A few weeks ago, I worked up the courage to resurrect cringe-worthy photos of my past life as a farmhouse-obsessed, skull loving glamor-ista to share via my IG stories.
The photos were abundant with design mistakes, lack of color, lack of style, and they each represent my past overall confusion about interior design. Some mentioned they liked these photos, but they just don’t represent who I am anymore. Even when the photos were considered to be my style, it was all over the place.
It’s also just a very distant cry from where I am today.
I’m going to share a bit about my personal journey to finding my design style and elaborate on how my style evolved from this:
I know this photo screams LOOK AT ME! I am from NEW JERSEY!!! but I promise, that was not the intent.
Same room, BTW. Seems rather bipolar of me, but I’ll explain.
I defended myself via IG and provided rationale behind these photos. A few things:
- We had never lived on our own before prior to buying our house (traditional Italian parent rules), so I’ve never had more than my own (messy) bedroom to decorate. And quite frankly, I never gave a shat about design until we bought our home
- Because we never lived on our own, we had no furniture at all – just a cold plastic table from Wal Mart to sit at until we bought proper furniture.
- We had no money to even buy new furniture (I hadn’t discovered Facebook Marketplace yet). In hindsight, I’m so happy we didn’t have the money to spend because I know it would have been wasted on crap that I would have regretted in a few months time.
Now, where does a millennial with impulse control issues, no knowledge of design, a passion for hoarding junk, an empty house to fill and a limited budget go?!
At the time, Pinterest was filled to the brim with reclaimed wood, cotton stems, 51 shades of gray, and getting the farmhouse-glam look on a budget. I thought I liked that style at the time, but I also didn’t know what I didn’t know, and Pinterest kept shoving it in my face. What was I to do?!
Our dining room table before we had some guests over during my farmhouse-glam phase
I didn’t know the first thing about design, how to furnish a home, mixing colors and patterns, and most importantly, what I actually liked.
And by what I like I mean….deep down in my soul, who I was, all the experiences and things I loved as a person and how to incorporate that into our home.
During this phase, I found myself at Home Goods every other day to hunt for anything fresh on the shelves that screamed “HEY! PUT THIS IN YOUR FARM HOUSE THAT IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT AN ACTUAL FARM HOUSE”
At some point my style morphed into farmhouse-masculine-glam. I suddenly felt the urge to paint black walls and hoard skulls. I could have been subconsciously expressing my rebellious teenage emo punk-rock phase.
Angelo watched the chaos unravel. The black paint can open and close. The skull hoarding. And yet, he was silent.
Just wrote a post about pillow sizing for sofas, BTW.
Still cringing? Cool cool, me too.
As cringe-y as these photos are, I see it. I see that I was trying to get somehwere – trying to find myself – but couldn’t. I just didn’t know how.
I eventually stumbled upon Laurel Bern’s blog a few months after we bought our house and I realized I was doing so many things wrong. The biggest mistake I was making was not having a plan when designing a room and buying a bunch of random one-off items.
Soon after, I discovered Paloma Contreras, Summer Thornton, and other designers who’s style is grounded in traditional and I had an epiphany. I remember thinking their style is what mine would be if I was just able to actually describe my style and piece it together.
I never felt that way while looking at cotton stems on Pinterest.
I wish I could blame my style confusion on being hit upside the head with a plank of reclaimed wood, but I can’t. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I was so focused on bright and shiny trends that I never thought about who I was and what I’ve always liked.
I never thought my obsession with floral shirts translated to chintz and chinoiserie.
I never thought about pulling the forest green color of my ruffled blouses that I cherished and wore every other day to upholstery or my many pairs of leopard shoes to pillows.
I never thought my infatuation for old things and history meant I should go thrift shopping for antiques.
It never occurred to me that I could use the thriftiness I learned from my mom to shop on Facebook Marketplace for secondhand furniture rather than spend thousands on new furniture that I would have tired of eventually.
