Paralyzed by Home Decor Decisions? You’re Not Alone

Confession: Nine years ago, when I moved into our house, I had so many plans for the place. For inspiration, I pored over home decor magazines and pinned paint colors and wallpapers on Pinterest. My mind was racing with the possibilities.

Can you guess what happened? Nine (yes, nine) years later, very little has changed in our home decor since the day we moved in. We finally painted the living room last year, and after many months of internal debate, I purchased some new throw pillows for my couch. But that’s it. The curtain rods hang bare above my children’s bedroom windows; the rugs and wallpaper I’ve been obsessed with, well, I just can’t seem to do it.

Why do home decor decisions paralyze me so?

It’s not a matter of budget, because I actually set aside some money for this purpose; I even hired a designer once for some consulting. It’s just that I never can make the leap to commit. And that’s the thing: It feels like so much of a commitment, a statement that will be etched in our memories forever—which you’d think would be a reason to get moving, but alas, not for me.

I know I’m not alone. Many people are paralyzed by decorating phobia, and it can happen for all sorts of reasons. To get to the bottom of this malaise, I spoke to interior decorators and designers for their insights on all the reasons people get a mental block on home decor, and how to get over these peculiar hang-ups so you can (finally) achieve the home you’ve always dreamed of having.

Fear No. 1: ‘My partner and I can’t agree on a decorating style’

To get over it: No matter how disparate your decorating styles are, there’s always a middle ground. Plus, with design trends today being more transitional than at any other time, it’s fairly easy to mix styles and live happily ever after, points out Lauren Clement of Lauren Nicole Designs in Charlotte, NC. If you two are truly butting heads, bringing in a third-party opinion can often help, whether that’s a friend or a professional interior decorator.

Fear No. 2: ‘Decorating will cost a lot of money’

To get over it: Decorating can cost a lot, but it sure doesn’t have to. Just make a budget and stick to it—then go find second-hand furniture or budget-friendly items that won’t drain your bank account.

And if hiring a designer is too pricey, you can hire a “virtual designer,” a professional who will make suggestions by viewing photos of your home rather than paying an in-person visit.

One caveat: Home furnishings can vary wildly in price, but one thing you should hold firm to is that you truly love what you get. There’s a saying that rings true: “Buy right or buy twice.” If you have to wait a while to save for what you really want, then wait. Don’t buy an inexpensive piece of furniture just because it’s cheaper—you’ll most likely be buying that piece again in a year or two.

Fear No. 3: ‘I can’t visualize how to put things together’

To get over it: If this is your fear, then your timing is good. These days there are a wealth of websites and magazines that show every style and trend available. Fill a file with inspiration photos, and you’ll soon learn your style and what designs make you happy. Share these with a design professional, or use them as a guide to replicate in your own space. You can also turn to a host of free sites and software such as RoomSketcher to see how your newly decorated home will look with your picks.

Fear No. 4: ‘I keep making buying mistakes, so I’m afraid to get anything’

To get over it: Buying mistakes usually happen for one big reason: You don’t have a design plan. Whether you are decorating an entire house or one room at a time, you can’t start without a master plan for how you want your home to look and function. For example, you see a beautiful sofa, you get all excited and buy it. However, when it’s delivered, it’s too big for the space and the color really doesn’t work, now you’re trying to decorate around it. A plan can prevent these mistakes.

Fear No. 5: ‘I worry I won’t like how my home looks in the end’

To get over it: Tell yourself there’s no real “end goal,” and your home will never truly be “finished” no matter how well you execute on the plan. Knowing that can ease some of the pressure.

“Designing a home is a lot like life—it is an ever-evolving process,” says Heather Higgins of Higgins Design Studio in New York. “Incorporating change, understanding its effects, and updating your desired outcome is important. You just need to have a destination in mind and a plan on how to get there.”

Sounds doable, right? Maybe my kids might get curtains before they move out after all.

Article by Julie Ryan Evans

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