Room 911: Decorating Dilemmas

Like any other questions in life, there are no easy answers in the field of decorating and design. Below are some of the questions and situations I have encountered in my 27 years of work in this field. {{more}}

Decorating By Committee: Is this a good idea or a bad one? We all want approval and having a group of friends, relatives, and former sorority sisters validate our decorating choices, can be one way to approach a decorating project. However, I would not advise it.

I have worked with couples and the choices they have made through the work (and it is a process, not unlike therapy) of understanding how to mix prints, or why use a dramatic paint color in one area or why keep window treatment to a minimum, etc. have evolved (and that is the operative word) through being educated or learning the impact of balance in a room, etc.

After many sessions of using swatches of material, paint color samples, moving furniture around, evaluating flooring, and the like, we have made some decisions. Often the couple has come from very different viewpoints and they have reached acceptable compromises with input from me on what the outcomes will look like.

But then comes the mother-in-law, best friend, TV repairman and a host of others that say, “Oh no, I hate slate blue, it reminds me of the leaky bathroom in Aunt Betsy’s house.” Or, “I can’t believe that you would pick that material because I have always disliked (fill in the blank…,solids, plaids, shantung, dots, flamestitch, beige, moire, leather, suede, etc.”)

While we often admire what our friends have, do we really want the same thing? Maybe you don’t fully trust your designer? Maybe we carry people’s approval inside of us even if they have passed on and are no longer present in our lives? It’s complicated. However, remember that you are now coming from a different place after understanding some of the decorating “rules.” Sometimes,you have to do the hardest thing – that is trust your gut and your decorator/designer.

Thirty One Flavors: So many times, people want to put a little excitement into their decorating scheme. They have lived with white, beige, or gray on the walls of their houses for over 25 years. “I’m ready for a change. What do you suggest?” After surveying their furnishings and artwork, I might say, “what about a soft grey lavender, or celadon green, persimmon, wheat, or a very dusky rose.” After naming each color, and I do mention so many possibilities, they meet each response with a no.

I call it the Baskin –Robbins resistance. They want ice cream. You name the 31 flavors, and they say no to every one of them. Then you ask them again, what they want and they say “ice cream.”

Change is hard but take a leap of faith and remember the following from an unknown author:

“If you always do

What you have always done,

You will always get

What you have always gotten.”

As you can see, decorating/designing a room can be thought provoking.

Is there a 100 percent guarantee that the room will come out perfectly? The answer is no because nothing in life has a 100 percent guarantee. However, there is a high probability that your surroundings will be much improved.

A cooperative, joint effort always makes for a better outcome. There is nothing wrong with getting feedback from your aunt, nephew, cousin or uncle, but trust the process, trust the educated advice from your professional consultant. But most of all trust yourself and your willingness to incorporate change in your life.

Tedra Schneider is the founder of reStage, a division of Tedra Associates, Inc. She has worked in residential/commercial interior decorating and design and can be reached with questions or comments through her website,