vision :: "don’t buy" words
Thursday, July 7, 2011 by {darlene}

Have you read this post I wrote about defining your style by selecting your own set of style words?

If not, you may find it helpful if you struggle at all in the area of identifying what you love.  
The post inspires you to find a collection of your own personal style words…. which is ever so useful, and also, ever so fun!

I share my own personal style words there as well. I find mine to be a huge guiding help for all sorts of purchases, and I really encourage you to jot down a list of your own personal style words.

To the point! In that post, I neglected to share the fact that I also have a “don’t buy” word.

The “don’t buy” word is important, because it will be your best friend while you are shopping for your home. And it will help you nail down what will have “staying power” in your home.

An example??  My “don’t buy” style word just happens to be: “cute.”

Here is why:

1.  I tend to like cute things, {I mean, who doesn’t like cute things?}.

2.  And, I also tend to pick cute things up in the store, thinking that I must take them home with me {I mean, who doesn’t want to take home cute things?}.

The problem is: that while I may LIKE cute things, I don’t truly LOVE them. And they also don’t help me toward my goal of a home that embodies:

  • Sophisticated
  • Simplicity
  • Glamour
  • Elegant
  • Order
  • Breathes
  • Comfort

So, when I am perusing a web boutique, or if I am hoping to score at HomeGoods, I pose the question: Is it cute, darlene?

… if I can easily describe an item as “cute,” but not at all “sophisticated, simple, glamorous, elegant, etc.,” I put it back, knowing that it ultimately will not have “staying power” in my home.

Now don’t be swayed by my “don’t buy” word!

“Cute” may very well be on your primary list of style words. It is all about what YOU love… not what everyone else tells you to love.

this child’s bedroom is too cute for me, even for a child’s room… but maybe it is a dream for you!:


Can you think of any “don’t buy” words that would help you keep your personal style goals in check?


Pick a word that often leads to lots of  dangerous and accidental purchases… or a word that describes things you tend to buy and LATER regret! That word will prove to be the biggest help to you while shopping.**

I would love to know your “don’t buy” word!




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Labeled: defining your style, lessons in design, vision


  • allenaim photography and design

    RED! …and I'm ALWAYS a sucker for the Grannie Chic stuff, but it NEVER works out right at home…so no grannie chic for me :)

  • The word that does it for me is whimsical. If anything is considered a "touch of whimsy", I don't want it!! :)

  • I wish you you'd written this post 2 weeks ago. I was disappointed in myself when I literally came home with something "cute"…& then wondered what I was thinking! It's not returnable – bought at a Flea Market. So I'm going to have to copy you & use Cute as one of my words. I think another one might be – Duplicate. Do I reeaaaallly need another candle holder or decor item even if the price is right? I need to be better about that – if it's similar to something I already own. Great advice.

    • Duplicate! You definitely helped me find my “Don’t Buy” word! This should probably apply to accessory and clothes shopping for me too :) Thanks!

  • What a great post! That really helps me because some of my “don’t buy” words are formal, elegant (smile). Elegant for me brings to mind formality. I think my house is suffering from lack of definition! I want to think about this more. :-)

    • dixie. first of all, I just love that your “don’t buy” word is on my “Do buy” word list!!! It just goes to show you how important it is to really identify what you love and what brings you joy. We are all so different, and our homes should bring out the best in us. GREAT comment!

  • The word patchwork is mine.

  • stuffy

    I don’t know if these are specific enough…need to keep thinking. :)

  • Gotcha! Unfortunately, I think I’m guilty of /getting into trouble with pieces in all of those categories…because I’m such a sucker for a good deal. A sample internal dialogue might go like this:

    “Will this traditional wood chest of drawers hold all of my son’s pajamas? It will! and it is only $100! I should get it – I can make it work.I’ll paint it and get new hardware.”

    The “I can make it work” is where I go wrong. LOL. Some pieces are just not workable – no matter what treatment you give them. And I’m excited to have these helpful posts to refer to as I’m trying to define my *style*!

    Thanks so much!

    • “good deal” and “I can make it work.” Sounds like perfect “don’t buy words.” They don’t need to fit in a box… they just need to work at getting your hand off of your wallet when it comes to buying things that will not fit into the category of LOVE! Best of luck, Janna. Keep me posted!

    • Loved your comment because I was thinking that my “don’t buy” word should be “cheap.” I love a good deal too. This is not to imply that I should buy expensive things! Heaven knows I don’t need to do that! But I often settle for something because it’s a “good deal,” only to realize about a year later that it’s cheaply made or I didn’t really love it in the first place. Then I have to decide whether to keep it and hate it or scrap it and start over–not a very “good deal” when that happens, and I end up wishing I’d just spent a little extra money or waited and saved up for something I’d really love!

