What is Your Design Style?

I thought I’d round up a post today full of images of different design styles or aesthetics. Sometimes people have a mix of styles in their homes, sometimes they lean one way in one house and another in the next house, sometimes people have a very specific look they love. So often I hear from friends and family that they really like X-style or their home is X-style and then I visit and what I see is really Y-style. It can be hard to define your personal style! Especially because design styles can change and evolve as you age, go in an out of popular vogue, or be dependent on the house you’re living in! It’s best to try to avoid mixing too many styles in one home as it can look chopped up and disjointed. When you move to a new home or space, having an concrete idea of what look you want can be so helpful in designing your space, which is why I rounded up every style I could think of in one big comprehensive post!

Mid Century Millennial

via Loving Quarters

My friend Emma, who founded a design firm specializing in apartment design here in Portland, really knows how to rock this style. Mid Century Millennial — as I like to call it — is hot right now. This is a style a lot of young people are pulling together in their homes. As Mid Century Modern furniture came out of their grandparents’ homes and was rejected by their parents, Millennials have started a huge push to pick up these pieces from various thrift shops. Soon, so many people were craving the Mid Century look, it started being created again and sold at popular stores like West Elm. This style is very trendy, but I think we will continue to see it reign popular amongst young people for the next 5-10 years. Mid Century Millennial style usually incorporates several Mid Century Modern accents like peg legs, saturated colors, knock-off Eames dining chairs, hairpin legs, or globe lighting. It then mixes in more contemporary items like colorful shag rugs, acrylic tables, playful art, and a whole lot of plants. This style hollers, “FUN! YOUNG! PLAYFUL!” and the best part is: these rooms never fail to put a smile on your face!


This is my style, my personal favorite. I often joke that my style is “Grandma,” but what I really mean by that is: traditional. This style can be high or low. You’ll see high traditional design like the image above all over House Beautiful magazine and Architectural Digest. Those homes are millions and millions of dollars. In my house or other bloggers like the Makerista (her amazing Library below!), you can see a modern take on affordable traditional design with lots of thrifted and DIY’ed pieces. Regardless of whether it’s high or low design (and I really mean that as $$, not that it’s lacking in design at all!), traditional style often encompasses carved and turned legs, saturated colors (though more subdued palettes are also quite common!), brass and black accents, mixed patterns, and interesting shapes. Traditional style may be incredibly eclectic with patterns, furnishings, and influences from a variety of cultures or more straight-laced and European.


Transitional style is like traditional’s more calm cousin. They’re related, but transitional is just a bit more clean lined and subdued. It became increasingly more popular starting in the 80’s and continues to be a favorite today. Here we see straight legs and more crisp lines in furniture. Patterns appear rarely on entire furnishings, but frequently on pillows and other accessories. Transitional design often has a more subdued color palette and today makes frequent use of grey upholstery and dark or black wood tones. Popular are chrome and satin finished silver metals as well as crisp white trimwork and accents.

Mid Century Modern

For this style, think Mad Men, think Design Within Reach. This is the dawn of experimentation with furniture shapes and styles, the start of what we think of as contemporary design. This is where so many of the furniture designer icons got their fame. This style is beloved by it’s followers and carefully collected from antique shops and thrift stores. Think classic designers, big windows, open concept homes, lots of texture, natural colors, and play on geometrics. Clean lines, metal tubes, mid-tone woods, brass, chrome, and nickel are all favored here.

California Casual

Design: Amber Lewis, via

This is one of the newer styles to come out in recent years and it is BLASTING onto the scene with amazing designers like Amber Lewis just killing it left and right. As the name suggests, this style came out of California (specifically Southern California) and promotes an indoor / outdoor lifestyle. This style epitomizes casual, but expensive comfort and was popularized by Southern California celebrities. A limited color palette dominated by varying tones of neutrals with subtle accent colors is a must. Natural fibers like linens, wools, and cottons are popular and pattern is limited primarily to accent pieces like ottomans and pillows as well as area rugs. Patterns are usually classic or tribal inspired and while colorful, always subtle and subdued. Light woods and black accents dominate this style. Plants are a must, but no more than one or two in a room. Interesting and unusual statement furnishings or lighting is key to this design style.

Design: Amber Lewis, via

Modern Victorian

Emily Henderson and her team first called out the rise of this design style just last year and I love it almost as much as I love traditional design. This would be my style if I was a little bit cooler and a little bit more modern. Alas, I am what I am, so I’ll just have to drool over this in my spare time. This style is epitomized by high drama, deep colors, and lots of contrast. To create the Victorian base, you need mouldings, LOTS of mouldings! Frequently you see this where the mouldings and walls are all painted the same saturated hue (just like I did in my bathroom!). The traditional backdrop of elaborate mouldings is then contrasted with contemporary furniture, often in fun jewel tones. You see lots of mixed metallics, bold florals, high contrasting tones, fringe, black accents, statement lighting, and tufted furniture in this style.

