Want to know what makes decorating a home stressful? For my own personal experience and my experience working with hundreds of clients, it comes down to these three things. Thankfully, each of them has a simple solution.
Decorating or redecorating always starts out exciting. The possibilities. The ideas. The vision. Those first few new finds for the room are fun.
But then something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would. It shakes your confidence. It causes you to question everything. Maybe you muster the strength to move forward, but you feel uncertain. You take longer to make decisions if you make them at all.
In some cases, you freeze. You feel so lost that you do nothing. All the possibilities, the ideas, the visions disappear. You become downtrodden.
You think you’re no good at decorating.
I’ve felt that way more times than I care to admit. When I figured it all out, I knew I wanted to help as many people as I could. In the last couple of years, I’ve helped hundreds of clients and students with a new approach.
Here are the three most common reasons decorating gets frustrating and what you can do differently.
1. You’re Rushing
I was guilty of this in our first two homes. I was always rushing to a “finished” home.
It’s what so many homeowners get wrong. They rush to fill every room with furniture and cover every blank wall. What’s worse is while they’re rushing to fill, fill, fill, they also think the right thing to do is buy furniture and decor meant to last a lifetime. Which usually translates to buying everything in neutral colors so they’ll never go “out of style.” Sadly that also means they’ll never make their home stylish. Six months later they realize they don’t love their “lifetime” choices, but they sank all their money into them and now they’re stuck with them.
You can’t rush and create something meant to last.
That’s what I tried to do in our first two homes. We’ve since replaced almost everything we thought would last us a lifetime. When we moved into this house, I was paranoid about going down the same path again. So I did something crazy…I did nothing for an entire year when we moved into this house. I had a newborn baby and decided to focus on him instead. So I stopped buying, filling, rushing. We lived with rooms that weren’t fully furnished and shelves that were bare. Instead of rushing, I took that time to strategize.
The Fix: Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.
There’s no point in rushing if you end up having to redo everything. Although we took it slower in this home initially, after four years it felt more decorated than our townhouse which we lived in for the same amount of time. The reason: Instead of spending four years rushing and redecorating in a vicious cycle, we took the time to decorate right the first time through. No redecorating required.
As you might imagine, it took a lot of patience (not gonna lie…the distraction of a newborn helped with that) AND it took a really good strategy (See #3).
2. You’re Overthinking
When rushing and impulsivity lead to a bad choice, then you go the other way. You slow down so much that you stop. You start to overthink and overanalyze every little thing.
Overthinking isn’t good decision making, it’s procrastinating.
We’ve all been there. It’s classic analysis paralysis. You don’t know what the best option is, so you choose nothing. Meanwhile, months or years pass and your home becomes a time capsule of your past decorating mistakes.
Thinking and planning are good. But when you fixate on microscopic details, you quickly lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why it’s so hard to make a decision about one thing for a room when you don’t have a vision for the entire space.
The Fix: Zoom out and consider the context.
Step back from the microscope that’s focused on the one object you can’t make a decision about. Instead, consider it in the context of the whole room. No decision can be made in a vacuum. When you look at an individual item alone, you can only ask, “Do I like this or not?”
Even if you like it, it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your room. When you look at the item within the context of the whole room or the vision for the room, then you can ask more meaningful questions, like:
- How does this relate to everything else planned for the room?
- Does it contribute to how I want this room to feel?
- Will this reinforce the use of a certain shape, pattern, or texture in the room?
- Does it fit into the story I want the room to tell?
For this fix to work, you have to first develop a strong vision for the room.
What’s even better is if you have a strong vision for your whole home (See #3)—an understanding of how everything in your home relates to each other, what style elements you’ll repeat throughout your home to tie it together, and what story you want your home to tell about the people that live in it.
When you have a clear vision, it’s easier to think quickly and decide if something fits or not.
3. You Don’t Have a Strategy
If you were building a house, would you start pouring the foundation before the blueprints were done? Of course not. Yet that’s exactly what we do when we start decorating. We skip the plan and jump right to the fun parts, like shopping and arranging. But the fun stops when we can’t pull the room together or make the house flow the way we envisioned.
In my first two homes, I didn’t have a strategy. I decorated ad hoc. I made random decisions here and there. I tried to make everything work in piecemeal. But nothing ever worked.
It was so frustrating. I jumped from trend to trend thinking if I just tried everything, something would stick. Pretty soon I was surrounded by a hodgepodge of random decor and nothing worked together.
Clearly, the “go with the flow” approach didn’t work. In this home, I wanted to be more intentional about my decorating. I wanted to not waste so much time and money cobbling my home together.
If you want to stop rushing, redecorating, overthinking, and second-guessing, then you need a strategy—a style guide for decorating your home.
My home changed for the better when I discovered my signature decorating style.
It changed my home in ways I never imagined. It’s made decorating easier, now our home feels more put together, and we spend less time on decorating and home projects, yet we love our home more.
The Fix: Discover your true decorating style, aka your decorating strategy.
Your true style is unique to you. It can’t be found by taking a multiple choice quiz. Trying to find it through trial and error is a big waste of time and money. That’s why I created Define Your Style Lab to take you step-by-step through my proven four-part process to mix up your one-of-a-kind style and save you years of decorating frustration.