How To Overcome The Fear Of Making A Mistake When You Decorate

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Do you have a fear of making a mistake when you decorate?  These practical tips will help you to overcome those fears and get you on the road to creating a home that you love.

Ideas for decorating with neutral colors.
I hear this so often  – “I have such a fear of making a design mistake when I decorate my home that I don’t do anything.  Where do I even begin?”.  Guys, I so get it!

True confession – my biggest fear to this very day is “What if other people don’t like it?”.  Or worse yet, what if I don’t like it?  What if I have to spend more money and time making it right?  Fear of decorating is basically just fear of making a mistake!  Even though I still struggle with those fears occasionally, I’ve been able to overcome the worst of them by remembering these practical tips for decorating.

START SMALL

I believe that the major hurdle in overcoming fear of anything (except spiders!) is to build up your confidence.  If you aren’t experienced with doing full room makeovers, it’s probably best if you start with a few small home projects first.

Try your hand at simple projects such as: painting candlesticks or other small accessories, creating a vignette or centerpiece or rearranging shelves.  If it doesn’t turn out right the first time, take a deep breath and try it again!  Maybe you need to walk away for a while and come back to the project at another time.  Taking a step back for a bit almost always helps me when I’m feeling stuck.

You’ll gain confidence in yourself with each project that you try and will soon be ready to move on to greater things!  Not sure where to start?  Don’t worry – there are literally thousands of tutorials for doing just about anything.  Just Google whatever you’re interested in and you’ll see.  😀

A farmhouse style spring centerpiece in a wicker tray full of purples, greens and neutrals.

 

TAKE THINGS ONE STEP AT A TIME

Maybe you can’t visualize everything that you’d like to change in one of your rooms, but I bet you can think of at least one or two small things.  Go ahead – try one!  Then sit back and live with it for a while.  Try something else and live with that.

Sometimes just getting started will give you the inspiration and confidence boost that you need to tackle redecorating that whole room.  I had lots of fears about my dining room makeover, but taking it one step at a time was exactly the right prescription for decorating success for me.

Traditional Martha Washington style side chairs covered with gray and white buffalo check fabric || Worthing Court

GATHER INSPIRATION

Everyone’s favorite place to find inspiring room decor is Pinterest and it’s easy to see why.  You can search on any topic and Pinterest will reward you with oodles of inspiring images!  If you haven’t already, create your own Pinterest account where you can save images that speak to you.  When I first started trying to decorate my own home, pre-Pinterest days, I would literally find a photo that I liked and do my best to copy every single thing in it, right down to trying to find the exact items or at least the closest to them that I could and arrange them in the same way.

I highly recommend checking out any show houses where you live or taking any home tours that your area may offer.  You might be amazed at what a difference it makes to see things in person.  If no photos are allowed, take notes!

Online isn’t the only place to find inspiration – don’t forget about magazines!  I can’t tell you how many hundreds of pages that I’ve torn out of magazines and added to my decorating inspiration notebook.

Once you’ve gathered your inspiration and are ready to move on, I highly recommend creating a design board.  I do this with every room makeover before I make the first change in the room.  You’d be surprised how often giving yourself a virtual image of all of the pieces you want to combine in the room will pretty quickly show you any glaring mistakes.  Plus, they’re a great way to keep you on task and on budget.  Creating design boards is easy and so much fun!  Get the step-by-step directions for making one HERE.

Master bedroom design board.

ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU WILL PROBABLY MAKE MISTAKES

You may as well just accept it – in all likelihood, you will make some mistakes along the way.  A mistake doesn’t make you a failure or mean that you can’t do it.  Even professionally trained interior designers admit that they make mistakes too.  When it happens – don’t be hard on yourself!  At least you tried and learned something in the process. If it’s the wrong paint color, well…it’s only paint and can be repainted.  If it doesn’t look right in your home…return it and try something else (make sure to familiarize yourself with a stores return policy before making purchases and to keep all receipts).

In our former home, I made the big mistake of painting our entire basement a dark gold color.  What was I thinking?  It was only paint, and I admit it was a lot of it.  If we had stayed in that home, I definitely would have been repainting that entire room.  Or how about the time that I tried filling up a large blank wall in our former master bedroom?  Or that time that I decorated the whole downstairs of my previous home around my red couch, instead of just having the couch recovered.  And then there’s the time that I bought two chairs, just because they were a great price.

I’ve made lots of decorating mistakes and I’m sure there will be more in my future, but all those mistakes (and successes) in the past taught me a ton and gave me the courage to purchase our very dated home and tackle a whole house remodel, even though I’d never undertaken a project of that magnitude before.

