Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

Jas Design Build

As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes struggle a wee bit with decorating choices for my own home because I have a split personality (among other issues, heh heheh). I like happy fun decor, but I always want to keep things tasteful!  But then if it is too tasteful or everything matches perfectly, the design feels predictable and impersonal to me.

How do you find that happy medium and what does that look like?

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

I don’t want to go overboard on fun or personality because I definitely don’t want to get silly and tacky. I just want to add in a bit of fun. I’m sure everyone will have their own definition of what is tasteful fun and what is tacky, but I guess we just have to work that out for ourselves! No judging, that is the beauty of having your own home to decorate. YOU get to decide what you like and that is what really matters.

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

I showed pictures the other day of yellow kitchen islands, including the kitchen in the home I’m featuring today. Thanks for all weighing in with your thoughts on yellow islands, whether they are your personal favorite or not!

While part of me wants to think I could do something that fun and bold with color in a kitchen (it is only paint, right?), another part of me is kind of practical and would think to play it safe and use yellow on a chair instead.

My safe practical side and my fun throw caution to the wind side don’t always agree right away on exactly what to do. Ha! I try to let them battle it out until we can find the happy medium.

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

Because of my own quest to find that balance, I love when I find houses that seem to make sense of that inner struggle and are able to showcase both tasteful personal style AND fun all in one house. Maybe I’m not crazy after all for wanting that!

I think this home I’m featuring today is a nice balance (Jas Design Build). The architecture is gorgeous, which helps a ton in keeping the house in good taste. A bit of fun in pattern, color and style keeps the house youthful and personal, but it is grounded with more serious elements like dark floors, natural wood and bits of black. They definitely made some bold choices with their colors but I think that is what makes it work! It isn’t predictable or expected.

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

This house definitely helps keep me inspired to move forward with what I love and what really fits with my own personal style! My office is done (to be revealed soon!) and I’m starting to put together a plan now for the colors and furnishings in the rest of the house! I’m very excited about seeing how the whole house will come together! More on that soon!

Do you ever have an inner personal style struggle when you are making decorating decisions for your home?

All images Jas Design Build.

Want to create a home you can’t wait to come home to? I can help with that!

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

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Jump-start your style and refresh your home with budget-friendly and practical ideas from my book Simple Decorating! You’ll learn to embrace your style, reimagine your spaces, and transform hard-to-love areas into favorite destinations.

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

Finding The Happy {Medium} in Design

Order Simple Decorating at Amazon or Barnes and Noble


  1. I have the exact same struggle. In my home and my wardrobe, I always end up going with a neutral solid color, which will be boring unless I make myself throw in some pattern or a pop of color. I know that the neutral will “go with anything” and I won’t grow tired of it or need to change it out soon. So I end up using smaller accessories in color and pattern to liven things up. I should go bold on a bigger piece – I think I’d love it :)

  2. I think I do exactly what Lori above me does…use a neutral but then jazz it up with a punch of color or two. As far as something “fun” goes, I always think there should be a dose of whimsy in every room…but I usually play it safe and keep that dose small. Unless it is a space for children – then fun, here we come! Years ago (we’re talking decades here) I had a VERY Early American style home (Williamsburg-ish) and it had NO dose of fun whatsoever. I do not ever want to go back with that. My biggest struggle is not the fun element, but the seasonal elements. I want light colors in the spring and summer and warm colors in the fall and winter…that can get expensive – unless you have a summer home and a winter home which isn’t going to happen for this girl I know!

    • I know what you mean, I think that’s why I like the balance of tasteful neutrals and lively color…seems to me to work in all seasons with little adjustments.

  3. I usually do the exact same thing. Sometimes I do get carried away with things though. Like the other day I bought these sheer curtains for my doorway and they were so perfect for the room that I ended up going back and buying two more sheer curtains (they were from the 99 cent store, so don’t worry, I didn’t spend a lot). Sometimes it’s best not to go overboard and accept the fact that one is enough! I still love my sheer curtains though!

  4. Hi Melissa
    I loved this post! As an interior designer I love so many things and sometimes it is hard to figure out how to make it all work together without looking tacky.
    However I think it’s much worse to have a home that doesn’t look unique to the home owner. That is my biggest complaint with many interiors…I believe your home should be a reflection of YOU!
    Thanks for sharing the inspiration photo’s!

  5. Making decorating decisions can be tough. I’ve debated for a while if I should stencil the walls in the dining room. Although I like the look in other people’s homes, I’m not sure if it’s something that I want here. So instead I’ve painted the walls and now I’m waiting. I don’t consider it indecision, rather a time where I’m trying to sort out what I really want, love and will love in the years to come.

    I think if you have the right house you can get away with fun whimsical touches that may seem tacky somewhere else. We are very fortunate to live in a house that has deep baseboards, high ceilings, transom windows, etc., yet it’s a story and a half so it can’t really take itself too seriously. We have fun bursts of colour here and there. Most of the downstairs is grey and a light blue grey (Sarah Richardson colours) but our tv room is red. Wonderful red. And there are pops of red throughout the rest of the house. I really think that the other details that are intrinsic to the house allow us to have fun, add a touch of whimsy and not take things to seriously, but at the same time it feels like a grown up space.

