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Cold Feet/Design Fatigue?

Storybook Home
December 6, 2018
Did you get cold feet before a remodel/whole house interior design? I’m starting to wonder if it’s ‘worth’ it? I love pretty things! Always have. I’m a professional artist. I love just looking at ‘pretty’. I have dreamed of owning and decorating my own home for over a decade. But it is SO much money. To do it right, with quality estate pieces... And then what if you get tired of it!? It’s so hard to know what you will like in 5, 10, 20 years. Some people may redo it sure but with travel, retirement, health costs, hobbies I feel like I will only do this once, maybe twice, in my lifetime. I think about my grandparents. Their house hasn’t changed in decades. It has no style other than eclectic quality somewhat traditional. It’s not ‘pretty’ but it is homey. I don’t know. Now that it’s time to pull the trigger I’m starting to get cold feet over spending the money to create a magazine worthy space that I may tire of. But I still really want to do it! Ahhhh. Anyone else riddled with self doubt before a major project after poring over designs for so long?

Comments (40)

  • ninigret

    yup. i think the main solution is not to spend more than you can afford on the project.



  • pennydesign

    Don't ever aspire to what you see around you...or to what others have (or say they have)...It doesn't make them happy, either.


    This is all....just "stuff"....it's not what makes a life.

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  • H B

    There are so many stages to remodeling....and there's definitely ups and downs along the way. Your thoughts of what is beautiful, and what kinds of spaces you find interesting to live in, will change over time (as you do!). The equation balancing out money, desires, value, happiness, pretty....its different for everyone. If you find you tire of spaces on a regular basis, it might not be worth the effort, aggravation, time and money to remodel in such a way that you can't change it up in the future. Good luck!

  • tartanmeup

    Yes and I must echo ninigret and pennydesign's comments.

    We have to define our happiness. All this pretty stuff that takes our breath away makes us happy but...for how long? Is it a fleeting happiness, this aesthetic appreciation? Will this particular white make us happier than another (when we obsess over the perfect white paint)? What about the chair? Will we be markedly happier sitting in a $5,000 chair than in a $200 one? How much happier? How does one quantify this? And then, after a while, do we stop seeing what's around us? As an artist, perhaps you don't. But it's very much a question everyone needs to ask themselves. We're all wired differently and respond to sensory input to varying degrees. We have to know ourselves and how quickly we tire of things.

    And yes, it's a lot of money to do it "right". But remember that you can define "right for you".

    But Penny is so right: it's just stuff. No matter how much we love our stuff, it doesn't love us back.

  • queenvictorian

    If it's gorgeous and timeless, then how could you tire of it? HGTV and companies that sell house interior things like flooring, tiling, and furniture have a vested interest in convincing you that what you have is "dated" and that you are tired of it and that you should tear it out and replace it with the new hotness. Rinse. Repeat. The pressure to always have your space "updated" is pervasive - I've seen plenty of topics here where the OP asks whether some design element or furniture style is still "in" and if they should still go with it. It makes me kinda sad.


    I find that I'm unusually impervious to trends and tiring of what I have - growing up, my parents had (and still have) an absolutely exquisite traditional setup full of heirloom pieces (some have been in the family for over a hundred years) that's always been the same and never ever feels dated. Sometimes they'll move art around or change out a rug or end table, but the core of the design never changes because it doesn't need to. So that's where my mantra comes from - make it timeless and beautiful once, and you'll never have to redecorate again. Just think of all the expensive trendy furniture you're not going to buy, and all the stress of periodic "update" remodels you're not going to experience, and all the extra time you're going to have because you're nt gong to spend it chasing trends.

  • chiflipper

    Something to keep in mind, furniture looks best when it "fits the house". I've owned lovely pieces that just did not "go" when I relocated. Less heartache ensues when you didn't spend a fortune buying initially.

  • PRO
    Studio NOO Design

    Make a budget for each room and do it one room at a time if you are too scared..getting to your dream home is your goal, just do it !

  • elunia

    “Magazine worthy” - sigh. That’s just so wrong. Listen to the comments above. And remember, there is beauty and style in less expensive things as well.

  • mimimomy

    Build/remodel a timeless home. It can be done.


    Spend the money on structure, not surfaces. Buy good quality doors and windows. Make energy efficient choices that will pay you back. Choose lower square footage of very nice quality over more square footage of poor quality. Choose a very good floorplan. Make it spacious, choosing fewer nice sized rooms over lots of small rooms (i.e. 3 nice sized bedrooms rather than 4 small ones).