Kitchen with white shaker cabinets and gray island.

ABOVE ALL – DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING

I bet you’ve heard that saying many, many times in your life.  Just think of all the fun that we miss when we’re are so worried about what other people think!  If you truly do dance like no one is watching, you aren’t worried about having the perfect dance moves – you just want to enjoy yourself.  Right?

Well, the same thing can be said about decorating your home.  The first notion that I believe you need to strive to rid yourself of is worrying about what everyone else will think.  This is for YOU, not for family members who don’t live in your home, not for your friends and not for any other visitor.  Period.

Remember – you know what’s best for you and your home.  No one else is living your life or living in your space.  Accept that people will always have an opinion, that it won’t always agree with yours and that’s okay!

Front porch with gray siding and gray front door with sidelights.

So, I’m really curious to know – has your fear of making a mistake kept you from decorating your home?  Do you have any tips to add for how you overcame that fear?

 

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38 Comments

  1. i think taking baby steps is key. and also getting past the mindset of getting rid of what you have and buying everything new. you have shown us time and time again how to “re-work” what we already have to fit our new style ideas. not everything has to be a financial splurge! thank you for always being an inspiration, i look forward to your posts!

  2. Agreed small steps when contemplating decor changes. Currently that is my thoughts on redecorating my living room. Which continues to.be a work in progress. I am inspired by your blog!

  3. I remember getting my first apt at 18 yrs old and people would say “did a decorator do this” of course not but I’m 60 years old now and still love changing and decorating! I return so many things and still make many mistakes! But it eventually turns out the way I want it! Thanks for all your tips!

  4. If you don’t “love” a change from the get go, definitely live with it a day or so before proceeding. Tweak, tweak, tweak until you love it! Surround yourself with things you love and you will love your space!

  5. I enjoy decorating so much, mistakes and all, that it’s hard for me to believe anyone is afraid of it. But when my daughter got her first apartment, she was nervous and intimidated about making mistakes. And today there are so many helpful tools! Thanks for the tips!

  6. Thanks for giving me inspiration to try new things. I look forward to reading your blog every morning. Enjoy your day.

  7. Thanks for the inspiration! I sometimes have difficulty visualizing things and Pinterest boards do help a lot. Also scrolling thru blogs and seeing beautiful homes like yours and how you make everything flow is very helpful. It does tend to hold me back sometimes but I am working on overcoming that!!

  8. Another inspiration is the HGTV network. I am constantly looking through magazines and Pinterest apps. Your home is always a work in progress and don’t be afraid of it. Mistakes happen.

  9. Yeah…I have to agree on the baby steps. I can have a vision in mind, and sometimes executing it is difficult. But I’ve found that if I take one thing at a time….and shop my home first…I will be successful. Besides…you’ve taught us well…to redesign, reenvision, and remake just about everything. Enjoy your weekend! 😉

  10. I do admire you for all the projects you take on! I have done several with my husband’s helping hands! I love your decorating style!!

  11. And I thought I was the only one who had a fear of decorating! Truth be told, I’ve made big strides in the last few years .. a few more hits than misses helped me to gain some confidence. I’m still not a fast decorator … I definitely take my time and think (and sometimes over-think) when it comes to decorating. I’ve had to make more than my share of course corrections … but at least I’ve kept moving forward! Blogs such as yours have helped me to discover my home style and have been such an inspiration.

  12. Fears of making a mistake have definitely held me back before. I’m pretty slow to catch on to a new trend. I tend to wait a while and see if I really like something before I purchase anything or add that style to my home. Thanks for the encouragement not to be afraid to make a mistake. You are right. Making mistakes is a good way to learn.

  13. I know the thought that “it’s only paint” but when you add the cost of paint, trim tape, brushes, roller, roller tray, spackle, sandpaper, drop clothes, etc., it all adds up! Plus all theme it takes to do it! I picked out a dark purple for my dining room and now regret it. Because it was painted only two years ago, I feel guilty about repainting already!

    1. Barbara, Boy do I understand the feeling of remorse from painting a room an off color, and then feeling guilty about the cost to repaint. I did this same thing in our master bedroom a few years ago and never did like the color but lived with it because of the cost and work involved. I finally decided I can either live with it so as not to feel guilty or I can repaint it and find joy and peace each time I walk in our bedroom. For me it made more sense to create an atmosphere of peace in my home than the atmosphere of guilt and remorse. Just go for it!