Modern Minimalism

This style is very yuppie tech, but not in a bad way. It’s clean, clean, clean and oh, so simple. It’s all about appreciating a few good pieces and letting them speak for themselves with out excessive clutter or accessories. It’s pretty much the opposite of my style! The foundation of this design aesthetic is a simple, subdued color palette. Comfort is important and you’ll frequently see oversized sectionals. Black or silver accents dominate and brass is a rarity. There is a huge emphasis on geometrics and tone-on-tone color play. High end rooms in this style frequently feature stunning, unique furniture pieces that create a statement without the use of pattern or color.

Modern Farmhouse

Design: Magnolia, via

You’ve seen this style explode lately as HGTV’s extremely popular Fixer Upper launched the career of Joanna Gaines and modern farmhouse aesthetic. Although it’s existed for many years, Fixer Upper really brought it to the forefront of new home design. It is now everywhere! This style is characterized by shiplap or other simple wall mouldings, white paint, neutral furniture, black accents, rustic wood beams, black windows, and rustic country accents. While similar to California Casual, this style has a more of a deep south flair and frequently includes old signage, collections of found objects, and a mix of furniture styles. Studio McGee have streamlined and raised the modern farmhouse style to new heights, bringing in a simple elegance to their spaces. Leather accents, lanterns or open frame lighting, industrial antiques, black accents, metalwork, and subtle use of color are all key elements of this design style

Design: Studio McGee, via

Classic Country


This is modern farmhouse’s older sister, a more classic country style that’s been around for one hundred years, country farmhouse really dives back to it’s more traditional, casual roots. Here the lines are less clean, the metals less black, and the rooms more colorful that modern farmhouse designs. You’ll see more traditional furniture pieces, curved legs, a tapered lampshade. These spaces tend to be contain more furniture and accessories and look over-filled in the coziest ways. You will not find industrial accents in a classic country home. Gallery walls, slip covers, classic patterns, and stone accents reign supreme in this style. Rustic furniture pieces or beams are a must.



Coastal is tricky because you can realistically take any of the other styles I’ve mentioned and clean up the styling, add more white and blue, and make it a coastal style. Coastal style should stay where it’s intended: on the coast. If you’re more than 50 miles from the ocean, stay away from this design aesthetic, even in the bathrooms! Traditional coastal design incorporates lots of woven textures, jute, sisal, rope, lots of stripes, and the occasional nautical accessory. It doesn’t have to be all blue and white though, envision a pink Florida living room inspired by the classic neon flamingo! More contemporary coastal design (like this image below, which I love!) is all about chrome, mirrors, acrylic, and glass. It can still be plenty colorful, but it tends to contain more clean lined furniture and limit it’s color palette.



Design: Justina Blakely, via

This is a such a fun style that’s hitting it big in Southern California and the Southwest of the USA. It’s an amalgamation of varying cultural styles that emphasizes color, pattern, fun, and maximalist tendencies. Every piece of furniture in a bohemian designed space makes a statement and has a fun, unique flair. Justina Blakely of the Jungalow is the queen of the Bohemian style and has even written two books on how to master this aesthetic! Color is important in this style, layer it on! Spaces should be filled with pattern, found object accessories, lots of various cultural pieces from around the world, SO MANY PLANTS, and heavy textures. Have fun with this one. It really is a blast!


Mission / Spanish / Mexican Style

Design: Orlando Sorio, via

Again popular in California and the Southwest, these style comes directly from the Spanish colonial influences in these areas. Spain itself incorporates a lot of varying cultural entities in it’s own architecture and design and these styles draw from that type of complexity. While there are differences in Spanish, Mission, and Mexican styles, they are often very similar and hard to distinguish in newly designed spaces. Mission style (above) is often the most simple, incorporating lots of white walls, natural fibers, and black accents. It can be colorful, but is often more restrained and simple. Spanish style (below) in contrast is more colorful with Moroccan influences and various intricately patterned pieces, with bold styling.


Mexican style in the US (see below) draws from the wonderful culture of our southern neighbors and emphasizes South American influences over Afro-European styles, the patterns tend to be even more boldly colorful and slightly more simple. I love these design aesthetics in Spanish / Mission / Mexican architecture style homes as well as in mid-century homes! It’s one of my personal favorites since I grew up in a Mission style home.



