overcoming decorating paralysis :: define your style with photos
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by {darlene}

Photo Inspiration

{this post is part of a series that tackles how we can overcome our decorating paralysis, and how we can begin having homes that we love. today. Click to read the additional Overcoming Decorating Paralysis posts.}


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Remember when I told you that, in order to identify your own personal style, you needed to get to work?? Yes. Well. Here you have a gentle reminder to….. get to work! Below is a guide on HOW-TO define your style with photo inspiration.

Now, do the fun part… and start collecting photo inspiration:

{image via Fieldstone Hill on Pinterest}

Decor Blogs.
DIY Blogs.
Online Decor Magazines.
Print Decor Magazines.

Does all this photo inspiration help you to effectively decorate your own home…. or just confuse you?

I hear from clients and commenters all of the time, “I am so confused. I just don’t know what I love. One day it is this, and the next day it is that.” All of this great visual inspiration can cause mental clutter, and keep us in a state of confusion about our own personal style. Just when we think we know what we love… another “more beautiful” idea comes along.

Well, there are lots of ways to narrow down and define your own personal style. And today I want to talk about one of those ways: Inspiration Photos; the very things that can cause so much decorating confusion!

Believe it or not, all of that eye-candy can help us discover what it is we truly love:  if we look at all of our photos collectively, with the aim of finding the common denominators.

So, if you are willing to take my word for it…

1. Gather some of your favorite online and magazine images, and if you have a Pinterest account with a collection of some of your favorite things and spaces, pull that up as well. {Pinterest.com is wonderful for this, by the way.}

2. Decide on one room for your focus, and narrow down your pictures to that particular room.

3. Now, narrow down these pictures to those that you truly adore and would actually love to live in. If this part is super hard, that is okay. Even going with your “best guess of what you think you love” will be good enough.

4. Time to get down to business. Take a serious look at all of the photos that just made the cut. And remember, the aim is that you are looking for commonalities and generalities.

And then ask yourself questions of commonality, such as:

  • What furniture pieces, furniture lines and placement do all of these rooms have in common?
  • What colors and/or color moods do all of these rooms have in common?
  • What do the patterns/fabrics present in the spaces have in common?
  • What textures and/or finishes appear in several of the images?
  • What adjectives could I use that would describe most of these images?
  • Do I notice anything else that appears in most of these images?

5. Once you have answered these questions, take note of what you discover about your common loves. Literally, take notes. Write down all of the recurring themes and patterns, no matter how big or small.

Then, once you have made these observations, reflect on them for a while, and see if you can narrow down your thoughts to specific observations and concepts.  Then, confidently “own” these concepts. If you discovered that there is a touch of fuchsia in every single picture, well then… maybe it is time that you admit that you love a touch of fuchsia. Own it! It is YOUR love!

So… the next time you talk yourself out of getting the fuchsia pillow {the one that makes your heart sing….} , because it is much more “practical” to get the brown one, by golly, go with what you finally know you love!

I would love to know:

What are YOU learning about your style from your photo inspiration??


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{repost from Darlene Weir’s Roomag.com archives}

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Labeled: defining your style, overcome decorating paralysis


  • Hi Darlene-

    Great advice, I recently did exactly what you describe. I wanted to totally renovate my kitchen, but wasn’t sure what style I wanted. I went through Pinterest, HGTV website, BHG website, etc. and found images of full kitchens I liked, as well as components I liked, such as sinks, backsplashes, and cabinets. I reviewed my collection of images and it was easy to see that I was attracted to cream or white cabinets, farmhouse sinks, and natural materials. We are in the final days of the remodel, and I love it! If you want to use mine as an example, you can find my images on Pinterest and I can send you photos of the final result. It isn’t exactly like any one, but a nice mix of things that appealed to me. Pinterest is PERFECT for this. I shudder to think of all the bookmarks I would have had to keep track of without it!

  • Great post, Darlene! I think I better pin it to share it with others! I know one thing about my style for sure by studying photos: it’s consistent! I guess that’s a good thing, but sometimes I’m tempted to spice it up a little!


    • Oh, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this on Pinterest, that blesses me so much! I know just what you mean about spicing it up… I had been surprised at how little color I was decorating with… yet, when I found inspiring spaces, there were always punches of gutsy colors. The photos gave me the confidence to acknowledge that was what I LOVED!

  • If you ask me my style, I’d tell you I love uber-traditional spaces. But one thing I’ve learned (well, one thing I’M LEARNING) by paying attention to the images that capture my heart (holla, Pinterest!) is that I REALLY crave contemporary touches, and unexpected details. Not trends, like having to have chevron, but more streamlined silhouettes and less toile. It’s funny how just verbalizing that brings clarity! Great post/series, Darlene!

  • Love this post…my problem is that I love everything….But really sticking to the traditional with contemporary touches here and there….Just trying to update my interiors with paint…for an updated look….

  • This is great advice! I’ve been trying to look more closely at the photos I like, and dissect them as you suggested…as well as separate the photos I like, from those I actually want to LIVE in. I’ve also found that taking pictures of my own spaces and comparing them to my “ideal” is helpful.

  • You just bless so many of us with your wisdom and I appreciate the time you take to write this all out for us! Any movement with our friends?

  • I’ve never heard of the term decorating paralysis, but that is definitely something I have and it has been hindering me from decorating my apartment. I’m so glad to have came upon your page through a pinterst picture. Thanks for your words of wisdom! One website that I have found to be very helpful in helping me with my decorating style is http://olioboard.com/flash/editor. It’s an awesome website where you can drag pictures you love to create a home decor board.

  • I’m loving this serious and learning a lot. I’ve been having a decorating paralysis for several months with my new home that I bought in January. My kitchen is seriously suffering of this syndrome and I’ll be happy to get my style narrowed down, so I can make my kitchen a place I love to be in.

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