    Make the expensive surfaces very neutral. Thing about what you love and what is good and comfortable for you to come home to.


    Some things never go out of style. Others will be out of style in 5 years. Make sure it's only the paint and wallpaper and light fixtures that go out of style, not the floorplan or the cabinets or flooring.


    Don't necessarily plan to have all of your decor done instantly... take some time to pick the treasures that are right for you.


    A 1000 square feet of beauty is far better than 3000 feet of not beauty (in my opinion).


    Good luck :)

  • job438

    Just find what makes you smile in the morning. God forbid you copy a magazine photo; your home should mature as you do: over the years, developing character and personality.

    You cannot buy these.

  • rebk4

    As a few years go by, you can change a light fixture, faucets, pillows, wall color, bedspreads, etc. here and there to freshen up things without starting over. You probably will make a design mistake that you will just have to live with, but that's just part of it. If you have wanted this and enjoy that feeling of making a pretty home, just go ahead. Buying a home is scary, but worth it. Good luck.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    I've always known what I like and it is very rare for me to tire of it. Okay - I WAS tired of my VERY Laura Ashley guest room (thank God not all flowery and twee), and I would not have done it that way if I had not been working there at the time and used my discount. So, when there was water damage to the walls, I redid the room. But this was wallpaper/fabric - not the furniture.

    I know my own taste in furniture. I like antiques - English antiques, preferably 18th century, but a nice 19th century piece is fine, too. All my upholstered furniture is hand-me-downs. It's been recovered by both me and those before me multiple times over the past 70-100 years. When the fabric wears out, it gets recovered.

    But I know people who tire of things quickly - clothes, houses, home furnishings. Such people should never spend a lot on any of these things and they will never hold their value.

    I need to be surrounded by beauty. A beautiful garden, beautiful fabric, beautiful pieces of furniture. They make my soul sing. They comfort me. They are the womb to which I retreat.

    Yes, good furniture is very expensive. And yes, sitting in a $5000 chair DOES feel better than one that sold for $200. That $5000 chair has a strong, wood frame so it is rock solid, it has spring units in both the back and the seat, it has horse hair and cotton batting for filling - both last for decades, unlike foam and fiberfill that start degrading rather quickly. And they are designed correctly for the human body. Of course, this isn't even taking into account how nice/pretty the fabric is!

    Antiques are an excellent buy right now as no one wants "brown wood" anymore. Such a shame. Why on earth would anyone choose a generic Wayfair chest over a lovely 18th century mahogany period piece which will always be beautiful regardless of what HGTV says.

    Only you knows your budget, your taste, and your temperament. I know that I'd spend money on my house before just about anything else other than my children's educations. Luckily, I was able to do both.


  • Cheryl Smith
    I agree with HB my decor has evolved over time. I'm always looking at pictures and sites like Houzz and Pinterest to get ideas. I have done without instead of buying the "wrong" thing. Always worried about buying something and later finding something I liked better. Then I decided things didn't have to be perfect - just perfect for now. I believe if you buy things you love, in colors you love, you will love the room. Things I have bought for one room, move to another when I feel like a change. I do like change. Keeping walls and expensive furniture neutral makes that possible. I like moving my furniture placement. Doing that makes the room feel "new" to me. I also like changing things up for the seasons. Warm and cozy for winter, light and colorful for summer. I don't have the funds to follow every trend. But I've also had some form of gray in my house since 1986 and probably always will. To me it isn't a trend, it's a neutral I love. My walls now are a greige that goes with everything I own. If I don't pay too much for something I don't feel bad about getting rid of it later. Thrift stores and garage sales are my favorite places to shop. I do like expensive things but don't want to spend the money for new. It's amazing what you can pick up second hand. One persons trash is another's treasure. My decor has changed from blue, gray, tan, green, red and combinations of all. I like black in rooms. I "shop" my house first. Moving something somewhere else sometimes makes it my favorite thing again. I'll Never stop.
  • Cheryl Smith
    Anglophilia said it all
  • einportlandor

    Ash, if you're questioning your project my advice to to pause. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and lose perspective when we're chasing a long-held fantasy. Step back for a bit and consider your options. All of the beautiful things will still be there waiting for you if that's what you decide.


    I'm old and have made plenty of mistakes. I've learned, the hard way, that I'm happiest with my home when it reflects me and my life as it actually is, not who I aspire to be. For me that means collecting pieces over time, including things that have special meaning, and allowing my home to slowly evolve over time. There's something to be said for slow decorating, for mixing new and old, new and used. Take your time.

