How I Found My Style- Part 2

Today I’m back to share part two of how I found my style. In case you missed it, you can read part one here. Just a fair warning, this post is a bit long…

How I Found My Style- The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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!

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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”.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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…

How I Found My Style Part 2 by The Wood Grain Cottage

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…

How I Found My Style Part 2 by The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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…

How I Found My Style - The Wood Grain Cottage
How I Found My Style - The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

Once I placed the table back in it’s spot, I quickly found one more thing that I loved. I found out how great white and wood looked together…

Here’s a side by side of the breakfast nook for comparison:


How I Found My Style Part 2 by The Wood Grain Cottage


How I Found My Style- The Wood Grain Cottage

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…

How I Found My Style- The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Gain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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.

How I Found My Style Part 2- The Wood Grain Cottage

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!


    1. THANK YOU so very much, Lisa! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! I am so happy with the transformations too! πŸ˜€
      I hope you have a great week too! πŸ˜€

  1. Shayna, I’ve read both posts and I’m so impressed!! You’ve obviously put time and heart into making your choices instead of going with whatever the latest thing is. To me, that’s really understanding yourself and your style. Your breakfast area is a work of art and completely changes the feel of the room. I want to do the same thing in one room of our house. Your home is beautiful and the fact that it has so much of you in it makes it more special.

    1. OH, Stacey! THANK YOU so very much for the lovely comment! I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed both posts! I love out breakfast nook too! πŸ˜€

  2. Thanks for sharing your journey to finding your style. I think I’ve ended up in a similar place via a different journey. Mine took much longer due to an “unhandy” hubbie and two kids we wanted to send to college. I keep chipping away at my vision and enjoying the trip.

    1. THANK YOU so much, Barbara! I can completely admire your journey! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the trip! That’s what it’s all about! πŸ˜€

  3. I love the idea of creating a board of rooms you like and then finding the similarities and that being the things you love. I also agree that it takes time. If you have your home just the way you want it in my mind you can’t justify buying new/old things. Love your home, wish I had a breakfast nook. You do an excellent job explaining the thought process and experiences. Thanks for taking the time to write this blog.

    1. Oh, Ann! THANK YOU so very much for the lovely comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! πŸ˜€
      And you’re right, if we had everything we wanted, we couldn’t buy anything else! πŸ˜€

  4. Hi,
    I read both parts of ‘Finding My Style’, and enjoyed them both. I really liked how you encouraged not being in a rush. I believe that is the main problem with finding our style. So often we just tear into decorating with great enthusiasm only to find that we are not happy with the change. I think doing a bit at a time allows us to ‘cherry pick’, just what we really love…joette

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Joette! I’m so happy you enjoyed both posts! You couldn’t be more right, we often do rush to find our style. Your term of “cherry pick” is wonderful— and so true! πŸ˜€

  5. Shauna, what a great piece of advice. Do what you love and don’t worry about what others will think or following the latest trends. I am also a neutral color person and love dark wood furniture and cabinets. We are the ones living there and have to feel good about it.

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Yarlette! I’m so happy you enjoyed the posts! And you’re absolutely right, we live in our home! It’s only right to pick what we love and stick with it! πŸ˜€

  6. Great post and I sure was excited to see the second part. I love how you looked at your inspiration pictures and looked at what was consistent in all the pictures. Great advice!

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Cindy! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! Looking at my inspirational pictures and finding the consistencies was a huge help! πŸ˜€

  7. Shayna,
    I love your style and your expressions of yourself in your blog. I love decorating myself and what you written above i totally agree!!!!Keep up your wonderful work. You write so well. Thank you!


    Margie Pousardien

    1. Oh, Margie! THANK YOU so very much for the lovely comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! πŸ˜€

    1. Oh, Yvonne! THANK YOU so very much for the sweet comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! I really did find my style! πŸ˜€
      So happy I could inspire you, as you do me! πŸ˜€

  8. You have no idea how much these posts have helped me. i have had so many of the same things happen… painting rooms blue, trying not to repeat an old style that i thought i didnt like, trying to please so many people that don’t live here, being overly inspired…loving all the blogs/pins i saw, not having a vision…etc…etc… etc.! You said it all so well!
    Thanks, its just what i needed. I love your style, your home is a “sweet home”. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, Amy! I’m so happy these posts have helped you! Finding our own style can be a long journey, but we continue to learn as we keep DOING! Don’t stop! πŸ˜€

  9. I am totally with you in that youhave to decorate in a way that pleases YOU and not anyone else! When I was younger I tried to decorate my house just like one of my friends and eneded up realizing that it was NOT me. I gradually went to thngs and colors that I love. After all WE are the ones who have to live in our houses!!! I love your home AND your style!!

