Finding your style is a lifelong journey. And, like any journey, you’ll certainly run into some deadends and switchbacks along the way!
About the Episode:
If you can believe it, there once was a time when I thought I was into mid century modern. Yes, me. Miss Drama. Miss Densely Packed Fancy. (Though even when I was in my MOD phase, I still loved color and Gothic details…) So you won’t be surprised when I say that I’ve tried on many style hats over the years!
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- Why a change in your style doesn’t require a complete overhaul immediately
- How thrifting has helped me experiment with styles without breaking the bank
- My favorite way to identify your “style” if you aren’t sure what yours is
And so much more!
Follow me on Instagram @FarmhouseVernacular!
Hello and welcome to the Vernacular Life podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that goes on in our turn of the century folk Victorian farmhouse. I’m Paige, your host. I am joined today by Mr. Bob, who is very fuzzy and asleep to the chair next to me. And today we actually have a question that came out of my Instagram DMs, and it’s a very good question. And this wonderful viewer, watcher, follower, friend said that she didn’t know what to do when her style changed.
She had purchased a bedroom set and it was very expensive. It was very good quality, but she felt like it didn’t fit her style anymore, but she was having a hard time letting it because it costs a good amount of money. So today we are going to be addressing this question of what the heck do you do when your style changes, especially after you’ve invested a lot of money into your current style.
So the first thing I want you to know before we even get started with this is that style changes happen. They do. Their natural, their normal, they are kind of the process of what happens when you start really taking an interest in decorating. Now, I think there’s kind of two versions of it. The first one is that there actually is a true style change. I used to like this and now I completely don’t anymore and I like something else.
That one I think, is a little bit more rare. I think what happens in a lot of cases is that we are trying on different styles. We’re trying on different aesthetics, trying on different decor. And as we try each different style, we find that it doesn’t quite suit us. We might do it for a little while and then bring it back and it’s not really what we like anymore.
So then we try something else. And at least for me, the second one is really what happened for me is that I was kind of trying to get to the style that I liked by testing out other styles. And in that process, I spent money, I designed rooms and didn’t really liked how they ended up when they were done. So if either of those have happened to you, it’s fine. It’s no big deal. It’s part of life.
And hopefully this can give you some tips about what to do about that. So as a very brief overview, I have had roughly four style changes since becoming an adult we’ll say that. I had more when I was younger, but we’ll just say since becoming an adult. So the first one was kind of Gothic, Victorian, lots of black and white, lots of swirls, lots of frills, hot teal, hot pink, chandeliers.
And looking back at it now I can see it is a very cartoonish version of what I consider my true style to be. So we were trying to get there, but it just wasn’t all there. I think I must have terrified my first college roommate because I had a lofted bed and I brought a chandelier to hang under the lofted bed that was black.
And you know what, of course this is completely in keeping with the Paige we know now, but in an engineering dorm, I don’t know that that was something that was quite expected. But that was kind of my first style. And that took me from my dorm into my first apartment. And it was fine. But after the first apartment, I was like, all right, we need to grow up a little bit.
So then I decided that I was mid-century modern. Oh yes, we are going to be very sleek and we are going to be very simple. And what’s hilarious is that even with the mid-century modern, I couldn’t get away from the colors that I liked. So I had black, and I had red, and I had wood, and I had some Paisley swirls, and I made this big curtain that had all these different fabrics in it. And there was some neutrals, but then also some of that remnants of the fancy cartoony, Gothic looking stuff.
And so I did that for my second apartment. And the things that I liked about it were kind of how bold and impactful the pieces were. There weren’t a lot of pieces, but they really made a statement. But as far as the clean lines and as far as the super graphic and super geometric, that just wasn’t me. That’s not me at all.
So then we moved into our builder-grade house and I really tried to do the flowy, breezy, neutral, not too dramatic, very calm vibe. And that did not work at all, not even a little bit. And then we got here to my house soulmate and I feel like for the first time I have finally found my style. And specifically, I think it’s the dining room. I love all the rooms in this house, but I walk into the dining room and I’m like, this room is a physical representation of my soul.
