(Disclosure: We may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post. Such links are marked *.).
Do your home decorations coordinate with the style of your house? If yes, then you have a pleasing combination to come home to. If no, then you have a situation that may bring you displeasure and irritation each time you walk in the door.
Learn how to match your style of home furnishing and other interior decorative trim to the architectural style of your home.
Let’s go over the sort of decorative treatments you already have.
And then, see if they can be expected to go pleasingly in the house that you have or are moving into.
If they don’t match, learn what you can do to get them to do so.
We are an American home blog, so we are considering home decorative ways and house styles that are popular in our country.
This is a fun subject. Let us get into it before you think you can’t make it happen.
What is your decorative style?
You probably have a personal decorating style. You know it because it is what catches your eye (and your pocketbook!) every time you engage with this subject. It is naturally “you”.
How to determine your interior design style is not that hard. Mainly, just pay attention to what, as just described, you are drawn to over and over again. While you may range over several, you will most likely gravitate toward one.
You can take a quiz online
There are a number of online “quizzes” that you can take to help you. We aren’t real clear about which is the best one to recommend, if only because many require you to submit your e-mail address in order to participate. Which is ok, if that is ok with you.
Just enter into your search engine the phrase “What is my home decor style” (without quotes). Some are a bit idiosyncratic, featuring the site’s bias or atypical styles, but again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing to get your ideas started.
The one we liked and felt to be most useful is on the website of the Designer Society of America.
Let’s define home decor
They include the objects you put in your abode: lamps, knickknacks and statuary, wall art, lounging pillows. Therefore, you can call them accessories or accent pieces, or decorations.
Most of the time, the discussion is about interior decorating but can include the exterior too. These will usually be removable and not fixed into the structure of the dwelling.
Sometimes furniture is considered separately, but for the sake of this article, we will include it together or say furniture and decor.
Interior design, technically, has a slightly different meaning. It encompasses decor and includes more. Yes, furniture, but also, more formally, the look that comes about by including the interior architecture of the home. Think of the elements that you could not just pick up and move.
- home (interior) decor
- interior design
These “fixed” features include such things as doors and doorways, window trim, entryways, staircases, and ceiling and wall molding. As you are aware, most likely the builder designed interiorly to match the exterior. So you have these inside aspects to help you assess the “match” of your decorations.
By the way, effective interior design is best accomplished by formally trained interior designers.
Whereas decor can be carried out by interior designers, it can also be the venue of non-credentialed interested folks who gain expertise by informal study and lots of practice and involvement along the way: decorators. Hey, that describes us!
(P.S. You can get a formal education to learn to decorate, but there is no accredited degree required to practice.)
Popular home decor styles
- Art deco
- Boho (Bohemian)
- Shabby chic
Next, let’s go into a little detail regarding some of these that are pretty frequent:
Bohemian can be a lot of different ethnic appeals. Therefore, there is room for interpretation.
It must include something from native or nomadic lifestyles, implying travel or adventure. It is for sure casual, even to the point of looking messy.
In this setting, you don’t expect the homeowner to be the best of housekeepers. In fact, the decor will hide a lot of developmental missteps, or at least look that way. As you know, you don’t have to be DIY, or of lower-income, or living temporarily in your college digs to like boho. Although it may seem that way. Cluttered it can be.
Throw on the accessories. Floor pillows and small area rugs are abundant.
Even within this category, there is variation enough to characterize further. We all are familiar with the tradition of country, since many of us (older ones, at least!) grew up with it.
At its most characteristic, it is flowery, frilly, and sometimes untidy. You can smell the apple pie in the oven.
But the modern country can be rustic, less frilly, and even spare, as in Shaker homes. Color schemes are muted old-fashioned nature colors and neutrals. The primitive design harkens from the beginning years of our country. Folk art abounds.
Largely a development of the late 20th century, it is almost limited to city living and redone old apartments and warehouses. As you’ve seen, the bared ceilings, pipes and wiring are hallmarks and exposing old walls and floors, even concrete.
It will have to look likes it’s never finished. The colors are neutral but include black and grey. Furniture and wall hangings are large, but not numerous.
The continuing and long-standing popularity of mid-century shows the nostalgia for the 1950s and 1960s.
Furniture, which is midsize, not especially large, must to tied together in the same look as accessories; otherwise, it does not work.
There is a fair lack of busyness and straightforward lines. It is not typically an elegant look, but it exists somewhere between formal and informal, without clutter.
It avoids frou-frou, so you see a distinct difference from boho or country themes. It tends to plain and doesn’t have a rich look.
It calls up the lifestyle of the average American in those years after the second world war, when prosperity, but not richness, came to the everyman. You will definitely come upon plastic and plywood.
Simple and unadorned lines give a basic and simple or striking look. Bold contrasts between neutral coloring and bright accents, a paucity of accessories and little that is unnecessary are typical.
Definitely, an absence of clutter. A “cool” look, unlike the “warm” look of some other types, such as boho, country, and traditional.
