One of my favorite designers just wrote an article on all the decorating failures she’s recently made. She’s was an HGTV Design Star, has an incredible interior design business and is constantly making eye candy in her home just for the sake of blog content (and my personal sheer delight). But after YEARS of designing, she showed us that failure is simply a part of the process. Mistakes she’s making? Furniture that that doesn’t fit the space, colors that don’t quite hit the mark and settling for something just to make it work . She’s a professional and most of us aren’t. This is scary yet comforting.
Are you buying furniture and decor you love or are you just making spur of the moment decisions and having lots of regrets later? Picking up pretties at Target and Home Goods is ok, but they leave you somewhat dissatisfied when they don’t always play nicely together. They buy them because of fear. Fear of spending good money and it not working out. Fear of making bad choices and having to redo it. And worst of all, fear that you’re not good enough to even try.
If you’re ever going to cultivate a home you love, you must overcome your decorating fear. Guess what? You will make mistakes—they are a part of the design process. You will choose the wrong color, you will buy that thingamabob and not like it on the shelf. But it’s OK. Learn from your mistakes and keep going. After a while, you’ll learn what works for you and grow as your own interior designer.
We may not have Emily Henderson’s budget or sponsors to keep making mistakes, but you can’t quit or become paralyzed in your decision making. Here are three reasons why failure can be positive.
1. Failure is a part of the learning process
Sometimes you really didn’t get it right the first time, and it’s not until you do it again that you realize you messed up. When I painted my very first wall, I started by patching some chipped corners with mud. It wasn’t until a year later when I was tiling my kitchen backsplash that I realized I mixed the mud all wrong and really needed to go back and re-mud and repaint the wall.
Similarly, sometimes getting it right the first time may be a fluke! I nailed this 10-minute valance in my son’s room using foam board, fabric, and straight pins. When I tried my hand at it again for a corner in the kitchen…Total FAIL. I’m giving it another shot in the kitchen and this time I will pay more attention to what I did right. (UPDATE: See how I created this one)
Failure flexes your problem-solving muscles. If you get things right all the time, you’re not learning and only repeating the status quo. Failing will allow you to solve new problems with new solutions and in turn, you’re smarter and more capable the next time you attempt a project or make a purchase.
2. Failure followed by success leads to a greater sense of accomplishment
Maybe your project didn’t work the first time. But after you re-worked it, problem solved and got it right, you have a greater level of satisfaction knowing you got it right AND that you didn’t give up.
When I tried my hand a refinishing a wood coffee table I was elated with the result. Then I added a coat of Polycrilic to the top and my stomach dropped when it dried with major streaks. I wanted to cry every time I had to sand off the poly and start again. On my sixth (yes SIX) try, I finally got it right. I had been using too much product on my foam roller. I was so proud of my little table project.
Giving up leaves you completely dissatisfied with your project and yourself. No Bueno!Giving up leaves you completely dissatisfied with your project and yourself. No Bueno!
3. Everyone loves a good underdog story
Being able to shout to the rooftops that you had a goal and achieved success after a failure is a much better tale to tell than I did it on my first try. No one likes a show-off…more importantly, people have an unsaid disdain for the person who can do EVERYTHING. You know it’s true even if you don’t admit it. It gets old and annoying after a while. Failure is a part of being human and sometimes people around you like to know you’re fallible too. So, tell the story of your beautifully painted striped wall, but don’t leave out the part where you had the wrong tape and it bled everywhere.
In my home, Pinterest perfect doesn’t exist, it’s not even remotely what I’m aiming for. I don’t want my home to be a shrine to my decorating skill. I want to it be a comfortable place where my family yearns to come to at the end of the day. They may have to deal with a few disasters along the way, but it adds more color to our life story.
This week I challenge you to jettison your fears and begin designing your home. Choose a small project to get started. Turn your design failures into wins by having the tenacity to keep going. I hope to help you avoid making some design mistakes, but don’t be afraid to fail.
If you know someone who’s afraid to fail at decorating, please share this post with them!