  • PRO
    Flo Mangan
    One thing you said means STOP to me. You said something like it’s so much money. I can guarantee it will cost more than you think. So if spending money causes you to break out in hives, stop and at least pause. It might turn into a nightmare for you rather than a dream. It is a tough process with loads of time consuming challenges but also can be so very rewarding.
  • aprilneverends

    my answer will be weird and I guess not very helpful

    that's because many good points were already made, and I don't want to repeat them.

    but as I was listening to that song


    my husband asked me:

    -may I ask you..what attracts you in this song? it's nice, but it's kinda plain..

    I said:

    -the reverse analogy

    he asked:

    -how do you mean?

    and I said:

    -I'm not a Brandy..

    granted, I'm not exactly that sailor either. I know where my harbor is-it's just not here. So every harbor I find myself in-I try to make it mine, even if just a little bit. Once I tried very deliberately not to do it-and it didn't help me at all, just made things worse..I never repeated that mistake since.

    So. We don't know you, but you know yourself..are you a Brandy, a sailor, somebody in between like me? What moves you? What makes your harbor-yours? And how you can translate that feeling of "yours" onto the house? What does it need from you, and what do you need from it? How do you meet together, and what makes it worth staying? even if for a while..

    cold feet is normal, design fatique is normal...just try not to let it overwhelm you. Well, not too much.

    "magazine-worthy"-it lies in some different plane..that might be important to you, or you will find out it's not..it has no significant place in your relationship with the house, whatever it will be, and it will be a relationship, you know that. You're an artist..

    you know that nothing that you create is completely under your control..it is, but it isn't. and that what gives cold feet, and brings fatique, but at the same time, that what makes it worthwhile. The process, the figuring it all out, knowing when it's time to sail away even..whatever that might mean...

    It'll be different for everyone as we all are different. Similar enough to talk on this forum, for sure...))

    I wish you great luck..

    and-I do believe houses can love us back..

    otherwise, I wouldn't be so willing to try?..

  • Storybook Home
    I think part of my challenge is I’m a perfectionist to a detrimental degree with some minor OCD tendencies. I agonize over decisions, even minor ones. I research them ad nauseum. I am definitely a quality junky. I would rather save for the best than be dissatisfied with a limp imitation. It’s just been so overwhelming and so much pressure to do things right and timeless for my own design sensibilities. I’m a total ‘what if-er!’ Sigh. Why can’t I just like me some good ‘ol white shaker cabinets, Calcutta marble look Quartz, and Mor Furniture 4 Less like everybody else! Lol (Not knocking those! I just prefer the road less traveled). I just want to love it when it’s done. I’m a total home body and my home is my safe happy place. It’s been a HUGE learning curve discovering just how much goes into interior design (and how much historical knowledge one must possess!) I have deep respect for Interior Designers at this point. The more I learn the more I realize what I don’t even know I don’t know! Haha. And to your point Anglo, yes, I too am deeply emotionally impacted by the vibe/presence of a space. I MUST love my space/environment/ambience to feel creative and settled and HOME. Luckily my mother supports my ‘weirdness’ and my best friend is an Archeologist who also appreciates unique old stuff. I just need to stop second guessing what I want.
  • pennydesign

    Ash, you might find this interesting...or not. Either way, it deserves to be read.


    https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/lifestyle/a1472/guide-to-wabi-sabi/


  • Jora

    As a fellow artist, beautiful things calm my soul. Although, like most, I'm not a fan of change, creating a beautiful space in my home and surroundings is something that is important to me. Do what makes your heart happy, whether it's redecorating, traveling, etc. and don't worry about if you will like it in ten years or not!

  • Irene Morresey
    You are an artist, have confidence, who thinks 10 years ahead. Do your home in what you love, you have to live with it. I know what I love, may not suit a lot, who cares, it means something to me and makes me happy. I love floral wallpaper at the moment, I mean big flowers, still thinking where I can put it lol
  • Jora

    Irene...I've been salivating over HUGE flower wallpapers for a few months now! Glad I'm not the only one! :)



  • Irene Morresey
    Haha, I’m an artist of sorts too. I adore the floral wallpapers. Don’t think I would go too mad with it, but determined to find a place for it somewhere. Go with your gut feeling
  • Jora

    I so badly wanted one for a long wall behind a couch in the family room (and I don't own anything with a flower pattern, not even a shirt) but don't think I'm brave enough. :). Let me know if you move forward with it and please send pix!