      Thanks for this post. :)

    • You just found my word! Thank you!!! My danger is buying things with the intent to change based on the design, but years go by and I never finish projects! So in short, I think my easiest word is something akin to “up cycle!” thank you!!!!

    • I was originally thinking “off-white” would be my word, but I think, after reading your post, it’s gotta be cheap! Too many of my dollars have been spent on “for sale,” “discounted,” or “I can fix that” items that never really work out. I do like me a goo project, but there needs to be purpose behind my purchases beyond the sticker being >$10. As grandpa always said “You can still go broke on a bargain!” Wise words!

    • I remember a fashion blogger talking about the danger of “I can make it work.” It’s a fine line though, because some of the best items ever started out a little off and needed some DIY loving to become perfect.

      Something discussed on a different part of this blog might help with that – if an item has “good bones,” and serves a function you need, it might very well be worth it! But if it’s some other part of the item you love – the color, the style, one particular part – it might be better to just take a picture and use that to inspire your future DIY projects on items that do have a good sturdy base to work with.

  • Trendy is my word. I pretty much hate everything in Lonny Mag, but if I find something featured there at a decent price, I’m SO tempted to buy it even though it’s completely not my style. I sort of go, “Oh, all the cool kids love this, so I must love it, too, or else I’m a loser.”

  • Nice. When I say “oh, that’s nice” I usually buy and shouldn’t. There is just so much really nice stuff out there! I want it all but it just won’t fit in my house.

    Anyway, my buy word is really a sound more or less. When I make that sudden inhale when I see something – that’s when I should buy.

    Well, this has been an enlightening exercise for sure.

  • Mine is ‘Generic’
    I always buy plain, useful, cheap things to the point that a lot of items in my home feel, well, plain, useful, but cheap!
    They lack imagination and I tend to buy things so they will be versatile but I don’t have many solid, interesting items that truly reflect my style, just a bunch of plain things to go with all the other plain things!
    So I think generic suits as my what NOT to buy word.

  • Oh and after reading Janna’s post, I would have to add, ‘I can make it work’ to my don’t buy vocab. Truly, I just don’t have the time to paint it! I need things that serve me now. :)

  • I would say “retro” — not ruling out all things vintage, just those things that are “cool” in a college dorm room way. Like wearing a pilly old man sweater from Goodwill was cool freshman year but now would just make you look like frumpy.

  • My don’t buy word would have to be sweet. Sweet can either be girly (as opposed to romantic) or something Grandma-ish.

  • This is a tough one. I don’t shop that much. I can’t remember when I last bought something I needed to return. I’ve been decluttering my house for the past five years…it has sort of cured me of shopping as a past time–well, that and getting serious about our debt.

  • […] to “feel” instead of struggling over how something looks. You should also know your “don’t buy” words as well, for the same […]

  • Small!

    Our house is large and designed (by me) to have a grand scale and anything small just gets lost and winds up looking chintzy and I later regret it.


  • I always have to ask myself a question: Would I like it at home? I like or even Love things in the store but when I get it home its just not the same. They have a way to make things look so good in the display!

  • […] defining your style gave me a list of 5 defining words that ought to fit anything I purchase, and 3 no-buy words that, if they fit, mean… I need to put it back on the shelf after I’m done admiring […]

  • […] once again you get to decide.  I’ve loved this post Darlene wrote about how she figured out she didn’t want her home to be cute. She likes cute things in other homes, but it wasn’t for her.  And Cute is even on her […]

  • It’s not so much a word right now, but to keep my house from looking cluttered, lacking purpose and unfocused in my decorating strategy, I no longer purchase any decor (bowls, vases, frames, figurines, plates, etc) smaller than 12″.

    • Jennifer, that is an awesome rule of thumb!

    • I totally agree! My word is “wall hangings.” I went through a phase where I bought a ton of picture frames and wall hangings. Because I didn’t have a plan, each piece is different. What makes it worse is that they’re all too small to really give focus, so now it’s just clutter. I think you hit the nail on the head—now if only larger items weren’t more expensive than smaller ones!

  • WORDS is my word (how ironic). If it is word art, vinyl lettering, seasonal greetings, etc. I don’t want it in my home. Don’t even get me started on “Live Well, Laugh Often” or “Live Laugh Love” or my all time favorite (of course hanging over the bed) “Always Kiss Me Goodnight!” No thanks… words in home decor are just too cheesy for me.