This is a classic American design aesthetic, just as the name suggests. It’s a blend of traditional with country farmhouse and it’s just lovely! This design features the classic red, white, and blue color scheme of the USA and cleaner lined traditional furniture, often Shaker style or Amish made. Patterns used are classic: plaids, stripes, checkered, gingham, or polka dots. It can sometimes be difficult to strike the right balance to keep this bold color scheme looking classic, rather than as if the 4th of July threw up in your room, but this is where lots of subtle texture and use of layered neutrals comes in. You can see lots of blacks or brass metals, though sometimes silver tones also make an appearance. Old portraits, slipcovers, antiques, and classic quilts are all mainstays of this design style. Wall textures like beadboard, v-groove, or wainscotting are all important aspects of this aesthetic.


This style became steadily more popular in the last twenty years as the urge grew to return to simplicity after the 80’s and 90’s. Recently it’s been overtaken by California Casual style which draws a lot from this aesthetic. This style is all about neutrals and layered whites. It’s a quite style with a hint of rusticity. It’s not IKEA cookie cutter, but rather layered style, layering in a number of classic mid-century modern pieces as well as contemporary furnishings. Accessorizing is minimal and color is rare. Accents of black, charcoal, and grey create interest and contrast in each space. It’s a light look, with emphasis on windows, texture, and blonde wood tones.

Design: Emily Henderson, via

Whew! That’s a lot of styles in one post, ey? Did you figure out which one embodies your own personal style? Let me know your personal favorite in the comments below! Is your favorite style the same one as your home or is it different?


“Whitewashing” A Stone Fireplace with Grey Paint

When I first moved into Berrybrier I knew something would need to change on the Living Room fireplace. It was a stacked stone fireplace and clearly added onto the house in the 60s or 70s. The center was slightly blackened with soot and the stones were wildly different color tones, varying from yellow to red to brown. I did not like it at all and it felt like a jarring mid-century accent in the midst of the turn of the century house. I’m pretty sure this house didn’t even have a fireplace when it was built, just wood stoves in each room. There are two chimney’s on the house. A central one with old bricks that goes through the center of the house and has access holes for stove pipes in many of the rooms and then the one this fireplace vents through which is all 60’s/70’s orange brick. Not my favorite!

Of course, the busy stone of the Living Room fireplace is also one of the first things you see when you opened the front door and walked into Berrybrier! So in the midst of the insanity that was the kitchen renovation I roped my sister in to complete a quick fireplace refresh. I wanted to do a modern take on whitewashing, something that would still let the stone shine through, but would look a lot more subdued.

I considered painting the whole thing white and found some really cute inspiration like this one below. However, after I finally landed on paint colors for the main areas of the house, I thought white would look a bit odd against mushroom walls and forest green trimwork. Plus, I wanted to still have a bit more of the texture of the varying stone colors and true paint would have wiped that out.

Eventually I found a number of photos of white and greywashed stone. Many of them came from blogs who’d had similar fireplaces as me and needed a quick update! I decided I liked the grey color created by greywashing and decided to go with that route.


I picked up a can of Benjamin Moore’s 1475 Greystone and a painting mitten at the local Ace Hardware. Using a spare bucket and a paint stick I had my sister Bronwyn mix up a 50/50 batch of water and the Greystone paint. One it was well mixed, she dipped in her painting mitten and began gently brushing the stone. You could use a paint brush to do this, but I thought the mitten would make it a) easier and b) allow for a lighter sponged on look that would look more natural than a brush stroke.

When Bronwyn first started sponging on the 50/50 mix, she worked on the four right most stones at the top of the fireplace. When I came back a few minutes later, I could barely they’d been greywashed. Especially when I looked from afar.

We decided to up the ratio of paint to water from 50/50 to 75/25. This gave us a bit more coverage. I’d definitely recommend starting low and working up to more paint if you try this yourself, because you can definitely always add more paint or more layers later, but you can never remove it!

Once we had the 75/25 ratio, the colors became much more calm and cohesive, exactly as I’d hoped!

In under and hour she was able to finish greywashing the whole fireplace. It looked so much better! I instantly loved how the varying stone color tones came through, but didn’t scream in my face anymore. It was subtle and relaxed and it no longer looked dirty! Don’t worry, I am painting the walls and trim in here, so we didn’t even bother to try to keep the greywash off the wall.

And yes, this wall is wood paneling… unlike every other wall in the room / house which is lathe and plaster or drywall. WHY? I wonder what it’s covering up / hiding?! Eventually I will completely demo this fireplace and wall and put drywall up instead. For now, I get to just live with it. Sigh.

