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The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}

by | May 27, 2016 | Color, Decorating Inspiration, Get to Know You, Pattern

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The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}
Elle Decor / Design by Rita Konig / Wallpaper by Pierre Frey / Photo by Eric Piasecki

Yesterday on social media I posted a link to a post I wrote a couple of years ago called Finding the Happy Medium in Design. As I reread it I realized I would say pretty much the exact same thing today about my style preferences! I feel best with a happy medium, what I think (for our house) is a good balance between serene, serious, or calm elements and fun or somewhat more lively ones.

When I think of what I would consider a very serene room, I picture a quieter mood with solids or textures and less color and limited bold design patterns. When I think of a really lively room, I picture lots of colors and wilder or more bolder patterns all in one space. Of course, it’s all personal and there are so many ways to dial up the energy or tone it down to suit your taste.

The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}Sam Allen Interiors

I actually really love completely serene or calm rooms I see in some photos, but I know for myself I probably wouldn’t be as happy living in them unless there are at least some surprises in patterns or stronger colors somewhere in the house. It’s all in the balance for me, both in the room itself, and in the house as a whole.

And on the other extreme, too much liveliness is just too much for me. I like rooms that show some restraint.

The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}Brown Eyed Fox

Design is so very personal! Even if we love certain design style or color schemes in photos online, what we actually feel best living with can be something altogether different. I really enjoy looking at so many design styles for inspiration and ideas. I find it interesting to see how varied style options actually are. If you follow only certain bloggers or a specific magazine, you almost think there’s only one look or color scheme everyone is going with, or that everyone is leaning one style direction or another.

The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}JAS Design Build

But when you look at a variety of sources, you’ll find there are still SO many fun options in colors and looks! It’s fun to see how interesting design is around the world, across the country and among people who bravely make their homes so unique and personal.

Your home should tell YOUR story, so whatever design layers, colors and pattern mix feels right to you is just right.

I love all of the rooms in this post, by the way :).

 The Happy Medium in Design {Get to Know You}

Today I thought it would be fun to do a little “get to know you” time in the comments, it’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these posts!

So, delurk, introduce yourselves and let’s talk in the comments about whether you feel most at home with one a more calm serene look or a more lively one, or if maybe you land somewhere in the middle! Ready, set, let’s chat!

Related Posts:

Mixing and Layering Patterns and Colors 

Room Inspiration: Dignified with a Riot of Color {Decorating Mood Swings}

Color Inspiration: A Soft and Subtle Palette

8 Happy Colorful Rooms


  1. - karen

    My favorite style is natural and earthy. I want the inside of my home to almost be indistinguishable from the outdoors on the other side of the window. I love any color of autumn. I like lots of texture and all of my furniture is wood and antique. I have lots of pattern scattered about – I think it mimics light and shadow seen outside in nature. That botanical print in the first/top photo is gorgeous to me!!

    Thanks Melissa for bringing us along on your journey. I love the light and windows in your new home!!

  2. Marie Lutzow

    I’m a true eclectic I suppose. I love earth tones as well, but colors in artwork and books and unexpected touches make a home for me. Not a white pallet with one color selected, though that always looks pretty. The collected look is my favorite as it tells a bit of the person who lives there.
    A pillow of a squirrel with an acorn tucked in amongst the expected group on a couch,because we fostered rescues. A couple of old handmade fishing worm boxes on a shelf under a painting of a forest stream. The boxes made and used by my husbands grandfather. Not just interesting antiques, but family history.
    Not that I don’t have things I picked up 2nd hand from my favorite re-sale shops, I love other peoples history too!
    I also like mixing modern touches in with all the vintage stuff. I keeps things from just looking old.
    I have your 1st book. It is an inspiration! I is what finally spurred me to start enjoying the quirks of our home. Some of them have become my favorite things, instead of the stumbling blocks I once thought they were!!! So thank you for your insights.
    Your home is lovely, but most importantly, it says who you are. Marie

  3. Sharifa Abdul-Wahid

    We’ve been in this house for almost 8 years and this post made me realize I’m not even sure WHAT our decorating style is! LOL I do know that it’s comfortable and we LOVE it. But, it does get some regular tweaking! ;) Great post, Melissa. *looking at my living room mirror gallery with an eye towards some change*

  4. Elizabeth @

    I like serene with a punch of color here and there. My hubby likes way more color than me. When we built our house I wanted a lot of white but he wanted warm tones. I’m now glad we went his direction, because now we have a little of both.