This epiphany wasn’t a situation where my interior style changed per se, I just simply never realized how to translate what I’ve always loved and who I was into our home. I also wasn’t previously exposed to the modern-traditional designers and styles that I am exposed to now. These were my ah-ha moments that brought my current style to fruition.
My moment of clarity was immediately followed by a fresh bout of rage – that I had wasted time and money on filling our house with crap that never pulled at my heart strings.
Luckily I discovered Facebook Marketplace and have been able to do a complete style-180 with buying things that fit my traditional style and selling furniture I bought during my farmhouse phase.
The irony of all this is that I went from the trendiest of trends to a style that is the complete opposite of trendy: granny-chic. I refer to it as modern-traditional. This quiz on house beautiful confirmed I am in fact a grandmillennial.
Hollie Rich - Stuck on Hue Pillows says
You are definitely not alone! I think anyone who didn’t grow up around high style goes through a growth stage over many years. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know, right? I too used to write a home decor blog — before Pinterest was even created! It was the heyday of DIY during the last recession. Back then bloggers would do a whole post about decoupaging a tray found at a thrift store. Oh my. Once my business started growing, I phased out of the blog, and eventually deleted the content because it was crazy embarrassing.
I didn’t grow up in a household that cared about interior design, or even clothing, so I had a long way to climb. It’s the new traditional designers whose style gets me going these days, in addition to those who layer pattern and color like the classic English designers. My house continues to evolve as I come across special pieces. I love shopping local home decor consignment shops, and thank you for introducing me to the treasures of Facebook Marketplace! My husband may not be so thankful, though! 😉
Thanks for sharing Hollie! I think you make a great point about not growing up around high style and design. It’s ironic I like high end design now though haha!! I’m sure you’re crazy busy with pillow orders (😜) but I vote you should start that blog again!! But of course, I’m happy to share your ideas here for others to enjoy and learn from!! 💚
Eeekk…right around the time you were bringing this up on Insta I had this sensation to look through some of our unpacked things in the garage. Then the ugh came out. Not that anything is wrong with Farmhouse/Boho (This was my combo) but it looks like it got just about everyone. Readily available at stores and affordable. And like you I realized it’s sooo not me. So now basically I’m going to sell the majority of what I own. Learning experience for sure..oh and I remember now that I do have a small clear glass skull candle holder in a bin and had also purchased some sugar skulls that I had on my nightstand once upon a time 🥴
Hahah!!! Oh man, farmhouse took everyone captive 😂 totally agree, nothing wrong with the style, it’s just not for everyone.
Meghan Haycraft says
I LOVE this! Thank you so much for writing it. I’m still figuring out my style and have spent money I really wish I wouldn’t have. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and will be showing my husband that I’m not alone. 🤣 your style has evolved beautifully and I hope to get there soon!
Hey Meghan!! Thanks for sharing, I know it’s a crappy feeling knowing you spent money you wish you didn’t! You will get there soon, trust me! 💚
Libbi Vynalek says
Ugh I totally went through a shabby chic phase when I got my first apartment by myself, and then somehow was sucked into all things red and yellow (!!!!). It’s been a journey as well to really hone my style, such a work in progress. Unfortunately some of that red/orange/yellow phase was during my engagement so all my Le Creuset wedding presents are in those colors too. Not as easy to replace. I’ve always loved blue since I was little – why didn’t I listen to my heart!??
I love Holly’s point of not growing up in a home that cared about style or interior design – my parents never once bought a new piece of furniture my entire childhood. The couches we had were from my dad’s bachelor pad and SO ugly. (He still has them, but that’s a whole other thing…).
I am so glad you posted this because it can feel so lonely when others seem to just *know* their style and nail it time after time, while I’m over here bumbling and fumbling around.
Amy Pease says
Try selling your old stuff on eBay (or FB Marketplace or Craigslist). It’s actually really fun and satisfying and then you have money to buy stuff you really like (on eBay, FB Markeplace or Craigslist).
