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On Changing Decorating Styles

    There has been some decorating chatter over on instagram about our new house. A friend commented teasingly that she was waging bets on how soon everything in our new house would be painted white.

    Because if you know anything about me, you know I have a great affinity for white paint. Paint it all! 

    whitekitchenHave no fear, there will be plenty of white in the new house. I can’t help myself.

    But – shock of all shocks – I’m thinking about straying from our go-to formula of white everywhere.

    I like to call my style Clean, Classic and Collected with a touch of Pretty.

    rejoicealwaysBut this new house is pushing me outside of that familiar, comfortable style to something close, but decidedly different.

    I’m calling it Clean, Classic, Collected with a touch of Handsome.

    Did you catch that subtle change?

    As before in our house I tended toward pretty, the new house feels like it needs to be handsome.

    Maybe its because it is so adorable.

    I love a balanced space (warm and cool tones, hard and soft, modern and patina’d) and I feel like if we went all sweet and white inside, it would be unbalanced. So I’ve been looking for ways to bring in that balance with more handsome features. Things like straight lines. Deep, moody colors. Rich textures.

    I’m hoping for a good mix of cozy warmth and clean lightness. More use of vintage, salvage and found items combined with classic pieces like our tufted linen sofa. It won’t be a major stray from how our previous home was decorated – just maybe more warmth and perhaps a deep color or two.

    Curious about what all that means? Here are three images I’m super inspired by for this new space.


    screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-9-06-12-amvia @bradytolbert

    This handsome living room caught Ryan’s eye and I’m 100% with him on it. We love the texture, the classic shapes but modern finishes, the oversized art and general feeling of relaxed sophistication. Love, love, love it all.


    chrislovesjuliavia chrislovesjulia

    Do you all follow Chris Loves Julia (the blog and on instagram)? They have transformed a basic home and made it into such a warm, interesting, personal space. This front room, in particular, always catches my eye. It has that combination of classic, clean and handsome that we’re going for in our new home.



    via Mazen Studio

    I’m studying this photo for kitchen inspiration, for sure, but I also love how the whole thing works together. The chalky deep green-gray with the shiny white, aged natural wood tones with mixed metals. This is the feel we’re totally into right now.

    So that’s what we’re thinking. As you can see, there is still plenty of white and softness balanced with straight lines and deep tones.

    We can’t wait to get started!

    If you need help figuring out your style, if you have a general sense of lostness and overwhelm when it comes to decorating your home, I have just the thing for you!

    SIMPLIFIED DECORATING is my newest online class. I’ll walk you through the whole process I use while decorating any space: first identifying your personal style, next assessing your room, creating a design board with items that fit your style and finally, putting it all together in a way that makes sense.

    The course takes place online and you can follow along at your own pace. There are 15 lessons, each about 5-11 minutes each (for a total of just over 3 hours of inspiring video learning).

    With Simplified Decorating, You Will:

    • Discover your personal style
    • Avoid common decorating mistakes
    • Create a design board for any room
    • Incorporate your style into your home
    • Save money by not spending on the wrong things
    • Get a cohesive, comfortable home that makes you happy
    • Have a clear decorating direction


    • worksheets for discovering your style
    • seven elements that are essential for every room
    • step-by-step guide for how to decorate any room
    • practical tips for where to save and where to spend
    • the best home decorating sources
    • 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
    • how to create a design board
    • three things you can (and should!) do today

    To help you get a feel for the class and to learn more about what we’ll be learning, here is the introduction for the class:


    Registration is only open until November 2nd, so grab your spot now! LEARN MORE HERE

    33 thoughts on “On Changing Decorating Styles”

    1. hey! i was that friend! ;) i am ALL FOR HANDSOME! i want to paint a room dark, moody blue so badly! i can’t wait to see how everything turns out. it’s going to be so beautiful and handsome. :)

    2. Hi Emily!

      This is my first time ever replying to a blog:) I am a fan from Denver, CO. I am also a designer! I love all your fun ideas and inspiration!! How fun your new project is going to be!
      I just thought I would share a magazine I picked up yesterday because it made me think of you and your new “handsome” house. I love the look throughout the magazine and thought it might give you good inspiration too! It is called Rustic Country, I found it at Walgreens (of all places!). Thanks for all your fun posts!

