Seven Signs You Might Be Decorating out of Fear

1. You put off non-life-altering decisions for long periods of time. {for example, it takes you two years to decide on a paint color, hang something on your wall or buy a sofa}

2. You ask EVERYONE for their opinion and instead of that helping you, it confuses you more.

3.You ask opinions from people whose style is far from yours and who’s home you would never want to live in.

4. Once you know everyone’s opinion you are now afraid to do anything because whatever you do will be the opposite of what someone else told you to do.

5. You are more concerned with the current trend and abiding by rules than surrounding yourself what you actually enjoy.

6.Your husband doesn’t want to talk about decorating decisions and that makes you mad. You think it’s because he doesn’t want you to change anything in your home but really, he’s exhausted from your indecision and doesn’t want to see his wife frustrated anymore.  So he tells you to keep it all the same.

7. You don’t start, don’t finish or don’t try because you are terrified of imperfection.


You don’t have to decorate out of fear. You can decorate out of freedom~knowing that a paint color isn’t the most important decision you’ll make today takes the pressure off. Don’t let the fear of making a wrong decision override the fun you can have creating a beautiful home. Decorating is an art, not a science.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

this post adapted from a post published in September, 2011

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  1. You are still a wise (and fearless!) woman! I’m going to go work on the parts of the house that sometimes make me cower a little!

  2. Dear Nester: Stop Stalking My Brain. Love, Dixie

  3. Suzanne Powell says

    Did you realize that you were tallking directly to me? Just this Friday I finally was ready to order a chair for me – one that fit me and not my husband. I had to ask 4 different people their opinion on the fabric – for fear of making a mistake – and even this morning I was second guessing my decision. I know, it’s crazy!
    Thanks for all your wonderful posts! Keep ’em coming!

  4. My husband and I have been looking for couches for a while. We couldn’t agree on anything, until we found a leather tufted chesterfield couch on Craigslist. It was very different, but very “us.” We got it, and absolutely love it. Two years ago, I would have been too afraid to get it. I would have told myself it wasn’t practical and talked myself out of it. However, thanks to you, I’ve learned to make my house represent my husband and I. It’s more than just decorating, it’s being an authentic person. Thanks for your pushes in the right direction.

  5. We love it, and can’t help but smile when we see it.

  6. This is my kitchen situation exactly. Acres of expensive maple cabinets put in by the previous owner…NOT my style. Everyone loves them but me. Everyone is horrified to think I would paint over them. I keep procrastinating in FEAR. Why? Your post is the courage and push I needed!

    • Do you love the kitchens and styles of everyone who’s telling you to not dare paint them? If not, you really have no reason to listen to them. Find a few people whose style you LOVE, who’s kitchens you love, and ask them what they would do if you need the extra push.

      It’s like asking your grandfather his advice on your next shoe purchase. You wouldn’t even think to ask him because you probably don’t want to dress like him.

    • Suzie: if you have expensive maple cabinets, I think you should stick with them. You might just be looking at all of the ‘white’ kitchens or other styles/colors that I, myself, see on blogs these days, and you might think that this is the “in” or “fresh” thing but, trust me: in a year’s time, you will say to yourself: “Geez, why in God’s name did I look at all of those blogs, and paint over my beautiful maple cabinets??” My advice: keep looking at them for a while, they might grow on you. You can always add ‘accents’ in the kitchen of the colors you like… i.e., if you’d like white cabinets, add white accents. If you’d like to paint your cabinets black, put in some black accents, like black baskets or something. Know what I mean? Anyway, good luck and don’t ever rush with anything, nor look at the “trend” because “classic” cabinets are better than any ‘trendy’ cabinet color anyday. :)

    • Suzie,
      Your post made me think of another blog that I read a while ago. I don’t know if you read this blog, but she has been doing a series on working with what you have. I won’t try to advise you what to do especially as I’ve never even seen your kitchen before, but I like the idea of finding inspirational photos WITH the “problem” item in your kitchen. (There is a great post about how to work with brass hardware too.) I just like her perspective and hope it’s a help to you. Maybe by finding some images of interiors with maple might give you an equaled perspective to all the pretty painted kitchens out there…or you may decide nothing can make you love it! Anyways, just thought I’d share in case it helps at all!

  7. Yep, the asking people for their opinion… that is a habit I am slowly breaking. It’s like I want their opinion so I can blame them for the failure. LOL No more!! Thanks for the great thoughts and encouragement. : )

  8. Great post! I think it’s fun to compare visions of color, style, etc., with a dear friend or relative but you do have to make your own choices. I LOVE color! I think whites and neutrals are beautiful for those that enjoy that style…it’s just not me. I don’t go for trends or the latest designer’s advice. I have to be true to myself!