  6. That house looks so full of happy, contagious life! I love white and beachy blues, but then I see spaces like your feature and I get tempted. I saw some bright floral curtains on Ikea’s website, and I’ve been wondering where I could incorporate such liveliness! Hey- at $15 a pair I could get 2 pairs, and if I decide they are too much, I could make dresses for myself and my 2 girls with the fabric. Maria von Trapp and Scarlett O’Hara would be proud! Why not make our home a skosh more vibrant?!

  7. Haha Yes!!! Which is why I’ve got two rooms in my house with bare tapes amd mudded sheet rock, one room with everything done except the ceiling. A kitchen with three of the cabinet doors each painted a different color. And the living room floor is a giant room sized rooster rug over subflooring. I pulled up the old stained carpet but now can’t decide what i want in the downstairs to replace it…..

    And like you…. i want my home to reflect me…. whimsical (which often seems impractical during the daylight hours) and still adult.

  8. Ugh – my struggle is that my style is very bright and colorful while my husband’s is very staid and traditional. I usually defer to his style since I figure it lends itself better to standing the test of time and so that our furniture and things throughout the house match each other somewhat. One day, though, maybe I’ll have a room that can be all mine and I’ll decorate it however I want. And eat chocolate in there. Alone. :)

    The pictures in this post are right up my alley.

    • I’ve had to bring my husband along a bit in the idea of “decorating fun” … he probably would prefer all dark wood and more serious decor. We are trying to find that balance so we are both happy and love our home!

  9. I think you and I have the same struggle. I love a pop of color or a little whimsy in a room. I am always questioning whether I could live with it long term and then It makes me not move forward with the idea. I don’t like that about myself. I would love to throw caution to the wind!!! I think I am too practical at times. That is one advantage of designing for others, it has allowed me to explore others decorating personalities without me having to make the commitment.
    Happy Thursday,

    • True, that is the fun thing about blogging and designing for others! We can enjoy it all without having to do it all! But still, I do like that balance in my own home and it isn’t always easy to achieve but I love when I see it done well!

  10. I know exactly what you mean. I am NOT a decorator. I look at pictures and basiclly copy ideas. I recently painted my breakfast nook/dining area green. This was a big big stretch for me and I like it but I dread the day I get tired of it and have to repaint. I’m not getting any younger and painting sounds not so hard but it is work!
    I love it when you see a house with personality and it looks like someone really lives there. The house you are showing hits the nail on the head for me. Gotta keep it real cause you gotta look at it every day. I get so much inspiration from blogs like yours – Keep it up

  11. I understand Dawn’s dilemma. I will tell you the (short) decor story of my mom and dad. My mom leaned toward neutral with pops of color while dad loved color. One day mom returned home to find that dad had both upstairs bathrooms tiled (as in cement) in an incredibly bold brown, gold and ORANGE; orange being the dominant color.

    Mom was literally sick. After the ceramic (tile in cement) episode mom started to hyperventilate, couldn’t breathe and was taken to the ER (via ambulance) where she stayed for 3 days.

    A year later (mom should have known something was “up” when) dad said “I feel like i live in a bowl of oatmeal” Mom’s neutrals with a few pops of bold color weren’t enough for him . Anyway, the next month she can home and dad had carpeted the living and dining rooms (30’x 20′) in LIME green and replaced the couches with a large lime green and orange flower print. A year after that he had the lime green carpet replaced with BRIGHT orange.

    You would think that mom would never want to leave the house fearing the next decor event. So, years later when it was time to change decor because dad was bored they decided to “compromise”… which means neither of them were ever happy with the decor in their home. So sad.

    My son-in-law states that the home and its decor are to be decided by the wife. Husband may offer ideas but only at the wife’s request… To my joy, My husband is in total agreement with this. So there you have it… the secret to a happy home.
    : – )

  12. I find that there are usually 2 decorators at war within. There are countless decorating blogs that feature white rooms, white trim, white furniture. As much as I love the airy beach cottage look, or a romantic pale, soft decor, my house is trimmed in natural woods and floored in oak hardwood. I’ve painted in earth tones because I’m always drawn to that first. I love warm, rich colors just a little more than pale,soft colors. In magazines I’m always drawn to rooms in warm, inviting colors.
    When I was going over your house tour of your previous English Tudor home, I really loved the depth of character and vintage charm of each room. You could really feel the house had been lived in for a long time. It’s very hard to reproduce that, albeit not impossible.

  13. Yes! I have the same struggle reconciling both parts of my personality. For now, that’s resulted in a jumble of colors that only vaguely match. I like the idea other comments mentioned, having mostly neutrals and lots of accent pieces you can change out when the mood hits. These pics are inspiring!

  14. I find myself in the same dilemma. I love elements of many different styles that it seems difficult to follow a single path. My decor is truly ecclectic because of that, but as I gear up for a coastal design project I am taking stock and noticing many of the elements share similarities beyond their “design style”. I think the pieces we love have a common ground..even if we don’t realize it at the moment we bring them into our home.