  14. The biggest mistake I made was picking the wrong color for my open area living-dining-kitchen area which has vaulted ceilings and 2 halls. That is a lot of walls to look at. I wanted a tan but when I was at the paint store I forgot which one to get. I had consulted a decorator and she was not available to ask and my husband was adamant that we buy the paint right then for the painters to start the next day. I totally missed the color and ended up with a light peachy/terracotta color. By the time I got home from work it was too late….they were half-way finished and I could not make myself tell them to stop. We do not have a paint store in our town and it is an hour to the nearest city..sooo I told myself to suck it up and deal with it. It’s odd but at different times of the day the color changes and it grew on me. Well, not really. I just had to get over it. That was 6 years ago and we are finally repainting that room. I can tell you it is worth every dime to buy samples of paint that you like and slap them on the wall in different places of the room to see what you are really getting. I use the samples to paint other things like lamps or candlesticks so I feel better about spending the money. When choosing a paint take it slow but go with what you really like.

  15. Great tips Suzy! I have to admit with the new house I am very very cautious unlike I was with our last home. It has really slowed me down but thankfully things are starting to fall into place. Always love stopping by for a visiting and viewing your beautiful home!

  16. Your posts always show such beautiful decor. I think one of the factors that enters into a fear of decorating is that a large monetary investment might turn out to be a mistake. That’s where the “baby steps” idea comes in handy — minimizing the possibility of making a big, expensive mistake. Thanks for these decorating tips.

  17. These are wonderful tips! Even though I love decorating, there are times when I feel stuck – pinning your post so I can refer to it when that happens 🙂 Thank you for linking up with our Merry Monday party this week!

  18. I don’t have any tips to add.. yours are great! My greatest fear now is starting a project and not finishing it. I STILL need to finish a dresser-turned-media-console I started several months ago. Ugh!

  19. OK I have gathered inspiration and that’s where I stopped. I think I’ll take your suggestion and start small to see if that helps me get going 🙂

  20. This blog really speaks to me because I have the fear of making mistakes that will either cost a lot of time or money to redo. Thank you.

  21. I get overwhelmed at the size of a project. Breaking it down definitely helps. I would love to go to the Farmhouse style. I have traditional style throughout my house now. My biggest problem is a large front entry with one huge area with 20 foot vaulted ceilings! You walk into the front door and it’s like walking into a gymnasium that contains my front foyer, living room (now dining room), dining room (now sitting area or just open spot because I moved the dining room to the living room), a full view of my staircase on the back wall AND no lightning available on the vaulted ceiling!!!!! So many dilemmas in one area and a goof affects all so I definitely need to break it up!

  22. Thank you for your post. I enjoy them so much. Question, I can’t find the drapery rods that you have in your dining room or living room. The short, smaller ones. Do you know if I can still find them?

    1. Hi Irene. I just cut down regular curtain rods to the length I need. For example, those shorter ones of mine are probably 18″ long, so I just purchased the shortest rod I could to cut two of them out of. Hope that makes sense! Just don’t try doing this with metal rods though.

  23. I love Pintres,t and frequently take advantage of so many awesome ideas. However, before Pintrest, other than magazines, I was left with my own creative imagination both in home decor, and fashion. I’ve learned over the past few years that Pintrest sometimes boxes me in and prevents me from just going with my own instincts. I think sometimes we just need to trust our heart, and our eye in order to make a space our own. I love the picture of the aspens hung above your fireplace. Would you mind sharing where you found it if it’s available for purchase? Thank you.

    1. I found the artwork at At Home, but unfortunately they don’t offer the ability to purchase online. 🙁

  24. 5 stars
    I so love the soft gray colors and textures in the photo above. I have gotten some fabulous ideas from you in the past on organizing areas in the kitchen. I loved following your kitchen redo and SO wish I could manage something like yours. I’m thinking!! Thanks for all your tips and wonderful printables!
    Martha

  25. I found your blog on Jennifer at Town and Country this morning, and it was just the inspiration and advice I needed! I am in love with the older style French Country, with the rich reds, yellows and blues, and gold/brass/bronze metals…definitely not in style currently. I have a basically neutral home now, so I am taking baby steps with some red toile, other “french” looking throws, pillows, decorations and whatever else I can find thrifting, to see how it goes.
    Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  26. Great timing! I’m about to embark on updating our MBR. I’ve created my design board and cannot wait to get started. I also decided it was time to recover a chair instead of decorating around it🤗 Thanks for the tips.

  27. I’ve always loved your front porch lights with rain glass! Would you share a link or source for something similar? I’ve looked all over the internet!
    Your porch looks so welcoming!