  • “good deal” definitely mine. I’m a sucker for a good deal, regardless of whether I actually love it, or need it. Serious issue. working on it!

  • I love this post! Found you today through nesting place. My words are floral, cutesy, and country. I sometimes gravitate towards those because I can appreciate them, but that’s not the overall impression I want my home to make. I’d rather have menswear-inspired textures and patterns, and simple, beautiful decor. A floral here and there is good, but I sew a lot and the fabric stores are so floral heavy, I need to be careful!

  • super trendy…like drum shades. gag…a drum shade used in a hallway pendant. Super trendy kills it for me.

  • My ” to buy” word is ” love it, love it, love it”… If I don’t … I let it go… Second is..” can I pay for it in cash???works for me!!

  • Instead I go by my to buy words … Do I ” love it, love it love it?” 3 times.. Andcani pay cash for it now( can I afford it?)! Works for me!!

  • My word phrase might be “DECIDE – do you really love it?” and something that is working for me lately, is when I’m shopping at a store like HomeSense, I get a shopping cart and put all the things I “think” I love in it as I go through the aisles. Then when it comes time to pay, I go through the cart (before the check-out of course!) and put back all but my favourites. It really helps narrow it down plus saves time humming & hawing over an item. Thanks for this wonderful post – found it through Nesting.


  • oh my does this post hit the nail on the head!! I finally realized after several wrong purchases, certain holiday decorations are not right for me, I will never have a hand in a candy bowl, a witches head hanging etc. It just isn’t me at all, same as christmas, no collections of snowmen to be found, simple beautiful snowflakes are all I can do which has helped me realize my style is cozy and elegant, if i stick with that my home remains a true representation of myself and my family.

  • My don’t word SHOULD be cute! I’m always drawn to that sort of thing, and have ended up with the “cluttered look”… which I don’t like. But things I’ve had for many years, and ‘cute’ gifts that I’ve been given which now have sentimental value… very difficult to get rid of, or ‘put away’ somewhere never to be seen again. It’s a dilemma… but again my don’t word SHOULD be ‘cute’. I’ll remember this now though, and will definitely think of you and your advice from now on! Saw you post on another blog, and see you wrote this over a year ago. Still good advice!!!

  • Great way to look at it! In fact, I think I have been finding that to be the key for me as I’m trying to hone in on a new look in my family room. And not to be a copy cat, but I’m thinking that “cute” should probably be my word too. I notice that I love cute looks when I’m perusing the blogosphere, but the ones I end up getting completely giddy inside about are more chic, global, organic, black and white, sophisticated. (stopping by from the nesters). great post!

  • I think I have a couple don’t buy words.

    Clutter, project, good deal.

    I really hate clutter. I don’t do “vignettes” or tablescapes or seasonal decorating. I like bare surfaces and open spaces. My decorative items need to serve a purpose like a candle (only one), a vase(only one), a picture frame. Things that just sit there and look pretty shouldn’t come into my home. However I’m really drawn to pretty, decorative items.

    I always see things (usually a good deal) and think I can re-do it. A little paint, some new upholstery and voila I will love it. Or I see some cute supplies and think about a project I can do to use them. The problem is that I never actually re-do something and projects often sit abandoned before finishing. So it sits until I feel sufficiently guilty and then I donate or re-sell it. Typically at a loss because I just can’t stand having it around anymore. No project purchases for me.

    And then the good deal issue. I typically can talk myself out before I purchase because its either clutter or a project. If I see something for a good price, even if I don’t need it, it doesn’t go with my style or sometimes if I even don’t really like it, I’m tempted because its such a good deal. Crazy. Then I think I can turn around and resell (with better advertising) at a profit. Which rarely happens.

    This has been really helpful. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  • My don’t buy words include:
    90’s anything :0).

    This was illuminating for me to think about but as soon as i did the words came to me right away!
    The idea that we can be free to say “THAT is ‘pretty’ just not in my own home” is important to not only feel comfortable saying but to also not be offended if someone says it to you!
    I remember hearing that for the first time and thinking “Yeah, I guess my taste is not for everyone”. Shocking how self absorbed i was at 30 :0). Another interesting post…

  • LOVE this post. It is something I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few months…never put it so succinctly! Thank you!

    My Do Not Buy Words:
    I Can Make It Work (<-genius – props to the pp who mentioned that one!)
    Coordinated (think matching sets)
    Does it make me smile? (it might look nice and maybe even fit with my DO buy words but if it doesn't make me smile I don't bring it home).

