4 Common Decorating Fears & How to Conquer Them

This is a true story in which decorating fears had to be conquered in order to get to a beautiful outcome.  Last year I worked on a great room design with a wonderful couple who had recently built their dream home. They wanted a welcoming, comfortable gathering space for their active young family to hang out, watch movies, and entertain guests.

decorating fears

The architecture of the space was amazing! Tall ceilings, stained wood beams, stone fireplace, and a massive bank of windows showcasing a beautiful view. It was time that the furnishings matched the beauty of the architecture.

tufted brown leather sofas

The Mr. really didn’t want to part with the brown leather sofa and loveseat, but the Mrs. wanted a significant transformation to take place in the room. This is when common decorating fears begin to show themselves  in a design consultation.

 

Common Decorating Fear:  Starting from scratch

The Mr. was afraid he would have to give up his favorite piece of furniture, while the Mrs. was fearful that she wouldn’t get the fresh, new look she hoped for if they didn’t start from scratch. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, I offered a compromise:

Keep the larger brown leather sofa in the space, move the smaller loveseat to the library/office, and replace everything else.

Sure, we’d need to lighten up that heavy sofa with some beautiful pillows. But first, we chose a pair of swivel chairs to flank the brown leather sofa, a beautiful chaise that would hold a snuggling pair watching a rom-com on Netflix, and an additional upholstered chair to balance things out. The most difficult choice to make was the upholstery for the new seating. Which brings me to the next common decorating fear:

 

Common Decorating Fear: Too much color

The popularity of neutrals has given rise to an unreasonable fear of COLOR. Those who are afraid of committing to color often end up committing to neutrals, which may result in a bland and lifeless interior. Adding color isn’t as risky as you may think – as long as it’s a color you like. Or, choose blue or green to add in with your neutrals. Blues and greens are practically neutral themselves, as they work with pretty much anything. Plus, blues and greens are true naturals – they are the colors most seen in nature!

The Mr. was particularly concerned about adding color to this space, until I pointed out the blues and greens outside their bank of windows. We agreed that adding blues wouldn’t be scary at all – in fact, using darker blue opposite the dark brown leather sofa would help distribute visual weight in the room.

blue upholstery fabrics

 

For this couple, there was also a real fear of  pattern, as they didn’t want to detract from the architecture and exterior views of the room. Time to conquer another common decorating fear . . .

 

Common Decorating Fear: Mixing patterns

Clients can get really overwhelmed with fabric choices, but that’s where I can help them make decisions that they will be happy with for many years to come.  Mixing upholstery, rug, and pillow patterns can paralyze your decision-making if you don’t know what you are doing.  I typically narrow down the options to a handful that I believe will work best in the space, and then we talk about where to use which pattern and why.

It’s important to  view fabrics and patterns from across the room, from a distance, rather than inspecting them up close. Smaller patterns that you may think are busy in your hand may actually read like a solid when viewed from a few feet away. And those bolder patterns? They don’t seem bold at all from across the room.

upholstered swivel chair

 

And don’t forget how art plays into the overall mix of color and pattern. The art previously above the fireplace was replaced with this gorgeous piece to better complement the stone, and to lighten and brighten the beautiful focal point of the room.

blue abstract art on stone fireplace

 

Common Decorating Fear: Getting the Scale Wrong

The previous hanging light fixture was too small for this large room. When I showed my clients a significantly larger fixture in a lighting gallery, they were scared that it was too large for their great room. Undersizing lighting is one of the most common mistakes homeowners make, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve written articles here, here, and here that can help you make the right decision about the scale of your lighting in various situations.

large light fixture hanging from wood beams

 

After the furniture arrived, I filled out the room with coordinating items, like this shapely ottoman, some fantastic pillows, and a few lovely lamps.

blue upholstered chair and clover shaped ottoman

 

This coffee table is super-functional and impervious to wear and tear. Just pull the smaller pieces out for additional tabletops, footstools, or even additional seating.

pillows for brown leather sofa

Ultimately, both the Mr. and the Mrs. overcame their decorating fears, and the result is nothing to be afraid of!

Let’s check out the befores and afters:

beforebefore

wood ceiling beams and stone fireplacedesign by The Decorologist

 

beforebefore

blue and cream great room design by the decorologistdesign by The Decorologist

 

before

great room design by the decorologistdesign by The Decorologist

 

living room design with brown leather sofa

 

I hope you enjoyed this transformation of my clients’ great room! If you need help overcoming your decorating fears, schedule an appointment with me today.

bohemian ottoman and cute dog

 

If you want to overcome your fear of COLOR, the cure is definitely my in-depth online Psychological Color Expert™ training program! Find out how you can become a certified expert in all things paint color:

Psychological Color Expert paint color training course

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Roxanne
Roxanne
26 days ago

Gorgeous transformation!

Princilla Crane
Princilla Crane
26 days ago

I had all of these fears & then you worked your magic! Still enjoying all of the colors you helped me embrace.

Elizabeth Scruggs
26 days ago

So, SO much better-
Beautiful design, friend!