  • Nicole R Dsp
    I feel you on the cold feet. However, here’s my two cents. Upgrading your home, when it comes to counters, tile, cabinets, etc is an investment and provides you with equity. When it comes to decor though, sure, we could all blow wads of cash. But I do firmly believe that if you buy things one at a time, and spend on quality, or things you can’t let go of, it’s worth it. Marinate on your purchases. We always buy something cool when we travel, a piece or craft unique to the area that are high quality, not tourist crap. Every single thing I have purchased I live even more over time. That’s not a waste. But if you piece together one by one and spend a little extra for quality, I think you’ll find things you love that will last. I’m all for having a beautiful space. And it’s always easy to change linens, paint color, etc to revitalize a space.
  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    Get an interior designer, double your budget, and your timeline to accomplish the task. And to accommodate your "picky" factor.

    Realize too, that there is no LAW stating a home must be finished to the last piece of art on the wall, or rug on the floor.]

    In real life, a home evolves and grows, and adjusts as do the people living within that home. The only way a home is totally FINISHED is if you cease to live. That applies even if you are very certain of your style and tastes, such as Anglophile above. Things fade, or wear out.....seasons change. Life happens.

    Plus one fact: We all go to our graves empty handed.

  • tartanmeup

    Sounds as if you know yourself well, Ash. I agree with JAN, consider hiring an interior designer to guide you. They know what you don't know and can save you time and money. When you feel overwhelmed with every decision (and it's so easy to do when we like to research something exhaustively), they can help you prioritize and plan the elements. They have a perspective we can lack.

    Thank you for sharing that article, pennydesign. I'd read it before but it's nice to be reminded of its truths. There's a lot about my house I don't like right now but every day, I do my best to appreciate all that it gives me. It's solid and warm.


  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    Oh, I sympathize with you, Ash G! I too am a perfectionist and want the best quality I can afford. I also have found through the years that my style and taste haven't really changed all that much, so buying high quality items is a good investment for me.

    My advice is threefold:

    Have a PLAN. A road map of where you want to go. If that means hiring a professional decorator or designer, by all means do it. If you can do it yourself, then go for it. Part of planning is compiling a portfolio of rooms you like to hone in on your style.

    Have a BUDGET. This helps you prioritize your purchases. Not everything has to be of the same quality and price. You can mix high and low and achieve a good effect.

    Have PATIENCE. It can take years to find everything you want for your rooms. Enjoy the process and don't rush to the end.

    My last comment: If you decide to do it yourself, come back to Houzz and ask specific questions. Don't expect someone (or the entire "community") to design your space from soup to nuts. If you hire a decorator, please don't second-guess his or her advice. If you have a question, ask your decorator, not the committee of online experts. That way madness lies.

  • einportlandor

    Like many of us, I, too, want the best quality I can afford. It becomes an issue when I want the best quality I CAN'T afford. Ash, can you really, truly afford your dream home?

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    I feel like a "dream home" takes time. I would want to live in a home for a bit before deciding on things like furniture carpets etc. The house would need to speak to me first. Focus on the structural - doors, windows, kitchen cabinets , counters tile , flooring etc. Then do the furnishings, artwork. You can always use old furniture for the time being... Trying to do all of that up front seems a monumental task that would stress me out and cause snap decisions and mistakes ...

    Find inspiration photos, set very firm budgets and choose things that suit the home so they will have longevity - bring quirky things or bolder personalities in with paint colors, pillows, accents and art work - easy to change if your vision changes over the years...

    Good luck to you - don't rush it...

  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    I have a friend who agonizes over decisions. She needs to research every possible choice and weigh it against every other possible choice. That is a recipe for driving yourself bonkers when it comes to design/decoration. There are too many choices without enough objective criteria, so the job of weighing and considering has no end point. Hire a designer. Set out a budget and parameters and discuss your aesthetic preferences and your working preferences. Make a plan for how to work with this pro. Ask him or her to provide you with only X number of choices and iterations once you have settled on a course of action. Be sure you trust this person and reign yourself in. That or drop the magazine worthy home all at once idea (personally I am not an all at once kinda gal.)

    PS I want someone with your decision making style on my legal or medical teams- there is nothing wrong with careful weighing of all the options :-)


  • Irene Morresey
    Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real
    I also have a friend like that, love her dearly, but so frustrating. Just get the darn thing I say to her lol
  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    Agony will not equal ecstacy at finish. It's often quite the opposite. Care and thoughtfulness are not synonymous with agony . :) Believe it

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    It took me 32 years to finally get my house exactly the way I wanted it to be and envisioned it when we first bought it. Money (educating children), or lack thereof, got in the way a great deal.

