It was so cute in the store, so how come you don’t love it when you get it home?
Has that happened to you? You find what you think is the perfect vase, art, or rug, but once you get it home it’s clearly not right. You persevere and try it a few other places…still it’s all wrong. Then it ends up in a closet, in the donation box, or if you’re really on top of things you return it to the store. Then you try again.
It’s not you, it happens to everybody. It took me forever to figure out why it kept happening to me over and over again.
Turns out most of the time it had to do with how I was shopping. There are two ways of shopping in particular that led to my most regretful purchases; binge shopping and impulse shopping.
My cart was full and I was so proud of myself. I rushed home and neatly draped the raspberry colored bath towels against the chocolate brown walls. I hung the gold-framed artwork above the towel bar. I set the oblong leather box on the back of the toilet tank. It was the perfect size to hide three rolls of toilet paper. The finishing touch was the copper planter with gold handles. It looked perfect perched atop the wall cabinet. The finished bathroom was chocolate and raspberry perfection.
It was perfect…unless you knew me. I’m certain my family thought I had a fever and was delusional when I chose the color scheme. It was beautiful, opulent, and lovely. It just wasn’t me. I clung to a color scheme that caught my eye in a magazine. As I rolled my cart up and down the aisles of the home store, I grabbed everything I thought would look good in that magazine picture, not what I actually liked. At the time, I’m not even sure I knew what I liked.
A few short months later, I knew what I didn’t like. I was over the dark chocolate walls that felt like they were caving in on me. Dark red bath towels? What was I thinking? After drying them the first time, it looked like someone bled out on the lint tray in my dryer. Gilded frames, copper, and obscure leather boxes also quickly lost their charm.
All of it was nice stuff, but none of it was for me. I created a room around a color scheme I appreciated, not what I loved. In one fell swoop everything in that bathroom got the eviction notice.
Excerpt from Free Decorating
Binge shopping is particularly dangerous, because it’s code for settling. This is where you set out to find everything you want for a room in a single day or sometimes at a single store. Binge shoppers are usually well-prepared with a list of what they’re looking for, but they’re quick to compromise on what they love. They might…
- Order the stock fabric instead of the sample they really want to avoid waiting 6-8 weeks for delivery
- Grab accessories that they can “make work” even if they aren’t exactly what they envisioned
- Settle for whatever’s available, even if it means changing something drastic like the the room’s color scheme
I learned the hard way that instead of binge shopping I need to take my time because it saves me from having to redo an entire room. When I go shopping I use two lists; one is the shopping list of things I plan to buy that day, and the other is a wish list to record ideas and items I want to consider buying in the future. The second list helps me quiet the urge to get it all done at once. I know my plans will come together better with patience and holding out for what I really love.
One night after a long day with the kids, José told me to go out and take a break. I went shopping and bought a vase that had all the right colors, but was all the wrong style. And I bought it for all the wrong reasons. I was tired, sad, and crabby. I thought a vase could cheer me up. It was only $12. It made it one week on the mantel before I stashed it in the coat closet. José didn’t notice at first, but then one day he found it and pulled it out. He asked, “You don’t like this vase already?” It was that word “already” that was so incriminating. I’d never hidden anything from José before. He was pointing out how quickly I fell out of love with things, but the truth was I never loved it in the first place, which is why it wound up in the closet and later got donated.
Excerpt from Free Decorating
Impulse shopping is sneaky. It happens to the best of us. It’s the little purchases here and there that seem harmless, but if you’re not careful they add up to a lot of money spent for little value. Impulse shoppers…
- Go shopping without a list to see what catches their eye.
- Add things to their cart they weren’t planning to buy, because they’re easily seduced by amazing deals and big red sale signs.
- Take a second-lap around the store determined to find something, anything to buy.
Impulse shopping isn’t preplanned, it’s an “in the moment” weakness where you get momentarily blinded by cute, cheap, or convenient items. When was the last time you found something for 80% off, on the end cap, or in the check out lane that you truly loved or made your home? It can happen, but it’s rare.
I used to never go to the store with a list. Without a plan in place, I picked up whatever random things caught my eye. After a while of bringing home a bunch of things I only felt so-so about, I realized I was missing a huge opportunity to intentionally plan my decor, so I’d love it for years to come.
When I finally started paying attention to my impulse buys, I was embarrassed by how much money I wasted on things I didn’t love. Some of the purchases might have made me feel good in the moment, but made me feel horrible later. Staying out of the stores when there is nothing I need is my number one defense against impulse shopping. Number two is sticking to a shopping list. Anything else that catches my eye goes on the wish list, not in my shopping cart.
Are you guilty of binge or impulse shopping? It’s okay if you are, but there is another way. So how do you stop buying the wrong things and find decor you love? I wrote a book on it. To find home decor with true staying power in my home, I:
- Focus on what I love, not what I like in passing.
- Use “The Pre-Purchase Test” in-store to make sure I love it before I buy it.
- Shop my own home before heading to the store.
I cover all that and more in Free Decorating. Along with the book you get a bunch of online bonus resources including printable reminder cards to take with you shopping which will help you run through The Pre-Purchase Test and remind you it’s okay to leave the store empty-handed if you don’t find something you love.