  5. Donna @ Modern on Monticello

    I would have to say I am in the middle too. I love magazine spreads with neutral tones and a calm feeling but honestly, living in those spaces would mean I would find myself adding just a little bit of blue in some pillows or accessories, or looking for a way to tweak the space – just a little – with some orange. But not too much to be overwhelming. I guess you could say I like the balance more than just the boldness of color.

    Thanks for making us think about these things on a Friday morning. Have a great weekend.

  6. Bubu

    Such a good conversation opener. It’s funny, when we moved into this house 11 years ago, it was our first time owning rather than renting — as a result of which we went a little beserk with the paint colors, because we COULD. So we have some lovely color, and I do love sage in almost any room. And I had always wanted a cheery yellow bedroom to counteract the long, bleak New England winters. But that said, as we begin to contemplate a new house and I study blogs, I am more and more drawn to calmer and serene rooms, with less color, more white or gray walls, but that act as a good backdrop to plants, flowers, pillows, pottery, meals, and just the people and lives that inhabit and take center stage in the rooms. Plus now with two kids, a cat, a job, etc., there is enough color and life filling our home, that I long for a little more quiet and serenity to balance out all the excitement. Not sure that makes sense but it seems to be what is resonating with me.

  7. Melanie

    Hi Melissa. I definitely feel more comfortable with calm serene decor. I started to redo my decor from earthy tones to turquoise and some corals, which I love, but realized that is not me. I found I am drawn to blue. Maybe because I love being near water – the sound, scenery, etc. So I am now starting a plan to have my decor in blue and white tones with pops of yellow or red, maybe both, to add some liveliness. Thanks so much for your blog! You are an inspiration!

  8. Tina

    We moved to a new house almost exactly one year ago, and my style has done a complete 180! I went from a 100+ Victorian home with rich colors and fabulous woodwork, to a 70″s ranch! My decorating style is pretty eclectic, with modern, clean lines and a dash of industrial and reclaimed pieces. I am drawn to calm colors, but love to liven things up with pops of color I change with the seasons. Thanks for the blog, Melissa!

  9. Katie

    I relate to liking pictures that are serene but I always envision walking in that room and sitting down and know its not for me. I tend toward the more serious but then I pick what’s more fun because I have kids and the mood needs to be light and happy!

  10. Pat

    I have always loved window seats and book shelves, so glad to see you using them. Seems as all I hear is the less the better and I enjoy a little clutter for comfort and hominess.

  11. Jo Jo

    I always considered myself eclectic…I need things to go well together and compliment but dislike “match-y, match-y” decor. I like a more neutral palette with pops of color in throw pillows and other assessories. I love to change out assessories during the different seasons and fall is my absolute favorite! I am in love with painted woodwork and architectural details! Cove and ceiling moldings and high baseboards are a must for me done in gloss white. I don’t think I will ever tire of living with that and enjoying the contrast against a slightly deep colored wall. I must have some real plants around too. I also love to get budget friendly grocery store bouquets ( the kind I purchase seem to last a few weeks! Score! ). We recently built and moved into a new home and begun landscaping. I’ve been cutting roses from my bushes and putting in bud vases around the house. Turning our house into a home for my husband and myself ( and for our grown children and visitors alike) is of great importance to me and one of my favorite joys in life! I truly love studying decor and find inspiration from nature, a few trends ( but never anything too trendy…only an assesscory or two..) and from wonderful blogs like this one!

