Decorating Dilemma: Something is Off

I’ve been addressing common problems we face while decorating in my series Decorating Dilemmas: Choosing Paint Colors, The Long + Narrow Room , and Where to Start. Today I’m talking about that terrible feeling when you’re decorating and get completely stuck. Something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on the problem. Believe me, I’ve been there so many times, I think everyone has. Here are a few tips for you when you get stuck.

1. Get a second opinion.

I find it very hard to decorate my own home, but can come up with several ideas instantly when looking at a client’s home. When you live in a space, it’s hard to think outside the box. Invite a friend over (an honest one) and ask what they would change about the room.This may sound odd, but ask a man, (assuming most of my readers are women) they have more practical insight about decorating than you think. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my husband his thoughts on something, decor related, and he’ll come up with a completely off the wall, random, suggestion that I never would have thought of. They think differently than we do, and sometimes that can be a good thing!

2. Squint.

You might think I’m crazy but I learned this trick in an interior design class, and it works. If you’re trying to figure out what isn’t working in a room, look at it through blurred vision: squint your eyes. Usually this makes the hidden problems become more obvious. Seriously, try it!


3. Take pictures.

This allows you to take yourself out of the space and look at it from a different perspective. I do this all the time, in fact, so many times I don’t figure out something isn’t working in my house until after I take a picture of it for my blog. Pictures force you to ignore other surroundings and focus on one thing a time.


I also take pictures when I’m shopping. If I see a lamp I like, for instance, I take a picture of it before purchasing it. That lamp might be the best out of all of the lamps on that particular shelf, but it might not be the best lamp for my space. Singling it out helps make that decision.


4. Start from scratch.

Try removing the decorative items from the room, leaving just your main furniture pieces. Layering decor really gives a room personality, but sometimes the problem isn’t with the decor. The problem might be your layout, your rug may be the wrong size, your paint color may clash with your floors, your sofa may be too big, etc. Too many times I’ve seen people add more decor to fix the room when the decor is just covering up a main problem. I’ve also seen many people add decor items because it goes with their paint color and really struggle to pull the rest of the room together. I always suggest choosing your paint color last. More tips on choosing paint colors here.

Recently, I have been having a problem decorating our bedroom, and ended up painting it white. I can’t tell you how refreshing it felt to remove everything from the room and start from a blank slate.


Oftentimes all of the “layers” can blind you from what is off in the room. Removing these layers and starting from scratch can help you be more strategic on where to put things. I’m not saying buy all new decorative items, but place them back in the room in a different way. You may find that some of the items don’t make it back into the room, which is okay. Less can be more sometimes.

5. Call a professional.

Going along with my first point of getting a second opinion, a professional can really be a great help if you’re stuck. Hiring a professional is not an unattainable luxury anymore, it’s for real people. Check out my  e-design services, which brings you super affordable decorating services without even leaving your home.

Design Services

Have you ever been “stuck” when decorating? What room is your biggest challenge? If you have a decorating dilemma you’d like me to address in this series, please contact me or leave a comment below!

Join the Conversation


  1. Paint colors. Sometimes the really make me feel like an idiot! I’ll get samples look at the in different light, stare at them for weeks only to pick the wrong color and have to start from scratch. I love the idea of starting from scratch. I may need to employ this trick more often than not in our new home. Last thing I want to do is repaint rooms. 😉

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