I love my clients. My clients are my teachers. My most recent in-home design clients each shared three very similar fears and concerns about their own DIY home decorating. It occurred to me that these are things that I take for granted, but if they were getting stuck on these fears, maybe other home decor enthusiasts are, too!
One of my most trusted mentors has a rule of thumb when it comes to wisdom. When you hear the same principle repeated by several brilliant individuals, it’s time to listen up. What they’re saying is the truth. Trust it.
And so it goes in working with clients. They teach me a lot about home decorating and the fears and doubts they have to overcome. Everyone has his or her genius. For me interior design is one of those things that comes easily to me, so I assume it’s easy for everyone. For you maybe it’s making a perfect pie crust or fixing a flat tire—you think, can’t everyone do this?
Recently I realized that many of my design clients have the same concerns like knowing what colors go together, or how to arrange accessories so it doesn’t look cluttered. These concerns and fears of making a mistake often stopped them from completing projects, or spun them into an overwhelm cycle.
With just a few tips, each of these fears is easy dispelled and you can move forward to complete your DIY home decorating projects!
Here are just 3 lessons that my clients have taught me. May they inspire you to take on a project with a little more confidence.
#1 Shopping can be overwhelming.
When I walk into a home store, I’m a kid in a candy store. When I do personal shopping with my clients, I see that they’re relieved to have me along. Otherwise, they tell me, it can be nearly impossible to make decisions because there are so many choices.
Next time you’re facing a retail meltdown, try these tips:
- Shop online first to reduce confusion when you get to the store. Most major retailers have websites with search capabilities that let you drill down to the most specific choices. Let’s say you’re looking for a yellow table cloth. Searching for “table cloth” brings up 247 choices; but if you specify the shape, size and color using the site’s refinement function, you really only have 5 choices. Confused minds don’t buy, and reducing your choices from 247 to 5 makes it much easier to see the trees in the forest, so to speak.
- Ask for help. For many people, the thought of going to a home improvement center is akin to going to the dentist. Oddly, I have zero fear walking into a hardware or home improvement store. I may not know exactly what I’m looking for, but in my experience, the folks that work at these stores have great ideas and a lot of know-how. Explain your project, or what you’re looking for, and let them guide you to the right product. Many times they have ideas to make my project even better! Same holds true for furniture stores and many home décor shops.
- Create a mood board. If you’re redecorating a room, I really encourage you to use a mood board. I explain it in more detail in the Room Makeover Planner, but essentially it’s collecting the colors, finishes and fabrics you have or want in the room—or even just inspiration photos—onto a sheet of paper or a file folder. Pinterest is like a giant mood board; create a separate board just for the room you’re working on and pin the exact items you’re considering. Here’s an example of my board when I putting together my outdoor office. When I do room consultations, I create mood boards so the client can see the vision for the room. Then, when you’re out shopping and you’re not sure about something, simply pause, take a breath and look at the mood board. It’s a compass in the sea of retail confusion.
#2 It’s OK to make mistakes!
Even if you follow all the tips in #1, there will be times that you take something home, or it’s delivered from an online shop, and you think, “Ewww! I don’t know about this!” Maybe the color looks completely different in your home, or it’s too big or too small for the space.
It happens all the time, yet I’m amazed at how afraid we are to make such mistakes.
It doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing or what you like, it simply means that piece isn’t right for your house. Return the item, or if it’s a final sale, donate it to a local charity or sell it online.
Do not feel like you have to live with it or stash it in the garage. It will forever be chanting to you, “You made a mistake!” and who needs that kind of energy?
#3 Plans change. Go with it!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of a project, either for myself or a client, when out of the blue an idea hits me. Totally not something on “the plan” but brilliant just the same. It’s important not to hold too tightly to a plan, a direction, or even a specific item.
For example, in the mood board shown above, I originally had planned to use three tiebacks from Anthropologie, priced at about $32 each to hang a fabric canopy over the headboard. But when I went to purchase them, I discovered they were an online item not available in stores. No worries! I used an $8 pack of clear Command brand adhesive hooks and saved the client some money.
When inspiration strikes, follow it. If the change helps to create a room you love without sacrificing the overall vision, embrace it.
I love supporting my clients to make their houses into homes, and I love learning from each and every one of them!
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