But formal, not so casual. Angles may be prominent. Materials look metallic and sleek or shiny. Art on the wall is common, but tends toward large pieces that are also … modern! Usually, the more organic artists will not be invited, but geometric or abstract.
This is a DIY crafters’ dream situation. Yes, you can buy stuff, and lots of it, to decorate your spaces but make some too. It’s floral, distressed, vintage, and for sure a female has been there. Colors are pastel and backgrounds; also included floorings are pale to whitish.
Also called classic, it tends toward the European heritage. It is more formal and elegant.
You will see coffered ceilings, crown molding, wainscot, patterned wood floors, and formal paintings on the walls.
Furniture and the odds and ends inside match and look upscale. They are well made and large (heavy). Antiques of the last couple of centuries predominate. There is a lot of rich detail, even though colors tend toward neutral.
What is the architectural house style of your home?
Here we are not so much talking about your favorite house style or what you would like to live in or plan on having an architect design for you someday (your dream home).
But we are talking about the residence you actually live in, assuming you plan to stay for a while —- long enough at least to make it worth your time and effort to determine what home decor works in it. Or maybe you are moving into it and want to plan the decorating for it at this point.
And we are emphasizing the architectural style. This contrasts with categorizing according to building type. The latter indicates whether the structure is a single-family residence, apartment, manufactured, mobile, or castle, etc.
Let’s define the architectural house style
It primarily indicates the fairly fixed large design and structure of the house, especially as you view it from the outside. While usually referring to the exterior, it can include interior elements: usually, these inside features will be large and non-moving and defining, such as archways, doors or doorways, and ceilings. As we mentioned just above, in discussing inside design.
Determine what your house is
To get you started in determining the house fashion you have, check out our blog post on “What is your house style?”.
Also, check a reference that will help introduce you to the terminology and more details that you can use in identification.
We suggest for the purposes of this initial introductory study, just go with the simple, easy examples. If you have an exotic kind of dwelling, extrapolate from this discussion.
Popular American house styles
The common ones:
- Craftsman (California) bungalow
Contemporary is not actually a specific style. It means what is popular now.
Still a bit stiff and formal, many types of Colonials gifted our geographic regions since the origin of the country in the Atlantic northeast.
If anything speaks of early America it is one of these.
The particular building in the image was built in Yorktown, Virginia, only 25 years after its first occupant immigrated from England. It has been restored and is in the National Park Service.
They are, of course, two-story-high rectangles. You note their steep roofs and built-in dormers (small windows seen in the line of the roof). The chimney is always lovely to see.
Seen everywhere in middle America, even today. It is the California bungalow.
So prevalent, you go right by it without remarking upon it, we are sure.
It has two stories and a low-pitched overhanging roof. The prominent stone chimney is conspicuous. The windows are largish, though not extremely so.
We are sure it is the everpresent and generous front porch that gives it away. but is the large tapering columns on that porch that seal the deal.
Farmhouses have been very popular in recent years. They are a perennial find. They will always be big houses. You will find two stories, a large front porch that may very well extend around the house. The kitchen accommodates the family for meals. You see large expansive windows in the modern forms.
Everyone enjoys viewing one of these pieces of residential architecture.
So many choices of exterior lines. The low roofline, rectangular builds, open feel inside and out, and very large see-through windows can be striking.
Outdoor living shines because of the clean lines of the landscaping and outdoor life areas.
You either love modern buildings or not. In residences, they may look extreme. On the other hand, they are wonderful for inspiration and versatility when you decorate.
California ramblers, their alternative name, spread widely in the progressive years that followed WW2. They were part of the American Dream in the 1950s.
These are one-story wonders with glass windows to open all your stunning views.
The emergence of the U.S. automobile culture demanded an attached garage out front.
It may seem like a small feature by comparison, but sliding glass doors – such a great invention. They opened up the backyard lifestyle into the house for the average suburban dweller.
The many variations and iterations are still well-loved today, even after all these years.
How to match decorations to your house
What are good matches of home decor to house style?
Situation 1: What interior design works best in the major types of homes?
You’ve just moved into your new house. You asked the real estate agent and previous owner about its history and architecture.
You don’t know that much about interior decorating and haven’t learned to care about it so much. You’d just like your place to look nice and as it should. That everything matches and nothing is out of line. Which interior decorating would look good in it is what you want to know. You are not particularly “wedded” to a decor style, but want your house to be attractive
Let’s check this out for the common types of homes we went over earlier in this article.
What works in a colonial residence
Traditional decor works well with colonial architecture. If you don’t have your choice of furniture already, you may look into the variety of subtypes of newer homes to find accessories that might be especially appropriate for the particular venue.
Decorating for the inside of a craftsman
The craftsman is an interesting kind of house to decorate. First, look at the possibilities in midcentury decorating choices. It is easy to mismatch particulars, so you cannot go completely generic with any interior design type.