    I want my home to be:


    • Oh my gosh I totally agree with you on the matching sets! It just makes life easier when everything matches…but do I actually LOVE that? You’re a genius for posting that!

  • I am trying to go for a more modern, but colorful and fun look in our home. (Which is a major work in progress!!) So I also do not want anything that is too country or too shabby chic. I often find those items really pretty, but I have to remember they do not go with the look I’m trying to achieve.

    Love this post and the idea of keeping a mental “don’t buy” list.

  • […] Style Bootcamp” advice of making a list of personal style words and a companion list of “don’t buy” words resonated so deeply with me that I began to see a change in the images I pinned, the way I went […]

  • […] If you haven’t yet done the exercises, I highly recommend you go here first and then right over here next BEFORE reading my post.  That way when you come back you have your own “research” to […]

  • Hard to narrow it down to one word, but I think mind would be “fussy.” I seem to always be drawn to stuff with flowers and ruffles but that’s so not what I want my home to be. “Trendy” is a close second, and props to the “I can make it work” contribution, that’s totally a red-flag phrase for me.

  • […] live with it. Nester has a fantastic post on a home’s No Word and links to a helpful post on Don’t Buy Words. The Don’t Buy concept is brilliant in its simplicity. From now on, I’ll think twice […]

  • I’d have to say my “Don’t buy” word is Cheap. I tend to stroll the aisles of Walmart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc. looking for knick-knacks. I’m not saying these are cheap stores, but it’s the fact that I find myself picking up, you know, towels or dishes or random “decoritve” pieces that are low in price, but they really are just cheap in quality. I do regret buying them once I get them in my home. This post has helped me realize that I need to stop buying these lower end pieces and save my money for something with a little more quality that I LOVE and will last me a lot longer!

    P.S. Please don’t take offense! :)

  • […] seems like great advice for helping avoid impulse buying.  via.  On a similar note, I did the exercise she recommends.  […]

  • Clearance/Sale is my word. Gets me everytime. lol

  • Fake, artificial (as in plants, flowers), country and floral. Knick Knacks. Those are my don’t buy words!

  • Hey! I love this series on finding the perfect design ‘style’ for yourself!
    I was having a hard time coming up with a ‘dont buy’ word (or words!) for myself,…..but I think it has to be ‘like’.
    That is, if I dont absolutely LOVE something, or am passionate about something, and being surrounded with it, then I don’t need it in my space.

  • My don’t buys:
    holiday-specific (choose season-wide, instead)

  • If you didn’t measure first then don’t buy it!
    Don’t be so fast in purchasing it – make sure I love it.
    Don’t buy to just buy. I know that sounds bad but it’s so me. :(
    And the concept of sticking to a written plan for a room is also a must for me as I will buy stuff outside a plan and have a mess in a room.
    And it won’t be my style. Stay away from clearance stuff and garage sales.

  • My don’t buy word is “cheap.” I have a weakness for looking at something, liking it, and buying it because it’s cheap. Then I get it home and it doesn’t fit our style and just looks cheap. My other don’t buy is “shabby chic.” I like rustic and artsy, but shabby chic just doesn’t embody that for me.

  • I would say that cheap fits me. I get my “good deals” home and just hate them. I live on a ranch way out in the country and it’s not easy to return things. Got to stop this. I want good quality not quantity.

  • This one is harder than my “want” list. Cottage style is one of my faves, looking to achieve that more in my house, but fussy, I don’t like. I also tend to buy things that “will do.” Like, “It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.” Ugh! So many things like that in my house. Or things that are almost right, but not quite.

    Ok, so don’t buy?
    “It’ll do”

  • My Don’t Buy words are:
    Trendy, good deal, justified (it was the right price, with a little work it will be what I want, it’s close enough to what I was looking for, etc.)

    Something else that helped me was to make a “pretty/nice but not my style” Pinterest board. Having a visual of what I don’t like but can appreciate helps me a lot!

  • my don’t buy words include cute, trendy, and ‘new’. Not necessarily new items, but the ‘NEW’ style. That’s not me, but add all my ‘don’t’ words together, and you have most of my impulse buys… So no more ‘new,cute,trendy’ for me. Thank you for these articles, they are really helping my dream house come to life.

  • Hummm, I think my don’t buy words have to answer two questions and those questions would be Does it fit my style? and Does it have a purpose? If it doesn’t make it past those two questions (honestly) then I need to put it back.

  • Mine would have to be “safe” or “typical”. I tend to go with the most neutral option because I’m afraid that I’ll hate my decision later. Since I’m decorating on a budget for the time being, I try to be careful not to make risky purchases, but later feel disappointed because I didn’t go with what I truly loved.

