WHAT IS YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

As any well-seasoned traveler can attest, navigating airports these days is often a challenge. We may encounter any number of inconveniences from long wait times to erupting volcanoes.

Have you ever noticed, while traveling, what your level of comfort might be at any given point during your trip?

In fact, depending on your hotel accommodations, or your in-flight experience, you may actually be more aware of a lack of Comfort, than anything else.

Of course, on an airplane, being seated in First Class is the way to go if you’re looking for comfort and some in-flight pampering.

Yet, for those of us sitting in Coach, it is often a very different experience.

On a recent flight, I found myself seated next to a mother and her young baby. The woman had not booked a seat for her child, and was hoping I might not show up.

The baby was perfectly happy until she had to give up her seat and be held firmly on her mothers’ lap. At that point, she let out a blood-curdling scream of protest.

Comfortable I was not.

The baby clearly needed a seat of her own, and I needed some peace and quiet. Much to my relief, the stewardess ushered me to a new seat in one of the exit rows.

I now had plenty of leg-room, the baby had a seat several rows behind me and well out of earshot, and all was well with the world.

I was very comfortable.

On any given day, our comforts levels are frequently tested, and for each of us, that definition is unique.

And when it comes to our homes – well, there is almost no end to the number of ways consumers can pamper themselves with what seems comfortable to them.

Whether selecting furniture, linens, paint colors, fabrics or household appliances – and that’s just naming a few – you will be faced with many decisions.

However, before you choose, why not step back and ask yourself the following very important question.

What does Comfort mean to you?

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ARE YOU STALLING?

“Ambivalence – is the liminal point between the problem and the solution.”

 

In other words, ambivalence is that point of uncertainty, when you’re not sure what to do next and perhaps terrified of making a mistake.

Let’s say you’ve been thinking about a kitchen remodel, or are toying with the idea of re-decorating your home.

Let’s also say you’re feeling overwhelmed by the details and not sure where to even begin.

Could be you’re stalling.

A few days ago, I was talking to a couple of friends, both interior designers. The one friend is planning to remodel her townhouse and is brimming with new ideas.

She’s a designer, after all.

Still, she’s not sure where to begin. She’s stalling for time.

A year ago, I was considering an update to my home office. The impetus, for me, was better organization and flow within my workspace.

The intentions were all good.

Still, I was feeling stuck, not sure what to do with the old furniture for starters. (It’s a classic case of “Designer’s Own Dilemma”) .

For many of us, that is the BIG question,  i.e  what to do with the old furniture?

Do we donate it, sell it or give away?

And to whom?

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DESIGN DILEMMAS – MUNDANE OR NOT?

Some design decisions can seem really mundane.                              

To illustrate what I mean, I thought I’d share with you my own decision-making process during another D. O.D. – also referred to as  ‘Designer’s Own Dilemma’.

As it happens, I’m currently in the process of re-designing my home office. A few days ago, I found myself trying to decide between 1/8” and 1/4” corkboard for a memo-board behind my desk.

Yes, I know, that’s a mere 1/8” difference.

Is that really SO important?

Yes!

Here are a few reasons why those seemingly unimportant details aren’t so mundane after all.

1    The Design Is In the Details.

The details matter. A lot.

As an interior designer, if my measurements are off in any one part of a design, it could definitely affect the final outcome for any given project.

But 1/8”, you say?

Well, if my measurements are off  by 1/8” here, ½” there and ¼” somewhere else, that starts to add up.

Here’s another way of looking at it:  let’s go back to that corkboard for a minute. As part of my own decision-making process, I actually grabbed a push-pin and measured the tip, which was about ½”.

Seriously!

I found that the push-pin , when pressed into the corkboard, didn’t fully adhere to the wall, because the thinner board wasn’t quite thick enough.

That very small detail – what some might consider infinitesimal – mattered to me.

You see, I wanted that corkboard for a reason  –  and I could see that every time I tried to tack something to the wall it would likely fall off, for lack of support.

I decided on the thicker board.

2    Listen to Your Gut

“It’s harder to install the ¼” corkboard.”

That piece of advice came from the installer. Well, I certainly didn’t want to make his job more difficult for him, and before I knew it, I was bending over backward to accommodate him.

Wait a minute – what’s wrong with that picture?

Why was I even worried about what the installer might think?

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, yet we do these things to ourselves.

We ignore that inner voice, and make decisions based on what we THINK we should do, not what we really WANT.

Please don’t make that same mistake.

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

A friend of mine recently suffered a severe allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock, requiring prompt medical attention.

Turns out she is seriously allergic to cats.

The most surprising fact was this:  she’s been living with a cat in her home for many years, despite her allergy.

In fact, her in-laws were the ones who knowingly gave her the cat.

Talk about self-sabotage. Usually it’s on a smaller scale, like going on a diet and stashing a bag of chips in the cupboard just to test your willpower.

Procrastination is another form of sabotage. In fact, just this morning I sat down at my computer with the intent of finishing this post, and became involved in something else, instead.

Has this ever happened to you?

Perhaps you’ve even sabotaged your design efforts.

If this sounds familiar, and you’ve gotten stuck, here are 6 sure-fire tips for keeping your project moving forward:

Avoid Procrastination

This is easier said, than done, I know.