Your post speaks to my SOUL. I struggled for so long with figuring out how to design my house and could not describe it for the life of me. I really like how you are so transparent and real! Your aesthetic is stunning and you made it so accessible by showing that anyone can acheive this look. I could write forever about how this post is just what I needed to read, but for real, you’re the only one who actually inspires me and nail it every time. You’re hilarious too. Keep on keepin’ on!
Amy Pease says
I adore your style. BTW, my sister used your bedroom as the inspiration for her own post-remodel bedroom.
that’s amazing! thank you for sharing!
YES! This resonated so much with me! My original style was thrift store/parents cast offs. It’s slowly evolving into a mix of ikea (I move a lot so flat pack furniture that can be taken apart is important) and estate sales. And I love that you also love Laurel Bern 🙂
That’s amazing! I have yet to troll an estate sale but maybe one day soon!
Thank you for sharing your journey. Sometimes it is tough to settle on what our style actually is. I, too, stumbled upon Laurel Bern’s blog and she had helped me refine my style so much! It was a light bulb moment once I found her wisdom. Ironically…. she is how I found you! She mentioned you in one of her posts and I’m so glad she did!
Same here Kelly!! 😊
Laurel Bern says
Thank you so much for the kind words! You have a great innate talent. I love all of your rooms. And, it’s a testament that great design doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money. I’m a fan.
thank you for reading and for the kind words, Laurel! I truly appreciate it!
I loved this post! How many years were you decorating before you found your style? What year is that desk picture from? I actually do live in a farmhouse (in Australia but it looks like it’s from the US very unusual for houses here) so have leaned a little more towards farmhouse style recently, now with added kid clutter haha
Hi Elsie! It was over the course of about 2-3 years 🙂
I love this. I can’t remember how I found your site, probably the wall molding trim, but we have in common Laurel, moldings, green, velvet, and chinoiserie as well as not realizing how to put our true style into practice in our homes.
Well you no longer struggle with that, which is great. I think my style and issues were similar. (wrought iron swirly everything turned farmhouse/word decor, ugh! What was I thinking?) I have been researching so much, doing things here and there in the home to make our tiny apt more classic/chic and have no time or $ for trends. Now, I wait … a long time now before deciding. I have (re)-learned a lot more about how to be sure that I am sure about my style and also the molding trim which I am contemplating … yes in a rental. I know that is the only way I can handle these textured walls one.minute.longer. Oh that and chinoiserie panels. A girl can dream right? Someday I will also buy an emerald green velvet English roll arm. Congrats on your awesome style and of course lots more green and classics. I will keep checking your blogs. Thanks for sharing!
Anita Kay says
Whoa! I feel like I could have written several of these paragraphs! Lovely to meet you ❤️ I can’t wait to keep reading.
I was thinking “oh man this blog reminds me of Laurel Bern” and then i saw her in the comments!
So with you on the slow realization that I’m much more like my great grandmother than I thought. It’s both welcoming and a little sad, she would have been great to talk style with.
Thank you for keeping it real for those of us who have also made design mistakes! I feel like I have a better handle on what I like now (after a shabby chic phase, followed by a generic Pottery Barn phase), but I find myself often paralyzed by indecision and wondering if I’m creating a cohesive look in my home. I’ve considered taking an entry-level interior design class to gain a better understanding of proper proportions, mixing patterns, etc. Did you learn what you know now all from blogs, books and Insta?
I just found out about your blog searching for inspiration on rug layering.
I am a new home owner and the fact I love your style and have you as one of my references on pinterest makes me think I will skip the farmhouse phase you had. I have a very long way to get where you are but I relate so much to how you found yourself and became so passionate about interior design. It was not until we bought our first home that decorating and doing home projects became my favorite thing and what I am most excited about. I feel so lucky for finding this blog. Your house is absolutely gorgeous and I am so excited to see what project you will do next. Also, congrats on the baby!!
aw thank you so much Sabrina!!