Let’s be honest, half the time decorating feels more frustrating than fulfilling. It feels like one big guessing game. Sometimes you’d rather give up and flip through a magazine instead.
All of that makes you feel even less creative. You wonder what you’re missing. Was the decorating gene left out of your DNA? Are the homes that look effortlessly beautiful meant for someone else and not you?
Your home isn’t where you want it to be. It feels unfinished, disjointed, and not comfortable enough (because, really, how can you relax when you sit down and catch yourself staring at a blank wall you don’t know what to do with?).
Even if you don’t think you’re creative or artsy, you’re still the best person to decorate your home.
Did you know in the U.S. only 52% of respondents described themselves as creative in the Adobe State of Create Benchmark Study? Are the other 48% doomed to live in unattractive homes?
I say, heck no!
What if you don’t have to be creative to decorate well? Thank goodness if you are one of the 48%, like me. I’m living proof that a rational, left-brained thinker can create beautiful spaces, too (and it might even be easier for us).
You don’t have to know intuitively what works.
You don’t need to get a vision.
It doesn’t have to just come to you.
There’s another way…
You can know why it works.
You can define the vision.
You don’t have to wait for it, you can go find it.
Decorating As Nurture, Not Nature
People assume I’m highly creative because I care about decorating and make things look beautiful. My secret: I’m not creative. I’m not an artist. I’m actually a scientist and every personality or career placement test I’ve ever taken has told me I should be a project manager.
So, naturally when I started out in my first home I was really good at managing a decorating project to completion, but baffled about how to actually make the finished room look good.
Decorating didn’t come naturally to me. As a scientist, I wonder about nature vs. nurture all the time. When it comes to my ability to decorate, I know it’s 99% nurture. By nature I am curious and persistent, which led me to nurture my interest in decorating and figure out the how and why. How could I create beautiful interiors? Surely there had to be a rhyme and reason to this “art”.
I refused to accept decorating was just an art. There had to be a reason things worked and looked good. So, I studied decorating from that lens–figuring out how it works.
I had to explain why. I needed to understand the science behind the art. I wanted to know what makes a beautiful room look good and how that could be repeated in any room.
Thankfully, I found there is a science to decorating.
Just beneath the surface of what looks good is a method, a formula, or a guideline. Things like color theory, the rule of three, and the golden ratio. Rooms that look good follow these principles, whether the creatives that designed them know it or not.
What does this mean? It means you don’t have to be artistic to decorate, if you understand the science behind the art. You can follow the methods, formulas, and guidelines to get the same great results as the creatives. You can learn decorating.
There’s Nothing New in Decorating
Ever heard the phrase “there are no new ideas”? It’s true in decorating, too. Chevron symbols and patterns existed centuries before the zigzag motif became a trendy pattern amongst home bloggers and fabric designers.
If you consider there is nothing new in decorating, then it follows that you can learn from what already exists. You can learn what is already proven to work and apply it to get similar results in your home.
Instead of playing the decorating guessing game, you can rely on the science of decorating. Even for the pros, decorating requires some trial and error. But the pros finish faster and easier–not just because they are more creative–because they know the why behind each thing they try. They don’t guess at random for what might look good, they know tried and true options to start with.
It’s About Making Connections
Knowing the options is the first step, making connections is the second. Creativity is about making connections between things we already know. (When you put it that way I feel more creative already.)
Two of the most iconic furniture makers of all time, Charles and Ray Eames, combined what they knew about mass-produced furniture, design aesthetics, and comfortably supporting the human form. Plenty of other people were making mass-produced furniture or attractive furniture or ergonomic solutions, but Charles and Ray made the connection between all three.
You’re already more creative than you think. Creativity at it’s core is problem solving. When all you have in the fridge at dinner time is eggs and ham, you get “creative” and make omelets for dinner.
Decorating works the same way–it’s problem solving. But the problem isn’t what to eat for dinner, it’s how to make your room look bigger or seat more people when you have company. It hardly seems like a fair comparison, eggs and room expanding seating arrangements, but the only difference is you knew you could make omelets from the eggs. Once you know the decorating possibilities, what works in different situations and why, then your decorating creativity–I mean problem solving skills–will grow.
Whether you were born with natural decorating abilities or not, YOU can decorate.
You don’t have to be creative to decorate. By understanding the science behind the art, you can nurture your decorating know-how. And in the end, decorating might just make you feel more creative.
Just brilliant!! Thank you for this confidence boost:)
Your welcome, Lara!
I am so glad I found you!!! I have always thought that I was not a creative person! Well, I am glad there is hope for me :)
Brenda, Yay! I am glad we found each other :). I am sure you are more creative than you think, and either way you can decorate!
Brilliant is the right word for this. I happen to be made as a creative, just comes somewhat naturally to me, kind of decorator. but I LOVE learning the science behind it because it makes my job faster giving me more time time for other…decorating! It is so true that there are formulas that just work to please the human eye. Even more true is that it is problem solving. My favorite projects are spaces that are wonky and need balance or have something ugly in them that I have to figure out how to hide. Great post.
Thanks Pamela. I agree, even if you are naturally creative understanding the science behind it can only make it better.
I liked this article. Such a good way of analyzing decorating :-)
One of my favorite posts. You need these in a book! Too bad books are out. In my day we as young people would be poring over your advise and visuals and cutting out little things from catalogs to make mood boards!!! Ahhh. Dreams!! Decorating!! Analytical mind left behind for the moment
Thanks Gwen! I don’t think books are out, at least I hope not :)
Heart and Haven says
THIS is why I love your blog! I love your philosophy that one can decorate with a “formula”. I, too, am not creative by nature. I’m very project oriented and analytical and love understanding the science behind decorating. :-)
Heart and Haven, Thank you. I am with you…analytical! I’d be lost without a starting point. The formulas and guidelines give a little jump start :)