    I love the pops of color in the house you featured but I’m just now bringing more color into accent pieces…I’m a muted girl through & through but notice everything looks better with that little spot of color…working on conquering that fear!

    I just found your blog the other day Melissa and must thank you for all the wonderful inspiration! I’ll definitely be back to see what else you have instore…

  15. I love this post. I feel this way about my own home. People always ask me what I do to decorate my home. I just say, ” I let it evolve.” So much more character that way:)

  16. What a lovely home and I loved your post-fun plus personal tasteful style. I struggle all the time with this issue. Sometimes my limited budget for decor/diy is the challenge, other times just making a decision. I tend to end up on the neutral and sometimes boring side but I have been working hard to incorporate a bit more colour. Thanks for the encouragement with posts like these and your lovely inspiration photos.

  17. Melissa,
    I blame over exposure to beautiful and inspiring rooms via blogland and pinterest. I make myself stop and think about what I truly love in a room, otherwise I could go crazy with decorating and re-decorating! I love the pictures you’ve shared…I’d print those and use them as inspiration.

    • Well that definitely can contribute to design confusion! So true! My desire for a mix of happy and serious stems from way back probably 20 years ago, prior to blogging! And I do not like to have to redecorate constantly so I guess it is good I pretty much stick to the same basic feel in my home. I agree, that constant changing would drive me crazy too!

  18. The Jas Design Build home great inspiration. I love all the traditional woodwork and style of the house’s structure. I guess what makes it inviting is that is seems the house doesn’t take itself too seriously. It seems to lack that “perfect” look. Pieces like the old stove and the yellow island and the striped rugs kind of give it that contented look. I also like that the kitchen shelves and counters don’t look “styled.” Maybe it’s perfectly imperfect.

  19. I love these pictures and the style. I agree that great architectural design makes good decorating fantastic. The splashes of color in each room make the space feel warm and inviting. Unfortunately, I am so scared to put bright colors in my own house. Black, white, and gray seem to be the colors I gravitate toward. Maybe someday I’ll be bolder!

  20. I struggle to find the balance too. I love antiques and white and creams and patina, but I also love more modern fabrics and fun elements. It’s sometimes hard to balance these 2 worlds in one home. It’s part of the fun I think too. Can’t wait to see your office! Have a fabulous day!

    • Ashleen Moreen says

      If you really have a split personality and home designing will be involved, you will really have problem on how you will deal with it. what are you going to follow and what would be the best thing to do that will not ruin your house design.

  21. I feel the same way in my house. I want to make it youthful and fun but keep it tasteful. I’m currently working in my kitchen and don’t want to break the bank so I’m in that struggle.

  22. I LOVE that yellow island! I have been married 29 years, and tried out many colour combinations and looks until at last (!) I found a colour – a deep warm grey on the blue side of the spectrum which is cropping up throughout our home. Some rooms have more of it than others…. but have made up my mind now that I don’t want to decorate much more, so picked something we love and can live with, that is LOUDER than we have ever had it, but not SHOUTY, and that makes us feel good. If you are stuck for colourways, go and have a look in the garden or next door and see if flowers look good next to each other. If so – go for it (and by the way, don’t know where the grey came from, I just spotted it and loved it!)

  23. I’m actually okay when it comes to deciding on designs and colours for inside the house. I have a harder time with my exterior design, but I’m coming along nicely. Can’t wait to see the big reveal.

  24. Great post Melissa. The older I get, the more I want to have around me things that make my heart sing. I always have something whimsical in my decor. Whimsy tends to come in the shape of an odd little piece of furniture or accessories. I currently have in my kitchen a beautiful pharmaceutical license belonging to a man from the 1890s. I also have some weird (read fancy and whimsical) ornate tassels with wolf or dog heads. My kitchen has a wooden hutch and the walls are painted a pale grey. Pottery Barnish. But when I see those odd details it always makes me smile. Good taste with a little twist I think.

  25. Kim Moore says

    Your blog makes it possible to enjoy a lot of different ideas without having to put the all in my house. I like a neutral background–currently grey, cream and tan–that can become Christmasy or Pinky Mothers Day or Easter or summer, etc. by changing accessories like pillows, artwork, flowers, kitchen towels and kitchen counter decor-( counter-scapes?) and throws. I found horizontally striped curtains by clicking through your blog and even ordered the same West Elm duvets shown to make them. I wish I knew how toots photos. I’d show them to you. Many thanks for the Colors!

  26. I completely agree!! It is SO difficult to make decisions for my own home because i will have to LIVE with it and see it everyday!!! I usually make a “design board” and stare at it for a few weeks before I buy anything to make sure I really really like it all. Then take the plunge and buy it!!

  27. I love how well the colors came together. I tend to be more 1 dimensional in redecorating my space. Great post with a lot of motivation for me. Thanks!!!

  28. Any idea what color the creamy green neutral that they use through the house?! I am in love with it!


  29. christina says

    I would also love to know what that wall color is!!!

  30. Manette Gutterman says

    Can’t wait to see the office reveal!

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