dear reader | to the one who keeps making the same decorating mistakes

Marian ParsonsDecorating, decorating dilemmas, Tips and Tricks

Dear Reader (to the one who keeps making the same decorating mistakes),

We should start a club.  We’ll call it the “I have not learned my lesson” club or the “Oops, I did it again” club.  (Hey!  We have a theme song if we call it that.)

We can have meetings and everything.

“Hello.  My name is Marian.”

Psst.  This is where you say, “Hi, Marian.”

“I just had to repaint my walls for the third time, because I have not learned my lesson.  I know I should buy test pots and paint a swatch to make sure I like the color first, but I feel like swatches are for weenies and I’m not scared of color and I want my walls painted yesterday, so I’m going to buy $75 worth of paint and spend an entire day painting a room that I’ll hate by dinner time.”

mbr 38

I imagine a lot of us are in this club.  We buy fabrics and spend time making curtains that we pretend to like, so our spouses don’t murder us, but in our gut, we know we missed the mark.  We pick out a tile that makes us sick to our stomach once it’s installed.  We splurge on a piece of furniture that we love in everyone else’s house, but we then realize that it doesn’t work in our house at all.

In short, we keep making the same decorating mistakes over and over again.  We rush things along and ignore that little voice in our heads that knows we’ve been here before and it didn’t end well, but we go through with it anyway.  Because we want it done!

And we are now conditioned to associate decorating decisions with regret and a knot in our stomachs and wasted money and time.

And failure.

So, we either stay on the merry-go-round and hope that we’ll get it right somewhere along the line or we freeze.

I’ve tried both.

So, what do we do to change?  How do we get the end result that we want when we don’t know exactly how to get there or even exactly what we want?

I don’t think there is a 100% fail-proof answer, but I do think there are things we can do to get moving in the right direction.



Stop the madness.  Just put down the paint brush, back away from the sewing machine, and halt the shopping trips to your favorite local haunts.  I know that most of us are doers and we want to keep doing something, but plowing in the wrong direction isn’t going to have a happy ending.  Take a step back and assess.  What do you love about your space?  What is the feeling you want to evoke?  Does your room feel like that?  What style feels most “you”?  Does your room reflect that?



Collect images that reflect the look you want in your home, maybe even in that specific room.  Once you have a bunch of images collected, look through them all in one sitting.  Are there common elements?  Colors, finishes, furnishings, and styles that keep repeating in your favorite images?  Put your observations in a list form and use that list and those images to create a plan.


Armed with your plan, assess your room again.  What pieces will work with that plan?  Are there pieces you should sell/donate?  This is a time to edit and undo things you’ve done in haste or without any real plan or direction – the whims.  It’s also the time when you can give yourself permission to get rid of things that you know in your gut aren’t working.



Add with intention.   Everything you bring into that room should fit with your plan.  And I’m not speaking strictly from a design perspective.  If you have toddlers and need a kid-friendly play area, that should be in the plan.  If your husband has an oversized recliner that is essential for football season, yes, that should be in the plan, too.  But everything you bring in, from the furniture to the fabric, accessories to art, should fit into that plan.   Setting some boundaries for yourself and being focused will help you avoid those impulse buys and quick decisions that usually don’t end well.


Be patient.  If you really want a specific piece of furniture or fabric or rug or whatever, don’t settle for something that’s not even close.  I’m all for bargain shopping and trying to get the look for less, but sometimes a piece is worth waiting for. Again, I know we’re doers; women of action!  We want the room done!  Patience is not our style.  But, just imagine that moment when the bed frame of your dreams is delivered to your door or you finally find that perfect piece at an amazing price on craigslist.  Those things are worth the wait and are rarely ones you’ll regret purchasing.


And show yourself some grace.  I know my intentions were always good as I bumbled my way through some of my rooms.  Some of it is trial and error and if you misstep, just regroup and keep working towards your goals.

mbr 8

Soon, we’ll all be so good at making decorating decisions that we’ll have to start a whole new club.  Maybe “The United Sisterhood of Makeover Enthusiasts.”


And we’ll probably need a support group for our husbands as well…

We’ll get there, friends.



dear reader | to the one who keeps making the same decorating mistakes

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