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Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style

by | Mar 31, 2008 | Authentic Living, Decorating Inspiration, Details, Style Tips | 45 comments

Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style

By way of illustrating how you can find an authentic style inspired by and for YOUR life, I thought I’d share these photos from a story found at Traditional Home online. I was drawn to the cheery bright clear colors and when I read the article, the fanciful style of the home was perfect for this family. Why? The home was originally headquarters to a well-known circus! Their home address? One Circus Place. How neat is that?

To decorate, the family played off of the home’s colorful history, the fact that they adore children (they have two of their own) and that the woman of the home is a children’s photographer (her studio is on the third floor of the house). Their home is all about youthful fun. This house’s design makes sense for them, reflects the history of the home and illustrates their own life on many levels. Whether or not you like the fun colors and patterns, you have to admit this is an original and authentic home.

Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style

As you probably know by now, I am not a fan of “theme rooms.” However, with that said, I am a fan of authenticity. There is a difference between creating a home full of your memories or passion for life and getting confused by overdoing a theme. Authenticity can evoke feelings without making everything too obvious. Here, they chose lively, high quality fabrics that produce the same feelings you might have at a circus. It is a happy place.

Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style
I like how they were careful to let their furnishings pop, without painting all the walls vivid colors and going crazy with a colored carpet too. The pink chairs and and stripped ottoman are enough. Also, the serious architecture of the home is a nice contrast to the fun decor. This home can handle some whimsy without getting too sweet.
Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style

Here, they added colored walls but let this corner of the room have a break in the color by incorporating a black table, simple wood chairs, and neutral mantle. The rug is neutral and this whole corner helps balance things out so you are not overwhelmed by the room as a whole.

When I came to this photo (below) of the clown, I started to worry that the circus theme was being overdone. HA! Seeing the big clown face was (at first) too obvious for me. In designing a home that is personal to you, you still want to keep good taste in mind. It can be easy to veer off into buying everything that screams “this is my THEME.”

But, in this case, as I read more of the article, I found out that the home owner’s aunt was a photographer who a generation ago took circus photos. This was one of her photos. Ok, then! If anyone else had a circus themed home with photos of clowns on the wall, I might scratch my head and wonder (or cry), but in this case, it makes sense! It is a fun conversation piece. So, SEND IN THE CLOWNS, I say! WHY NOT??

Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style

I just noticed, that table next to the Designer Guild pink chairs has rings, like in a circus! Clever!

The Inspired Room’s Authentic Style Tips:

1) Consider things in your life (past & present and dreams for the future) that are meaningful to you or your family. Family history, places you’ve been, life experiences and your dream life are all good places to start looking for the real you. No one else will share your style if you are true to yourself.

2) Consider the architecture of your home. You don’t have to match its style, but it is helpful to be aware of its impact as you select furnishings and decor.

3) Learn the art of subtlety. Consider ways to incorporate the significant things into your decor without making everything a “Ta Da!” moment. It is more intriguing to let design elements unfold rather than have everything hit you right off the bat as you walk in.

4) Definitely avoid cheap and tacky. Fun, sure. Great deals, absolutely. Cheap & Tacky, no. Who wants their authentic style to be cheap & tacky? That is not giving off the right vibe at all! You deserve better than that!

5) Incorporate conversation pieces that allow visiting friends to get to know you.

6) Design a room to work as a whole, not as a bunch of individual pieces. Your house can be full of life, memories and color, but the idea is to pull it all together in a tasteful way so that it all works when you step back.

See more photos and the story from Traditional Home here:

designer: Betty Murdock


  1. Kathleen Grace

    Hi Melissa, The first photo of this home just draws me in. I love the brilliant colors with the black and white and the checked urns with those flowers! I love color. I don’t know if I could ever go with hot pink furniture (and if hubby got a vote I know it would be a resounding NO!) but it is a great example of how to do some vivid color without overdoing it. Thanks for sharing these photos:>)

  2. janet

    Great post Melissa. Have a great week!


  3. lucinda

    Love all the fun colors. Great style. I will admitted the clown picture would keep me up at night. I have a odd phobia when it comes to clowns they scare me!

  4. Kari

    Great ideas!! Wow, love the brightness and warmth of color of this home…thanks for sharing your tips, once again! :) You ARE the style master…have a wonderful day!! :D

  5. Beverly

    Very interesting home. I agree that they achieved a home that evokes personality, history and comfort while still allowing the spirit to be relaxed – not over-stimulated.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. rosieswhimsy

    I think the scary thing about decorating is……What happens when “all of a sudden” you realize your tastes have changed and you are sitting amongst items you’ve bought over the years that are just not doing it for you any more?