    I have never liked any house where all the decorating was done at the same time. It has a sterile, soulless look about it. We evolve over time, our houses do, too. Over the years, my library has had to incorporate large ottomans in front of the two club chairs - just more comfortable with my feet up so they don't swell! My LR started off rather "cottagey" - flowered chintz, lighter colors. Wallpaper stayed the same, but later, when the sofa needed to be recovered and the slipcover on a chair had rotted, I needed to re-do some of the upholstered furniture. Now I wanted the room to feel a bit "smarter". So bottle green velvet with deep bullion fringe went on the same sofa that was restyled when it was reupholstered, new fabric for curtains and chair, and I moved a couple of chairs from other rooms to this room - some switching about. New slipcovers for them. My husband died 13 years ago in June and I did this the following year. I think if he walked in the house today, while the upholstery is different, he would recognize it as our house and would say it looked the same but a bit different. That's exactly what it is - the same but different. Same art, same lamps, same antique wood, same books, some new porcelain, some the same. This is how a room evolves without one discarding everything and changing "English Country House" style for MCM!

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    Really personal style isn't "decorated" by a designer. It is more a case of yanking disparate elements together to make a whole. One that is you, that will live and grow and change as the need arises. It can't be done with a boatload of reclaimed wood off a truck, word signs, and big clocks. It has to evolve in conjunction with a life within the home. If you don't have a "life"........and no offense here but by that I mean if you buy junk, and spend life going in and out of a big garage in a big SUV with the junk IN the SUV? You can't get to "that house" I just referenced. " That house" is a reflection of books read, music played, friends entertained, travels taken, and LIFE.It reflects time, past and present.

    In the beginning...... you fake "life" but you don't FILL the space. Because you must leave room for the life you will continue to live.

    Stuff has a way of coming in, and staying. Make sure you don't bring in "guests" you wouldn't want around for a WHILE.

    Many years ago I got a client, big home. We hit it off right away. I was terrified, to then the biggest thing I ever did. In fake it until you make it style, I realized a couple months in, that I had been GIFTED. She owned relatively little furniture, but art, accessories, more art....books, artifacts, were there in abundance.!!! She had been waiting for her REAL home, so that's what she bought, afraid to commit to "furniture" in a real sense. We had a ball : )

    When done, another designer and friend of hers saw the house. Her remark? " Wow, it doesn't look like a decorator just left!!, that is so difficult to do"

    I consider it to this day, the highest of compliments. She was right btw, and usually that IS hard. In this case? Not so much : ) You just can't buy a life. It has to be lived.

  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    That house" is a reflection of books read, music played, friends entertained, travels taken, and LIFE. It reflects time, past and present.



    I think HGTV, et al are desperately trying to erase this concept. And what frightens me is that there are people out there now who think that what HGTV offers reflects a job well done, as opposed to a set staged for a commercial.

  • lindahambleton

    I always feel better when I remember that Thomas Jefferson never finished Monticello.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    Funny thing re " that house " above. We freshened the white Woodmode cabs all those years ago, fell mutually in love with an Irish pine hutch. Left all else alone including white Corian tops as the other choice would have meant granite, there was yet no quartz. Except for a then brand new kitchen table, and since then new chairs? Nada. Meaning that kitchen ......is 25 + years old, and still in great shape , surfaces et al. Sometimes we sit in it (she makes fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches ) and say..........we should probably rip it. Then she laughs ... "Oh hell.......let the next broad do it...hahahhahaha, I still love it". The rest? Not much change other than having to prune her collecting , acquiring habit now and then. Be who you are.

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  • Storybook Home
    Thank you so much everyone! I did a lot of soul searching and realized what has been plaguing me. I wasn’t happy with my overall direction. It was close, but not quite right, to the feel I wanted to accomplish. I want storybook charming without looking like a full blown movie set. I went back to the drawing board and sought out better inspiration photos, stumbling upon a few gems. I am MUCH happier with my new direction. It’s exactly what I envisioned but wasn’t getting before. Timeless, traditional, a touch whimsical, inspired by fairytales while still being classic enough to not become overwrought. I’m going slower and really taking my time. And I’m having so much FUN again! It feels right. Still hard, but enjoyable now. Very happy.
  • Storybook Home
    Also, to clarify my magazine comment. My style is far too quirky to ever be in a magazine, haha. I know they are highly staged and artificial. I more meant ‘put together’ and ‘correct’ looking. My house is a home to be lived in and enjoyed, not something to impress the neighbors ;) I’d just like it to look intentional. That’s better phrasing than magazine worthy. Apologies for confusion.

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