    3. Emily I love the inspiration pictures you have shown. I loved your old house and your style but I think part of the fun of moving house, is that you can try new ideas too. The darker colours feel so warm and cozy.
      I am so looking forward, to see things slowly change. Your new house is just beautiful.
      I live in Australia and so enjoyed following your road trip. I loved seeing all the different places you visited.
      Thank you from an Aussie girl.

    4. I love the clean style that you have. After living in the same house for 31 years, I find myself wishing I could move again, just to clean out and get rid of stuff!

      I have used “Sycamore Tan” by Sherwin Williams in several areas of my home, and I haven’t found a color that doesn’t work well with it!

      Keep up the good work. It must be exciting and overwhelming both to be decorating your own place from scratch, and I look forward to watching it evolve!

    5. I have been following along with your site for quite a while now, and I just realized that I dont think I have EVER left a comment before! Bad on me, because I really LOVE all of the inspiration you share here! So, ths may be the longest comment in the history of blogs! THIS post helped me to identify the missing element in my current master bedroom project ( Its still the master, if you are an empty nester and it’s only you in that bedroom, right?!?) HANDSOME’is the element I am missing! It’s leaning far too sweet! It needs a little moody… i found your blog,probably like a lot of folks, from your stencilled office walls way back when… I SO WISH I could afford to join this decorating class, because I KNOW it going to be so so good!!! Thanks for sharing and inspiring and I cant wait to watch what you do with your new home!

    6. Hi, love your inspiration pictures, even though they would normally be far from my usual decorating likes (I’m a Stickley aficionado, and probably quite a bit older than most of your readers). I think what makes #1 work as well as it does is the coffee cup and eyeglasses. It makes it into a real room. I also like the idea in #2 & #3 of using a dark color that is not black, especially gray-greens. I wish I could take your course, but I’m trying to downsize now, and can’t decorate until I see what’s left. Good wishes in your new home.

    7. Any chance you are discussing combining 2 different styles (like me & my husband) to create a cohesive look in the design class?

      1. Absolutely. There is always a way to find a middle ground. You can pull inspiration and he can pull inspiration and then find what they have in common. While it may seem that they are opposites, there are often qualities that are shared and that is what you can pull out. Then you can work together to give it a name. Once you have an understanding of a few of the key characteristics of your new shared style, you can purchase items and put a room together that meets both of your aesthetic needs. Happy decorating!

    8. Hi Emily, I am interested in learning about the placement of objects when designing a room. Will that be a part of your simplified decorating class?

    9. I painted my dining room about the color you are looking at for your den/office/familyroom:a deep blue/green or green/blue. Love it with pure white trim. Not depressing at all. The color is Benjamin Moore CSP 720 Dark Harbor. I also was in an all white house but have gone to Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter for the walls in our new house. Just finished painting the inside of my office closet which is going to be my closet desk area Benjamin Moore Potpourri (dark salmon/pink) which is maybe 1313 or 1312. Of course with super white trim, white desk and bookcases built in. I was able to use a large 9′ wide closet with a 5′ double door opening as a wonderful hide all closet desk area. When my desk is a mess and visitors come into my office sitting area, the doors can quickly close.

    10. Agree that Ginny’s comments are pretty harsh. I always enjoy reading your blog. I’m not signed up for your decorating class, but just curious whether you have any professional interior design training or are you “self taught.”

