How to De-Stress Your Decorating

by Robyn Davies, Furniture Showcase

Decorating your home should be fun.  The process of filling your home with things that you love sounds like fun.  Why do people sometimes feel stressed about it?

Buying furniture and décor for your home involves a series of decisions.   Because all of the decisions work together to make one complete picture, and because most people are making the decisions at different times, this presents a unique challenge.  Small details can make a big impact when you put everything together. The designer secret to keeping your sanity when putting a room together is the ability to manage these decisions.

I see people shop for furniture and home décor almost every day.  Some people seem like they are having a lot of fun and enjoying the process, others seem tortured by the process.  These are a few of my observations of things that happy shoppers and stressed shoppers do differently.  Shopping for furniture and decorating your home can and should be fun!  I hope that thinking about the lists below in advance might save you some stress when you are shopping.

Things that sabotage a fun shopping experience:

  • Placing too much importance on a decision.  

When you look at the options in furniture, the possibilities can be endless.  Being able to get what you want is a good thing, but endless possibilities can also be overwhelming.  

I know the stress that can come with too many options.  If you have decided you want to order a sofa in a grey fabric, all the “shades of grey” can be a source of stress.  If you have narrowed it down to a few options, making the final call can be hard because you like them both.  In the grand scheme – this is probably a decision that does not really matter.  Either choice would be fine. The danger of getting stressed out about it comes when you start to over-think a decision like this, or to question your own judgement after you have already made a decision.

  •  Not placing enough importance on the decision.

This can lead to buying something you don’t really like.  If shopping for furniture is outside your comfort zone, it may be tempting to grab the first thing you see just to end the process.

Think about how long you plan to keep a piece of furniture and how much you plan to use it.  If you are a person who doesn’t mind spending a little extra to get the perfect pair of jeans or the shoes that make the outfit, you might want to consider budgeting a little more for better quality furniture and the accents that make the room feel special.  You and your family will probably use your furniture every day, and the décor you purchase may be on display daily for years to come.  

  • Nostalgia gone too far…

Thinking happy memories were based on a thing – not the people or the times.  If you’re stuck on finding an exact replica of the pit group your grandparents had in the seventies because of your happy childhood memories there, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.  The longer you look, the worse it gets.  Remember, happy memories are about the people, not just the setting.  If this describes your dilemma, think a little harder about the memories you have.  You probably remember your grandparents’ house was fun or comfortable.  You had fun there because they showered you with attention or surrounded you with family.

  • Unrealistic expectations that a piece of furniture can solve a problem beyond its ability.  

Buying a new chair can give you a more comfortable spot to watch TV, but it won’t cure arthritis. Buying a bookcase will give you a place to stack your books, but it won’t magically make a messy person become organized. Buying a dining room table won’t make your busy family suddenly available for gourmet dinners every night of the week, and a new love seat (probably) won’t make you fall in love.  

  • Shopping based on what your friends like.  

If you love it, then it’s perfect.  Sometimes it is fun to bring family or friends along when you are shopping.  Sometimes they are helpful, and sometimes your taste in décor is very different.  Have you ever watched the show “Say Yes to the Dress”?  I cannot watch it without yelling at the TV, “Get the one you like!” or, “Stop criticizing, lady!  It’s not your dress!”  If you want to enjoy the process of furnishing and decorating your home, surround yourself with positive people.

  • Trying to reinvent the wheel.  

I have heard people say, “I love this, but I can’t buy it because it is a set.”  The majority of people don’t shop that way anyway, and furniture styles change quite often.  The chance that you will walk into the exact same setup in your neighbors’ homes is almost non-existent.  Even if they did buy the same furniture, it will look different in their home.

  • Thinking you have to be “In Love” with every object in your home.  

If you watch any of your favorite shows on HGTV, you are probably familiar with this common storyline:  “I don’t like this wallpaper!”  A little while later when the homeowner sees the wallpaper (or fabric or any other item) with everything else in the room, they suddenly love it.  The room is not just one item, it is a lot of things working together to create a whole picture.

  • Trying to do too much, too fast.  

Let’s imagine you find the sofa that sits like a dream in a style that complements your home.  You wish it were a different color.  The salesperson tells you it can be ordered in the fabric of your choice.  It will take 8-10 weeks.  For a lot of people, waiting for something to be made is a deal breaker.  They will not even consider it.  

If you are willing to wait for what you want, you may be happier with the purchase in the long run.  You may even save some money by keeping it a little longer than if you settled for something that was not what you really wanted.

  • Trying to make big decisions when you are hungry, tired, and overwhelmed with kids.  

We have established that some of the decisions you make can be difficult.  Like the commercial says, “Have a Snickers!  You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.”  When I go to furniture markets and I know I have a long day of buying decisions ahead, I always go to bed early, get up and eat a good breakfast and wear comfortable shoes.  I pack a snack, too.  It helps me focus and make better decisions.

  • Trying to match stuff that you don’t really like anyway.  

The majority of people do not replace every object in the room at the same time.  The majority of people do not replace every object in the room at the same time.  Choosing the existing pieces you like the most and using those to coordinate your new pieces is a better way to shop.  If you buy pieces to match the ones you don’t really like, it is easy to end up with a houseful of stuff that you don’t like.

If you’ve inherited your grandmother’s jewel-toned plaid sofa, but it is just not your style, consider a slip cover before buying a chair or curtains to match it.  Making an inspiration board, or just taking pictures of your room and the pieces you already have so you can look at them while you shop can make a big difference.  I have a collage app on my phone, and sometimes seeing things together in one frame helps me decide.  

  • Thinking of the salesperson as “the Enemy.”  

Or letting a pushy salesperson come between you and the style you love.  In a survey of people exiting a furniture store, 80% of people who made a purchase said they chose to make the purchase because of their interaction with a salesperson.  Good news:  the salesperson is there to help you.  Bad news:  that means they will want to talk with you.  Unfortunately, “I’ll know it when I see it.” And “It has to ‘jump out and grab me'” are not the most effective ways to shop.  In fact, if you are willing to be open with a salesperson about what you have in mind, your chances of finding the right thing are greatly increased.

A lot of people have an aversion to salespeople.  It may be because they are shy or because they are afraid that they’ll feel pressured to buy something they don’t want.  Insider tip:  just because someone shows you an item, you are under no obligation to purchase it.  It’s totally ok to talk to the salesperson, even if you are not ready to buy something today.   

  • Continuing the shopping process after you’ve already made a decision.  

Why torture yourself?  If you’ve been playing the part of Indiana Jones on a quest for the perfect piece for months or years, there’s a chance shopping for that item may have replaced your other hobbies.  Once you’ve made a decision, it can be tempting to continue the hunt.  To keep your sanity, you must move on to the next thing.  Obsessing over all the lost possibilities may drive you crazy.

We want to make shopping for furniture fun and easy.  If you start to feel stressed during the process of shopping for or decorating your home, remember to count your blessings.  You have a home.  You get to decorate it the way that you like.  I hope you will enjoy they process and then be able to relax and enjoy your home!