  9. You’re right, I am decorating out of fear in one aspect at least. I’ve had a dresser for a year and a half that needs repainting, and I can’t commit to a colour: yellow, turquoise, or white?

  10. I’m hearing your words…with Jeff Foxworthy’s voice.
    IF the pain chips were taped your wall for so long they actually FELL OFF on their own…
    You might be a F. D. (Fearful decorator.)

    If the fabric swatches of different colors have actually become part of your living room…
    You might be a F. D.

    *Raises hand*

    Although, I had a breakthrough yesterday. My hubby and I were married 2 years ago and we’ve still not really merged homes. There’s still stuff in the attic I want to incorporate and haven’t. So, yesterday he helped me bring 2 (rustic lovely antique) worn and weathered end tables down to our living room. I love them. They have dovetailing, beautiful patina.

    The best part? He loves them!
    For YEARS I’ve been dragging these around from house to house – without ever really giving them a home. And, folks begged me to trash them. Now, my husband sees the beauty within them and they look very happy in our home. Someday I’ll blog about the whole story. There’s a reason they were “meant to be with me.”

    ~ Dana

  11. Ok, this describes me to a T! Ugh! I know it but I just cannot seem to change it because I’m afraid of making EXPENSIVE mistakes! I’ve been stalling on a paint color for 9 months because I’m going to have to pay to get the 2-story hallway painted and don’t want to screw it up.

  12. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I find myself doing this occasionally, but it’s definitely something I see in my clients all the time!

  13. This is my mother 100%! I was trying to find a way to describe this to her, and this hits the nail on the head. She and my dad moved to a new house 3 years ago and the living room is still barren! She is afraid of imperfection and just needs to find furniture that fits her style and GO from there. Thank you for this!

  14. I’ve done this in the past, admiring my mother-in-law’s talent for decorating. Though not my style with lots of little vintage items everywhere, her home is still beautiful and welcoming and very “her.” And she has fun with it. My style preferences are more like my mom’s … simple. My mom has never been one who loves to decorate her home, so her simplicity was just kind of unintentional. My mother-in-law has always been so generous in gifting vintage items (yay … love!) but one time I asked her to help stage my house to sell it, and I liked some of her ideas like wheat grass in my vintage flower pots, but undid a few things too. That was when I realized how I had admired her decorating abilities (still do), and realized my decorating style is simpler. So for at least 10 years, I had been decorating in a style that wasn’t me.

  15. This is so me..until this weekend! I finally painted the kitchen table. It had been in the garage for a year waiting for me to start and I love it! I also painted a headboard that my daughter did not like, it was also in the garage. She loves it now. I just kept say your mantra.. it doesn’t have to be perfect. Such freedom in those words. Thank you!

  16. You hit the nail on the head! I’m just coming to the end of a remodel of 2 bathrooms and our family room and will need to repaint just about every room in the house soon. I have been worrying over paint colors since the worry over tile/ cabinet choices finally ended. I still worry a little over the tiles because they have not arrived in my home and started to be installed yet. I keep seeing gray paint on everything and although I see rooms it looks beautiful in I just don’t feel *alive & happy* when I think of it around me in my home. I’m leaning to BM Goldtone which is so close to the Pumpkin 1 Laura Ashley that I have used in 3 different home starting about 8 years ago. I keep thinking I should try something new and different but the colors I keep being drawn to are pretty much the same & not gray. My husband’s answer is white.

  17. Wow! Not only does this describe my decorating (or lack thereof!), it really just describes my whole life in general! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  18. This is me! And, I’m also so afraid of making expensive mistakes. Plus, we move quite a bit so I’m afraid of my house being unsellable if I go too crazy. I’m just not confident in my decisions and I’m not sure how to overcome it. This post made me see that I’m not alone though, and that helps!

  19. I can’t imagine who inspired #1 (or 2-7 for that matter). Surely you don’t know someone who has done all three of those things listed in #1?

    P.S. Rumor has it that she actually has a sofa and paint on the walls now. You should stop by. haha

    Thanks for the continual encouragement that it’s okay to make a decorating mistake or ten. xxoo

    • oh Bo, I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on it if I don’t have to fight all of those feelings myself. I only know it, because I’ve done it. Every time I write a post like this I have a certain friend who emails me and tells me she knows she’s the inspiration for all of my material. The good news–we ALL have felt like that, reassuring, isn’t it?

      I bet your house looks just lovely!