  • I couldn’t come up with just one word. If I don’t feel it, don’t get it. Nothing formal, cutesy, old, or country. Cash only….

  • After reading this, I am realizing that my don’t buy phrase is “what can I do with this?” I am terrible about buying things and trying to repurpose them. Just last night, I bought a beautiful set of cloth napkins, but when I took them home, I started trying to figure out if I could frame them as art (um, no) or turn them into pillow covers. I think I am perhaps reading too many DIY blogs!

  • My checkup words are sleek, modern, crafty, farm arts & craft cutsey, victorian, stuffy, fussy, and country crafty. I am HUGE on settling for something because of the price or for seeing something and buying it because I will make it work. I am learning I need to walk myself through these questions:
    1) Am I settling?
    2) Do I love, love, love it?
    3) Can I see it working in my home?

    As I am defining my style words and my do not buy words, I am also defining my love list.

    This helps so much! I am sitting in my living room and right before my eyes, I am seeing things that do not fit. Three words come to mind: Huge Yard Sale!! Can’t wait to Spring now to earn some money by getting rid of these things!

  • My “don’t buy word” would have to be FANCY/Traditional. I want my home to be comfortable and cozy, NOT stuffy and fancy – I want people to feel like they can put their feet up and stay awhile NOT like they have to sit on the edge of their seat. Doesn’t mean I don’t want nice things – just not stuffy.

  • Shabby chic, vintage, or cottage. I love timeless pieces with a story, but so often vintage just looks cluttered and old when I get it in to my house. My husband still teases me about an overpriced shabby chic table I bought when we were first married that I hated and tried to make work- until the day a part that had rusted through broke off as we ate dinner. Now I always look for antiques in excellent condition.

  • My don’t buy word list: Cliche, Cute, Flowery, Gaudy, Unoriginal, Dumb/Untrue.

    I really want my home to be interesting and educational, so items that have been reprinted a ton, or that are not well researched have no place in my home.

  • My don’t buy words are delicate and formal. I’ve always gravitated toward these when looking at pictures as kind of a romantic ideal, but in real life I’m never truly love those kinds of things. It’s like I dream of being a princess in a castle, but find I’m really happiest in my bungalow.

  • […] identify your own “don’t buy” word or words. Click here on Don’t Buy Words for the How-to […]

  • My don’t LIKE words are: glitz, glittery, brassy, floral. I wouldn’t buy these things anyway because I don’t like any of it. Wish I could get my MIL to read this and then understand my style!

    My don’t BUY words: “I can make it work” or any DIY re-purpose project…for now anyway! (thanks to the previous post for penning the phrase!)

  • This series of articles is awesome! My don’t buy word is “modern” I am not really a modern design person and yet I keep buying modern! I have no idea why but now my house is filled with items that are not really representative of who I am.

  • My “don’t buy” word is impulse. If I do not have a plan for an item or am not seeking an item for a particular spot I will not buy it. To help with this I plan to walk around the store with the item first to decide if I really like it.

    Love these posts! :)

  • Easy! “Cheap” as in not well made and “project” as in “with a coat of paint and some different fabric this might work….”!!!

  • My don’t buy words are: Do I love it? How will I use it.

  • elegant or ultra-modern

  • Shabby chic, crafty, bohemian.

  • My word is definatly bright. I love to buy bright colors like pink and yellow but when I get them home I get tired of them really fast. I know I am an earth tones person or light blues but I insist on trying to change my taste. Haha I just need to except my relaxed atmosphere instead of the illusion of bright and cheery that I always end up hating.

  • I’m so glad I discovered this series of posts! The first word I wrote on my “don’t buy” list was colorful. I am drawn to single items that have a bunch of colors, like a rainbow stripe blanket! But when I picture my ideal space, I prefer neutrals with pops of (just one) pastel or (just one) dusty shade. On my style words, I wrote “coordinated” and “organized.”

    I guess I need to get over my decorating paralysis and really pare things down to those that fit the feel I want for my apartment. When I cut back on the clutter, I’ll achieve some of my other style words, like “relaxing!”

  • I just found your blog and am loving it! My don’t buy word would have to be “cheap” I see something that may look good in my house and it is a on sale I usually get it no matter what and regret it later.

  • I always want to buy items with a history. I feel like I need to “save them,” from being forgotten about. So, I guess my word word(s)/ thought(s) would be, “I can imagine when they used to use this canning jar,…Hey, Mom! I remember when you used a food grinder that attached to the side of the table, just like this one!”