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Pinky! I know exactly what you mean about decorating like someone else… sooner or later we realize what we love! There’s nothing better than loving YOUR home! πŸ˜€

  10. Bonjour Shayna
    Jai decouvert ce site cette semaine Fabuleux..
    vous Γͺtes une superbe decoratrice
    j’ai des chambres d’hotes dans le sud de la France et j ai moi mΓͺme decorΓ© la maison que nous avons achetΓ© en 2009
    Merci encore pour tous ces conseils


  11. Part 2 has been SUPER helpful, Shayna:) I am so using this as a guide…thank you for sharing! Being a novice in the decorating department, I feel, with this post, I can move forward…with confidence! Thanks again, beautiful:)
    blessings & <3

  12. Hey Shayna! I’m a girl from Germany and I love your Blog! This post is GREAT! Thanks for sharing your Style journey! Greatings from Germany, Ela

  13. Awesome posts about finding your style! It was very helpful and I am looking forward to using these great tips to define my style. I did the terrible thing and painted my dining room green and I have not been happy with it! So ready to change it to a neutral color! Thanks for sharing your journey. I am back at the beginning and sitting on lots of potential. Can’t wait to paint and redecorate every room! πŸ™‚

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Vanessa! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post and picked up a few helpful tips! πŸ˜€
      Happy decorating!

  14. I love the dining nook you created with that beautiful built-in bench and the plank wall. Would you be able to tell me where you got the spoon picture? Thanks for a wonderful blog!

  15. Wow thank you for writing all of that out! Y’all are so similar to my husband and me! He loves wood kitchen cabinets and I love neutrals (and have wanted a white kitchen lately). I LOVE your dark kitchen, especially in contrast to the neutrals in the rest of the house. This gives me some ideas… Beautiful!

  16. Love, love, love these posts. I have felt so many similar emotions and have done so many things just because others were doing it. Excellent posts!

  17. Thank you so much for posting this! I am in my first home, and have been struggling for three years now to figure out just what my “style” is. This post was just what I needed to find, and has inspired me to really take a look at what makes us comfortable in our home, and not what someone else thinks makes a good home. Thanks again, this is awesome!! Now hitting the Pinterest boards…….

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Katherine! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and that it’s inspired you to start finding your own style! πŸ˜€
      Happy decorating!

  18. Great advice for someone like me who is scared to do anything in case I don’t like it. I like your idea of how you finally pinpointed what you liked and didn’t like by using Pinterest. I get really weary of wondering all the time if I’ll like this or that. I need to just sit down and do something like you did.

    Great post. Love your blog! You do have great decorating style and ideas. πŸ™‚

    1. THANK YOU so very much, Elisabeth! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! You definitely should sit down and see what you consistently like on your Pinterest boards. It was SO helpful for me!
      Happy decorating!

  19. I LOVE this!! I have gone through this exact same situation. it’s hard with all the blogs and Pinterest. sometimes you have to take a step back, and remember what YOU like! really enjoyed reading this.

  20. I love love this post! I can never define my style….. I see cottage I like cottage I see farmhouse I like farmhouse etc…. never sure. Usually I have an idea of a direction I’m headed when I start a room do over but I had the living room makeover fall in my lap and it is a long narrow space with lots of doours and a odd fireplace so I’ve been a little confused and slow with the project. But I love your idea of finding similar ideas from pics never thought of that one so thanks. I love the panels on the walls wheredid u find them. I do believe I will be a regular om here now.

    1. THANK YOU so much, Nora! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! Welcome to The WGC! I completely understand your love for different styles! I’m right there with you! At the end of the day it’s easier to find the common traits that you love, then to try and fit into one style! We added the board and batten to our living room here: And the planks were added here: We love them! πŸ˜€ Happy decorating!

  21. You are right on when you say that you have to make your home your own and not listen to what anyone else (except your husband!) thinks. No one lives in YOUR home and it should be your decision as to how you decorate, etc. I agree that making your home your own takes time and in a ‘I want everything now’ world its nice to take the time to watch your home come together just the way you want it to.

    1. I completely agree, Anne! We have to do what makes us happy in our own homes! WE live there, and decorating definitely isn’t done in a day! πŸ˜€

  22. This is exactly how I feel. I originally loved the color of my walls when I purchased this home. I am now drawn to whites and neutrals. Still figuring out by my style but enjoying the process. Thanks for a great post.

