Style tips to help you make your home authentic to you.

About 1 year ago my family got our keys to our newest adventure... our 100 year old farmhouse. The entire house, barn, shops and property needs updated. It was taken good care of for being over 100 years old but a lot of the last updates done to the interior of the house were done between 1988-1992 (not exactly my favorite time period for home design.) Needless to say, slowly but surely we'll be tackling each room and will hopefully bring back some old house character that people (namely me) love. That being said we are on a 10 year plan, which in this world of HGTV home reveals is a hard time table to be okay with.

Sometimes I have this feeling that remodeling and decorating my home is a frivolous thing and that it's unnecessary to spend time and money on it. I'm sure I'm not alone, I think a lot of us can feel this way and feel a bit guilty for spending money in certain areas of our lives. I wonder why I feel this deep need to make my home a home? I was reading the other day from A Little House Reader  which is a collection of writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I stumbled on a passage that really stuck with me. As she was remodeling and building on to her home in Missouri she had really done some things that were not exactly following the norms of tradition. However, her goal was to create a space that fit its environment and their lifestyle. When showing the finished home it to a friend, her friend remarked:

“you have expressed yourself! It fits you as though it was your shell.”

I just thought that was lovely and a thought we all need to ponder when trying to make our home a home. Our home should be a reflection of us and we should in fact make it a place of warmth and comfort and not feel guilty to do that.

We all get bombarded with what is in style and what is not. I've read many decorating don’t lists and have found myself guilty to whatever that designer thought was out of date or a huge mistake. Honestly I just laugh because when it’s all said and done, my style should reflect me. I have also found that while styles come and go if you really stick to things that you love they don’t go out of date as easily. Your home should be a reflection of you not what certain big box stores are saying is on trend.

I want my house to look like me, be unique, not a house that looks like everyone else's.

Here are a few tips to help you make your home a home and one that fits you and seems as if it should be your shell. Because that really is the ultimate goal, when our home reflects us it makes us feel more at home!

Here are 4 quick tips to get you headed in the right direction.

  1. Focus on your loves and ditch your likes
  2. Avoid Trendy
  3. Patience will Pay
  4. Color Palette for Cohesion



Draw the line between your likes and your loves, focus on honing in what you LOVE. Cindy Harvey on Instagram @thetwiceboughtcottage is who first inspired me with this really amazing and useful trick. While there are more in depth ways of doing this I've found a pinterest board is a really great way to put this method in action but clipped magazine images work just as great. Basically, create a board with things that you ABSOLUTELY love and would love to see in your home. Add only the things that are amazing and light you up. This has helped me narrow down my style and really weed out my likes.

If you have too many likes in your design plan, they’ll end up drowning out your loves.

You’ll really want to focus on the loves. Go ahead and compare the things about the images that you love, find their similarities. I have always thought of myself as someone who likes a lot of color but after examination I'm really drawn to neutral spaces, however not just blank sterile spaces, ones that have a lot of different wall textures. I 'm also drawn to a lot of different styles (like a crazy amount) and for some reason I gravitate towards kitsch. I don’t know why but it appeals to me, however it isn’t a love. When I look at the things that I love and those spaces that light me up, they're very simple, neutral and while full of life not loud retro kitsch:) I've found that I basically want my house to look like the set of Anne with an E, perhaps a modern twist but that’s what I’ve found that I love. I love simple, utilitarian farmhouse design (like the picture below.) Not the modern farmhouse style that we see today (while I do like modern farmhouse I don't want it for the inside of my home.) I actually have a guest cottage of sorts on our property that will have more of the modern/industrial farmhouse vibe. So now that I know where I want to go with my design style for my home I can avoid purchasing likes that drown out my loves.


Avoid trends especially in costly pieces of furniture or remodels. First things first, I fall into this trap just as often as the next person but I try to layer things that I love that are trendy into my décor instead of using them in main features that will be costly to replace. A great example is my kitchen. It was last updated around 1988-1990 not exactly a classic design era. My house was built in 1910 and my kitchen does not have any period design details. What it has is a early 90's spin on the Victorian Era, not actually authentic Victorian/Edwardian Design. 

