How do I choose an interior style for my house?

Author: Sam

Nov. 28, 2023

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There are so many different styles to choose from when decorating your home! While having all these options can be exciting, when it comes right down to choosing color palettes, furniture, and other design elements, it can be downright overwhelming too. Do you have a hard time defining your home decor personal style and shopping for it? Today I’m sharing 3 simple steps to nailing down your decorating style, as well as a list of 10 common decor styles with example pics. I’m also answering one of the most common questions I get on how to find your own decor style, AND including an interior design quiz to help you really nail down what you love and want in your home.

How do I choose a design style that feels right for me?

I often get asked how to find my own decor style and how to shop for it. Today, I want to answer all your decorating style questions! I hope you find this content helpful as you decorate your own home to be cozy and beautiful for you and your family. The key is finding the style YOU love and going with it. As long as your home is authentically yours, it will look loved, lived in, and perfect. There is no “right” style that you are searching for! You are just searching for YOUR style.

Defining your personal decorating style will help you shop for furniture, accessories, and paint colors for your home. It’s a really handy piece of info to know! It will take all the guesswork out of redecorating or updating your home. There’s nothing worse than making a purchase and then getting your new items home and realizing you don’t like them in your space and you’re not sure why. After you’re done reading this post (and taking my quiz) you will never consider hiring an interior designer again, and you will be able to confidently create the home of your dreams. I promise!

Let’s begin.

A couple of home decor style notes before we begin:

  • You don’t have to use only one style. Most people are a mix of 2 or 3 styles. Are you pretty sure you love French Country with a modern twist? Then go with it!
  • You can change your decorating style as you learn and grow. Your style and fashion sense will usually evolve as your tastes and family life changes, and that’s OK. You do not need to stay stuck in any style once you find it. If you suspect at any time that the style you are focused on isn’t working for you anymore, just go through the steps below and take my quiz again.
My personal style is definitely a mix of styles!

How do I choose a style for my house?

Finding your unique style is easier than you think and so much fun! The truth is, if you take a look around your living space right now, there are probably quite a few clues as to what your specific design style is. You just have to know how to find them.

What are the basic rules for decorating?

If I had to pick the most important decorating rule, I would say: make sure that whatever you bring into your house brings you joy and goes with your overall style. This is key to a cohesive space that makes you happy.

Here are the 3 steps I suggest you take if you want to find your decorating style:

1: Take note of what you have

The first step is to take a look around your home and see what furniture, accessories and paint colors you’re already using. If these things make you smile, they’re your style! Don’t forget that anything you already own can be easily updated with paint or a hardware change. So if you don’t love your sideboard, figure out if it just needs new handles to find a spot in your heart again. What matters is that you like the footprint of your furniture and how it looks in the space. If you truly cannot find anything you like about a piece of furniture, that’s probably a good sign that it doesn’t fit with your true style.

2: Create a Pinterest board of rooms you love

Pinterest is a great way to create a collection of images that will help you nail down your interior style. Simply scroll through the Home Decor section at Pinterest and pin your favorite room photos to a board on your account. Once you’ve added a few rooms, pieces of furniture, and artwork, you should be able to see reoccurring elements like furniture styles, colors, paint colors, and fabric styles in all of the photos. Houzz.com is another site that I enjoy where you can create collections of beautiful pictures that inspire you. Pay attention to the themes you see in what you pin or save: Are you leaning toward bright colors or a neutral color palette? Natural muted materials, or big floral patterns?

3: Study both what you have and what you want and match it up with a style

Now that you’ve also had a good hard look at what you already own, does what you’ve pinned on Pinterest line up with the items you already have in your space? Or are you starting to see that your own style is actually quite different than what you’ve accumulated haphazardly over the years? 