Corrie
Corrie
26 days ago

This is fabulous! Such a fantastic improvement, and I love how you detailed out the fears and how to move past them.

PS: I’ve missed seeing your posts this year! Please keep them coming. Even tiny ones. Each of them is like a vacation for me, since we’re still quarantining due to a compromised immune system in the family.

Jessica
Jessica
25 days ago

I second that! The short ones are okay with me too and miss seeing your posts.

Cheri Eggleston
26 days ago

Beautiful Kristie, it blends so well, perfect color palette and is so welcoming!

Erin Halstead
26 days ago

Beautiful transformation and I love the color. It still feels light, more open and neutral to me!

Darby Miller
Darby Miller
26 days ago

Pretty close to perfection.

Jennifer
Jennifer
26 days ago

This is absolutely gorgeous. Fantastic job. Love everything about it!!

Catherine G
Catherine G
26 days ago

Beautiful, Kristie! Can you please share the brand of the coffee table?

Ren s
Ren s
22 days ago
Reply to  Catherine G

Looks like Bassett

Tracy Wagner
Tracy Wagner
26 days ago

love it!

Colleen Moss
Colleen Moss
25 days ago

Kristie, your work is beautiful. I love the patterns and colors you used in this project. I am so thankful you helped us make our house a home, and I hope to work with you again in the future.

Carol Clark
Carol Clark
25 days ago

You hit this one out of the park, Kristie! And I think I’m going to use a similar light in the house we are building that has a vaulted ceiling! Love it!

Kay
Kay
25 days ago

You did a beautiful job, Kristie. The room looks much bigger, is very serene, and really showcases the view out those windows. I suspect that blue is the color color-averse men are most likely to accept.

Rhonda
Rhonda
25 days ago

Now that’s just beautiful!! I do believe you worked magic in that room!

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers
25 days ago

Kristi, you always create beautiful living spaces. This transformation is on point. Love, love, your work. Your didn’t say anything about the wall color. Did you repaint the room, or is the difference in appearance on the wall the reflecting of the light and color change in furnishings?

Lynn O'Brien
Lynn O'Brien
25 days ago

WOW! It’s beautiful! And what a difference!

Louanne Howard
Louanne Howard
25 days ago

Beautiful!! Your work never ceases to amaze me!

Oya Komar
25 days ago

Lovely&fresh! Suits my personal taste as well. Congratulations Kristie, very well done!

Kate
Kate
25 days ago

Holy smokes, Kristie! Stunning transformation! This should probably be on your resume: Can Work With Husbands 😀

Deb
25 days ago

Beautiful results, Kristie! I absolutely love the color scheme! May I ask what the wall color is?

Renee Anderson
Renee Anderson
25 days ago

Love your style.Great transformation.Love Your “use what you have” approach to decorating.Thanks for sharing 👍❤️

Roberta Peters
Roberta Peters
25 days ago

That room is super lovely now! Wow!

Geo55
Geo55
25 days ago

Wow. What a beautiful transformation! You are so right about these 4 common decorating fears. I see them daily on the internet. Bland, boring, matchy-matchy and the wrong size are what most people seem to be able to accomplish for themselves. It’s such a shame because they often spend a lot of $$$. Kristie, you are a very talented designer and I love that you appreciate vintage and architectural integrity and charm, which are things that have gone by the wayside these days, but they are often the aspects I find most beautiful.

Michelle
Michelle
24 days ago

I’m so glad you wrote this blog as I just emailed you about this room from your website last week because I’m going through agony trying to pick lighting for our new home. I love this room so much! We have an open floor plan family room and kitchen so I’m trying to figure this out. I love this type of large wagon wheel light and have had it in my cart for so long. I’m just afraid it’ll look weird because of the height of the light. Though we have 11′ ceilings, I’m afraid it’ll hang too low since the one I love most from Shades of Light has an overall height minimum of 45.5″. Can you address how to decide based on size and how low a main room chandelier should hang? I can find info on the web about heights pendants should hang or dining room chandeliers, but not main room lighting. Thanks!!

Cindy LaMunyon
Cindy LaMunyon
23 days ago

Beautiful transformation!

Audrey
Audrey
21 days ago

Love this transformation and you nailed the big fears!

Tammie Burton
Tammie Burton
19 days ago

The room had great bones and you brought it to life with the furniture layout, colors, and textures you used. Absolutely beautiful!

Paula van Hoogen
Paula van Hoogen
15 days ago

Kristie! That room now makes me want to walk in there and just breathe, while sitting on the chaise in the corner.
Though. I am, as you know, graduated from your color course, I will still be calling you to help me with my own RE-design of my house here in Florida. My fear is the spending part!

I have some serious regrets after Neil passed of selling some beautiful pieces I had.
But God will provide…….
Your ability to gracefully persuade people to think about color and change their perspectives is part of your genius, I think.
Right away I noticed the title of your post:
“….. decorating fears. “You did not say the word “mistakes”. That was so much kinder.
Love, Paula.

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