HOW TO // OVERCOME DESIGN PARALYSIS & MAKE DECISIONS LIKE A BOSS
Design paralysis is a real B and I'm here to share my tips for creating an actionable plan so you can start making decisions like a boss!
Let's begin with a little story, shall we?
Last fall we purchased our first home after moving around every year (military spouse) with me having to live vicariously through my design clients. Finally I was able to paint walls, put up wallpaper and really flex my design muscles! Hallelujah! We are only here for two years so I had to act fast and get sh*t done immediately if I wanted to be able to bask in the glory of my beautiful home before moving again. What if instead of crafting a plan, making smart design decisions and owning my style, I got distracted by the trends, the Nate Berkus’s of the world and all the pretty things I have sourced for clients in the past? I developed a serious case of design paralysis. Are you thinking, “Wait a minute, you’re a designer, this shouldn’t happen to you.” My thoughts exactly. That's where crying on the kitchen floor eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s comes into play.
Why did my husband have to console me and pry a bucket of ice cream out of my hands? Because I felt like a failure to my profession. I'm a freakin’ designer and couldn't even make decisions about the pieces I wanted in my own home. I didn’t understand. I have no problem being decisive about a client’s design style and choosing the perfect pieces to achieve it, but when it came to finalizing something in my home I’d rather drown my thoughts with an abundance of sugar and lactose instead.
Why did I fail? Because I didn’t follow my own damn advice. I was too excited and felt rushed to make every decision at once. I didn't create a plan or edit my inspiration, I was letting the influence of others get to me and I was trying to use outdated furniture we've been schlepping around for years. No wonder I was having a hard time - why am I trying to make a farmhouse dining table work when that isn't even close my style??
My friends, I'm here to help you learn from my mistakes and tell you not to worry if you get design paralysis and have a meltdown on the kitchen floor. Let’s be honest, it's bound to happen at some point (if it hasn’t already) so just let your significant other know now so they won't be alarmed.
Okay, enough with story time, let’s get to the part where I tell you how to overcome decorating paralysis and how to make decisions you won’t regret.
Start By Answering These Three Simple Questions:
- What is the mood or vibe you are trying to achieve?
- What is the room’s purpose?
- What has been stopping you from achieving the first two items?
Easy enough, right? Hold on to those answers as you work through the tips below. Even if you have nailed one of the items listed, do me a favor and revisit it to see if anything new pops into your noggin.
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #1: Make A List
This is a fairly important place to start because it helps you visualize what you actually need to buy and will help you prioritize those purchases. Keep in mind the pieces should fill the void that has been stopping you from achieving your answers above. This list isn’t set in stone and items can be added or removed as you go through the worksheet.
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #2: Set A Budget
You probably have a budget already in mind, but I want you to push it one step further. Take the list you created above and go line by line setting a *realistic* budget for each item. Now add everything up and see if they even come close to your original proposed budget. Crazy how fast things add up, am I right?! This exercise isn’t meant to discourage you, it is meant to help you set an achievable, realistic goal so you can finally have the home you want!
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #3: Gather Inspiration
Now that we have the money business taken care of I want you to have some fun and gather inspiration images for your space. I recommend making a private Pinterest board to save the images, but do what works best for you! Again, make sure everything is in line with the room’s mood and purpose you are trying to achieve. In other words, try not to add a bold jungle-icious wallpaper in the mix if you are aiming for a quiet retreat-like vibe. Unless you’re like me and the jungle is your happy place :)
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #4: Narrow Down Your Color Palette
Halfway there! Have a looksie at your Pinterest inspiration board and see if there is a color theme emerging. You will probably notice either a prevalence of a warm over a cool color palette or the use of brass over silver, etc. throughout the images. Yay for progress! If your board is just a hot mess of colors and that is not the look you are going for - try to narrow things down to your favorite 3 or 4 hues. Head to the paint store and bring home coordinating paint chips so you can actually see the colors in your room.
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #5: Find Your Core Style Words
Choose 5-10 words that describe your style, things you love and encompass the mood you want to achieve in the space you are decorating. My core style words for my living room are: nature, vintage, velvet, brass, texture, authentic, quirky, collected and liveable. I sure as hell wish I would had these laid out before my meltdown because your style words will influence every purchase and design decision you make. People are usually a mix of styles and I think that is a wonderful thing but it can sometimes be hard to describe what you mean. From my core style words I developed my signature style - what I like to call Modern Eclectic with a touch of Boho Glam. Have fun with this exercise and let me know what your signature style is!
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #6: Edit, Edit, Edit
Now that you have your purchase list, budget, inspiration, color palette and core style words figured out some tough decisions are in order. Take all of the information you have gathered above and edit the sh*t out of it. Take away any furniture pieces, inspiration images, colors or descriptive words that you have mulled over and aren’t in love with anymore or aren’t a necessity to achieve the mood you are going for.
Overcoming Decorating Paralysis Tip #7: Buy What You Love
This last tip is probably the easiest to follow - buy what you love! Stop fretting over the comparison of two coffee tables that would both likely fit the bill and instead buy the one that you really want Even if it is 4” too small or a tad over your price range, buy the table that makes your heart sing. Don’t settle for “good enough” here because you might kick yourself later and wish you just would have saved a bit more for the piece you truly wanted.
You made it through! I hope these tips help you create an actionable plan to pull you from your design paralysis so you can start making decisions like a boss!
In case you are wondering, I did finally get my sh*t together and am mostly happy with our home now. Why not 100%? Because we are moving again in a year, most likely downsizing from our 3-bedroom to a 1-bedroom and will basically have to start from scratch with pieces that will fit the new space. You bet your tuchis I am going to follow my own advice next time and make a solid design plan so I don't inflict pain on another tub of Ben & Jerry's.
I want to know three things from you:
1- Do you ever get design paralysis?
2- Have you ever had a decorating meltdown?
3- What are your core style words?
Let me know your answers in the comments below!
Or, you can just say screw it, I don’t have the time to scour the web and put together a plan. You make the decisions for me please. If that’s the case, let me know how I can help you. And if it needs to include wine.
I’m with you either way!