Keeping these questions in mind, make a list of all of the distinct features you see in the furniture, accessories, fabrics, and paint colors that you have pinned and that you have in your home right now. Do they match? For example, you might note that you have pinned things like weathered wood furniture, black metal accents, white linen furniture, vintage-look accessories, and antique finds. Is your home full of common elements? Or is your place full of modern design items that you inherited when your sister moved out of town? Be honest about what you REALLY love and want to see every day in each room before you move on to the next step.

After you’ve made your list, match up your tastes to 1, 2, or 3 of the 10 common decor styles I’ve listed below to find what home style you are! (If your list is something like the example I’ve just given you, you might love Modern Farmhouse.)

Common home decor styles

There are dozens of decor styles that are popular in 2024, but the following 10 are the most common today:

  1. Traditional
  2. Transitional
  3. Contemporary
  4. Modern Farmhouse
  5. Modern Coastal (Coastal Grandmother)
  6. Mid-Century Modern
  7. Bohemian
  8. Industrial
  9. French Country
  10. Scandinavian

Each of these styles has a specific feel, color scheme, and common elements that pull it all together. Once you discover your favorite style, it will be SO much easier to start planning your room makeover. I promise! You will know what furniture pieces, artwork, and decor items to look for (and which to stay away from, which is almost just as important!), and you will no longer feel completely overwhelmed by how many choices you have in the wide world of internet or retail shopping. Once you know your style, you will know what vocabulary to use when you search for or read product descriptions, and you will have a greater sense of control over the whole process. I’m so excited for you!

As I mentioned above, these 10 decorating styles have been the most common and popular over the past year or two, but there are certainly more than 10 out there. If you don’t think you’re any of these, do a quick Google or Pinterest search of “decor styles” to see if you might be something else! The important thing is that you find what you love. 

10 Common Home Decorating Styles

Traditional

If you’re into creating a feeling of glamour and historical significance, this is probably your style. Think 18th and 19th-century fancy: rich fabrics of different colors, texture, and dark wood furniture all belong in this style category.

Look for:

  • Neutral colors like beige and white
  • Intricate details like tufting and carving
  • Symmetry in styling
  • Patterns such as florals and damask
  • Porcelain accessories, landscape art, and brass accents

Transitional

This is a more difficult style to define. Does it help if I tell you that my own living room is a transitional mix of traditional and modern styles? Basically, what defines transitional style is neutrality and comfort. These spaces are comfortable and difficult to put a finger on as to style. A slightly minimalist room without much clutter, a mix of modern pieces with more traditional ones, and lots of natural light and comfy furniture make you light up if you are transitional at heart.

Photo licensed from Adobe Stock

My own living room is a transitional mix of traditional and modern styles

Look for:

  • A mix of traditional and modern pieces
  • Neutral colors
  • A focus on comfort (comfortable seating, soft accents)
  • Symmetry, statement light fixtures & a clutter-free approach to decorating

Contemporary

If you are a contemporary girl, you like minimalism and everything in its place. You also like clean lines and a few bright pops of color in and amongst mostly greys, beiges, and other neutrals. 

Look for:

  • The latest trends in home decor (right now in 2023, this is a mix of transitional, bohemian and mid-century modern styles)
  • A mix of clean lines and rounded shapes
  • Neutral & warm colours with pops of bright accent colors
  • Exposed woods, chrome & glass accents, geometric patterns

Modern Farmhouse

If your heart melts every time you look at an antique washboard hung on the wall, you’re probably into Modern Farmhouse! This style combines rustic features with big comfy furniture and neutral colors for an extra cozy effect.

Look for:

  • Neutral colors like white, cream, black and grey
  • Reclaimed & natural woods, mixed metals, industrial accents
  • Rustic and vintage accessories
  • Patterns like buffalo check and stripes

Modern Coastal (see also Coastal Grandmother)

If your dream would be to wake up, throw open your doors, and see the ocean, modern coastal might be for you! Think Diane Keaton and her house in Something’s Gotta Give for a really good picture of this style. White couches with ocean-hued accents and a light and breezy feel are the hallmarks of this trend.