  • My don’t buy word would be UNNEEDED. I tend to buy things that I genuinely like but then don’t have a place to put them because my house is already filled with things I like. So unless I get sick of something and need a new item to replace it, there’s not much that I am allowed to buy. Also, for the places that do genuinely need an item or two, it’s helpful to decide ahead of time approximately what that item is (a new picture for the office wall, decorations for my coffee table, baskets for my crafts and magazines).

  • These posts are so very helpful and enlightening! I need more restraint when it comes to things my sweet hubby offers up when trying to help me. I hate to say no to him for some reason, especially when he’s wanting to purchase something for a room I am working on. For example, I wanted a beachy feeling in our guest room and I specifically said I didn’t want it to be too literal in the decor. But he bought me a surf board, something I’ve always wanted. And it went into the room on the wall. Then he showed me a decorative iron woody when we were at Hobby Lobby and I just nodded yes. He put it on the wall and I cringe every time I see it. It’s gotta come down and I once again will have to tell him I caused him to spend money needlessly on an item I really didn’t want in the first place. Not sure if “literal” can be a don’t buy word. I definitely have to be more careful when describing what I want to my sweet hubby! Pottery Barn may have to go on my don’t buy word list too. I love so many of their goodies, but I really don’t want my home to look like a Pottery Barn catalog either. Thanks so much for making us think!

  • i guess my don’t buy words are more phrases.

    like, do i have a USE for them now? or a PLACE for them? also, cute and necessity. do i NEED this item? will it make my house more organized?

  • this is truly enlightening :-)..
    i sway from two extremes when shopping.. most of the times i pick up too sophisticated , very complex and very in the latest fashion stuff that might not necessarily align with my want for a serene , peaceful and kid friendly home..and sometimes the absolute opposite of sophistication, especially when shopping with my very practical and calculative other half ;-)is that suck up to a good deal always thinking Oh i can turn this around..i can make it work.. but only later realise when its too late that i really shouldnt have bought it and it is so not what i wanted ..

  • My don’t buy word that I haven’t already seen mentioned here : random. If I can’t see it having a true purpose soon, don’t buy it. If it goes nowhere in the house, don’t buy it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good deal (that’s another don’t buy trigger) because if it’s randomly a good deal and I don’t need it, it doesn’t fit into my life. It will become clutter if it’s a random purchase!

  • When I see something and think that I love and want…I sleep over night and go back to the store and look again.then I know do I realy love,want and need it in my home. So I don´t realy have a word for.

  • Love this post. I definitely am trying to find my style. However, I tend to like different styles in different rooms. I want to have a common style with different themes. Definitely have to ponder this.
    I will add that a while ago, a wise friend told me to ask myself, “do I love it with my whole heart?” That has helped a lot but I still need to settle on a style. LOL

  • I’m a sucker for pottery and ceramics, and it’s all cluttering up the place that I want to be uncluttered but artsy. My font buy word is going to be “mass produced”, as in all these bowls, teapots, urns, that are mass produced. From here on out, if I buy a teapot or a vase, it’s going to be something uniquely made by local artists.

  • My words include “things without a real purpose” and “uni taskers”. I have enough clutter with 3 teen boys. Thanks for giving me things to think about.

  • Thank you for these posts. They are helping me so much in my quest to decorate my first home!

    My Don’t Buy word is: “sentimental.”

    By which I mean, don’t buy or keep things that are sentimental UNLESS they also match one of my big Five words: Joyful! From now on I’m only gathering happy memories that I love. That crockery set that reminds me of something random from long ago? Not buying it!

    • Ooo, that’s a good one too! Cheap and sentimental are now both my “do not buy” words. Thanks for the tip. There has to be more purpose behind my purchases!

  • Glass I love looking at glass, then I ask my self what are you going to do with it and where are you going to put it?

  • I have a tendency to want to buy things that I know my Mom would have loved. Which were Victorian pastel florals and pale classy looking dishes. I feel like I honor her memory somehow by buying these things even though they’re not my favorites. Maybe I can keep a few to satisfy my sentimentality and remind myself that I have them already when I’m shopping. My style is so different from Victorian pastel florals. Lol. It used to be black and white and chrome! Haha. But it has toned down a lot now to earthy browns and greens and grays and stainless. But still not pastel florals. :)

  • My don’t buy words will have to be “cute/whimsical”. I like some whimsy but it doesn’t fit into my style. I also say “oh! that’s cute!” quite a bit when in a store but I don’t really need those items I’m referring too. I also need to avoid “good deal” because yes I love to get a good deal and it feels great when you get a good deal on something that actually works in your place but too many times a good deal just doesn’t turn out so good.

