When I was a resident, before I left medicine to get an interior design degree, my husband and I invited friends over to our 1200 sq ft bungalow one weekend. I was just beginning to explore my decorating skills. Much to my surprise, I had one of my friends ask if I had a designer to help me with our home. I hadn’t, of course. It was very flattered and I was excited that she thought I had. I thought, “Maybe I can do this!”
My office decorating drama
Fast forward a few months later when I had moved on to the office and wanted to paint it a bold peach color. I brought home the paint sample and I slathered it on the walls. While painting, my husband walked in with a horrified look on his face.
We both stood back to look at it. I instantly realized I had made a big mistake. The color wasn’t peach! It was way too bright, almost neon orange. It looked like it belonged in a gym rather than a home office.
My spirit fell and thoughts filled my head like, “well, I guess you aren’t any good at this after all.”
Why decorating can feel dramatic and what it reveals about us.
The thing is, decorating our own homes often does come with drama. Usually it’s drama about our own skills. We are worried we are going to make a mistake. We are not feeling confident in our decisions. Not to mention, disagreeing with our partners about certain things.
It can definitely reveal a lot about our own opinion about ourselves and about the type of mindset we grew up around.
And that’s just decorating… magnify that times 10 when we go through a remodel or build a new home!
So, why is this the case and how can you get through these mental roadblocks?
Well, how we approach decorating our homes often reveals a lot about our core beliefs.
For example, if you grew up in a family who didn’t worry about money (notice I said didn’t worry about money, not that they had money… there is a big difference) and who always believed there would be enough, you likely will allow yourself to dream big when it comes to ideas for your home. It doesn’t mean you will necessarily spend a lot of money on your home, but you likely have a more abundant mindset to explore all possibilities, even those that come with a larger price tag.
On the other hand, if you grew up in a family that was frequently worried about money and about not having enough, you will likely approach decorating your home in a similar way… keeping your ideas small and safe in an effort to not spend too much and to not risk disappointment.
Notice that the difference between these two examples is not necessarily the dollar amount of money that was available when you were a child, rather it was the mindset around money that mattered.
I grew up in a typical 80s middle class family (like a family on Stranger Things!). Looking back, we didn’t have a lot of money but we always had enough. My parents always believed and voiced the fact that we not only had enough, we had plenty and they believed we would always have plenty. They were smart with their spending but also joyously indulged when they wanted to. So even though we didn’t have a whole lot of money by the standards at the time, I always believed we had and would always have plenty. I felt wealthy because of the abundant money mindset they instilled in me.
This difference in mindset can make a huge difference and interjects its way into many different facets of our lives… even decorating our own homes.
Decorate intentionally rather than dramatically.
Here are some examples of abundant thinking when it comes to decoration and design:
- This room is going to be amazing.
- I can totally figure this out.
- Oops! That color doesn’t work… but I’ll try again and find one that does.
- Let’s do something unexpected and exciting.
- I’ve never seen that done before but I’m going to try it!
- I don’t know if I’m good at decorating or not, but I know I can learn.
- I’m not sure what to do so I’m brainstorming. I’ll find a great idea.
Examples of scarce design thinking:
- I don’t know what to do in this room
- This is probably not going to look good.
- This is going to be way too expensive.
- What is everybody else doing?
- I’m worried I’ll get tired of it.
- I’m not good at this.
- I’ve never seen that before so no.
Which type of thinker do you think you are?
Are you an abundant design thinker? Or a scarce design thinker?
How is this way of thinking serving you?
Becoming aware of your patterns of thinking is important. If your current mindset is working for you, great! On the other hand, if you find that it’s holding you back, you can make the decision to work on changing it. It’s totally possible. It’s entirely up to you.
What’s coming up.
So next month, I’ll be giving you some tips on how to do that.
But for now, pay attention to your thought patterns. Get curious about how they affect your decisions and actions.
As you do, resist the temptation to judge yourself. Instead, embrace it all! And just cultivate awareness of it.
If you’d love to hear more about getting out of the “drama” of decorating and finding your true design style and power, check out my podcast The Design Doctor. If there are specific topics you’d like to hear about, shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know.
I help crazy busy women physicians create intentionally designed spaces that makes coming home the best part of their day!
Create a home you love that fits YOUR style, so you feel relaxed, inspired, and enjoy every space in your home.