    11. Hi Emily, I’d love to know more about the Simplified Decorating class, but each time I’ve followed links to that page (through the Coffee Chat, the email notification, and this post) it opens a window that seems to be cut off on the right side. I’m not a super technologically adept person and I’m opening it on my iPhone, but thought maybe there was a glitch, since I’ve tried several times. You are welcome to delete this comment, I just wanted to bring this possible problem (or , perhaps, example of my ineptitude) to your attention!

    12. Your inspiration pictures are indeed quite a different look than something I would automatically think you would choose. I’, thinkin’, you’re on the right track, girl. I love lots of white, lots of it, but as I’ve gotten a bit more “mature”, I feel white sometimes needs other accents, colors, window treatments to call attention it itself. That being said, the room from ‘chrislovesjulia’ is amazing!! The color, textures, lighting, sofa (those lucite tables!) has my name and YOUR nmae on it! I can see you doing something fabulous with that as your inspiration. I hope you give that one some serious consideration, I would love to see your interpretation of it.

    13. Hello again, My home has grey-greens throughout the home. Even the outside is in that color category. I have to say my FAVORITE is Richmond Gray by Benjamin Moore. It goes with anything. Check it out. I can really see it working with your design taste.

      I also love the deep gray-black of this island. I have asked the color, but have not heard back yet.

      This looks a little bit purplish, but a deep gray. I’d have to see a color chip but it is the color trend of the year:

      Have fun in your new home.
      Holly Herick

      1. P.S. I live in Southern Oregon in a natural setting with lots of trees around. That has influenced
        my color choices for my home.

    14. Love your shift in style, it still holds true to your original style but mixes in modern sophistication. So very chic!
      I renovated my teenage sons bathroom in the same style, it came out great. Wish I could show a pic here. His floor was Carrara marble in a chevron pattern. The shower and one wall (behind the vanity) was a sleek white modern subway tile, the shower floor was Carrara marble in a penny dot pattern and his vanity was a Kohler vanity in “felt gray” with a white continuous sink for the top. The combination was so classic and chic.

    15. Im right with you! I just decided to paint my living room Aspen Valley by Behr and I LOOOOVE it. I was originally going to paint it white, or maybe a light gray, and then I realized that the warmth of the dark color just felt cozier, more ‘handsome’.

      Side note that I was first going to go with Meteorological for the color, I like the little bit darker tone, and realized for my living room that doesn’t have great sunlight, Aspen Valley would end up looking dark enough. So, maybe in a brighter living room, I’d love Meteorological by Behr a little more.

      1. I should also add that we also have some woodwork about that same color as the shelves in that photo, along with white trim. So we have rustic and clean lines mixed and it makes my heart happy :)

    16. Hi Emily,
      I am really interested in learning about the placement of objects…such as on shelves, on coffee tables, on mantles…how to cluster items that look natural together and without having it look pretentious. Will you address that in your simplified decorating class? Do you have other suggestions on how to learn that art?
      Thanks, Nancy

    17. Love the change from pretty to “handsome”. To me that makes a space feel comfy and lived in. Can’t wait to see your new place!

    18. Love it. Love the inspiration boards and the slightly new direction that you are going in your new home. My family moved recently and I’ve been struggling a little to figure out how to translate my style into our new space- and this was inspiring! Thanks for all the thoughtful work you put into JDC!

    19. Keep it white! That dark gray — or what ever color it is?? is too depressing especially with the Pacific Northwest gray days. Also get a room to record in that has some softness. That echoing of your voice in this video is hard on the ears.

      1. To each his own, Ginny. And possibly YOU could find some softness because your remarks about her color choices and her voice could be hard on her feelings. Sheesh…..

      2. It’s possible to convey your opinions in a kind way. It’s almost as if you’re trying to be mean.

        LOVE the new style Emily. This new house calls for the cozy warmth of deep colors. i can’t wait to see your magic at work.

      3. We won’t go dark on all the walls – I totally agree that we don’t need any more gray during the PNW winters.

        As for the sound quality … yep, that was recorded in our nearly empty old house without much softness to absorb the echo. Just doing the best I can during this crazy time!

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