Look for:

  • Colors like warm white and ocean inspired hues like blue and green
  • Nautical decor accents
  • Natural materials like linen, cotton, leather, and rattan
  • Soft furnishings, beach inspired accessories
  • Shiplap, wicker furniture

Mid-Century Modern

Do you wish your house looked like The Jetsons’? This is one of the easiest reference points for mid-century modern style! Retro furniture with sleek lines and skinny legs (like these two mid-century modern chairs in my eclectic studio space) are the most commonly recognized features of this design style.

Two mid-century modern style chairs in my eclectic studio space

Look for:

  • Retro furniture from the 1950s & 1960s
  • Rounded shapes mixed with square shapes
  • Textiles with geometric patterns
  • Bright accent colors

Bohemian

If you have ever asked, “How can I make my house look unique?”, go Bohemian is the answer! What is Bohemian interior design style? The motto here is more is more, or possibly anything goes! Bright colors, travel trinkets, and lots of different materials and textiles are hallmarks of a boho look.

Look for:

  • Rich colors like deep jewel tones (you can also do a neutral version of this style!)
  • An overabundance of textiles and accessories
  • Globally inspired accents, handmade items like wall hangings, pottery and braided rugs
  • A “more is more” or maximalist approach to decorating

Industrial

Think warehouse or other commercial setting when trying to picture industrial style. If you like slightly unfinished, exposed architectural elements, and dark colors mixed with wood and metal, this is probably your thing. 

Look for:

  • Dark colors like black and grey
  • Lots of worn metal accents, exposed pipes and ducts
  • Unfinished elements, raw wood accents
  • Vintage furniture and accessories

Scandinavian

Taking a walk around IKEA is a good way to get a sense of this style. Soft lines, minimalist decor, natural elements, and high functionality combined with different textures and neutral colors make your heart sing if you’re into Scandinavian style.

Look for:

  • Neutral and simple colors like white and grey, accents with pops of color
  • A minimalist approach to decorating
  • Botanical and animal patterns
  • Natural wood, smooth lines, simplicity, nature-inspired accents
  • “Hygge” inspired accents like warm textiles and candles.

French Country

What is French country decorating exactly? This look comes right out of Provence, and is an homage to easy French style and the lifestyle of the people who live in the region. Country colors combined with glamorous features and big patterns are easily recognized features of French Country. I love French country myself! Check out a couple of rooms in my house that were done in this style:

My primary bedroom with a tufted sofa and floral accents My former breakfast nook style was modern French country

Look for:

  • Soothing colors like grey, white, blue & yellow
  • Textiles with floral and striped patterns
  • Glamorous lighting features
  • Antique and vintage home decor accents

Still confused? Take my FREE home decor style quiz!

If you have gone through the list of common decor styles and still can’t figure out which of the current trends you most closely identify with, I have good news! I’ve created one of those interior design style quizzes that will help you narrow down your decorating style so you can start creating a home you absolutely adore.

Even if you are feeling fairly confident that you have identified your personal design style using my three steps and the list of styles to choose from, it’s always nice to get confirmation that you are on the right track. So, I would recommend taking the quiz anyway!  

Click here to start the quiz now.

I hope you found these 3 steps to find your style and this list of 10 common decorating styles helpful as you decorate your own home to make it uniquely YOU! If you used my technique to create your perfect space, put a picture in the comments, or tag me @thediymommy, I would love to see how it turned out.

Watch my video on how to find your decorating style in 2024

PIN ME:

This post was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated.

When it comes to your interior design style, do you feel like you have lots of ideas but don’t know what to focus on?  Do you feel like your style is all over the place? Or do you feel drawn by all the decor styles and trends that come along?  Believe me, there are times when I could answer yes to every one of these questions! However, once you have a clear idea of the design style (or styles) you love, decorating your home becomes so much easier and more fun.  With that in mind, today’s post is devoted to helping you discover your design style before you start spending money on your spaces.