    I love so many things I see on your blog, other blogs, magazines…..not so much on TV, anymore, (where did all the good decorating shows go?) …… I know I’m being influenced in a good way ……. but how do you make the switch without breaking the bank?

    Changing in PA :-) Rosie

  7. Polly

    That ottoman is so darling! Believe it or not, I actually started collecting vintage circus theme items about 10 years ago. I always thought it would make a cute playroom. BUT the kids think clowns are scary! So I have a wonderful area in the basement full of old circus fabrics, carousels, etc. Oh well… =) Blessings, Polly

    (p.s. Sorry for my abrupt email last evening! No, I don’t get paid by the “hit” -lol- Just passing along some fun free stuff.)

  8. A Fanciful Twist

    I could live there as it is. RIght now. Oh, swooon. Looove the fireplace room!!!!!!! xoxoxoxo (Miss M, LOOOve the tips!!!)

  9. Mrs. B

    Great tips on authentic style. This is a beautiful home with lovely architectural detail. I’m not so sure about that clown picture (I think it would creep me out), but if it makes them happy…

    I also really liked your last post. I especially liked the tip on “making ordinary things beautiful.” So true!

  10. Rachel Going

    I think this home is very inspiring…posted by a wonderful lady who inspires me everytime I come here. Have a great day.

  11. naturegirl

    Truly an inspiring post showing how individual taste well planned can look tastefull using the bright colors!! I could not live with this as I know I would get bored..nuetral palettes for me and then I play up the color w/ things..that I can replace without a lot of expense. Love all your tips that you post and pass along!! Thank you! NG

  12. kari & kijsa

    Saw these pics and layout on another blog a couple days back, and just fell in love with those pink and green chairs!! so many fun colors and beautiful pops of a spring and summer palette! Thanks for sharing!

    kari & kijsa

  13. this is glamorous

    Such a bright, cheerful home! I especially like the first image, with the artwork and beautiful chandelier. Funny, I also began a post {saved for later} on circus-y things, but not quite as vibrant as this home . . .

  14. Ruth

    Nice article with great pictures. I have to say, even thought I respect the homeowners wish to honor to her grandmothers art work, the clown just doesn’t do it for me…kind of creeps me out….sorry! Hollywood has done a fine job of taking an innocent thing and making it bad…
    However, I do love everything else about the room and how it is so happy and alive, and the restraint with color on the walls is key….would have been way too overwhelming with color.. I love that the focus is on the furnitre and it’s arrangement…it sayscome in and sit here!!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    xxxoo Ruth

  15. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    Just as I was beginning to wonder about the “theme” aspect, you addressed it. Sure, why not do something like this if it appeals and it’s part of the history of a home or a family?

    On a more subtle note, though, I once suggested to my friend whose father and mother had both been physicians, that she display their college microscopes on her mantel. She said that she couldn’t because they had value. I shrugged my shoulders and said,”To whom? Surely they have the most value to you. Enjoy them.” I’m happy to say that she does. They look great on either end of her beautiful mantel. Believe me, they may have value, but not as working microscopes. We’ve come a long way in seventy years. Now if she dangles a stethoscope off her chandelier…well, I don’t know. LOL!

  16. Melissa Lewis - Off The Wall

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this home, Melissa. As far as decorating one’s home, I am a fan of throwing all the rules out of the window. (Well, maybe not all!) So many people have a house that looks like it was bought directly from the PB catalog, or even directly out of Kirklands. They think their home should look like everyone else’s.
    But the most important thing to me, is the life lived inside the home. That’s why decorating around your own personal style and “lifestyle” is so important.
    This home couldn’t be a better example of that!

    I too am a fan of neutral walls that allow the furniture to come alive with color!

  17. Gail McCormack

    I love the dramatic contrast in colours, it’s worked so well. I’m also a great believer to decorate your home through your heart! Wonderful post Melissa

  18. Tara

    I am thinking it’s a little like Lily Pulitzer meets Mark twain–love it!


  19. all things bright and beautiful

    Oh Melissa – now this is my sort of post – loving the colours Loving it!

    pink and green are so yum.

    Beautiful post – as always :-)

    Hugs FelicityXOX

  20. laissezfaire

    Very clever and skillful use of colour to create such a cheerful room! I like that after all the colour, the clown is monotone. Subtle and nice!

  21. katiedid

    I do like the white backdrop as a foil for the fun colors. And thank you for the clown explanation! I am not a clown art fan, but in this instance you are very right about it making alot of sense! Fun post.:)

  22. Joni Webb

    Beautiful house and great tips! I love that room with the four pink chairs!