  12. Dawn DeMulling

    I like a more serene look. We are doing a major remodel to our home, and I am glad I picked mostly whites, pale greys, and blues for the walls and cupboards. The flooring is wood, black wood grained linoleum, slate, or pale blue penny tile. I just love this clean. light look. I like adding color with fabric and accessories, so I can change them out. That way the house is classic and timeless, never dated. I am also a great believer in decorating for yourself, and not being a slave to current trends.

  13. Melinda Young

    I like traditional elements mixed with a bit of whimsy with a rustic twist. I don’t like a room to feel too formal, I want it to feel warm and inviting. I love some color and natural elements too. We have 3 boys and my husband and I wanted a home that we can easily live in and enjoy together.


    I think it depends on the room for me. Our bedroom is calming and serene-like; a place of rest and peace. Our entire home has color but not loud colors. It wouldn’t work for us but I see it in someone else’s and think, “I like it.”
    Our homes should probably reflect our souls – I believe when you walk into our home, you see me. Kind of eclectic, creative, HOPEful, and people of faith.
    Love your blog and all the wonderful pics.

  15. Lynn

    I’ve discovered I enjoy looking at many different styles and colors, and can put all that together for someone else, but for myself, I find that I gravitate towards calming, light colors. I occasionally add in colorful accessories, but tire of them fairly quickly.

  16. Cori

    I love this post Melissa, I also love serene rooms but have a color palette that I think is soothing and fun! I love navy blue and mossy greens mixed with neutrals . I also absolutely love found treasures from thrift stores, yard sales etc, they really are my favorite elements?

  17. Patty

    I like an uncluttered eclectic look, I love furniture different styles from different era’s and I like to to mix them and bring the room together with accessories. I like neutral colors and use throws and pillows for color and my shelves with my collection of pottery and books also add color. I have to work very hard at not having to much stuff on end tables and shelves etc. so I switch things out to keep from getting a cluttered look.
    I like to mix textures and styles in my kitchen I would eventually love to have industrial, farmhouse.
    The main thing though is being comfortable, and seeing friends and family comfortable and to be able to enjoy our home and make memories.

  18. Kerry

    I am still figuring out what I like. I LOVE the beach, the textures, the sun, the sand, the water, the sounds, the peace and calm … this is my refuge. I live about 2 hours from the coast so bringing those things into my home is my greatest desire. My goal would be a coastal cottage look; color but in muted tones, textures throughout, and a easy blend of old and new.

  19. Jane @ See Jane Learn

    We moved into a remodeled home two years ago that looks down on the Harbor, and it brings me such joy! We have LOTS of light (thanks to a wall of windows), and white kitchen cabinets. Thanks to your blog and others plus Pinterest, I’ve found my favorite styles are coastal cottage, modern vintage, farmhouse, clean-but-cozy (quite a mix!). I’ve brought in turquoise throughout with pops of red in the kitchen and our Master is blue and white. My husband is not a lover of white but I sneak it in whenever possible. I love that we found a table and church pew on Craig’s List which makes our home unique. I love a happy medium…

  20. Debra

    I’m drawn to so many different styles and palettes that it’s hard to claim one as my own. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy what I do so much—I get to experiment with all of them.
    I prefer a mix of furnishings that are focused on comfort, relaxation, and company

  21. Mary Behny

    I like both but certain moods for certain rooms. For instance, I want my bedroom and dining rooms to be calm and serene but prefer more lively and fun for family rooms and kitchens. I love the farmhouse industrial look with pops of berry red or turquoise.

  22. Rebecca Turner

    I keep the walls and floors neutral. I have bright white mats on my pictures, which stand out next to the neutral walls, and most of my accessories are either white, or are made of natural materials…so you could say that I like a calm, restful look…but I bring in punches of color, seasonally, with pillows, throws, furniture scarfs and vases. I also include fresh flowers and green plants. My favorite color punch is turquoise.

