Decorating choices, I know! It’s easy to get overwhelmed when designing your home. Especially if the options are endless or you’re going for a specific look that is true to yourself. It can be tough not knowing where to start, which makes coming up with the best idea a challenge.
Procrastination and decision paralysis anyone?
The trick is to make things simple. You don’t need to stress about finding the perfect rug. Or go hunting for that one miracle lamp that will complete the room, like when the casita from Encanto gets magically fixed. Instead, you just need to use my proven 3-step rule to help you make quick and easy decorating choices using logic and creativity.
Essential tips to help you make great home decor decisions
Before I share with you my famous (at least in my home) 3-step rule, let’s talk about some tips that will make your life easier. Think of these as the primer and the 3-step rule is the paint.
Know when to step away from Pinterest and Instagram
New ideas are welcome in the early stages of the decision-making process. At first, your filter can be relaxed to gather many wild options. But as you progress, you want to narrow these down, not add more to the pile.
It’s best to stay away from social media and home inspiration sites when you reach the later stages. You know you’ve reached that point when you have gathered 5-10 options.
Sleep over it
If you’re still struggling to decide, come back to it later or leave it for the next day. Once you feel less pressure and had a little time to clear your head, it will be easier to reach a decision. When you sleep, your brain processes recently absorbed information. It’s not unusual for people to discover their ideal option in their sleep!
Avoid impulse buying
There is a big difference between following your gut instinct and making a rushed purchase. Yes, it feels great to take advantage of sales, limited-time offers and promo codes. But not everything is what it seems. I remember a chair I had my eye on from a popular high street retailer. Overnight the price increased by 20%! Two weeks later, it appeared in a 10% off sale.
Some may think it’s a bargain when, in reality, you’re paying more than the original price. So, make the most of these offers, but also consider the tips above to ensure you’re making a balanced decision.
The proven 3-step rule to making better decorating choices
Here is my simple framework to make any decorating decision. Most of these ideas are evidence-based, which means they’re proven to work and already applied in many professional fields. There are only three steps — and I encourage you to spend some time on each of them, to maximise your decision-making success.
1. List all the decorating choices you have to make
The first step to simplifying your decorating process is to create a list of the decisions you have to make and then break them up into categories.
For example, if you’re decorating a dining room, you’ll first have to decide what furniture to buy, what colour it should be, the type of material, etc. You’ll also have to decide how to arrange it and what other decor items you want to include.
The more decisions you have to make, the more challenging the process can feel, which is why this list is essential. It will help you stay on track and tackle each task one by one.
You can start with a few smaller decisions, as these will help you gain momentum and confidence. Once you’ve settled on these smaller choices, you can use them as a guide when choosing other decorative items and creating the rest of the room. However, some people prefer to tackle the biggest decisions first and then make their way towards the easier ones.
Whether you choose the “slow climb” or “eat the frog” method to get your decisions done, stick with it. You will feel a sense of achievement and motivation as you progress.
Tip: set yourself a start date and a deadline to go through all your decorating choices. You shouldn’t spend too much time on draining micro-decisions as more important choices require your brainpower. Custom deadlines will help you stay focused and avoid procrastination. Apps like Things 3 (iOS) and Todoist (Android) can help you with this.
2. Take a 360-degree view of your context
Next, it’s time to hold a metaphorical mirror in front of you and consider the context of your design. Knowing where you want to go with your design will help you make more informed decisions and rule out options that don’t fit your needs.
Take a moment to consider the following questions:
- What is your goal with this project or item?
- What kind of space do you want to create?
- What is it going to be used for? And who is going to use it?
- What aesthetic are you going for?
- What is your budget?
Tip: it’s a good idea to write your top three or four priority keywords when making decorating decisions. For example, let’s say you’re trying to narrow down your sofa fabric options. If you have limited funds, you’ll have to be strategic with your purchases, so writing “budget” down on your notepad will remind you to consider the cost of each material.
Following the sofa fabric example, other priority keywords could be “durability” and “style” (as in how closely the chosen fabric matches your desired style). What other priority keywords can you think of?
Once you’ve looked at the context and selected your priority keywords, it will be easier to narrow down your options and make a final decision.
3. Select the top two choices and pick the most exciting
This is the third and final step of the process of elimination. Now that you’ve created a list of decisions and thought about the context, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of options you want to go for.
Try using the binary choice technique to help you decide. With this trick, you’ll select the two options you like the most. This will make it easier to simplify your choices. Next, all you have to do is pick the winner using your gut instinct.
Note: the binary choice technique is not recommended in the earlier stages of the decision-making process. It can overlook great potential ideas. Only use it when you have a pool of options to narrow down.
With the two best options in mind, think: how do you feel about the boldest option of the two? Does it feel exciting?
Choosing the boldest of two already pre-approved choices is a great way to push your creativity. The safest option is familiar to you, and you know it will work. However, it’s often the loudest option that makes your decor stand out.
Tip: there is no wrong choice. If you feel something doesn’t work, you eventually learn more about what you want. This will help you improve and make better decorating decisions. (Just don’t ask me about my pink shaggy rug.)
What if the decorating choices are big (as in life-changing)?
If you’ve followed these tips and you’re still struggling to make a decision, it might be a good idea to call in a pro to help tackle those big or complex choices.
You may have come to a decision on your own. But if it doesn’t feel good, you can book a complimentary call with me to see how I can help you find the best solution. Professional help may cost a bit more, but it’s worth it because it enables you to come up with your ideal design, stress-free.
Time to put my proven decor rule into practice
Decorating your home can be challenging, especially with the infinite amount of choice nowadays. It’s easy to feel confused when you don’t know where to start. Luckily, my 3-step rule to make decorating choices has been tried and tested. And it’s now yours to use every time you need it, from picking wall paint colours to choosing curtains.
I hope these simple tricks will help you make quick and easy home decor decisions and streamline your design process. So you can create your ideal space in no time at all.
(By the way, if you really want a miracle lamp, it’s this one.)
All images are licensed by Adobe Stock.
Want more like this?
Discover more design and wellbeing tips on my popular mailing list, with exclusive content and the latest blog news. Join hundreds of people who look forward to reading my emails: