How to Decide: 7 Ways to Make Difficult Design Decisions Easier

published May 18, 2014
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There are a million different decisions you have to make when designing your home. Which couch goes with which chair? Which rug will be the best for your family? Blue or slightly lighter blue? With how much information and options are available today, facing difficult design decisions can be paralyzing. Arm yourself with these seven tips; next time you’ve got to make a design choice you’ll do it wiser (and probably quicker).

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1. Decide which choice best aligns with what you value in home design
Knowing what values you put first and find the most important — budget, quality, look, function, comfort — can help steer you in the direction of the right answer when faced with a tough design decision. Remember what your most important design values are, and choose the option that most aligns. So like, how does that help you pick out a paint color? It still works: What do you value most with the way a room feels? Calm and collected or wild and energizing?

Trust your gut

What was your first instinct toward the decision, before you began ruminating on all the other options? You’ve heard it before because it’s true — your first choice is usually the right one. Not always, of course, but give your first choice a heftier weight when weighing the options and when in a hurry, go with your instincts.

Trust a friend If you know you’ve got a tough design decision coming up, it’s useful to use a friend to help sway you in one direction or another, but it’s important to give your friend’s choice the appropriate weight in the matter. Ultimately, you’ve got to live in this home, so add a friend’s opinion to the chorus that is mainly made up of your instincts.

Compare online reviews from multiple sources (but be wary of fake ones) When considering purchasing big ticket design products, look for online reviews, but be sure to lookout for fake ones. Those that contain specific details and moderate praise are usually more accurate than those that gush too much. Look for sites with reviews from verified buyers so you know they’re real people.

Pick the BEST choice, not the most perfect choice Sometimes there’s just not one perfect option that is everything you want in life. Don’t let that frustration blind you to a perfectly decent choice that comes darn close. When faced with a series of options that you’re not completely in love with, go back through the list above to narrow down to the best choice (even if it’s not the perfect choice).

Give yourself a deadline (but don’t rush) You can drive yourself mad seeking and searching and researching and comparing. Decide how much and what kind of design decision help you’ll be accepting, absorb it, study it, but most importantly, actually make the decision (in a reasonable amount of time). In the same token, don’t hurry through design decisions if you’re tired, stressed or overworked. Take a break from even thinking about your choices for a day or two and then come back to the problem with a fresh perspective.

Let yourself off the hook if you make the wrong choice

If you adopt the attitude of knowing that whatever choice you make will be a learning experience, there really isn’t any wrong choice. Even costly or damaging design decisions are still something you can laugh about, at least. As with anything in life, a little perspective should help out immensely; only worry at life-or-death levels when it’s a life or death design decision.

How do you cope with tough design decisions? What’s your go-to method for getting help on making a hard choice when it comes to DIYing or decorating your home? Share any tips you have in the comments below!