A story I wrote for MakeItBetter.net about how to stop living like a camper in your own house — you know, actually get some furniture, or arrange the furniture you do have, unwrap your pictures and hang them — got me thinking. We all know people who don’t decorate, but why don’t they decorate? It’s not money. It’s something else.
Here are three ways people have irrational fears about decorating, and how to overcome them.
1. If the boxes are unpacked and out of the way, you have to make the place nice, and that’s scary. The solution? Tell yourself it doesn’t matter, because you’re just going to change it later anyway. Suspend reality just for the sake of getting rid of those moving boxes. Put stuff anywhere. Take the brown paper off your pictures and hang them pell mell on the walls. Arrange the furniture in the family room so that you can have an actual intimate conversation. See how it feels. If you don’t like it, you’ve got the right to change it. Decor is not set in stone.
2. You are afraid that people will be critical of your decor, and will voice their opinion if they don’t like something. Decorating is a visual expression of identity so criticism feels personal. What you need is one friend whose taste you trust. Not five friends — one. Bribe her with lunch and get her to come over and spend an hour telling you what color to paint your walls and what size sofa would fit in your family room. When she gives your decorating the stamp of approval, you will have the confidence that others will nod along in agreement.
3. You know enough to realize that choosing an area rug the size of a postage stamp is a faux pas, but not enough to know how big it actually should be. How many throw pillows are acceptable on a 10-foot sofa? You’re smart enough to know there is an answer but not well-versed enough to know the number (it’s three). If you are a rule follower, you have two choices. You can either read a book on decorating and follow it (my favorite is Deborah Needleman’s The Perfectly Imperfect Home) or decide that if you don’t know the rules, you are free to break them! Or, you could call me. I give free second opinions!