Everything about it, the color, the gold, the carpet, the chairs, the chandelier. I love that room. So through each of these styles, I, of course invested in paint. I bought lighting, I bought desks, I bought art. I bought things that went with each of these styles and I don’t have most of them anymore because I found things I like better.
So the first tip I have for you about what to do when your style changes is to just remember and tell yourself this over and over that just because your style changes doesn’t mean you’ve wasted money. It doesn’t mean you’ve wasted time. It doesn’t mean that you are out anything because kind of think of it like clothing. What you wore 20 years ago is probably not what you’re wearing now. It doesn’t mean that what you wore 20 years ago doesn’t have value.
Or if you invested in a very nice pair of shoes 20 years ago and wore them all the time, but don’t wear them now. It doesn’t mean there was money wasted in those shoes. It was a different part of your life. It was a different you that you were dressing and the you then was served by the purchase of those clothing pieces.
And it’s the exact same way for your house. You 20 years ago and your apartment 20 years ago, didn’t need to fulfill the same requirements that your house or apartment does now. And I’m not even talking about functional. It’s like you were a different person. You thought different things were pretty. You were excited by different pieces of furniture. Doesn’t mean it’s a waste of money to purchase them at that time in life. It just means that that’s what satisfied you then.
I’m a huge advocate of people loving where they live. I think your house is your space. It’s your sanctuary. It is not for anyone else to see. It is not for anyone else to judge and you should fill it with things that make you happy. And if what makes you happy changes over the years, okay. Again, we didn’t read the same books when we were eight years old that we do now, but the books that we read when we’re eight and when we’re 29 or however old I am now, those books make us happy right now.
And it doesn’t mean its time wasted or money wasted to make yourself happy where you are in life right now. So that’s the first thing. You’re not wasting time, or energy, or money to try to make the space you’re living more beautiful and then change it later when you think of a better way to make it more beautiful. So the second tip that I have, and this is something you kind of notice retroactively after your style has changed a few times, is that it’s a good idea to try styles very loosely.
And what do I mean by loosely? I mean, things that are not going to cost you a lot of money, and this is part of why I’m such a huge advocate for buying things secondhand and buying things from Facebook Marketplace and picking things up off the curb. Because if you want to redo your entire house in mid-century modern, but you are currently living in an Ikea world, it’s going to take a bit of time and a bit of money to replace all of those pieces.
So rather than going out and saying, I don’t like anything and just dropping $30,000 on house furnishings, which if you have the money to do that, knock yourself out. But instead of doing that, try substituting one piece. It’s like, okay, I have this sideboard in my dining room. It’s from Ikea. I’ve had it 15 years and I really want something different. Okay.
So now we’re going to search Facebook Marketplace for a really good quality antique sideboard, if that’s what you want, or a mid-century modern sideboard, or a super modern acrylic and glass sideboard. And you swap out that one piece and then you can go to thrift stores and you can look for cheap accessories and kind of make that one area exactly how you want it to be. Don’t worry about the whole house yet. We’re not getting to the whole house yet.
We’re trying out the style. We’re seeing if it’s something that you like. And if you just focus in that one area, and if that one area lights you up every time you walk by it, because you’re like, oh, I love that sideboard. And I love that cool retro lamp. And I love those vintage martini glasses, or whatever’s in there.
If that section lights you up after you kind of did it in a small scale way, then you can have the confidence to do another piece and to maybe do a whole room and then to eventually do your whole house. So you don’t have to feel like you’re going from like zero to 100. Let’s do this a little bit slowly. Let’s see if we actually like this before we invest all of that time and money into changing the entire house.
An example of this, I used to think I just liked all antiques and that this is a huge pitfall when you’re antiquing for the first time, is that you think something is rare when it’s actually not. And so you buy every single one you see, and then you end up with 13 eastlake Victorian chairs that you don’t actually like. So before I realized what my favorite antique furniture time period was, I was just buying everything that was kind of cool and old looking. And I ended up with a lot of eastlake furniture. I have eastlake mirrors and I have a couple eastlake chairs and eastlake rocker. And I had all these things.
