed, and as I walked by the room again and again, I finally started to see the things that were really bothering me. Ironically enough, they were the spray painted light fixture and the spray painted dresser. I really liked the drapes, I really liked the table and I knew the iron corner piece was there only because I didn’t know where else to put it….
So, the breakfast nook became the first room that I really started to throw ideas at. Here’s the post where I outlined everything I wanted to do with it, because in all honesty, I couldn’t look at the room much longer. The first thing that got me really excited about the room, was the idea of adding a bench. I saw this picture in a Pottery Barn catalog and I instantly loved it…
Afraid to follow the same pattern as I had with the kitchen fruit (see part one for details), I made a pinterest board specifically for breakfast nooks and bench seating. I spent time collecting picture after picture. And then one day, I sat down with a piece of paper and listed everything that I found consistent with all the pictures.
I found that I liked neutral colors and lots of white. I found that I really liked breakfast nook benches that had chunky molding. And I found that I really liked oil rubbed bronze or dark accents. That was such a big day! What I saw when I narrowed down the most common things, is that I liked everything I had told myself we weren’t going to do when we built our house.
I didn’t want to do oil rubbed bronze fixtures because I had only been seeing the silver nickel, and I didn’t want to paint my walls white because to everyone else it was boring.
White, boring? I don’t think so. In my humble opinion, white can only be boring if there’s no contrast and texture. Then it can indeed be boring. And plain. And stark.
But white paired with plenty of contrast and texture, well that’s just magical.
After Anthony and I installed the breakfast nook bench, I was hooked. Then we installed the plank wall, which I have to admit was a big step for me. I saw a few of them floating around in blog land, but I didn’t know if it would be something I would like since my first impression of them was less than grand. I can’t believe I thought that either.
I found that after we installed the plank wall, that it was the perfect amount of texture for the room, and I knew from my previous list that I liked texture. And because I couldn’t wait another second, I painted the breakfast nook dresser in a much more neutral color and found a great deal on a new light. Suddenly, things were looking very different…
Suddenly, things were starting to feel a lot more like me, and I knew it. I also knew the list of common traits I wrote down earlier was right, and I had proof of it in the breakfast nook.
Here’s a side by side of the breakfast nook for comparison:
While I was working on the breakfast nook, I also began on the laundry room too. They were the two rooms that really bothered me.
When I began painting the house in blues, the laundry room was the first room that I painted…
I can remember painting it and being so uninspired by the color. I was able to admit that freely a bit later and I quickly repainted it with a much more neutral color, halo by Benjamin Moore.
Suddenly, I felt like a whole new person. And that’s when I realized that I personally felt like I was competing with the color. It feels really silly to type that, but I was eventually able to pinpoint how I felt with the color. I felt like it was yelling at me. Like it was trying to steal the attention from everything else in the room. Like it wanted to be dominant.
I read somewhere that you should look at your clothes closet to see which colors you really like. As soon as I read it, I rushed to my closed and verified once again that I am a neutral girl. My closet is full of white, black, brown and gray. I do have color mixed in there too, but it’s minimal. Just like my wardrobe, I like to decorate with neutrals and small pops of color.
Once I finally had it pinpointed, and knew how color made me feel, I knew I was going to make it my mission to fix all the rooms with color. Hence, the office. It was another room that had the light blue paint. I couldn’t wait to re-paint it, and again I chose a whisper of color…. And just like the breakfast nook, I can’t wait to add in a whole bunch of texture and contrast.
Now, I’m definitely not saying that color can’t have those things too. I fully believe it can, and I’ve seen several rooms that are absolutely stunning with lots of color. But for me personally, I take my color in small doses.
So after years of looking to define my style, here’s what I’ve found out about myself:
-I’m a neutral girl through and through.
-I love white and paint with a whisper of color.
-I like my color as an accent.
-I like texture and think it can dramatically change a room.
-I love the contrast between white and wood. Or bronze. Or black. I just love contrast.
-Mixing metals is just another way to add contrast. The rule of never mixing metals is gone and I’m happy about that! Oh the freedom…
-I like the appearance of old/ warn/ and antique. It gives a room character, without being overwhelming. It also doesn’t make me panic that we’re going to ruin it by actually living in our home….
-I like to mix old and new.
-I think the best rooms have a combination of store bought items and thrift store/ makeover projects.
-I will splurge on a great light fixture. I think they can completely change a room. They are worth the investment.
And now, here are a few things that I have to remind myself of…
-Getting the home I want takes time. It’s not built over night, and even if it was, where’s the fun in that? Making a home takes time. Project after project, or gaining furniture as the budget allows, does take time. That’s part of the journey.
-If I totally hate a light or a piece of furniture that I bought before I “found my style”, I sell it. I won’t agonize over it because “I wish I wouldn’t have spent the money on it”. Sell it and replace it with something you do like.
-Change what I can, don’t worry about the rest. Sure, Anthony and I wish that we would have made our living room bigger, but we didn’t and we know we won’t be able to add on for quite a while. I’m not going to dwell on it.
Now, if you take nothing else away from this long post, remember:
-It’s okay to try something new! You won’t know if you like something until you try it. If you’ve wanted to paint that dresser gray, paint it gray. If you want to paint that bathroom teal, paint it teal. Only YOU will be able to know if it’s something YOU like. Live with it for a little while and you’ll find out soon enough.
-YOUR home is YOUR home. YOU live there. Don’t worry about pleasing anyone but YOU… and maybe your husband! Ha! Forget what your mom thinks, your cousin, your aunt, your great uncle. Their opinions really don’t matter. You’ll feel a lot better after you come to terms with that.
-Don’t be hard on yourself. Be sure to try. Don’t be scared to fail. In fact, do fail. You’ll quickly find what you like and don’t like. We’re all scared to fail, but failure can be a great thing when you’re on a mission to find your style.
-Paint is the fastest and cheapest way to test your latest idea. If you hate it, just repaint it. Don’t stress. I’ve been there, done that. Now I can’t believe I freaked over the dark taupe paint color…
-Don’t convince yourself you love something just because everyone else does. Do they live with you?
-Sit down and define your style with words. How do you want a room to feel? How do you want to feel in your home? Whether isn’t comfortable, energetic, peaceful or welcoming, words of feeling can really help with the process of defining your style. Don’t limit yourself to farmhouse, cottage, modern, traditional, rustic, eclectic. For me, that was about as clear as mud. I wasn’t just farmhouse or cottage. In fact, when I named my blog, I was ignoring the farmhouse side of my style. I found it later.
-Don’t get caught up in one style and convince yourself that you’re only cottage. Cottage can mean a lot of different things. From shabby, chippy furniture with floral patterns, to beach cottage. Cottage is a wide style. Just as they all are. Me, I’m farmhouse cottage with a bit of rustic, a pinch of industrial and a hint of traditional. See? More than one style can be lots of fun!
-Have fun with your home. That’s my best piece of advice. YOU live there. Enjoy it. Love it while it’s in it’s ugly stage. Celebrate it when it’s not. Homes want tender lovin’ care. Open your heart to your home.
At the end of the day, home is our sanctuary. It’s the one place that we can relax and be ourselves completely. I’ve never felt better than when I walk into our home at the end of a long day and am welcomed by a place that finally feels like we’re the ones that live there.
And if you’re wondering about Anthony and all the color transitioning, he was just as happy when I decided to repaint with more neutral colors. Turns out he’s a bit of a neutral lover too!