overcoming decorating paralysis :: decide you won’t decorate for the Jones’s
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 by {darlene}

Yesterday, I was so honored to have our home shared in a Houzz article.

Although I was a bit nervous.

One of the main reasons I was nervous is because, as I share on the about page of my blog, I have a very “unfinished” home. And, as a decorator, I know what my house COULD be. I always joke, “You should see what this house looks like in my head!! It looks gooooood!”

Our family has decided to live in a way that only affords us occasional large purchases. And, you all know by now, I will not buy something unless I love it. I choose to wait for exactly what I love, and therefore, that leaves a lot of walls blank and windows uncovered and corners empty.

This emptiness attracted a comment on Houzz. A comment that hurt me at first, but then really made me think.



My first reaction, of course, was to try to defend my home in my mind. {I may or may not have even entertained the notion of sending a comment back…}. But then I cooled down and saw a lot of truth in her words. And I thought:

There is a lesson in this.

In many ways, our decor IS cold and empty. We have practically nothing on our walls. We have only the essential blinds and curtains. We have wood floors with very few rugs. And we have a lot of unpainted and unfinished projects, and some rooms with no paint. Some rooms with no walls, actually.

So. The reality is, what is there to be defensive about in light of her comment?

…… I, myself, am often disappointed in my interior decor!



But, here is the truth.  A while ago, I decided to get over my disappointment.

And I decided to move on with the following attitudes about my home:

thankfulness and patience.

Thankfulness:  I remind myself of how thankful I am for what I have, which is SO much more than most.

Patience:  And then, I continue to remind myself that if I really, really wanted to, I could have my home decorated from top to bottom by tomorrow. I even know exactly what I would do!!

I would just need to make a few changes first:

1. I could take on some serious credit cards.

2. We could stop sponsoring Monika, Kostantine, Brian and Luis.

3. I could send my kids to traditional schooling and do my design work full time.

4. I could spend a lot more time doing DIY

But none of these choices would be best for OUR family right now. Instead, I choose to be patient.


My point? {there is one, right?}

Of course, You don’t need to homeschool. You don’t need to decorate your home from top to bottom. You don’t need to be a patient decorator. You don’t need to sponsor a child. You don’t need to work full time. You don’t need to work part time. These are choices for some and not for others.

But one thing is for sure: you DEFINITELY do not need to decorate your home so that it meets the approving eye of the Jones’s.

Here is the good stuff:

This decision, to NOT decorate for the Jones’s,will help to free you from your decorating paralysis:

1. If you currently decorate to the nines, but maybe you should not be spending all of your time and energy and resources this way, ask yourself if you are doing it to try to keep up? with the Jones’s? with other bloggers?

2. If you don’t decorate at all, and are frozen, make sure it is not because you are afraid of making a choice that others will frown upon. If you are frozen, is it because you are afraid of doing it all wrong … according to OTHERS?

3. If you feel like your home MUST look a certain way, ask yourself, do I buy things I just “like” a little bit, and don’t LOVE, because “everyone is supposed to have a rug in their foyer, and a pendant light over their island, and a wreath for their door, etc. etc.?”

* * * * * * * *

The opposite of paralysis is freedom. Freely decorate your home in a way that WORKS for you and your family. Not in the paralysis of “always-thinking-about-what-others-will-think” as you decorate


ok. ok. I did find ONE teesy thing I must correct this honest commenter on:

This IS a warm family home.

Maybe not yet in the ways you can see with your eyes……



* * * * * * * *

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Labeled: here at Fieldstone Hill, overcome decorating paralysis


  • This was a wonderful post….like that should surprise me since I LOVE this series (and all your posts)! I can really relate to trying to have “the house”. We will be moving soon, and I have been stressing already….I’m glad you gave me permission to just breath. As always…thanks!

  • one of the best thoughts on decorating so far . . . i am often guilty of “trying to keep up” with someone. not sure who exactly. the blogs? friends? it’s stressful to decorate a home for THEM. i love the choices you’ve made and the freedom i can take away from this post.

  • I can’t imagine anyone could think your home is cold, empty and lifeless Darlene. It’s quite the opposite even though you are not “finished.” A home is always a work in progress and changes as we do. Very few people have the money, time or vision to do it all at once. And, often, those homes look look cold and like retail showrooms instead of warm and personal to the family. Sadly, there is a lot of snobbery in the world of design and home decor. So much is relative. To those of us who live in homes that are MUCH less grand than yours and the majority of the homes featured on houzz (my favorite escape)comments like that come across as just a bit snobby. I look forward to seeing you make changes to your home over time. I’m glad you were able to put the comment in perspective instead of allowing it to fester and hurt your feelings.

  • Theresa Kraft

    FYI I left this comment on the HOUZZ SITE post:

    Lucky are the Weir’s to live in this beautiful Fieldstone Home. Their attention to Historic Preservation is breathtaking. While laboring to maintain the dwellings true craftsmanship they have repurposed it to fit into todays modern and cozy living. And just like any other ‘glossy magazine photo shoot’ the photo spreads are barren of our daily life’s clutter aka knick-knack’s, family photos, homemade drawings, stacks of magazines, scattered toys and piles of shoes. Tastefully edited for our enjoyment of this house in all its glory. Truly lucky are the children that get to live and explore this house, the out-building and their own parent’s wealth of knowledge.