Back to the fireplace though. Look how much prettier it looks up close! It’s 1000x better. The stone is so rough and incorporates porous volcanic rock as well as more traditional stones, but once it’s more unified in color, that’s a lot less obvious.

I love looking at this side by side, just to see how much this changed it up! Even though it’s just a progress shot on the right, does it looks so much lighter and lifted and newer and cleaner?!

Soon after we finished this project, I painted the rest of the living room Benjamin Moore’s 1485 Brushed Aluminum with Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor for the trimwork, just like in the stairway. The wall paint contrasts perfectly with the fireplace. I love paint so much! So quick and easy and *BOOM* huge change!

This room is coming along! I have a post cooking up for you on the evolution of this space. Even thought I’ve only been here at Berrybrier just under 2 years, this room has already had quite a few lewks! Though I don’t know if you can count complete and utter chaos as a lewk…. Ha!

Also I just found this picture when I was looking through my Pinterest board and now I’m wondering if this fireplace should be glossy black at some point in the future?! Hmmmmmm…

Have you ever painted or whitewashed brick or stone? Did you like the end result? I would struggle to paint old brick or stone, but cheap mid-century or later stone? Slap some paint on that!

How to Style Bookcases

I want more bookcases. Actually, I need them. My bookshelves are completely overflowing and don’t look great. I’m desperate for something that will allow me to get my books neatly single stacked on the shelves. You see, I love to read. I need to read more. I used to read a book a week. Now, there’s this thing called the internet that sucks me in and steals all my free time. I want to get away from that and dive back into my one true love: literature.

Also, I refuse to get rid of any of the books I do own and love. I am not a read once and donate kinda gal. I’m likely to read my favorite books every year and to return to favorite series biannually. So, don’t even suggest I reduce my collection! Actually, I need more books, to fulfill my childhood dreams of being a private library for all my friends. Then I can get super rich and have a fancy Living Room / Library like this to lounge in all the time. #dreambig


I used to hang out in my Oma & Opa’s office — which was a little room off their living room — and play with the books that lined their floor to ceiling bookshelves. I’d sit by the fireplace in there (yes, they had a library with a fireplace, can you say, “life goals?!”) and create “library cards” for pretend people on their typewriter. I’d force my little sister to come and pretend to check out library books and then I’d charge her late fees for all of her returns. You know, just in case you forgot I’m an older sibling.

So, back to today, I have this abundance of books and dreams of one day lining the Dining Room at Berrybrier with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. But that doesn’t solve the problem of today. The problem being: my two childhood bookshelves are overflowing and no longer cutting it for book storage. While I’d love to create something like this in my Dining Room (give me all the library ladders!), it’s just a bit out of the budget right now!

Instead, I’m thinking about purchasing two of these IKEA Billy units for my Dining Room. I like that they have glass doors (though that adds quite a bit of cost!), which would be nice to keep the dust cats out, but I could still style in some plants with out them destroying them all.

They could live on either side of the window on the left in the Dining Room below. I have bookshelves there now, but they’re smaller. I could also add some of the side units in to make these units wider. I have to measure to see if it will all fit and if I can actually afford it! But I like the idea of something like this for now. Or I could go to one of the natural furniture stores in town and buy some unstained shelves for the same purpose, but they wouldn’t have fancy glass doors, which means more dusting and the cats still could wreck havoc.

While I’m sorting all that out and running the numbers, although I’ve already addressed styling bookshelves full of books here and mixing books with objects in a bookshelf here, I wanted to round up even more bookshelves today. Everyone loves a styled shelf of books, right?!

Okay, so white built-ins are like the 1970’s shag carpet of the 2000s. Everyone is obsessed with them and they are everywhere. Unlike shag carpet, we’re not going to be ripping these out in 10 years though! These shelves are stylish, timeless, and add a whole ton of storage. This one below is styled in the sparse manner of those who don’t have a ton of books. So, it’s not very me, but I love the playful use of color and shape here. See how that round platter helps break up the repeated square geometry? And I’m very into that woven basket. the neutral palette pops in bits of green and blue to break up the natural tones. The crisp black accents in the hardware, wire object, and other accents create a nice contrast with the white on white look.

I can’t talk bookshelves without chatting about Chris Loves Julia‘s Reading Room. Their DIY bookshelves are stellar and Julia always has them styled with the most interesting objects with plenty of books thrown in too. Julia really mixes a lot of white and metallics here, which show very well against the moody blue-green paint. Even darker artwork is framed in white to provide nice contrast from the walls behind. Plus, I’m super into the lighting. I dream of lighting like that above more traditional shelves in my dining room. Wouldn’t that just be amazing?