  23. Annechovie

    Absolutely love this home, Melissa! Gorgeous colors and details. The clown photo is in context, although I find clowns to be completely creepy! LOL I have been chided before for liking “circus colors” so I guess a place like this would be perfect for me!

  24. the feathered nest

    What a fun home! I like how they kept the walls light – it really would have been too much for me if they had wild colors on the walls as well as the furniture. What a great example to illustrate your idea!


  25. Sharon Goemaere

    My initial reaction was a smile when I saw all the colors in the rooms!I do love color and thought this was a wonderful post Melissa.Blessings~Sharon in Salem

  26. mary

    Oh those colors remind me of sherbet — love them!

  27. lynn

    It is the colours they are truly stunning…edable, just scrummy.
    Hugs Lynn xx

  28. rochambeau

    Great tips and happy colors. Thank you for sharing your tips today. They are good ones.


  29. Alice

    Your posts never cease to amaze me. Wow…I am totally blown away with these photo’s. What color, what style…beautiful. The colors in each of the photo’s is stunning and just pops. I would have never thought of using such brightly colored pink chairs, but it works beautifully. I think I need to rethink my authentic self.

  30. Pat

    Hi Melissa, we’re back from the lake and I’m doing a little bit of visiting this evening.

    I saw and enjoyed this article very much.

    Great post!


  31. Carolina Eclectic

    Hi Melissa! Beautiful photos, I especially love the pic. with the Designers Guild chair and the clown…even though its a bit creepy.
    Thanks for your comment on my blog, I really got a kick out of it.

  32. M&Co

    Beautiful! What an inspirational post! I’m not much of a color person myself, but slowly I’m seeing gorgeous, fresh and colorful interiors like this and gets inspired to add some color to my own home as well :-)

  33. Michelle

    Hi Melissa….
    I really enjoy reading your postings. The photos are always colorful and your uplifting personality shines right through. Great job !

  34. Neutral Dwelling

    I do like the shot with the fireplace. It is interesting to read the behind the scenes of the design!

  35. Patsy Clairmont

    You have a eye for what adds dynamics to a room thanks for sharing these settings with us. Very vibrant. Very Inspiring.

    I love your foundational belief that first we consider the design of our life (who we are) and then allow our homes to reflect that. I love when peoples homes are an extension of themselves–so hospitable, so comforting, so warm.

    I hope you’ll keep coloring our lives with tasteful options.

    Blessings, Patsy

  36. Robin

    Thats an interesting room for sure…it is whimsical and very young looking…not my taste but very nice nonetheless….

    On Friday I am having my 200th Post Giveaway so stop over and see me!

  37. dawn

    I have to say I think this is one of my favorite blog posts EVER! Thank you for sharing the beauty!

  38. fated follies studio

    Melissa, thank you for the sweet thoughts for my daughter. Thanks for entering my giveaway. I have been out of town and will announce a winner tomorrow after I catch up with all my emails and comments.

    Happy April!


  39. Esther Sunday

    What a fun looking home! I love the whimiscal color combos! Love, Esther

  40. Aubrey

    I love what these people have done, and now I know how to pull of fuschia furniture.

  41. Emily

    I have this issue and I love these rooms too! They had so much fun with their home and added such warmth and personality to it that anyone visiting (or looking at these pictures) gets a glimpse at who they are, which is what it’s all about.

  42. Betty Murdock

    I am the designer who spent a year doing this home so I am so touched by all the wonderful comments. I had never worked with anyone who wanted to embrace the history of their home in such a way. She is a professional photographer and I displayed a lot of her beautiful work which was not shown in the Tradional Home article unfortunately. Thank you for showing it. Betty Murdock, Betty Murdock Interiors

  43. Mary Ruth

    I really like your Blog and will subscribe to see what is new. I like the format in which you did it too, was easy for me to follow what I wanted to look up!
    Great information here!

  44. Pearl Maple

    Thank you for this inspirational and colourful post.

    It is an acquired skill to blend where you are at, what you have to work with and what you want to project in setting a scene for perfect nest. Always lots of great ideas to get one thinking here at the Inspired Room.

    Pearl Maples inspiring blog post..Stray Gifts for Sky Watch Friday



  1. Creating a Home That Inspires Your Life - [...] The Inspired Room awhile back on a family that used a circus theme in their home. You can read…
  2. Inspired Rooms: Add some fun & whimsy - [...] Embracing your authentic style [...]

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