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3 easy tips to overcome analysis paralysis in decorating

March 29, 2022

When it comes to making decorating decisions, do you experience something that’s closer to agony than joy?

Untying the knot and overcoming analysis paralysis first requires that you understand where you’re getting stuck.

In my experience, there are 3 places people commonly get stuck when making decorating decisions.

1 / from Universal To Particular

Here’s what this iteration of analysis paralysis looks like:

You know with every fiber of your being that you love an item generally, but aren’t sure which particular variation to choose.

For example, you know you must have a braided rug (this is a real life example from my work with two separate clients, by the way!) but you’re not sure which size or color scheme to commit to.


Learn to see. When you encounter an image or look you generally like, break it down.

Q1: What particular aesthetic and functional elements make up the composition?

Q2: What are the shapes, colors, arrangements, feelings present in it for you?

Q3: How can you begin to recreate this composition with what you already have, right now?

Taking these first steps can encourage you to see what you have in a new light, and shop for missing pieces with greater confidence.


2 / Maximizing Trade-Offs

Another typical scenario is when you know, visually, what scheme looks and feels right to you. However, you’re stuck on where to make the smartest trade-offs.

For example, you love the look of teak outdoor furniture. However, not all teak sets are created equal – quality, cost, and time vary wildly among brands. How do you make a smart decision you’ll feel good about?

This conundrum is especially prevalent these days when inflation is pushing costs higher by the month, and lead times continue to be wildly unpredictable.


Discern, the decide. When you feel yourself getting stuck, externalize the inner dialogue.

Tip 1: A common adage in project management is: “Every project involves cost, time, and quality goals. Pick two!” Rank your goals: is it more important that you have a long-lasting, ever-loving piece? Is it more important that it fits your budget? Or that perhaps you get to enjoy it this upcoming summer? Potential options that fail the top goal are automatically out!

Tip 2: Take it a step further and think through the consequences of betraying your deepest desire. Is it for a harmonious look? Is it to avoid going into debt with this purchase? Whatever it is, remember the last time you betrayed this deep-set desire. Discern what aspects of this specific decision can lead to regret.

Tip 3: In negotiations, there is a concept called Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). This is your best alternative to your desired goal. If you had to compromise, or make trade offs, on your original vision, what might a decent alternative look like? Knowing our BATNA allows us to choose a less-than-optimal option logically, which can help defray our emotional loss.



The third most common source of analysis paralysis is a disconnect between imagination and reality, and it’s only exacerbated by easy access to social media, which fuels comparison, and online shopping, which presents choice overload.

In my experience, the final hold-out of analysis paralysis comes from our hesitation to embrace what is, reality, in light of the possibilities we can imagine. Unless you’re outsourcing your decorating journey to an interior designer and meeting them on “install day,” your spaces will necessarily iterate and evolve over time. I believe the profound revelation of what works for your home lies in this very evolution.


You may feel secure in your taste, budget, and specifications… that is, until, two hours later, you find yourself frustrated and confused on the 44th page of dining chair options on after having binged on Instagram and Pinterest.


Tip 1: Give direction and purpose to your browsing. Collect images you like into a concept collage (also known as a moodboard).

Tip 2: Set a timer. Give yourself a curfew when browsing for options. You’re in charge of the process. Once the alarm rings, pick 3-5 options that really stood out for you and try to articulate why it resonated.

Tip 3: Ask a friend (or me!) to help you curate your options. Once you have a collage (moodboard) of shiny objects, look around your home and see how you can achieve the same “vibe” in an authentic and free way!


I hope you enjoyed this article!

If you need help overcoming analysis paralysis or implementing these tips, let me know. I’d love to work with you to make your home work for you!

Further Reading from today’s post:

Project Management Types,

What Is BATNA?, Corporate Finance Institute

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