  • My house is very small, 5 of us in 1000 sq ft. , and my style is very eclectic. I love it all. Elegant, modern, rustic, traditional, trendy so it’d be really easy for things to get.. well.. out of hand. Like not being able to walk on the floor hoarder’s style. So, my criteria is always-
    Is it functional?
    Do I have a similar piece?
    If yes, do I want to replace that piece?
    Will this be “too much” elegance/modern/rustic/traditional/trend
    (because I like perfectly balanced chaos)

    and because I’m in that “season” with the 6 & 3 yr old boys

    Is it durable?

  • “Non-returnable,” ha!

    My brain isn’t very good at visual things – I have a lot of trouble imagining what an item will look like in my house, or next to another item. (I have the same problem with clothes – I can’t just imagine what this shirt will look like with that skirt, I have to try it on and see.) As a result items that I thought were a sure thing have looked horrible, and items that I was on the fence about ended up looking great.

    I’m pretty good about returning items that don’t work (I know a lot of people aren’t – stores have good return policies because they assume people will buy the item thinking “I can return it if I need to” and then they’ll never bother, so if that’s a problem for you definitely keep it in mind!). So for me, unless I really love and need the item or have thought about it a long time (preferably while in my home, staring at the place it will go), nonrefundable is a no-no word.

  • Way late to this blog, but my word is “unique”

  • Hmmm…at first I thought “cute” might be a good word for me as well (as I look at my 12″ lucky cat with swinging paw sitting on my bookshelf), but I do love the kawaii quality it has. I think the words for me are “whimsical” and “modern” – for whatever reason, bold graphic prints and metal call to me, but then I hate them when they get in my house (some of my style words include rustic, warm, and vintage).

  • “Quote” – I adore all the quotes… But I get it home and have too many and well… It just doesn’t end up working! As my husband said “I don’t want to have to come home and read everywhere”. ;). Great post thanks for sharing your expertise!!!!

  • Adventurous

    In other words, I’m pretty boring. Lol

  • I am all about making things symmetrical if it doesn’t come in more then one i can not buy it.. Also my mom has a very distinct style and I often associate her style with memories from growing up which always makes me happy…however i always regret buying it because it simply isn’t me and doesn’t fit within my home. So one of my don’t buy words is Mom.


    • I also think green is the worst. Unless it’s bamboo green, but that has to be VERY carefully done. I once moved into a home where the bedroom had olive green walls and gray carpet. Gag!

  • I have a lot of “don’t buy” words:

    Wall Hangings/Picture Frames
    Thrift/Used (usually outdated style)
    DIY Project (needs work)
    Duplicates of quotes (how many “Love is Patient”s do you need)
    Dependent Upon… (doesn’t stand on its own)
    Unplanned (Don’t know where it will go RIGHT NOW)
    Fad (doesn’t match anything right now and will certainly become outdated)

  • My “Don’t Buy” word(s) are “Cowboy/western”. While I love horses and buy horsey art work, the cowboy/western thing just doesn’t fit me somehow. And I ALWAYS try to make it fit! So glad for this exercise! It’s helped to see that I can let go of this silly idea rather than trying to make it fit me somehow!

  • I too am a sucker for the “Oh, what a good deal this is…” or “I could DIY this and make it work”! My husband finally said to me a few months back, “I don’t care if they are giving it away, don’t bring it home if we don’t need it!”

    We’ve been purging (slowly) our home to get rid of the clutter, save money and really define our style.

  • My don’t buy words would be:
    high maintenance

    I used to have collections of things that I adored, but spent way too much time dusting and re-arranging it all. My kids hated the assigned chores of dusting, and helping me clean. Finally I decided I was not the curator of a museum and parted with all of it, except for the white pitchers that I use for flowers and decor.

    I decided my buy words are
    simple lines

  • My don’t buy word has to be “pretty.” I have a weakness for pretty things, but they just don’t work for my house. I mean who doesn’t like pretty, right? But not everything that looks pretty looks good together, and they end up just feeling fussy in my house. So no more, “Awww. . .it’s just so pretty,” for me!

  • Fun.

    Shopping Dialogue as follows:
    “Who doesn’t want fun? I am not a fun hater, so I must need it!” (Gets Home) “Aah! There is no place to put this! I will never actually use this! Too much clutter!” (Feeling guilty over spending wasted $$) “Oh man, I am a fun hater”

    Seriously though, I am a minimalist at heart, but everything at the store just seems so . . . fun!

