What to do when you can’t make a design decision—three tips on how to move forward to finish the room!
One of the biggest questions I get asked by friends is, “Which one do you like? I can’t decide!” Design decisions can be tough, but I’m here to help.
I was admittedly blessed (and cursed) with the ability to make design decisions quickly. I have 100% regretted some of those, but you can usually fix what’s broke. But I’ve employed a few techniques along the way to make sure I regret as few as possible. Here’s what I do and what you can try to stop getting stuck on those tricky decisions!
Marie Kondo that shit! Ask yourself, “Do I LOVE this item? Paint color? Chair? Does it make me smile?”
Seriously. Marie Kondo is on to something that a lot of designers ask themselves all the time.
“Do I love this enough for it to make an impact on my home? Or my client’s space?”
Nate Berkus has a great quote that I shared a while back here. He says that your home should be a collection of what you love. For example, I know how tempting it can be to buy those cute little decor items at Target. I get it. But if you can resist long enough to ask whether that item will make a visual impact on your home—one that will make you smile—then it will help you make the decision to purchase or not.
When deciding on bigger ticket items, like chairs, couches, and other large items, the same rules apply. You can’t always get a “sample”, but you may be able to get some similar fabric to see if the color suits your space or use Wayfair’s handy “View In Room” tool. It’s totally graphicy, but it actually does work!
Bigger ticket items also require more contemplation. Don’t impulse buy because YOU LOVE IT. For instance, I found a handful of gorgeous chairs I loved this weekend, but I waited and waited until I found the one that ticked all the boxes. It was blue. It swiveled. It had wood accents. And it fit.
The takeaway? Don’t compromise with furniture. You just don’t have to.
Is this item/decision going to be a feature in the room?
What does this mean? What is a “feature” in a room? My mom calls it an “inspiration piece”. It’s usually an item or color or fixture that informs how you will scope the room.
For example, a couch that only fits at one angle or a piece of art that you really, really want in a space. Or a kitchen countertop or a fireplace. It’s a feature in a space that either cannot be changed or you don’t want to because you love it.
If you are making a design decision about a feature piece, then that item should always go first.
Make the most important design decision to you first. The rest will come after. If you love that first feature/color/etc, it will be easier to design around it.
A few examples of rooms with “Features” that have been designed around.
This gorgeous kitchen (which is by The Ranch Uncommon, find them on Insta) has so many beautiful elements. But what stands out to me is the ceiling beams. They truly make the space unique and serve as that “statement feature” that the homeowner can design around. They didn’t put upper cabinets in the kitchen because…it would take away from the beams! Think about it.
There are just so many things I love about this room, but the asymmetrical light and the wishbone chairs and my favorite. The designer picked two feature items, neither of which would overpower the other, and made them both pop by keeping the rest of it simple.
This is a case of the perfect couch. What a beautiful color! The rest of the room remains neutral and calm so the couch can really say hello. Unless you’re a color glutton, go with a fabulous couch OR a fabulous something else. Two many fabulous things will feel cluttered and busy, fast.
Take your paint colors for a test drive.
A lot of design decisions are financial. Pure and simple. And that’s fine and normal. Most of mine are.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t test out some things before you commit your cash to it!
Let’s take paint, for example. With paint color, it usually becomes a time and financial decision. A lot of times you just want to get it done. But don’t rush it!
I don’t want to admit how much time and money I’ve spent on paint samples. But that’s not because I can’t decide, it’s because I’m ready to put paint on the wall and see what I love and what I hate. So buy a sample can! They’re usually only about $3-4 and it’s worth it to have a sense of how a color will impact your space. (*Note: samples will not always be true to the final color, so be aware that there will be a slight difference in pigment, but I find it’s usually close enough.)
You don’t have to commit to a $35 gallon of paint right away, just go for the little sample size first and then make an informed decision. It’s like test driving a car!
And you’d be surprised how often those little cans of paint come in handy for other projects! I’ve painted garden pots, holiday decor items, etc.
Another hot tip for paint colors? Start in the morning and decide throughout the day. Colors change over the course of the day with different shades of light. You may love the color in the morning, but by evening, it looks drab.
Also, if you haven’t already, go get yourself a paint deck! My mom got me one and I take that thing everywhere! Most stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, will be able to match the colors you’ve chosen from the desk if it’s from a reputable paint company like Benjamin Moore.