finding your sense of home style

Look around.  Do the things in your personal surroundings reflect who you are?  Do the colors relax you? Is the arrangement of things the way you would like to have it?

Do you even like the stuff?

Feeling comfortable in our own environment is critical to our sense of peace and contentment.  It seems like a no-brainer, but achieving environmental serenity is often very challenging to achieve.  We push the sofa there; we move the light fixture in the other corner.  We sit down, exhausted, and no happier than before.  How do we begin to really create an environment that we like? Especially when our budget does not allow us to buy new?

Here are some things I learned putting together my farmhouse and bed and breakfast.

Before starting, get inspired.  This does not mean buying a lot of glossy magazines that kill trees and your budget.  You can find inspiration exponentiated right here in the web.  Apartment Therapy is a great source of ideas.  So is Grace at Design Sponge. Once on those blogs, you will find links for others that will give you all kinds of great design information.

Less is definitely more.  Much more. Look at each of your individual pieces for a specific room.  Put each piece into one of three categories:  a keeper, gotta go, and needs work.  Be choosy.  You are going to build your room around your keeper pieces.  If you are keeping a piece out of necessity (like a sofa you don't like but can't afford to replace right now), it goes into the "needs work" category.   You will need to do something with it to make it work.

Love the wall color. If you're not sure here about strong colors, then use a variation of white.  Ivory, stone, butter, mushroom.  Cream.  Before even deciding which white you want, decide if the room is cooler in tone, or warmer.  Ivory if there are going to be olive greens, reds, oranges.  Stone if there are going to be blues, greys, purples or cooler greens.  A little paint goes a long way towards loving a room.

As time goes on, you might want to try some bold color on the walls.  But live first with a cleaned out room that invites you to add little by little.

Choose your art very carefully.  Better a few lovely pieces than loading up the walls with things that don't matter to you.  Having said that, scale matters. There is nothing worse than a big wall with small paintings.  Or small walls with oversize paintings.

Floors count. If you have hard surface flooring that can't be changed, respect the color even if it's not your favorite. You are going to have to include that color in some of the details of your room.  If you have carpet, you have to do the same thing.  Remember this if you buy area rugs.

Use simple fabric to bring in your own style. That ugly sofa you can't replace right now?  A cover of neutral linen might work.  Massive window? Nothing like simple, beautifully textured but neutral fabric to act as soft backdrop.  Then bring in color with your art and cushions.

Now that you have this perfect shell, the thing to do is add back in your keepers.

How does it feel now?  Do you need to paint up the pieces that need work?  Maybe an accent color for that old end table or book shelf? Things will reveal themselves quickly once you get to this point.

The rest of the stuff, the gotta go pile, goes to the recycle, gets donated or trashed.  Immediately.  Don't stick it in the garage.  Let someone else get use out of the pieces that still function.  Decluttering is essential to feeling content.

Last but not least, don't buy quickly.  Please. Live with less for awhile before deciding to buy anything.  Your real sense of style develops slowly, not in an afternoon at IKEA.  Look in small shops, at flea markets, at second hand stores.

Your beautiful sense of style will come out as you simplify and become more choosy about the things that surround you.