Learning how to choose an interior design style that matches your personality helps you decorate your home with confidence. 

In addition, knowing your design style keeps you from wasting money on things that end up feeling wrong once you get them home.

Pure Salt Interior Design – similar sectionals here, here and here – similar coffee tables here and here

What are the most popular interior design styles in 2023?

The most popular interior design styles in 2023 include transitional, coastal, organic modern, traditional, Scandinavian, modern farmhouse, California casual, mid-century modern, minimalist, maximalist, contemporary, French country, industrial, eclectic, and post-modern.  

Because different interior design styles are more prevalent in different regions, these decorating styles aren’t necessarily listed in order of popularity.

Pure Salt Interior Design

Also, many of these design styles have sub-categories.  For example, coastal style might be broken down into styles like modern coastal, coastal grandmother, East coast, island style, Hamptons, California casual, coastal boho, Florida coastal, etc.

However, the idea isn’t to stress about the label. In fact, when choosing a decorating style for your home, I don’t recommend limiting yourself to one particular look, label, or trend. 

House Seven Design

Rather, I suggest creating your own unique look by trusting your intuition and noticing what you’re drawn to about various decorating styles. 

Elements of different design styles

Here are some characteristics of popular design styles, with tips to help you narrow down your interior design style:

  • If you love a refined, minimal, neutral, or streamlined look, consider Scandinavian, mid-century modern, Danish modern, Japandi, minimalist, or Bauhaus interior design styles.
  • If you prefer a sophisticated, curated look with luxurious, refined elements, consider California casual, organic modern, transitional, modern farmhouse, or European farmhouse styles.
  • If you’re drawn to a maximalist look incorporating chintz, pleats, tufts, and plenty of color and/or pattern, consider design styles like English country, grand millennial, or Hollywood regency.
  • If you like charming spaces with lots of character and a collected look, consider cottage style, French country, island, Nancy Meyers, or coastal grandmother styles.
  • And if you love colorful, soulful, layered spaces incorporating interesting shapes, patterns, vintage elements, and an abundance of plants, you might be drawn to eclectic, boho, or art nouveau interior design styles.

Studio McGee – European farmhouse style

Below, you’ll find some simple ideas to help you find your design style so you can create spaces that look beautiful, feel amazing, and reflect your unique point of view.

By the way, if you’re interested in taking your love of design to the next level, my daughter Natalie, an accomplished interior designer, has an amazing course sharing how to start an interior design business, which you can find here.

How to Discover Your Interior Design Style

1. Consider your lifestyle

Discovering your interior design style and translating that personal aesthetic to your home can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you love.

So first, I recommend taking some time to think about your lifestyle and preferences, including how you use your home and what activities are most important to you.

Consider your daily routines, hobbies, and interests:  do you enjoy entertaining guests or do you prefer a cozy, intimate space?

McGee & Co.

Do you have a lot of belongings you’d like to display — or do you lean toward minimalism?

Reflecting on your how you want to live and feel in your home will help you determine what functional elements and design features are important to you and guide your interior design choices.

Also consider the architecture and location of your home.  Often, one’s interior design style needs to adapt to the unique architectural features, era, and geographic location of the house itself. 

For example, if you live in a craftsman style home with lots of dark wood moulding, you might want to choose a style like mid-century modern, which works well with that style of home.

2. Take cues from your closet

The style of clothing you’re drawn to is probably the greatest indicator of your interior design style.

So the next thing I recommend is to go to your closet and take a look at your favorite clothing. 

What pieces, colors, fabrics, and patterns (or lack of pattern) do you find yourself wearing again and again?

Are you drawn to refined, minimal style?  Classic, tailored pieces?  Boho elements?  Monochromatic or all-neutral looks?  Comfy and casual outfits?  Or do you dress with colorful and eclectic flair? 