And eventually I looked around and I was like, I don’t really like this stuff, but I didn’t know that I didn’t like it until I saw my first piece of empire furniture. And that would be my game table that’s in the dining room. That’s probably about 1835. And I found that and I was like, oh, this is my soulmate time period. Okay. I can stop buying Eastlake now. But it’s kind of hard to find that furniture and it’s a little bit expensive.
So I didn’t go out and replace my entire house of everything. I didn’t get all things empire. I just bought one piece. And then I slowly started to unload all of the east lake stuff because I’m like, I’m all right letting this go because I found something I love way more. So if you can figure out how to try the style out just a little bit, without having to go all the way with doing the entire house, then you can give yourself a little bit more confidence that it’s okay to spend the money on the things that you really like. And you can offload the things that you don’t like quite as much, because you kind of have a better goal in mind. It’s like I can sell all these chairs because I want more empire things.
And that brings us to point number three, resell everything, absolutely everything. There are very few things that I have found that have no value on the marketplace. So if you like the listener who asked this question, if you have a very expensive bedroom set, figure out how much it’s selling for, figure out on eBay, or on Craigslist, or another auction site, or maybe a local consignment shop. See if you can figure out how much that’s worth secondhand, because that’s really important.
And even if you only recoup 25% of your cost or 50% of your cost in my mind, it’s almost like you paid to use the furniture for the time period that you had it. It’s like, okay, I spent $8,000 on this bedroom set or whatever. And then I resold it for 2000, but I had it for 20 years. So if you think about how much money you spend every year over those 20 years, which hold on, you can’t give me math problems and math questions and not expect me to do something about it. Okay. 20 years and $6,000, $300.
That’s $300 a year. Think about how many frivolous things we buy each year that would amount to $300. I’m pretty sure if we’re counting just like coffee and trips to the thrift store and maybe trips to Target, we’re already getting 300. Instead of thinking about this was so expensive, think about how much did I spend per year to keep this thing? And if you can resell it for any amount of money, you can bring that down. Because what if you spent 8,000 and you resold it for 4,000?
Wow. Now I had it for 20 years and I only spent 4,000. And even if you can’t sell it, because I’ve had a few things that just don’t sell, I still donated to the thrift store. I think of it as old stuffed karma. I’m like, somebody will love this. And it’s putting some positive karma out in the universe.
Somebody else needs a dining room table, and I’m going to give them this one. And then that karma’s going to be floating around there. And then maybe I’ll find something magical that I need at a thrift store in two years or something. So don’t feel bad about getting rid of stuff that doesn’t work anymore even if it was expensive. Try to recoup some of your cost, but if it’s just not happening and it’s just weighing you down and you don’t like the style and it’s just making you sad, get rid of it. You don’t have to keep it. I promise.
Tip number four is to see how much of your style has actually changed. Because a lot of times we feel like, oh my gosh, I’m going to through a total style change. I want something totally different. Nothing is the same anymore. I have no idea who I am. But it’s not actually that complicated. It’s not actually like everything about your style changes. And I think a lot of times when your style quote, unquote changes, you’re just evolving into a more refined version of yourself.
So to do this, look at what you already have and look at the things that you still are like, man, I love that, man that’s a great piece, man that’s a great bowl. Look at the things that still kind of light you up and excites you. And if nothing lights you up, then look at what you dislike least. Look at the things you have and say, okay, I don’t love all of this stuff, but I do really like that thing. Okay. And especially if you’re feeling a little bit cramped in your style, or you just need a change, you just need something different. Try to think outside the box of what those pieces you like have always been.
So for example, my style, it has always been wooden furniture. I’ve always preferred wood. It has always been very functional furniture. Even from when I was a kid. I used to say that if something is messy, it’s because your organization system isn’t good enough to keep it clean. And I still fully believe that. It’s like, I’ve always been about function. I don’t do things that just take up space and don’t fulfill a function.