  20. It took me several years to decide what I liked. I didn’t even know my own taste in decorating. But after looking through several magazine I continued to love the old mission look, Mission furniture, Green and Green, some of the stuff by Frank Lloyd Wright. Now I have more confidence because I like it and know how to navigate the style.

  21. So well spoken! Our homes should be a reflection of who we are, the pleasant parts of who we have been and the hopefulness of who we want to be! When I look around my home I want to bring to mind beauty, memories and joy. Not angst!!! There is enough stress in the world. Quite often, just tidying up what I already have is enough to bring me a sense of calm and contentment. Adding some fresh flowers or branches and putting out a different pretty plate or placemat after a quick de-clutter can bring as much joy as a can of paint (and a whole lot of worry, work and disappointment). That little item that you put out that you realize you love, can often be the launching point of where your room will eventually go.

  22. oh my, you are in my head also! I am the worst at being able to make a decorating decision. Numbers are more my thing. I can’t visualize what anything will look like, therefore I’m terrified to pick something. And to add to the stress we are about to start a major remodel on a house we just bought. eeekkkk! Don’t even have prelim plans and I’m freaked out.

    I need a decorator. Will you come visit me for a few weeks????? :)

    Thanks for this post!

  23. This is me to a T. We just bought a house. Every single room needs to be updated. I can view this as a fun challenge or I can be completely overwhelmed and run. I don’t even know where or how to begin and yes, I’m afraid of not getting it right. I can’t even put an outfit together, how will I ever decorate a house??

  24. AMen!

  25. I agree completely – although in reference to number 1 – sometimes it’s pure laziness not fear that keeps me from painting ;)

  26. Wow! You’ve read me like a book. It is incredibly sad when I meet ALL seven of the criteria. All of them. Also, I think each of them stems from #7, which is the root issue. I am terrified of imperfection. Sad, but true. I know it is a complete waste of my mental energy. Obviously I am not alone in this struggle since you devoted an entire post to it. For me, I am finding it to be much more stressful to live in a home that reminds me daily that I have been indecisive and can’t commit to anything. Thank you for your encouragement and wit about the subject. You’re fantastic!

  27. Love your style and your words! You inspire me to be fearless and confident…Thank You!!

  28. Great post! I know I have seen some of these traits in myself and others at one time or another!! It made me laugh!

  29. Oh, yes, I can relate to a few of these points! I told myself I was just doing one layer at a time: new paint, buy a sofa, lighting, window treatments, art, and accessories. Truly though, I was striving for perfection, trying to do each step *just right.* I’ve lived here for 7 years, and we’re just getting things more situated. Granted, some of that time was waiting for remodeling money, but we could’ve taken more chances in the meantime. One thing I am proud of is not just filling spaces/buying furniture to just have something. Anyway, great article!

  30. I’m working on it. But did you see my instagram today? I’m working on my “holeophobia” and finally hanging things up;)

  31. What’s your best tip for breaking away from the fear??

  32. Wow – I think you just described me (Love #6 – so true!). I’m in our first house for over a year and trying not to feel so overwhelmed by what rug for the living room or what paint color for the bedroom. I would love to know people’s way to break the cycle.

  33. Wow! You have completely captured my decorating personality. We have been in our house twelve years and it is still unfinished. I am paralyzed by the fear of bad decisions. I can easily help others. Creating my own space is a different thing altogether. Others can’t help me because it only confuses me. I am slowly venturing out-largely due to your blog.

  34. I loved this post and you nailed it for so many. I put your post on my sidebar as my favorite post of the week!! Thanks for such a great post!!

  35. Absolutely right…it’s just decorating, I always say.

  36. I know its me you are posting about. But how do I get past the fear? If I dont even know what I want, how do I start? I spend hours and hours looking at blogs but NEVER move forward. I see rooms I love but can’t find the furniture or accessories when I shop. How can a person just buy something so everyone will quit asking “Did you ever furnish and decorate your house””. With this economy every purchase I make must be for something I really love and intend to keep for a long time. So confused????

  37. Hey!!! Get outta my head! I need to print this out and stick it my desk.

  38. Ahh, this is so me!

  39. okay, so I know this is an older post…but I saw the title on pinterest and had to check it out. I must confess I truly laughed out loud at the one about asking many opinions and just getting more confused. funny, I make paint color decisions all the time for shoots, but when it comes to my own home I often obsess before finally pulling the trigger. here’s to freedom and embracing the process. hope you are well.

  40. great post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists
    of this sector don’t notice this. You should proceed your writing.
    I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

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