overcoming decorating paralysis :: the mute button
Friday, March 15, 2013 by {darlene}

The Mute Button:

How to listen to advice without losing yourself

the mute button{this post is part of a series that will help you break free from Decorating Paralyis}

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It can be very helpful to get the opinions of others when you are wrestling over a decorating decision. Sometimes, we overanalyze, and can’t see the forest for the trees. This is when it can be especially helpful to reach out to others for a tie breaker, or to have them talk some sense into us.

The trick is, we tend to make two mistakes with this good advice that we are given:

1. We give it too much weight and forget who we are and what we love, and/or

2. We allow it to propel us into a state of confusion!

Once we have asked our trusted advisers for help, we need to learn how to use this advice for the BETTER, not for the WORSE!

How do we do this?

Some tips:

1. Consider the opinion of others. The key word here is “consider.” Establish in your mind beforehand that you are simply gathering opinions that you can consider.

2. Do you tend to feel locked into others’ advice? Tell your friends you are “gathering opinions to consider what to do,” instead of  directly asking, “What should I do??” Depending on your personality, asking outright ‘what you should do’ may make you feel obligated to do exactly as they advise.

3. Know thyself! In other words, if you do not know what you love PRIOR to asking advice from others, you will simply sway like the breeze with your decisions. This will lead you into a complete state of decorating confusion! You MUST know what YOU love in order to confidently decorate your home. {Good news, I can totally help you with that! Definitely do the Style Bootcamp to get started! And then fine tune by making a Signature Style Board}

4. Last but not least, after CONSIDERING the advice of your friends, and KNOWING what you love: press the MUTE BUTTON!

the mute button

 What is the mute button? The mute button is what we “press” when we have:

  1. Finished considering the decorating advice of our friends, and
  2. we are at the point when we need to silence their voices and listen to our own voice!
Last week, I posted about potentially doing gray/blue cabinets in our brand new school room. I asked my amazing readers for their thoughts, and you guys did not let me down! By the end of the day, I knew what I wanted to do. But before I made my final decision, there was a good bit of mind wrestling that I did.
I really took to heart all of your comments, and considered your great thoughts and opinions.
Then, I really thought about what I LOVE, and gave that incredible weight in my decision.
Then, I realized my decision required some guts, so, I needed to silence any voices that didn’t “give me the guts.”

So, after reading all of your awesome comments…. I pressed the mute button.

The mute button is the button you press when you need to hush others’ decor voices that are in your head. { <- Tweet this}

Since my readers are brilliant and smart and stylish and savvy, there wasn’t too much to silence. But eventually, we need to DECIDE. We need to pick what WE love, and go for it, and don’t turn back with a head full of doubt.

Because you see, what someone else would do in their home is JUST THAT. It is what THEY should do in THEIR homes.

And asking for others opinions is smart. It is gathering all the facts. But at some point, when you are ready to make YOUR decision, the mute button must be pressed.

And then, {you have heard me say it before, and it won’t be the last time}:

Decorate with what you LOVE!!


How about you? Have you had to press the mute button? Tell me your mute button stories in the comments below!




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Labeled: overcome decorating paralysis


  • greatly appreciated this post since I was talking with my interior designer and the curtain maker yesterday….both had differing opinions, so this helped me to just “CONSIDER” their opinions, but plan to do what I love…and I will :)

    Thanks so much!

  • Loved this post! Now that I am past being an empty-nester, but am now babysitting some of my grandchildren, I have been struggling with how to renovate and decorate the small home we downsized to. I know what I love, but paring that down with an awkward floor plan and keeping in mind that lots (almost 11) young children will eventually get their hands and feet on it, is a challenge for me. Still, my hubby and I live here more than anyone and we have to eventually live with what we love! So thanks for confirming that very ideal. Now, back to glitzy wallpaper samples and sparkly table lamps!