I like very large art. I always have. I’m not a huge fan of like tiny cluttery things on surfaces. I don’t really do vignettes. I don’t really do styled tables. It’s like, I need my surfaces relatively clear. I need my art to be a pretty big state statement piece, unless it’s like my gallery wall in the hall where the fact of it having so many different little pieces is part of what makes it what it is. That has never changed.
Even when I did my kind of mid-century modern apartment, I went and had these two black and white pictures printed on three foot by four foot poster board and I hung them up. And it’s like, even though the subject matter is wrong, even though it’s not really what I like looking at anymore, the scale is right, large, dramatic, impressive. That hasn’t changed.
So try to find the elements of your style that aren’t changing, that are still constant, that still draw you in. Even if they’re in a totally different form, the chances are your style is not changing completely. Maybe kind of the embellishments on top of your style are changing, but the whole thing is probably not changing. I would say that it’s pretty rare that people do a complete 180 degree shift from their style. They might, but I feel like you’re always going to see elements of that style consistent throughout.
So look for the small shifts that you can make that will feel fresh for you, but aren’t too overwhelming, if that makes sense. I’m going to say this again, tip number five, to recognize changes in style as a good and normal thing. I would not be able to make this house look like it does had I not gone through each of these individual style changes.
Had I not had my very first style with all of the kind of Gothic swirls and florals, like I wouldn’t have been able to embrace my love of drama. If I hadn’t gone through my mid-century modern phase, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how much I love the curves of older antique furniture and how much I love empire. Just it like sings to my soul. And so, because I went through that kind of sparse mid-century modern era, I’m able to look at my game table and think, oh, I love that so much more than any mid-century piece I’ve ever seen in my life.
If I hadn’t lived in a builder-grade house that only wanted past neutral colors, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how much I love bold colors and how excited they make me. So every change in style is going to bring you closer to a room and a house that really represents who you are and really speaks to your soul. Everyone’s house needs to be like that, whatever it is, whether you are an all white neutral person, whether you are a Crayola box, rainbow color person, whether you are a finger paint mural person, whatever speaks to you in your house is what needs to be in your house.
And so just because something doesn’t speak to you anymore, it doesn’t give you the same happiness anymore. It’s okay. Let it go because you are on a journey. Oh man, we are getting metaphorical here. You are on a journey to turn your house into a place that you love being.
And I think I’m speaking pretty directly to my fellow introverts here, but my house is my happy place. It’s my favorite place in the entire world. You could say, do you want to go here or to your house? And I would say 99.99999% of the time, I will say at my house. I love it. I have worked with this house to make it a place that just makes me happy.
It can lift my mood. If I’m having a bad day, I can look at my rugs, or look at my dining room, or look at my wall of fancy and it just makes me happy. It’s like, this is my home and this is what I want my home to look like. And this is a physical representation of me in a house. And maybe not everybody needs to feel that way about their house.
And maybe that’s not a high priority for you. But if you’re worrying about your style changing, just think about what it would be like if you could walk through your house and love everything, literally everything in it. There was not one thing that you looked at and you were like, ugh, I hate that table. Or ugh we’ve had that sideboard since college and I want to get rid of it.
That’s what we’re going for. We’re going for everything in your house brings you happiness and brings you joy and puts a smile on your face. That’s what I want for you. And that’s why it’s okay that your style changes because it takes a long time. It takes a long time to get to the point where you love everything.
So the sixth tip that I want to talk about, and it kind of goes along with this, is you have to allow yourself to make mistakes. You have to. Nobody gets a perfect anything without making mistakes. Nobody. Never. Not once. So why would we think we would get our style right perfectly on the first try? I still make mistakes. I see paintings at thrift stores and I’m like, oh, that is so pretty. I’m going to buy you.
When I bring you home and then I put it in my house and I’m like, what were you thinking, Paige? That was totally wrong. And that’s part of why I like shopping at thrift stores because kind of low stakes, right? It’s not really too big of a deal if you pick a painting that’s $6 and it happens to be wrong. It’s like, oh, okay. I’ll just take that back to the thrift store and consider that my fun for the week. But you’re going to make mistakes. And you’re going to pick things that you bring home and you don’t like.
