How To Make Your Style A Reality :: An Interview With Maria Casteel

Does anyone else find it hard to translate the amazing decorating ideas you have in your head to your home? Sometimes it feels like I have great taste on Pinterest when in fact my own home is just kind of…blah. But then there are some women who seem to not only have a vision for their home, but a supernatural ability to make those ideas come to life. I have a couple friends like that and this month they’ve agreed to tell their secrets. Today I have the great pleasure of sharing some thoughts on decorating from Maria Casteel, my good friend who lives in Kansas City with her husband, Steve, and son, Asher. Maria’s house is a continual source of inspiration and I was so excited that she took the time to break down some of her principles of decorating::

A Purpose Statement

This feels incredibly nerdy to admit, but I’ve realized I have somewhat of a purpose statement for decorating my home.

  • I want someone to feel interested and inspired by their surroundings. 
  • I want people to feel comfy, cozy and at peace.
  • I don’t want things to be fussy, uptight or overly clean (don’t worry, I’ve never struggled with this one).
  • I want to cultivate conversation, sharing and connection.

This helps me a lot when making decisions…for instance, there is not a television in our living room and the seating is arranged in such a way that conversation is encouraged. I try keep wall art and knick knacks edited so that there are many interesting and beautiful things to look at but it’s not visually overwhelming. There is always a pile of blankets within reach so no one is cold. Honing in on what is actually important to me about our home helps me make decisions.


For me, layering textures is a big element of decorating. At some point in life, I began to notice that certain spaces felt very cozy to me but also drew my eyes around the room and made me think. Other spaces I would visit felt what I can only describe as “flat”. As if everything came from one store and there wasn’t very much heart put into it. 

I found that one key to this was what I can only think to call “layering”. On my sofa there is something knit, wool kilim, sheepskin, and cotton. Around the room is woven art, paper art, feathers, plants and pottery. There are a lot of places for your eye to travel and a lot of sensations to feel.

Decorate With Things You Love

One of the most important things is just to surround yourself with things you love. Even if it takes time, do not hang up something you aren’t crazy about, just because you feel like you “should” have something up on the wall. Collect beautiful things from your travels. Frame one of your grandmother’s handkerchiefs. Put your funky college chair in the corner, even if it doesn’t totally “go” but just because you love it.


Pinterest has become such a great tool for figuring out what I like. I pin voraciously; whatever I like, without even really thinking. And then I try to find the themes. Sometimes it surprises me. Once upon a time I hated anything brass, but recently I realized there were many brass accents in things I’m pinning.  It made me realize I like brass, so i just snapped up a modern brass light fixture at a thrift store. I’m not sure I would have discovered that without the use of Pinterest.

When You Love It, Buy It!

Steve used to always ask me, “Where are you going to put that?” and I would say, “I don’t know, but I love it”. I store pieces of art, rugs, and small knickknacks in my attic, and when I realize a room is ready for a change, I bring things down and rearrange, and things sort of slowly and organically fall into place. This is obviously a rule that applies to less expensive things. You can’t store ten $500 rugs in your attic, but I mostly shop at thrift stores so this works for me.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things

When decorating your walls, don’t be scared to try things that might seem “weird”. Sometimes I’ll tape something to the wall (like an old postcard or a leaf) and it eventually becomes part of the permanent landscape in a really beautiful way. Thinking outside the box creates some of the best decor, I think. Hang a rug on the wall, make a sweater into a pillow, cut the legs short on your old kitchen table to make a new coffee table. Just go for it!

Question Yourself

I know, I just told you to not be afraid to try new things! 

But! When you feel your style changing, its good to question yourself before you buy an item.

I loved victorian elements for a long time. But I have realized (through Pinterest :) that I really want my furnishings to be more modern. Still, when I see a victorian sofa at a thrift store, my brain says, “I want that”. And I have to question myself a little. This is not what I actually like anymore. If you feel your style evolving, begin to question your purchases a little more.

Thanks so much, Maria! I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and creativity and can’t wait to incorporate these ideas into my decorating. I can’t stop thinking about how I’d like to add layers to my living room. And I think it’s so interesting that every single woman we’ve interviewed has mentioned the importance of decorating with things that you love! Has this idea impacted anyone else as much as it has me?

For more amazingness from the lovely Maria, you can visit your Etsy shop full of vintage dresses, read her blog, or follow her on Instagram.

In case you missed them, you can read other interviews from some charmed decorators here and here.

(Photos taken from an amazing lifestyle shoot by kaley from kansas)

Posted by Aanna on Monday, April 28th, 2014

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