Overcoming Decorating Paralysis :: say no to ‘normal’ decorating
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 by {darlene}

Today continues our “Overcoming Decorating Paralysis” Design Series. Isn’t it amazing how much psych we bring into our decorating decisions {or lack thereof}?

For those of you who are new to Fieldstone Hill Design, this series has been filled with ideas on how we can:

Move from the home we wish we had….
to accepting the home we DO have….
to creating a home we love.

And, like most journeys-worth-traveling, this process never gets old. We have to revisit it, again and again.

One of the posts that really resonated with all of you was my post “Decide you won’t decorate for the Jones’s.” One of my readers had an comment that struck a chord with me, and I wanted to chit chat about it with all of you. So, I asked her if I could share. I wonder if you have had similar thoughts:

“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?” – Gyen

I have three answers for getting that “be normal” voice to sit down and hush up:

1. “Normal” is not only a lie, but it causes us to make BAD choices.

2. The better you know YOURSELF, the less susceptible you will be to other people’s personal style influence.

3. Find a talented designer who decorates the way YOU LOVE, and learn from them.

Let’s chat about these, shall we??

1. “Normal” is not only a lie, but it causes us to make BAD choices.

Normal. I actually have a great friend, who is a spiritual mentor of mine, share recently how she has felt called to go on “alert” when she finds herself striving to be, or comparing herself or her family to, “normal.” I so appreciated her thoughts on this, and now, I too have been dwelling on the thought. I have been noticing how I get myself into trouble in so many ways when that devil-on-my-shoulder says: Be Normal!

You see, what in the world IS normal? I guess it means, “blending in. fitting in. being part of group thinking.” If you were to go by that definition, it becomes obvious that being normal is not always good. But this “Be Normal”-Thing gets us every time.

Now, let’s apply the same notion to “normal home decorating.” Blending in? Fitting in? Be part of the Group? We can be sure that Coco Chanel would not be on board with that. Now, it is true that if you decide on chevron {be normal!!} while everybody likes chevron, then…. your decor will be “in” for a little while {btw. I happen to like chevron, but if you don’t… then don’t start now!}. But, truly:

Our decor being “in” is not the goal. Our decor “reflecting US” is the goal! {<- tweet this}

So put yourself on alert for that pesky voice that cries out, “Be Normal.” It is a lie that leads to mediocrity, complete decorating disasters, or worse: your home looks like it belongs to someone else.

2. The better you know YOURSELF, the less susceptible you will be to other people’s personal style influences.

Knowing your own personal style is a journey {one you can start today, goody gumdrops! This post will help you get started}.  And the better you know your own personal style, the more confident you will become in your choices. Although this takes time… you must invest time into seperating your ‘likes’ from your ‘LOVES!’…. it is worth it. Knowing yourself, and your own personal style, is the fastest way to avoid what Gyen described as:

“I can’t decide what I want because of that voice always saying what I’m SUPPOSED to want.”

As you put in the work to identify your own personal style {have I mentioned, it takes time and work?}, you may slowly find that your very own Signature Style is emerging. Glory be!

3. Find a talented designer who decorates the way YOU LOVE, and learn from them.

It is so helpful to follow the work of several different designers, and to be inspired by a wide variety of talents. But, I also want to encourage you to seek out a few designers {even if it is one} who actually decorate the way you love. Find rooms that make you swoon, and look into the designer and his/her work.

Now, this is not to say that you would make every single design choice that designer would make. That is the beauty of interior design; It is personal. But, if you find a designer or two or three who create rooms that habitually fill you with delight…well, I say, take note! Watch, study and learn! And by all means, ditto!

So, arm yourself:

1. Say No to Normal.

2. Know Thyself.

3. And ditto your faves.

And tell that pesky voice to sit down and keep his opinions to himself.



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Labeled: overcome decorating paralysis


  • I agree that this can be a problem for me too, not so much in “being normal” but in editing those things that I love. With the easy acessiblility of looking into other peoples lives by surfing the web or watching TV or looking at magazines I see so many great ideas and products out there that I love but they just don’t work for my home. Example. I love the shabby chic style but with the type of house I live in and the lifestyle we live shabby chic just is not practical for me. I love minimalism but could never live that way myself. I find it hard to blend what I have into what I want and eliminating what simply won’t work for me even though I love it. What I have is lovely, and what I need to remember is that this home is to be lived in so it never will look like the well laid out photo shoots in the magazines. Stuff gets left out on the coffee table, the dining room table is full of projects. The kitchen island is covered most times with food prep stuff. It’s home and it is not a sterile showroom. I guess what I have identified is I need some sort of systems in place to minimize the clutter. Thanks for your willingness to share your talents to help us to identify what we need to do to get the homes we long for. I love your blog. I need to sign up for your design services but right now that just isn’t in the budget. Perhaps someday soon.

  • OH boy, another post that strikes a cord with me. Although I have not fallen into the “be normal” mode completely; I did find myself moving in that direction when we moved into our new home. As for my true design style……it is hodge podge! I used too take everything I love and combine it together until it worked for me. Once I realized that I disliked (which I knew to begin with) the direction I was going I am moving back to my style. BUT that “be normal” still creeps in. I guess it will be something that many of us will have to fight against for years to come.

    Thank you so much for posting this series.

    Hope you have a wonderful evening.

  • I love this post…if I weren’t in total brain meltdown mush mode, I’d tell you why. But you don’t need me to. You’ve already been brilliant here.

  • I have yet to find a designer that designs what I like (even, say, 75% of the way I like). My preferences sit right on the border of cozy and minimal, so I find designers are either too loud/cluttered or too simplistic/stark for my tastes.

    Wish there was an easy way to “Google” people who design in the style I prefer.

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