  23. Deb Albert

    We are just completing a renovation in a new to us home in the mountains and in the great room/kitchen/main floor we have medium hickory distressed wide plank floors, BM seashell paint on walls, white cabinets in kitchen, lots of wood antique furniture and several rustic wood pieces, and white/natural slipcovered sofa and chairs. The accessories include lots of natural materials such as plants, baskets, wooden bowls, throws and pillows in greens/creams, and botanical prints on the walls. I am loving it. It is very light and bright yet fits it with the forest all around us. In the bedroom I’ve always been partial to blue and white. I love adding fresh flowers in bright colors and pretty vases, pillows, accessories. We have painted the walls a light smokey gray blue with white trim. I painted a couple of furniture pieces white as well. We added french doors out to the deck and the room is now bathed in light with an amazing view of the woods. The room is very tranquil and peaceful.

    • Cindy

      Deb, you just described everything that I like! I’ve lived in my mountain home for two years now and am just getting it to the look you have in your home. Kindred decorating spirits!

  24. Miriam S. Ray

    Delurk?? Love this word! I am definitely a lurker. I enjoy reading and seeing other people’s blogs, pics and posts. I am definitely a home body and have to say when I decorate and nest, I don’t change up many things. I don’t follow fads but love traditional along with fun surprises.

    I shop my home alot, moving chairs, pictures, pillow and even window treatments. Making thing fresh with my own stuff.

    My grandmother loved in the same house she built in1924 and my son lives there now. Found furniture bills that she ordered when she built her home, using them until she passed away. She changed things by painting her kitchen 5-6 times. I enjoy her wicker chairs that had mutiple layers of color and my husband replaced the wood runners and i have recovered them 3 times in 25 yrs.

    I love your newest book because contentment is great gain!

  25. Carolyn

    I tend toward the calm, serene and uncluttered look. But I do like pops of color too. For instance in the picture of the kitchen above, I love the all white but like the pop of color in the orange stools and yellow bowl. It is
    just enough. I do like the wallpapers in the bedrooms, but not in the bedroom. Would like it better in a powder room. Always love your posts!

  26. Deanna Rabe

    I really like serene rooms I see, but for me I love color! I guess I am a happy medium, too. I love reds, yellows, greens, blues but try to do them tastefully. My style is English Country and Cottage mostly.

  27. Judy

    Hi Melissa, I crave tranquility and coziness at home. I am drawn to soft moody colors. I love using lots of texture: wood, weathered woods, and natural fibers to keep things interesting. I am a fan of antiques and have a lovely little collection of old blue bottles that make me smile. I love fresh flowers throughout my home (when I can). I love the coast and like to add coastal touches. My favorite color is blue. My husband and I just bought our first home a 1950 Cape. It’s a fixer upper. We are probably older than most first time home owners, but we are going for it! Looking forward to see how our ideas come to life. I enjoy your blog so much and have all your books so far. They have blessed me a lot. I am looking forward to your kitchen remodel. (I need one too!)

  28. Cindy in Oklahoma

    I miss my dark barn red breakfast room with the white trim, white kitchen cabinets and natural wood floors. Oh my goodness, I loved that look.

    But now everything is pretty serene/bland… more focus on texture than color… although, I inherited an antique light blue velvet sofa with gorgeous wood trim… who knew how much I loved blue? I even replaced pillows in the guest room with some chambray colored ones to go with the cream quilt and pale sage checked bed skirt. A darker sage chair sits in the corner and a dark blue curtain hangs on a window nearby.

    I love to look at rooms with more vibrant colors, but I thought I was happier living with a more serene color palette. … just thinking about that red has me wondering if I’ve just given into current trends instead of staying true to my self!

  29. Pam Cates

    Our last home had a red dining room as well and in Norman, Oklahoma (home of Oklahoma Sooners-crimson & white! Or home now only has pops of colors and I think I need MORE RED! I have been trying to tone down my red pops with turquoise but…..hmm…where can I put more RED? I love your blog and can’t wait to see your new designs to offically start.