Now, take another look at the elements of style I mentioned above and see how your fashion sense can be translated into your decorating style.

master bedroom

If you’re familiar with my home, then it’s probably no surprise that I love coastal grandmother style — both in my closet and in my interior decorating style!  I typically wear a lot of blue, tan, and white in comfy linen and cotton all year round.  

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And, if you look around our home, you’ll see those colors and fabrics reflected in my decorating style, as well!

Here’s my post on the Coastal Grandmother look, if you’d like to learn more about this design aesthetic.

living room

Our white slipcovered sectional, sofa, and chairs are among my favorite things in our home because they’re soft, comfortable, and easy to keep clean — just like my clothes!

hearth room

3. Create a style vignette

Your existing furniture, artwork, and accessories can also provide valuable clues about your design style.

Studio McGee

The next thing I recommend is to walk around your home and go through your decor closet and storage spaces and gather anything that captures the look and feeling you love. 

Take note of the colors, patterns, and materials that you’re already drawn to, and consider these existing belongings as a starting point for your design style.

You might even want to gather those things together in one area of your home and create a vignette or arrangement of objects that tells a story about how you want your home to look and feel.

Whenever I find myself getting distracted by all the styles out there, I think about our entryway.  It reminds me of the overall mood, tone, and style I want to convey in our home.

I know I’m happiest when I decorate in a way that expresses my own taste and style, so creating a style vignette is a good way to keep me from getting off track.

4. Gather inspiration from different sources

The next step in narrowing down your decorating style is to gather inspiration, which can come from the most surprising places and things. 

You might want to visit local museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, favorite restaurants, or beautiful hotels. 

Often, there’s a little something, a detail or a twist, that resonates with you and feels interesting, such as a piece of artwork or the curve of a chair.

Browse through interior design magazines, coffee table books, websites, and social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, and create a mood board or a digital folder to collect the images that resonate with you.

The Life Styled Co. – organic modern living room

As you collect the images that resonate with you, I recommend creating a digital folder as a sort of virtual mood board or design board to keep on your phone. 

As you come across spaces and places you love, take screenshots and place them in your inspiration folder.

Seeing the colors, patterns, and items you love all in one place can give you a burst of clarity regarding your home decor style.

Pure Salt Interiors – similar console

Carrying my folder or mood board with me helps me stay true to my design style when I’m out and about, so I don’t get confused and come home with a bunch of random stuff from Target and HomeGoods!

Keeping inspiration photos on your phone or computer also helps if you want to refer to a certain color scheme, piece of furniture, rug, or artwork so you can match it when you’re shopping online.

M. Lahr Homes – chandelier

As you go through your digital folder, pay attention to color palettes, patterns, textures, furniture styles, and other design elements that catch your eye.

Jean Stoffer Design – English country cottage kitchen

This will help you identify patterns, trends, and themes that resonate with your taste and style.

5. Experiment with different decorating styles

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different interior design styles to find what resonates with you. 

Experiment with rearranging your furniture, changing wall colors, or adding new accessories to create different looks in your space.

You may find that you’re drawn to one certain style, such as Scandinavian, bohemian, coastal, industrial, beach house, or mid-century modern — or you may discover that you prefer a blend of different styles.

Pure Salt Interiors for Katrina Scott

Trying out different styles in your home will help you narrow down your preferences and define your unique design style.

However, if you’re not quite ready to experiment with different design styles in your home, you can visit furniture stores, showrooms, and galleries to see different styles in person. 

Last fall, my husband and I visited the Restoration Hardware gallery in Denver, and I came home filled with inspiration for our home!  Here’s my post sharing how to get the RH look in your home for less.

Sometimes, just knowing which stores you’re drawn to can help you define your style, and one of my favorite ways to narrow down my decorating style is to look at home decor catalogs or websites. 

