I hear people say all the time, “Oh, I could never do that!” or “I would love to have a beautiful home, but I’m so afraid of making a mistake.” Chin up, readers! I’m here to help you empower your inner designer and to feel confident about the decorating decisions you will make for your home. If you follow these 10 tips, you’ll be on your way to making design decisions that you will enjoy with little regret for years to come. So here it goes:
1. Really examine the purpose for the space & project and why you want to change it. Ask yourself, “Why am I making this change?”Is it ugly? Are you just bored? Does it not fit your lifestyle anymore? Is there an inherent design flaw within the room that needs to be fixed ASAP? Asking yourself these questions and being purposeful about your intentions is one way to stay focused throughout the project. Knowing your purpose and end goal is key to making good decisions (design or otherwise).
2. Create a realistic budget to complete your project. Now, I know this is absolutely NO FUN, but it can help you narrow down your choices and point you in the direction of where to source items. Many people feel regretful once they complete a redesign and realize they have overspent on a project. Think of your budget, not as a constraint, but an opportunity to think creatively and take chances.
3. Spend some time gathering information and visuals to inspire your project. I’ve written on this before, but Pinterest is amazing for this purpose. I have several boards pinning at the same time for multiple projects. When I find an idea I like, I simply pin it to the appropriate board, so I’ll have it for later. The technique of pinning is great for sorting through ideas, too. After some time, you’ll really be able to see your design sense emerging. Magazines are also great for this too! You also can’t be YouTube for those essential how-to videos.
4. Know exactly what you’re going to do before you do it. If you’re on the fence about a design decision, wait to start the project until you get it figured out. This wiffle-waffle stage (as I call it) is an essential part of the design process and shouldn’t be passed until you feel confident about your decision.
5. Realize, right off the bat, that there is always a better solution out there. Make educated decisions with the information you have right now (after some research) and just do it. Once you’ve picked your selections, commit to them and embrace them. Changes and do-overs can really bleed your budget.
6. Be bold, be brave & make mistakes! DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES – its how we learn. Designers have had many more opportunities to make decorating mistakes than you and its essential to your growth as a designer (I still make lots of mistakes when decorating). The more mistakes you make, the more skilled you become when designing your own spaces. Here’s a newsflash – You will make mistakes & that’s ok…
7. Only put in your space what you love & what makes you happy! Life is too short to live or work in an ugly environment. Nobody deserves that.
8. If you love it, get it. As stated above, fill your spaces with things you truly love & enjoy being around. If you enjoy it, you’ll always find a place for it. In my experience, if I pass on purchasing a piece that I really love – I always regret it later.
9. In your spare time visit furniture stores (used & new), antique stores, art galleries & fairs, and anywhere that sells home furnishings. This will allow you to see things in real time and how they interact with other elements. Designers spend a lot of time simply visiting stores, galleries & markets, developing relationships with those in the industry to know exactly what to specify in their interiors. If you spend some time doing this, too, you’ll refine your design aesthetic and focus your decorating efforts. Think outside of the box, and visit places you would normally never go.
10. Gather inspiration from what inspires you personally. For me, it’s nature and literature, but for you it might be a sport, career field, or whatever you’re passionate about. Knowing what drives you as a person is great for your design aesthetic. Your passions can help you create meaningful focal points within your rooms, give content to your vignettes, and help you style your space all over in a cohesive way.
Everybody can experience anxiety at one time or another over a design/decorating decision. Just remember to take your time and be true to yourself. In the end, you’ll have a space to inhabit that is a reflection of who you are and what is important to you. Happy Designing!