Overcoming Decorating Paralysis :: Say no to ‘normal’ decorating
Thursday, March 28, 2013 by {darlene}

Today’s post is a repost taken from the “Overcoming Decorating Paralysis” Design Series. Can’t wait to hear all of your thoughts on “Normal” decorating:

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.”

*Normal 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


  • Great post. So true…what IS normal? Trying hard to go with what makes me giddy and tune out the “norm”. Although on trend right now, I really want a black or super dark wall w/contrast popping off it. LOVE that! we’ll see if i go for it!! ;)

  • yes, triple yes. For readers of blogs, this is particularly poignant as we are image and designer rich, thanks to your eye for beauty. Chevrons and stripes, not a love but I really have tried to appreciate them, as an intellectual study, not as part of our home. That’s why I like your blog–you point out how and why something works. I love purple/plum and I’ve discovered it’s not for everyone but my study is doing a happy dance in plum (combined with neutrals–like chocolate and khaki–blues and a pop or two of orange). I chose not to take to heart the assumption that brown is so yesterday. It is alive and well.

  • So true and well-said! I am building our forever retirement home and most of my choices for the interior have been questioned by the builder and the designer. “Are you sure you want brass? ‘Cause that is really hard to find since everyone loves nickle.” “Marble countertops…really? You know they are hard to take care of and they etch..” I have stuck to my guns and they finally understand me. The builder is willing for my to buy up old Baldwin BRASS stock on ebay for the door handles and brass/chrome bathroom fixtures. I am recycling the fabric in the duvet and room decor I made for my daughter’s college years since she no longer loves it but I still do. Just found a piece of Waverly from the 80s on ebay this week and I am in fabric heaven! I still love blue and yellow together even if you don’t see a single piece at Calico Corners. The crystal chandelier I bought in Europe 20 years ago will go from my Colonial home to my lake home because that’s what I want, not what’s expected and in everyone else’s dining room. My house will suit ME (and my husband because he ‘gets’ me!) and 20 years from now I will still love it whether it’s normal or not! And yes, I am happy to see more people using mixed metals and brass, not to make me normal but because things might be easier to come by!

  • I have been working on my house, after a move to another city) for the past year, and I am guilty of letting others guide what I do. When I finally sat down and reviewed my folder of ideas, I realized that I got off course in some of my choices. They weren’t really me and some are not re-doable. This has been a learning process since I am a widow and have no one to please but me. I am now on the right track and trust my instincts. An expensive lesson but I guess worth the knowledge I have now.
    Carpe Diem
    Thank you, Darlene-love your style, honestly.

  • Darlene, you are seriously saving my life with your ‘Overcoming Decorating Paralysis’ series – thank you!! I have an exciting – albeit overwhelming – move around the corner, and I keep oscillating between excited/full of ideas, and lost/unable to make any progress. C’est la vie! One foot in front of the other, right? :)

    Em | emmakesherown.wordpress.com

  • Ohhh, as the original, real live Gyen, I can say what a long way I’ve come since that comment!!!

    I am confident I know what I love now, and feel good following that love because for the first time ever, my home is starting to look like MY family actually lives in it. For the first time ever, I have a plan for our home!

    You are awesome, Darlene! For anyone still feeling stuck, I’d say, “Go through the boot camp. Just have an open mind and just follow each step, taking as long as you need. And see where it leads you.”

    The only trouble now is implementing my plans. You *are* going to do a series on how to decorate with a new baby in the house, right? Because if I can’t, then I only have until June to finish up!

  • Such a wonderful post! I know so many people that conform to other styles but who are they really??? I moved to a place where everyone loves burlap and country design. Not me!!! I love gold and always have, even when it wasn’t popular (like it is now). Staying true to who we are and what we love!!! Thanks for posting this!!!

  • Another great post. Now I’m going to go upstairs and remove the leopard print on my bench. I was supposed to love it… but I just don’t. I like flowers. And stripes. And gingham. I think it’s time I do a boot camp refresher course!

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