Serena & Lily

It’s probably no surprise that I love thumbing through the Serena & Lily catalog.  Their take on modern coastal style resonates with where I want to be in my home and life —  near the beach!

If you’re into modern, Scandinavian, or mid-century modern design styles, you’ll probably love perusing West Elm and Crate and Barrel for inspiration.

Pure Salt Interior Design – chairs

Lulu and Georgia and Anthropologie are great sources of inspiration for boho and eclectic decor. 

Ames Interior Design – coffee table

Pottery Barn is a great source if your style is traditional, rustic, or modern farmhouse.Jenni Kayne perfectly captures the California casual look.

M. Elle Design

Both Serena & Lily and Dear Keaton are great sources for elevated coastal and beach house style inspiration.

Pure Salt Interior Design

McGee and Co. and Stoffer Home are great resources if your style leans toward organic modern, modern farmhouse, or European farmhouse styles.

Studio McGee – counter stools – light fixtures

And, if you love transitional style, Arhaus, Perigold, and Alice Lane Home are great places to find transitional style furniture, bedding, artwork, lighting and decor.

M. Lahr Homes – credenza – chandelier

6.  Trust your instincts, but also remember it’s okay to change your mind

Ultimately, the most important aspect of discovering your unique interior design style is to trust your gut and follow your instincts.

Your home is a personal space, and your design choices should resonate with you on a deep level.

Christine Andrew – woven counter stools

Pay attention to how certain colors, patterns, textures, and materials make you feel. Consider the emotional response you have to different design elements and go with what truly resonates with you.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and be creative in expressing your unique style.

Remember, when it comes to decorating your home, there’s no right or wrong, so keep experimenting until you land on a look that feels right for you.

Pure Salt Interior Design

Cultivating your personal design aesthetic isn’t a process with clear steps or linear outcomes — and that’s part of what makes this journey so rewarding. 

Your design style will likely evolve with time as you discover new sources of inspiration or your tastes change, so don’t force yourself to remain with a look that no longer resonates with you!

If you find that your decorating style has changed, give yourself permission to start over. What matters is that your style choices feel true to you.  

Kelley Nan

Over the course of your life, you’ll probably go through many interior design styles as your taste evolves.  In fact, I feel like my style changes every few months!

Below, you can see how the style of our living room has changed over the last couple of years.  

Things are always changing around here, depending on the time of year and what design style I’m currently loving.

living room

The process of discovering which interior design style you prefer also allows you to discover more about yourself, opening the door to more confidence and creativity in every area of your life.

Finding and expressing a clear and consistent point of view doesn’t happen overnight, so give yourself some time to experiment and figure it out.

 Millworks – light fixture

Learning how to discover your interior design style and translating that aesthetic to your home, wardrobe, and lifestyle is a gradual process, arising from the day-to-day flow of living, and I hope you found this post informative and encouraging.

current home favorites

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Looking for more interior design styles and decorating ideas?  Here are a few related posts from the blog:

Colors of the Year + Top Home Color Trends for 2023

How to Add a Touch of Nancy Meyers Style to Your Kitchen and Home

2023 Home Decor Trends: 10 Ideas to Try This Year

Favorite Spaces of the Week: Pure Salt Interiors

Modern Bedroom Design Ideas for a Dreamy Master Suite

Modern Living Rooms filled with Inspiration

A Simple Guide to Mixing Metal Finishes in the Kitchen

Modern Kitchen Pendant Lighting Ideas You Will Love

Modern Coastal Decorating Ideas for Your Home

Inspiring Kitchen Design Ideas for Your Next Renovation

Beautiful Modern Bathroom Design Ideas You Will Love

A Simple Guide to Mixing Metals in the Bathroom

The New 2023 Studio McGee Target Collection

Let me know if you have any questions about how to discover your interior design style. Have a wonderful day! Jane

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click a link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, please read my full disclosure here.

How do I choose an interior style for my house?

How to Choose a Design Style That Feels Right for You

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