I’m all for modern kitchens but I do want my kitchen to fit the era of the home mainly because those period elements won’t go out of style. I picked up a few late 80’s Country Living Magazines at the library and I’ve been looking through them to see what design choices from those would still be in style.

From this exercise I look at the pictures and look past the bad photo lighting and zone in on what would still be in style today.  I've been surprised to see some, that with a bit of tweaking and editing would still look fabulous today and then there are kitchens just like mine (ready for a makeover that I'm sure they're now getting.)  Redoing a kitchen is just too expensive to have to do every 20 years. While I would like to start my kitchen tomorrow it really won't be happening anytime soon. I have a vision for how I want my overall home to look and have started collecting antique sinks, a claw-foot tub and vintage lighting fixtures that fit that image for when the time comes. Good things come to those who wait, which brings me to my next point.


While my design choices are definitely not everyone's this will be pretty universal. I collect things for my remodel/restoration and only buy when I find something I absolutely love and get it for a great price.  Having to live in an unfinished house that is a major work in progress isn’t for everyone but when you do things slowly and with thought it will save you tons of money. A great example of this is the kitchen in my last house. We spent 4 years slowly remodeling it. This wasn't a facelift, this was a full scale remodel with new flooring, custom cabinetry, counters, new sink,  appliances, plumbing and much much more. When I tell people that the total cost was only $4000 they're blown away. That being said, we did everything ourselves minus moving the gas line and here comes the patience part... we collected materials slowly for each phase of the remodel, once we had a good chunk of supplies we would then start that leg of the remodel.

Being on the lookout for pieces for this kitchen over 4 years saved us tons of money, like my vintage $5 pendant light shade that would have normally cost upwards of $200 or my $25 vintage 50's apron front sink that was perfect for my 50's kitchen (even though it took over 6 hours of hard scrubbing to bring it back to it's former glory.) We had decided we wanted to put VCT flooring back in the kitchen because that's what was originally in it (I know this because it was 4 layers down in the linoleum mess that we removed) We ended up getting 1/3 of the flooring at the Habitat Restore saving money every step of the way. We used a lot of salvaged wood and kept our original cabinetry and just made few updates to it and mimicked it in the cabinetry we added on the other side of the kitchen. All in all, our salvaged wood saved a ton of money, in fact well over 50% of our wood came to us from various sources and was used in our sub-floor and cabinetry. So in a nut shell"

  • work with what you have if you can
  • purchase items on sale or at a great value
  • salvage is the name of the game


Set your color palette. Once I did this it’s been a bit of a game changer for me. It was recommend to me to stick with 3 colors including neutrals. I have rooms that have tweaks on this (additional neutrals) but the three main colors work wonders to make your space feel cohesive. If you don't set your palette you'll end up having a house where all of the rooms feel like a different theme versus being cohesive.  I have a lot of older color choices in pillow covers and rugs from my old house. I also have a lot of antique furniture that I've collected that desperately needs to be recovered. I’m still currently using them but as I buy fabric for re-upholstery or to make new pillow covers it will reflect my new palette. When I see sale items or fabulous vintage fabric at a great prices, I have to make sure it fits my palette. Often times it doesn't and I have to say no which has saved me a lot of money from making unnecessary splurges just because it's a good price.

There are many things you can do to help make your home unique to you but I hope these 4 tips send you on the right path to having a home that looks like your shell and one that didn't cost you dearly to decorate. I'm a frugal person by nature but I am also very particular abut making my home cozy and one that reflects me. Most of these things fit into the category of being patient. If you were to walk into my home right now you would see a home that is not cohesive and seems a bit Hodge-podge. But I have a vision and slowly I will make the progress to having everything be cohesive and the style I want (it just won't happen overnight.) So figure out what you truly love, learn to be patient with your purchases and you'll get there.

Erinn Boitano
Erinn Boitano


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