As an alternative, shabby chic can work.
A farmhouse is easy to style
Of course, country accessories complete the farmhouse look.
Modern is modern
You could read our verbiage about modern home decor and come up with the same description of the buildings. Definitely, here is a realm where you can easily match up just about everything: modern decor looks great in a modern built house.
Enjoy completing a ranch house
Midcentury furniture, et cetera, go into ranch homesteads like a hand in glove. Well, they came along at similar times. The origin of ranches was at the time of the coming up of the mid-century interest: the actual decades that were in the middle of the century! So the resurgence of interest in these interior designs is appropriately placed.
Some may dispute, but we think a ranch or California rambler is among the easiest to detail. It can also be satisfying because so many things look good in it.
Situation 2: You have your decor already. Will it work easily in your new home?
You’ve brought along your furniture and decorative pieces from your other house. Do they play well together given your current house style?
If you have a match
You have a good match if you already have decor that is known to work well in your new housing type. The combination looks congruent. You are lucky that you had this stuff already. All is well. (See last sections for the particular decors and residential settings that fit into.)
If you have a mismatch
What if you have decor that is not classically matched to the new home style? How can you “make” it work in your latest habitat. What should you add or subtract to “make” what you have livable? Here are several examples.
Mismatch example #1: shabby chic decor in a modern home.
Luckily this is not too bad a combo. One thing nice about a modern house is that you can get away with a variety of decorating choices. Basically, you end up “hiding” the modernity behind couches and drapes and wall art and all the knickknacks.
Mismatch example #2: modern decor and furniture in a ranch.
Well, right off we are worried. But all is not lost. We haven’t heard of eclectic style for naught. This is a recognized type. It tends to be a combination of traditional with modern, but you can emphasize others too. You have to be careful piece by piece in your choices of new purchases. You don’t want to just have anything: that’s become messy. (See more on eclectic styling below.)
Basically, you want to have a theme or some aspect that follows through the different pieces. For instance, a dominant color that appears in a variety of pieces. And/or similar size or scale.
This is a major and well-used repair job for many mismatches.
Mismatch example #3: midcentury in a colonial.
Again, it’s not the end of the world. Lighting choices and positioning of the major pieces of furniture will do wonders. Go easy on the modernistic aspects of midcentury accessories and position some early American knickknacks on a few side tables.
Mismatch example #4: country in a craftsman bungalow.
Wait! Is this really a mismatch? It depends on how you look at it. The combo is frequently done. In fact, a country look is found in a lot of homes. For many in our population, they grew up with country interiors and will continue to follow that lead throughout their lives, in all homes in which they dwell.
Country furnishings in a craftsman can look busy and conflicting. If you selectively tone it down, that would be a good idea.
Folks often choose country styling for ranches and there they can work well.
Common themes when “fixing” a mismatch
You see there is some commonality when bridging the divide when interior accessories and structural aspects do not coordinate, regardless of the specific elements’ lack of congruence that you are experiencing.
Sometimes we gotta live with our old stuff from our long-ago living place for longer than we meant to!
But, don’t fall into the lazy trap of getting stuck with it forever.
Use wall coverings, window dressings, rugs, throws over furniture, key knick-knacks so you don’t spend “huge” amounts of money on this. Unless you think you need a permanent or long-range fix.
If you anticipate being in this situation for some time, instead of a cover-up, transition out of your mismatch.
Over time, gradually transform your style of decor to one more compatible with your surroundings. (Assuming the mismatch bothers you.) You can accomplish this by replacing small furnishings and accessories as they wear out, go out of style, or you can afford it. (Remember you can take your old stuff to garage sales!)
What if you are “wedded” to your decor style, regardless of house style? You do not want to get rid of the old stuff because it has sentimental value or you just like it. If that is how it is with you, the next section has the solution …
Ok, we know this sounds like giving up and hiding while doing so. But, actually, it is a real choice. It is something a lot of people are into, even in the absence of a known match error.
It may grow out of that problem of possessing preexisting furnishings or decorative movable found objects or having inherited some.
Or maybe you returned from a foreign trip with some exotic pieces.
This choice tends to be informal and even playful. But you do need something to tie it all together with a theme for balance. Otherwise, it can be chaotic, or at least a mess.
A color carrying through can be what holds it all together. Similar to our description of fixing other unmatched combinations (above).
Also, a dominant furniture piece that demands small featured finds around it. Alternatively, you can repeat patterns or textures.
It is certainly fun, and potentially useful, to discover our decoration styling preferences and see how they can go nicely in our American style house.
We realize we’ve emphasized only a very few of the possible settings you may have or encounter. It can be overwhelming to try to visualize options in the entire panorama. We decided to choose just a few of the major or most familiar ones to help you get started.
Have a good time trying out these ideas and principles on your own home spaces.
Before you go
We are glad you are here. We hope you have enjoyed this article. It was an interesting subject for us and one you don’t often see addressed in just this way. Thank you!