  30. Jane

    I love color, especially blue and many of my walls in my home are shades of blue, however, i love looking at neutral rooms too, though not sure i could live with it. however, i do love textures, too


  31. Ann C

    I like lively in my kitchen.,however the kitchen is not the heart of my home. I’m retired from working and have lost my love of cooking so it’s a place I go to fix a meal period. I had the cupboards refaced recently from their 1950’s maple to white with headboard inserts in the doors. I have a variety of reds as accents including a wallpaper border of geraniums. Love it! My living room is relaxed but done in a yellow and blue. My favorite colors. Bedrooms are in whites and blues and quite restful. I’m trying to pare down all my collections to have less to dust, another thing I don’t enjoy anymore. I do enjoy looking at all the options we have to make our home ours.

  32. Ann C

    Beadboard NOT headboard, just in case anyone thinks I have a new style!?

  33. Rachel

    I’m a middle ground person for sure. I love a calming backdrop to a space and adding color and pattern into my accessories. I feel at home when a room is happy but not too in the face! :)

  34. Lily

    My home is cozy and comfortable with neutral walls, white trim, white kitchen cabinets and lots of white beadboard in the kitchen, hearth room, and bathrooms. I’ve added in lots of color in my furniture, artwork, and window treatments. I think my style is probably mostly cottage with a touch of English country. I do prefer a more uncluttered look as I get older as I don’t have the energy anymore to clean a lot of stuff. I do love looking at all kinds of different decorating styles, but know what works for me these days….

  35. Andrea M. Schnapp

    I live in a new house by the beach. I really love the beach colors out there without the beach theme. I also enjoy big colors, such as Harlequin, a kin to Fiestaware, in my kitchen. I have color, color, and more color in this house. But, I have one bedroom that has great bones, but I do not like the color, which is green. I recently read an article on line about the lack of color, using white instead. I have dark stained furniture and was thinking of painting the pieces, but I think if I paint a certain neutral color instead, I may like the room and leave the furniture alone. This is very difficult for me to consider since I love “real” color so much.

  36. Andrea M. Schnapp

    P.S., too bad this post doesn’t let you post pictures! Now that would be fun!

  37. Kayla

    Our first house had a different color in every room; I loved each room individually, but as a whole picture it was just too much! We have 3 paint colors in our whole house now: two shades of warm gray/greige and a pale blue (diluted BM Bird Egg). All of our rooms have some of the pale blue in them (lots of vintage blue mason jars in our house), but aside from my dining room hutch, which is Bird Egg blue, all the large pieces of furniture are white or various shades of wood, with various metals as accents in tables, lamps, hardware, etc. I bring in accent colors that I switch up for different seasons. I’d call our house farmhouse serene. Simple and classic, but cozy and comfortable. I find that too much matchy-ness makes a room feel too stuffy for me to live in day to day, but it’s beautiful to look at! I wish I could see pictures of everyone’s homes! Loving reading the descriptions.

  38. jen

    I prefer neutral tones in the high ticket items like couches/walls/case goods and whimsy in accessories so they can be changed over time. And with 3 kids everything has to be livable…which is what I like about your home transformations. They are beautiful but you can tell a family could really live there…not just a showcase or furniture museum. We live on a small lake. We have an eclectic mix of beach/lodge/transitional/modern cottage. Our house is “casual Friday” all the way…:)

  39. Karen on Bainbridge Island

    I have multiple personalities when it comes to design and decor. Right now, in the house we have just finished remodeling, I painted a neutral gray/green on every wall with white trim, cabinets and doors and dark hardware. Every room has a bit of blue, and a nod to the nautical since we live on an island, except one guest room that is green and orange just for fun. I like a mix of old and new, high end and bargain. I have numerous pieces of furniture and decorative items that belonged to both my grandmother and my mother, which gives me the mood and look I enjoy.

    I lean toward classics, and require texture in every room, usually in the form of caning, rattan, or wicker. I am very fond of rearranging what I already own, and finding new ways to keep things fresh. I love grouping collection items to fully appreciate them. You can never have enough baskets, trays or boxes!

    We are homebodies, and are equally fond of our outdoor space. As I write this, landscapers are putting the finishing touches on our walkways, planters and rock wall. We will spend every minute we can enjoying this extension of our home.

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