  • My ‘don’t buy’ words are cheap,mass-produced formal,and matchy.I am happiest when I buy furniture that has a history and is well-made.I prefer quality and uniqueness over quantity and trendiness.

  • OK, you said it should be something I might be in danger of buying, so I was able to strike “cutesy” and “tacky” from my list, as I am not in danger of buying anything that (in my opinion) falls into those categories. What’s left are these:

    High-maintenance — white carpet, highly carved things that are so hard to dust, you get the idea
    Clutter — do I have a place where this will be an asset to my home, or will it be just more clutter?

    Thanks for this very helpful post. We should know these things, and maybe we do deep down, but sometimes we need to be prodded to look at and act upon them!

  • My do not buy words: shabby, any FAD or FAD item, “This season”, primitive, romantic, cute, clutter, high maintenance, anything with a quote on it (especially “Keep Calm and”), anything with a something written on it, any DIY projects (has to be repainted), “beach” or “shore” style, anything with a boat, anchor or other cutesy beach theme, and especially wall stickers!

    My home is: minimalist, sophisticated, very clean and tidy, functional and in good repair yet shows my personality (no all-white and wood combo for me).

  • My “Don’t Buy” words:
    Cute, glittery, plastic country,
    cheap, too trendy, too popular

  • doubleletterlady

    My don’t buy words: Asian, modern and purple. I love the principal behind Asian decorating, especially japanese, but I hate the themed look. In my mind home-things can be classed as either modern, or traditional, and the two don’t go together (although I’ve seen people make it work) Purple is my favorite color. I had purple towels for five years and I hated them for four and a half. I don’t know why, they were just ugly. I lost my favorite color.

  • I guess I have a couple don’t buy words! Cutesy, dark, square, structured, traditional. I have a tendency to but things that I think everyone else would like and think it would feel good in my home, but then I end up with a hodge lodge of crap that I don’t like! Ugh!!!

  • […] with “eclectic” style, who can find something fabulous to lust after everywhere we go, this post is a must read. It’s written in reference to home decor but the principal applies to every corner of […]

  • My don’t buy words are:
    matchy matchy

  • Omg… I think you literally just changed my FREAKIN life. That always happens to me… i buy so many cute things… cause they’re just so freakin cute… but end up being stored in a closet because they just don’t look right in my home. If i specifically go to a furniture store or other type of store to pick things out I do fine but if I am just shopping normally and happen to see something “SUPER CUTE” then I end up buying it. Although cute, these cute things generally just don’t look “right” in my house, and I could never, for the life of me, figure out WHY! Now, thanks to you, I do. lol. It’s just so true… my house is Contemporary Chic/Transitional, based on my understanding… therefore little cutesy things look misplaced, stand out, and just look strange. Which makes sense… because… it is misplaced considering I am going for a more elegant, stylish theme. THANK YOU! :P

    the different Interior Design styles. (listing the different PRACTICAL styles REAL people use, their descriptions, and several photo examples for each… most articles have one photo of like a chair, side table, lamp, and knick knacks in a corner of a room. Who can tell ANYTHING from that?) I honestly can’t find a good one. There are so many different websites… saying so many different things… it would be nice to find a article that actually told me once and for all what my style is. Mostly because then it would be make shopping and planning easier. Earlier I said my home was Contemporary Chic/Transitional but I only say this because it fit what my home looks like the best, and two websites gave mostly the same examples and description of the style. That really isn’t saying much though… my style is probably the most typical. Whenever I go into a home and it has been professional designed or the owner has really good taste… it’s also the style I prefer. I’m not just saying this because I like it, therefore rendering all the other styles as bad in my eyes. Whenever I look online I see all types of different styles that I think are actually really cool. I just personally don’t see them attainable, practical, or frankly COMFORTABLE. :PI literally mean it’s either this style… or they are just living like shit with whatever furniture they could get handed down, found at garage sales, or in the literal garbage. YOU REALLY SHOULD WRITE THIS ARTCLE YOU WOULD BE DOING THE WORLD A FAVOR! (I think this mostly because the article you wrote on this page is literally the only thing I have read in months that I actually thought was smart, interesting, and very true. There is sooo much garbage on the internet written by people who are totally full of you know what.

    ALSO, I apologize for this comment being SOOO poorly written. I totally butchered it in the spelling, grammar, and punctuation categories… and didn’t even reread it to check for errors. I probably look like a complete idiot… I assure you though… i’m usually not TOO MUCH OF AN IDIOT :P

  • […] some goodies I loved. I wanted it to have a more sophisticated feel, and due in large part to my do-not-buy word, I eliminated most of the […]

  • “Splurge”!

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