I’m obsessed with the round boxes pictured below in these shelves styled by Emily Henderson. They remind me of these super affordable ones from IKEA with mismatched lids! I really want some hat boxes of my own, because I think they mix up the sea of squares and rectangles and help to create a more interesting styled shelf. Otherwise, I am digging all the color and packed in interest here. Emily Henderson is a styling genius and this shelf really showcases her ability to mix objects, books, color, storage, and tons of fun in one vignette. My favorite part, is that awesome, big, patterned vase on the bottom shelf, breaking up the line of larger book spines and the little brass objects scattered around the shelves. The color throughout provides tons of fun. There’s poppy red, dark teal, light teal, pink, yellow, and blue! That’s some serious use of color, you guys. I’m envious, because when I mix this much color it looks a bit Disney! I’m definitely taking notes from this image though. If that shelf was a deep, moodier color — like I have in mind for the Dining Room — would this still work? I think so! Note to self: find and buy more tiny brass objects.

This image is very extra, as it would need to be in order to be featured by House Beautiful magazine (aka, my bible!). It’s been on my pinboards for years and years. I love how the shelves hold a mix of colors and sizes of books. That big, beautiful painting in front looks so awesome and creates the best focal point when layered in front of the chaos of skinny book spines. If you look closer, there’s even another sconce and another little painting below the big one! How ballsy is that? This is basically my dream house, y’all. Someone buy me a giant, gilded antique mirror!


This image below showcases a similar, but much more achievable design for those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars budgeted for large custom portraits. Look how cute that tiny mirror is tacked on to the shelf that way? I’m on the hunt for tiny, gilded mirrors now, too! I like how the books are color blocked here, something I often do. This helps the books read as larger blocks of color rather than hundreds of skinny spines.

This more modern shelf from CB2 packs on the books in a way that truly worms its way into my heart. The addition of a large plant, single bowl, and vintage sewing machine makes this shelf feel styled and thoughtful. I’m into it and can see this in my own space as I also tend to have an abundance of books, but not very many objects. Plus, this is a great way to get your space hogging serving ware out of your kitchen and onto display. It can still be snatched up for that occasional dinner party!

This colorful shelf is just too fun. Look at the mix of objects, books, and COLOR! It’s beautiful, stunning, and I can’t get enough. I love how whimsical it is with everything from a casual nude drawing to a halloween decoration on the shelves! The use of black / charcoal throughout the shelves helps to tie all the design together without being overtly “styled.” Plus, they’re using magazines to style here, something I have too many of and yet also struggle to get rid of. Please pray for me and my reading materials addiction!


I have a soft spot for this image below, because I’m constantly recommending this solution to clients on a budget who want a built-in look. These affordable, adjustable shelving units are available everywhere from Home Depot to Ace Hardware. Buy the adjustable extensions and brackets, but skip the melamine or wire shelves themselves. Then, DIY some shelves from 1×10 flatstock and stain or paint them to your liking. They often hold over 300lbs and create tons of storage. These are styled with books, magazines, and some awesome sculptural objects. I like how the occasional book or picture frame leans up on the shelves creating a large block amidst the skinny book spines. A couple blocks of magazines on a lower shelf also helps create a resting place for the eye. I’m super into this look and it can work in modern and transitional settings. The adjustable shelves are easily transportable which makes it so perfect for apartment hopping as well!

Finally, I love how these dark and moody shelves is full of reading materials and the tiniest little brass bust. Additional small photographs placed on large stacks of books gives them a larger presence. Although there are a few stacks of booksets in the same spine color, for the most part these shelves have mixed together colors, subjects, hard-, and soft-cover books. This really is something I can achieve now in my home with my crazy overcrowded shelves. Perhaps, I’ll make it a primary goal? I definitely have a few sets of books and y’all know I have plenty of other books. This could work quite well for me… if I splurge on the Billy units and have a little more space!


So, there’s a round up of different shelves I’m eyeing as inspiration for my own home. I really want to be one of those people with cohesive book storage that looks so pretty. Right now I can barely find my books, since they’re double stacked on the shelves and hidden away! Does anyone else have this problem? I know the solution is to donate more books… but I can’t part with my favorites! Sure, if I don’t like a book, I’m happy to stick it in the free library up the street (gosh I want one of those so bad, too!), but the books I’ve read and enjoyed? I’m holding on to those forever!

Which styled shelf is your favorite? Are your bookshelves styled with books, or objects, or both? Do you have built-ins or are you also rocking the freestanding storage? Does anyone still read anymore or is the internet sucking the lives out of all of us? Dang internet!