  • I love this series Darlene, and this is such great advice. I recently did a round up of dressers that I loved that since I was painting a dresser, but I had been drawn to one color all along. I got a variety of opinions and appreciated all of them, but in my heart I think I always knew which one I loved and went with it! I agree about giving too much weight. How many times have a agonized between two shades of gray that were similar? Thanks for such great posts! Have a great weekend. Sharon

  • Darlene, a few weeks ago when I read your words “Pick something….the time has come to make a decision”, much has happened here at my little house in the country. I am so grateful to you for that day and those comments. The second bedroom is not only set up with an iron day bed and trundle, but with a table to work and shelves holding all my art materials. So the bedroom/studio has been born. Praise God! Finally. It’s been slept in and work has been done. I’ve identified my style which I love. Pictures and items have gone up on walls. Furniture has been painted (never done that before) and some has been moved. Items have been donated or gone to resale. Spring is here and the plants have gone back outside on the porch and a few flowering ones have been purchased. My paralysis began when I moved in and that extra room was FILLED to the ceiling with boxes of things I wanted to keep but had no idea what to do with or where it would go. I could not visualize it any other way. I slowly but surely found a way to empty the boxes and move the furniture into place. When I walk through the room now or even look in there, I just smile. Here’s the crazy thing, I have a degree in Fine Arts/Interior Design from Texas Tech University…but my career for 26 years was social work. So I just never used it. But a huge thank you for just the nudge I needed. DO SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong. You can do something else if you don’t like it. I know that now. Would love to send some pics to you sometime. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

  • I just stumbled across your blog and after reading this post I can’t wait to explore more of it. I know this doesn’t really fall under the category of home decor but it still falls under this topic. My MIL and I went round and round about the portable dishwasher in hubby’s and my new house. She wanted me to get rid of it because it would be “too much hassle.” I was torn because I wanted the extra space but at the same time the convenience. Still unsure I had hubby move it into the garage. After a week and battling allergies and dishes piling up, I have decided to hush her voice and do what I consider the better option for us and our family of 5. The dishwasher came back in. And it was worth it. I hope in the future that I hold my ground and push the mute button before I let someone else decide what I should do with my home. Thanks for your post!

  • Boy, I feel you! Every single time I paint something the way my mother thought I should instead of the way I liked it, or didn’t buy that shabby ladder to put in my front parlor because my aunt made a face about it, etc… I regret it. Because I do know what I like. And what I like is what should be in my home.

  • Great advice Darlene! I have a very different sense of style from my sisters and Mom. Since they are all amazing women with definate ideas, I had to learn to ‘hit the mute button’ many years ago. It took alot of guts for me to paint my dining room a deep burgundy (blue undertones) many years ago. There was a wall of windows, so lots of light and 12′ ceilings. Everyone I talked to basically told me ‘NO’, for the sake of goodness, DONT DO IT. Well, I stood there in front of the paint chips….and I did it. I chose the color I loved. Painted it. Loved it even more on the wall. I did get a couple of snarky comments from friends of my Mama and sisters, but none from my friends, and more importantly, NONE FROM ME! Ha! Loved it then, love thinking of it even now, over 25 years later. Thanks for the advice and I apologize for the ramble. It was a huge leap for me and the stepping off point for going with my gut and learning to ‘hit mute’.

  • Such great advice Darlene!!!! I love this series you are doing. It is so helpful and informative to those people out there that struggle with design!!!

  • Thanks for this Darlene.

    I was wondering If you could do a post about rug decor? What do you think about Rugman? Has anyone out there used them? I would love to hear your opinion.

  • Jennifer Gochenaur

    Great post, Darlene! So, so glad I hit the mute button and painted the master bath and the wall behind our bed a dark, gorgeous blue! And my living room yellow! Lots of people did not agree, but WE LOVE IT!

  • This was such an interesting post! I had to chuckle in my head, because I’ve come to the point where I nearly ever ask for reader advice on my blog anymore. I think sometimes I’m looking for affirmation and not direction, because I have pretty strong opinions about my style. The older I get, the less I ask, or the more I re-frame my question. Great post!

  • I am one of those people that let’s herself become paralyzed by others’ comments, negativity, or questioning, so I tend to keep my plans secret. I love to tackle a project or redecorate or reorganize something when my husband goes out of town and when I know it will be a while before any family comes to visit. That way I have a little time to relish in the joy of the change before the comments/questions come, if they do at all. Maybe not the best practice, but it keeps me from getting discouraged and not doong anything at all. Of course I would never do anything major without talking to my husband first.

  • OMGosh!! I am so glad I found your site. I know it was no accident! My husband and I are in the beginning stages of building a custom home. And when I say beginning, we have stem walls. We met with our floor guy yesterday and I think we realized what a HUGE undertaking we have in front of us. Unfortunately, I tend to be one of those people who can’t hit the mute button. I can’t wait to dive into more of your posts. I have an idea of what I want but my fear is being overrun with so many choices. However, I do want advice from the professionals. I want to do this the right way. After reading just this first post, I’m already feeling more positive! Thank you!!

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