  23. Thank you for your post on “how I found my style”. We are building our home and I’ve been pouring through pinterest and blogs, but none of them have helped me as much as your post. Mostly your thoughts on how decorating and style is a slow process, and is yours. thanks again, I’m enjoying your blog very much. Paula

  24. Absolutely LOVE this post, it inspired me to start searching for my own style and using pinterest for inspiration. Thanks:)2

  25. Thank you SO much for this post, Shayna!!!

    I’ve only just found your blog and am truly loving it… My family and I are about to shift from an inner-city suburban home to an acreage property and I’m finding I’m embracing the whole “farmhouse” theme and can’t wait until we settle on a new home and I can start decorating.

    I can totally relate to the whole wanting to leave your previous home’s style behind and I’m truly grateful for all the tips on finding your style. I have a whole new pinterest board with ideas for the new home, so I will take your advice and start compiling a list of consistent features.

    Happy blogging to you,
    Melanie (in Australia)

  26. Thank you for sharing this!!!! I am finding that since we moved to our farmhouse in the country, my style, although still similar, is changing!!!! I want to rush to get the house EXACTLY like I want it but know I need to take it slow and “live in it” before I REALLY know what I want. I change things soooo much which is why I started my own blog about 2 months ago!!! And I am loving it! I forget so much now after having 3 kids in 5 years so I need it to remember everything;-) Again, Thanks for sharing.

  27. Thank you for this!! My boyfriend and I just moved into our first place together two months ago. To a tee, this article has explained every frustration I have felt in the last two months! I think almost every night, I stare at my decor and think, “it’s not right, this isn’t me.” I read your post out loud to my boyfriend and he said, “is this something you wrote, and you’re trying to disguise it as someone else’s blog?” Haha. It’s so reassuring to know that what I am feeling is normal, and I can one day have MY spot. You have inspired me to just go for it! Seriously, thank you!! P.S. I love your home!! πŸ™‚


  28. Coming across this gave me such a relief! We built our house in Sept of 2014 and I have not felt “at home” since we moved in. We did dark cabinets and Trim throughout our whole house and I want that Rustic/Farmhouse look, but you never see anything with dark cabinets or trim. I have had such a hard time trying to determine what would look good, without buying it, to only have to return it. I have a Style Idea of my own, but I am such a visual person that I want to see it before I make it happen. Reading this has made me feel like it will happen in time, I just need to be patient – which I am not! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the Refreshing sense of Peace – I will sit back and look at a room now, before I make any quick Decisions and eventually I will have my Vision come to life!!

    Tori (Virginia)

  29. This is one of the most helpful, informative posts I’ve ever read about finding your style. I love that you were willing to share pictures of the process because sometimes I look back on rooms I’ve decorated and simply cringe….but it’s also HUGE to see how something you didn’t get “quite right” at first was remedied once you were able to fine tune what you really like best. I think it’s taken my YEARS to figure out my style, so you’re way ahead of me! Just found your blog today through The Lettered Cottage and think it’s wonderful!

  30. Ah! This is totally me right now!!! I like so many different styles… But then I get caught in this mold of what will other people like. Then I remind myself… It’s your house! Rock it with whatever you like. So, I’m starting to be at peace with my own style (or lack thereof, ?).p.s. I love your cabinets… Mine are very similar !

  31. Thank you for writing this! We are in our “dream” home but there are so many projects & the budget doesn’t allow for all brand new & I totally am realizing I should have painted the house in all white & gray like my hubby suggested. That I can fail when I try a project. That my moms style doesn’t have to be mine & for making me not feel crazy OCD because you literally wrote my thoughts. Seriously deep breathes and moving furniture around now that the kids are asleep πŸ˜‰

  32. I relate to this on how I came into my clothing style! I’m only kinda starting the journey on interior design but I know it will take a while and I hope to jump start my thinking process. I appreciate you sharing your journey!

  33. Part-2 post, I love it! Your home is fabulous. The transformation is outstanding. You are so right about so many things in this post. For example, in so many people homes, they have a white sofa. I love, love white sofa, but between my hubby and teen son, I know that’s one thing I can not have in my home, unless I was living alone. Even with a slip cover, it will not help. They spills everything, especially my husband. I told myself I already have so many things I fight them on, this will not be one. I would have a heart attack each time the came towards the couch.
    Again, you nailed your transformations. From trash to treasure. Wow!

  34. What a wonderful read. I found your blog just after retiring in May 2014, so missed this until now. I have your E-book & beginning to use the workbook. I’ve been a homemaker for 51 years and ready to “Find My Style” for this time of my life! So a Big Thank You!!

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