  • Beautifully written- you are so right about decorating (or not) according to your own taste. Sometimes I get tired of seeing the same old stuff, just in a different home on a different blog. Also, thank you for such a great lesson on how to respond to criticism.

  • Thanks for reminding us that designing a home is a process that evolves over time. BTW you home is gorgeous!

  • You have a beautiful home. You took that comment about your house very well. I think I would have gotten mad and then ignored it. You took it more like a big girl and learned from it. GOOD FOR YOU! I absolutely love the boys’ room floor! WOW!! Love reading your series. Keep it up! ~Linda

  • Again, you have nailed it. I could have a lot more “done” in my house if I didn’t homeschool, cook real food from scratch, took on a second income or went in serious debt. It’s all about priorities and following your convictions on what’s right for your family. I love your home and sometimes the process is where you grow and stretch the most.

  • thank you. thank you SO much for this post. we are building a house and i have been overwhelmed with decorating ideas and this unnecessary pressure to have it look a certain way…the day we move in. silly. i tend to buy “good enough” and that tendency is so disappointing and SO expensive. i will buy ONLY what i love; i will be PATIENT. and if we have empty, unpainted rooms until our kids are in high school…so what?! our house will serve its function–regardless of how polished it looks. thank you so much, darlene!!!

  • I read a lot of design blogs yet I’ve never felt compelled to comment on a post. However, this post truly resonates with me. We are a single income family because I chose to leave my very successful career as a portfolio manager/equity trader and have two beautiful boys. Most people would be shocked if I told them the income we live on. It’s hard not to get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses. However, it’s virtually impossible for us and it doesn’t bother me at all. I love to DIY and I buy everything second-hand or make it/build it. I get so much more gratification when I look around my house and see all the things I’ve created and love. They are unique and I know my next door neighbor won’t have it too. Anyway, I applaud you for doing things your way and not getting caught up in the seemingly less important things in life. I was especially happy to see that you homeschool. I plan on homeschooling and I get a lot of negative responses from friends regarding my decision. I’d love to get some info. from you regarding curriculum and maybe the best thing you’ve learned with regards to homeschooling thus far. Thank you for this honest post!

  • so so true! as long as YOU feel it is home, that’s all that matters. You have to make choices and prioritize for what works for YOU. I’m still trying to accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day (as I stare at empty walls and wish for everything that I’d want to do with my home)

  • From a fellow homeschooler with LOTS of bare spots in my home, I say, “AMEN SISTER!” Warm and cozy is definitely not just about what is on the walls and floors.

  • girl – you HIT the nail on the head….bravo for your response…seriously! There are a lot of jealous and critical folks out there and you handled it just right.

    PS – Your home is SUCH a warm family home through and through and through.

  • Hip, hip, huzzah!! This is a wonderful post! You are so right, and you’ve said it so beautifully. Thank you for writing this–you’ve challenged and inspired me. :)

  • This is the most awesomely written post EVER!!!!! I feel EXACTLY the same way!!!! It has taken me toooo long to decide to be happy and grateful to just be able to BUILD and LIVE in our dream home….decorating must come as WE have the funds….not to keep up with The Joneses :) I love love love your perspective Darlene!!!!!!

  • WoW! Thanks for the encouragement, I am a homeschooling mom and we have made similiar financial/family commitments. We have so many people in our home and I feel like I am constantly apologizing/agonizing for things that aren’t “perfect”. Had no idea you were a homeschooling mom too! Thanks so much again, you made my day.

  • This was an amazing, encouraging post. It might just be your best post yet, in my opinion. I am truly encouraged to wait for what I love, wait till I can pay for it in cash, and be thankful for what I already have. GREAT ADVICE!

  • It’s so encouraging to see how well you have prioritized these decisions, and how graciously you took such a cold comment. Your house is stunning, and your decor strategy to wait until you can get what you LOVE is perfect. I love the minimalist, uncluttered feel of your airy rooms. They allow your house to breathe it’s history and imagine what has happened behind those old stone walls over the years—I’d imagine some warm, happy family moments.

  • that comment is infuriating to me!!! It did inspire this beautiful post from you, though, and for that reason only I appreciate it. You home shines and lets the character of the house and architecture take center stage. Too many people have homes that are over-cluttered with junk or things that are not meaningful. Both your home and your spirit are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this post. I am pinning it.

  • Thank you for sharing your home and your insight.

  • I am so impressed that you took such a negative comment and put such a beautiful spin on it. I agree with your viewpoint completely and live much the same way. Often I think I come off as lazy because I haven’t painted “that room” yet, but really it’s just because I want to make sure I have the vision pulled together exactly right in my head even if that does take me 6 months or years. I know people view me as cheap when I see something I like but still won’t buy it, but really, do I need to fill my house with things I “like” when I know at some point I’ll randomly come across something I love!? I could truly relate to everything you wrote and hope you don’t mind if I share this on FB?