I remember I bought this chair once and I bought it from an antique mall and it was a Rococo revival parlor chair. And so it kind of had that balloon back and it had low arms on the sides. And I got it home and I was like, what is wrong with this thing? I don’t like this. I should like this. It’s a beautiful antique. It’s in great condition. Well, first figured out that it was a reproduction. So not an antique. And then second, I just, I didn’t like that style.
And I’m like, what is wrong with me? I spent $80 on this chair. I didn’t need it. And I don’t like it, but it’s okay because you know what I learned from that experience? Now, every time I see a chair that looks remotely similar to that, I’m not even remotely tempted to buy it because I’m like, you know what? We did that once and we got it home and we didn’t like it. So now we’re not going to buy anything like that in the future.
I don’t think I would be able to turn down antiques with such conviction if I hadn’t bought so many wrong antiques before in the past. Not to get too soul searchy here, but design really is a process of personal discovery. Because at the end of the day, if you have a bed to sleep in, if you have a table to eat at, if you have lights over your head, you really don’t need more than that strictly speaking if we’re talking in survival mode.
But if your house is where you come to relax, if your house is where you come to recharge, and it’s kind of your like safe Haven away from the rest of the world, why shouldn’t that be pretty? Why shouldn’t that be a lovely place to be? Why shouldn’t that be full of things that can help pick your mood up when your kind of feeling down? And it takes a long time to figure out what those things are that really set your soul on fire.
So enjoy the process of finding that, enjoy the process of examining different parts of your personality and say, oh, this part of me does really like mid-century modern, but not nearly as much as I like empire furniture. Each style you go through is indicative of a particular time in your life. And you will learn things from that style and you will gain things from that style that you wouldn’t be able to do if you weren’t evolving your way through that style.
And that brings us to our last point, the most important point and possibly the most important point in all of life, have fun. This is a fun process. This is a process of making things beautiful. This is a process of trying things out and being like, do I like that? I think I do like that. And then the next time you get a little more daring and say, do I like that? Oh yes, yes, I do like that.
Try things. You rarely, rarely will regret taking a risk on something. And a lot of times these things that feel like risks are actually just whether or not we want to paint a wall a slightly darker color than we think we should. I get a lot of questions about what color do you think I should paint this room? Or what color do you think I should upholster these sofas?
Or what color do you think I should paint this trim? And I used to kind of give my answer and what I think I would do. But what I started to learn is that people who were asking me those questions, they already know what color they want. They already know what’s in their heart, what’s calling to them, but it feels a little bit scary to them.
And it feels a little bit out of the box and it feels a little bit too crazy for them to paint the walls that denim blue or that red. And so when I get those questions now, I say, you already know what color you want, or you wouldn’t be asking me for validation. So whatever that color is, you take it and you put it on the wall.
And every single time they say, you know what? I do know what color I want. Okay, I’m going to paint it. And then the best part is that they always come back and say, this color is perfect. This is amazing. I love it so much. I’m so happy to be in this room. Or I’m so happy that I bought this piece. Every single time they are so glad they took that risk and that they listened to what they wanted in their heart.
And they ended up with something in their house that just makes them smile. Every single room I have ever painted in this house, I go through this moment of utter panic when I’m like, this is too dark. What were you thinking, Paige? Were you delusional? Were you asleep? Why would you pick a color this dark? This will never look good. And every single time after I roll on that first coat, I’m like, nah, this is great. This is perfect. This is exactly what you had in your head.
So I guess all of that rambling to sum up and say that changing styles is normal. It’s part of life. It’s what happens as our life circumstances change, and as our interests change, and as our needs change. So embrace that, embrace that and enjoy it. And don’t be too hard on yourself and sell the stuff you don’t like anymore. So I hope that sufficiently answered our reader question.
I hope you found that interesting. And I hope your kind of inspired to go try something out, be a little bit daring, paint the walls red or whatever else you’re going to do. So thank you so much for hanging out with me. I really appreciate it. And I will see you next time. Bye.