You are not alone!  Let me repeat.  You are not alone!  Even professional designers second-guess themselves from time to time.  It’s human nature.  And yes, while making decorating and design decisions come easier for some than for others, there’s a learning curve, and the more you do it, the easier it will become.  But what should you do when you get stuck?

Read on for tips to be confident in your decorating decisions and avoid costly mistakes.


You might want to decorate or redesign a particular space in your home but not even know where to start.  If that’s the case, read {THIS POST} first to help to create your design plan.  Once you have a plan, though, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and be afraid to make a mistake, especially since most of us can’t afford to just have a do-over if we don’t like what we did the first time!  Here are 8 tips that I use to help ensure that I’m making the “right” decisions for my space and give me the confidence I need to go from Mental Plan to Finished Product.


 1.  Take a Test Drive

There are a couple of ways to get a sense as to whether something will work in your home before you fully commit.

Get a Sample

For larger, bulk orders, like tile, paint, carpet, hardwood, etc., take a sample home and make sure you like it!  And if it’s a natural product, like travertine for example, make sure you get a sample of the current batch, because with natural products, they sometimes vary from batch to batch depending on how they are sourced.  No samples available?  Buy the smallest quantity possible and try it out at home.  Sometimes, a small upfront investment is worth it in the long run when you’re working on a big, expensive project.

Use a Design App

There are  all sorts of design applications to help you visualize how your space will look decorated.  My favorite is Olioboard because you can actually use a picture of your room as the background and then drag and drop furnishings in.  For a step-by-step tutorial, read {THIS POST}.


Take Advantage of a Lenient Return Policy

I’ll admit that I buy and return in order to test things out at home.  Many stores have a 30 day return policy so long as you save your receipt and the item isn’t used.  This is a great way to truly test something in your home without commitment!  See a rug that might work under your bed?  Buy it and try it!   Think that mirror will look good in your entryway?  Buy it and try it!  This method does get a bit tricky when you buy online, though, so you have to be okay with paying return shipping if the item doesn’t work out.

2. Look at Inspirational Pictures

You can find almost anything online, so don’t forget to take a look!  Not sure if the Farmhouse style table you own will go with those new modern-style chairs you want?  Google it or check Pinterest!  While you might not find the exact thing you’re wondering about, you’ll likely find something similar, which will give you an idea as to whether you like the look.  So when in doubt about a decision you’re making, look online to see if someone else has posted something similar.  It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people overlook this step.

RH Table paired with Wishbone chairs by Hans J. Wagner. via Architectural Digest


3. Look at colors at various times of the day in various light/rooms

Natural light can really change the color of rooms throughout the day, so when choosing colors for something {whether its carpet, paint, bed linens, etc.}, make sure you like how it looks throughout the day.  Also, if it’s an item that will be used in multiple rooms, look at it in multiple rooms so that you can get a sense of how it will look in the actual space in which you’re going to use it.


4. Start with your biggest items first, or those that have limited selection

If you’re designing a space and are unsure about what you’re doing, start with the biggest {or focal point} first.  For example, there are infinite paint colors available to paint kitchen walls, but countertop surfaces will be much more limited.  If you start with the walls, you might find that you’re stuck with a countertop you don’t love because it’s the only one that coordinates with the wall color you’ve chosen!  You’ll find you’ll be more comfortable making decisions if you start with the countertop, then the floors, the backsplash, and finally, the walls.  Work your way down from your expensive, limited decisions, down to the smaller, less important ones.


5. Always get a swatch

After you’ve selected items, be sure to keep a swatch!  This applies to carpet, hardwood floor, tile, paint, fabrics….almost everything and anything!  This way, whenever you want to buy something for a particular room, you can take samples of the other elements that you already own with you to the store to better understand if what you want to purchase will coordinate with what you already own.  Swatches are a great way to avoid purchasing things that are the wrong color or style because you’ll be able to see right there in the store!


6. Buy items that work in multiple rooms

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and leave a space as-is once it’s decorated, but there are a few advantages to buying items that can work in multiple rooms.  One is that you can easily change up the entire look of your home without spending a dime!  For example, if you entry table can double as a sofa table in the living room, you can the ability to move it and create a whole new look!  The other advantage, though, is that if you buy something for a particular location and it doesn’t work out as you had hoped {and you can’t return it}, you’ll be able to find another spot in your home in which it works perfectly, so you’ll not entirely at a loss.  This helps to minimize investment risk.

The bench is now in my living room, the orchard ladder is now in my family room, and of course, the plant is dead. #brownthumb #fiddleleaffigshateme


7. Make sure you love it

I know I’ve said this before, but I feel that you should be surrounded by things {and people!} you love in your home, so if you feel sort-of iffy about something, it’s probably a sign that it’s not right for you.  I get that price is a factor, so sometimes you have to compromise and say that something is the one you love the most at the price you can afford, but regardless of price or budget, make sure you love what you buy; otherwise, every time you walk into that room and look at that item, you’ll regret your purchase.


8. Trust your gut

There are no guarantees in life and there are no guarantees in decorating.  Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut.  Often, your first instinct is the right one!



And even if you make a mistake and don’t like something you’ve done, don’t beat yourself up!  As with everything in life, you can only do the best you can with what you know, so don’t get discouraged….







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  1. I always enjoy reading your blog and am thankful for all the information you share.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Thank you so much, Trisha! :) Kim

  2. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Thanks so much, these will really help since i want to fix my bedroom. I have painted it so everything is waiting to be put back up but this will help cause i want to change things around a little.

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