  • What a beautiful home you have!! Inside and out, it’s gorgeous. I love simplicity and the minimalist look is my favorite. I don’t like to see people displaying their money, or usually lack there of because they’ve spent it on “stuff”. I enjoy seeing walls, colors, wood floors, textures, lines, and cleanliness. Your home has all of those.

    Good for you for turning this moment around, and thanks for sharing it. All bloggers get those comments and the sting. Some fire back, and few are proactive.

  • Darlene-
    I loved this post and your reasons for having blank walls, etc. I can’t believe someone actually said that about your home. I would like to see what their home looks like!

  • Oh Darlene, when I read that comment I was hoping it wouldn’t bother you…psshhhh. I’ve never been to your house and know it’s filled with the best kind of warmth! It’s still gorgeous; you’ve done such an amazing job. This is a fantastic post, and what I try to live by!!

  • Well said! I think your home is beautiful. I thi k most homes of real people are in the process of “becoming”. Your priorities are right where they should be. As my grandmother always said, “If you can’t say something nice…”
    PS. Your design work is amazing! I love following you on Pinterest!

  • What a wonderful post! Good for you for doing what is best for your family, not what is best for your living room (or whatever room bugs you the most)! Being content is not valued by the world. Stay strong.

  • Girl, with what tact and grace you address this comment! You write such truth. In my experience, many people do not understand alternate or non-traditional approaches to living. We are not cookie cutter people and shouldn’t be expected to lead cookie cutter lives. I understand–but most importantly–respect the decisions you’ve made for YOUR family and home. I love the ending of this post–there is warmth! Agh, the ugly side of blogging has to hit us all every once in a while–even when we’re innocently going about our business. Love you!

  • I am de-lurking here to say “AMEN!” I just loved this post so much. We are slowly chipping away at our house (quite literally actually as I am physically chipping old glued-on bits of magazine off of the walls of the room that will be my daughter’s!!!!), and we take a ‘one thing at a time’ approach. We try to DIY some projects, but we simply cannot DIY all of them. And we are debt-free and fully intend to stay that way, so we slowly save for the larger projects. And I’m starting homeschooling this fall, ahh!! And Baby Daughter is a tornado!

    All that’s to say that *I hear you* completely. At the end of the day, who lives in a space? The family. Not the neighbors, friends, blog-readers, random strangers….our homes exist for our pleasure and use. And we should decorate accordingly. I remind myself of this sometimes when I see gorgeous images and then look at my own house and see some bare walls (or unpainted walls, an unfinished bathroom, etc!). We should all design and decorate for our OWN lives, divergent as they are. That’s the key!

    And I’ll never regret not incurring debt. ;)

  • ahhh! I got chills when I read the 4 “changes” you would have to make…they speak SO clearly to the woman you are and the things you make priority over perceived perfection!

  • I’m so proud of you, such a lovely lady!

  • I keep coming back to this post. I’m totally drawn to what *other* people like, and the more I identify with the person, the more I decorate for him/her. My favorite bloggers love chevrons, sunbursts, navy blue, and big wide stripes. I hate all those things. But last week when I was at a “house clutter” sort of store I found myself drawn to those exact things!

    I kept hearing a voice in my head that said, “Everybody likes these. You’ll be like normal people if you get them.” I can’t decide what I want because of that voice always saying what I’m SUPPOSED to want. How do you get that voice to sit down and shut up?

  • So sorry about the comment on your house! Yet, I appreciated learning that your house is not done–and that you have other prioroities. I have 6 kids, home school 3 currently and have 5 living at home. We also minister to several young men (5th grade through high school) that are also in and out of our house and require time. My youngest is seven and he has Down syndrome and severe apraxia and is on the autism spectrum. He likes to do his own rearranging of furniture and artwork on the walls–or cut a couple slits in the curtains I am sewing. So, my house is at times a disaster! And I get so worn down and exhausted (oh, yes, forgot to mention I have 3 type 1 diabetic kids on insulin pumps). SO, I love to decorate my home and have lots of ideas that I do not “DO”. I appreciate your help. I am stretched in lots of different directions–yet I want my home to be one of peace and order and clean! And I need things tied together with some unified color. I am working on painting some furniture and completing some projects and not worrying about being “perfect” or that the wall has marker on it! So, thanks for the encouragement! I find your insights to be “right on target”. I am an “artist” and need to see beauty in my home to feel at peace. I need to complete projects for myself–so I can be the mom I need to be.
    And the end result always is to make my family (and freinds) feel comfortable and find refuge here in our home.
    Thanks and God bless you and your “warm family”!

  • I found this post via Simply Klassic Home. It really made me sit back and think. Thank you, for doing that.

    I am you newest follower and will be back often to view your lovely home.

    Hope you have a wonderful week.

  • Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you
    discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel
    free to shoot me an e-mail.

  • Thanks for this post! Just what I needed! Too often I do compare myself to other bloggers. It’s a shame. I do need to remind myself to be thankful for what I have, because it is more than a lot of others. And I need to be patient with myself and with getting it all done. I just need to enjoy the process.

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