It can be so easy to procrastinate, and we all do it. Yet allowing yourself to become focused on other things, instead of the project at hand, doesn’t serve you or anyone else.

When you find yourself procrastinating, stop and ask why? Is there something about the project that just isn’t sitting right with you, and you don’t know how to handle it?

Ignoring the issues doesn’t resolve a thing. If you need a second opinion, or are simply in a rut, it’s OK to ask for help.

Do not let yourself get overwhelmed.

Be Decisive

Being indecisive can bring your project to a standstill.

Once again, understanding the why behind your actions may help you  to move forward. Are you unable to focus because you are tired, or hungry? Are you afraid of making a mistake?

When faced with an important decision, pay close attention to your gut reaction.

In other words, if your answer isn’t an emphatic “Yes” (as in ‘Hell, Yes’) then accept that it’s a “no.”

Then move on.

Avoid Changing Your Mind

Changing your mind is the flip side of being indecisive.

Whereas the latter can stall your project, a change of mind can throw everyone for a loop and cause your budget to sky-rocket, just when you were trying to hold it in check.

This is probably not what you intended. It’s best to be really clear about where you’re going, before you even begin.

Get Clear

This may seem simplistic, but if you are not really clear about the scope of your project, it will likely progress in fits and starts, or be side-railed when you come up with a new idea.

To borrow another phrase, ‘You need to know where you are going before you can get there’.

This means getting rid of things, or ideas, that don’t align with your goals.

Establish a Time Line

Having a time-line will not only help to keep your project on track, it will also keep your Budget in check.

Think about it this way:  if you give yourself an unlimited amount of time to complete your project, there will be little incentive to make prompt decisions. There may also be little incentive to get clear, because – hey – you can always change your mind, if you feel like it.

That’s exactly what you DON’T want.

Even if you’re not up against a deadline, go ahead and set a completion date. Giving yourself a Goal is another way of holding yourself accountable.

Hire Outside Help

If you are really fearful of making a mistake, or just plain stuck, then by all means consider hiring outside help.

Keep in mind that a professional designer, or organizer, or anyone who is expert at their craft, will save you time, money and the headache of having to deal with everything yourself.

Plus, these experts will hold you accountable, especially when project delays start to affect the bottom line.

Bottom line:  If you are sabotaging your efforts on a regular basis, then it may be time to step back and re-assess. Your project will not move forward until you do.

HOW TO NARROW DOWN YOUR CHOICES, PART II

As I see it, the art of making decisions, as referred to in this article, is really about the Art of Removing Clutter and knowing When to Let Go.     

This week, we continue with the theme of Spring cleaning and getting clear, while wading through years of accumulated stuff.

Whether you are dealing with day to day decorating decisions, household clutter, or the mammoth task of downsizing your home, the options listed below will give you a place to start.

Narrow Down Your Choices

This is critical, especially if you are prone to Waffler tendencies. Like Aladdin, if you can narrow down your choices to just two or three, your task will be a lot easier.

While you sort through your possessions, limit yourself to just three piles, or categories:  Keep, Discard and Maybe.

Use large bins, if that will help.

Then be relentless as you work your way through the excess clutter that has overtaken your home.

When you are done, go back through the ‘Maybe’ pile and keep only what you absolutely can’t live without.

Be Realistic

How do you know what you can and can’t live without? Sometimes it can be really hard to decide.

Try asking yourself these questions: Does this item really serve a useful purpose? Does it give me pleasure? How often do I use it? Do I own more than one?

If your answer to the last question is Yes, then you need to ask yourself how many of XYZ do you really need?

Be honest with yourself!

If you are downsizing to a two-bedroom condo, with a small dining area, do you really have room for that 10 foot dining table, complete with extra leaves, that you inherited from Great Aunt Susie?

Probably not.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time

Unless you are in a hurry, why not sit back and take your time sorting through all those years of accumulated stuff?

For example, if you are making plans to move but construction has only just begun on your new residence, then time is certainly on your side.

The act of dealing with unwanted clutter can take many months to wade through, so the sooner you can start, the better.

The important thing is to start now.

The second most important thing is to not stop until you are done.

Take Advantage of Recycling and Local Charities

Many neighborhoods have regular recycling days two or three times a year. These events present the perfect opportunity to unload a lot of stuff.

Rest assured that as long as the items you are parting with are in good condition, someone else could always benefit from your donation.

Plus, it feels so rewarding when you’re done!

Another excellent resource would be charitable organizations that help families get back on their feet after dealing with personal crisis, financial or otherwise.

With charities, used furniture is always in demand, especially if it is in good condition. Check your local government listings to see what is available where you live.

Hire Outside Help

If you are really fearful of making a mistake, then by all means hire  outside help.

The professional interior designer, or professional organizer will save you time, money and the headache of having to deal with everything yourself.

Trust me, this is one of those times when the expense is absolutely worth it. You will keep your sanity, and sail through what could otherwise be a major crisis.

HOW TO NARROW DOWN YOUR CHOICES, PART 1

I’m sure you know the story of Aladdin and his famous Lamp.

All Aladdin had to do, was rub the lamp and a genie would appear to grant him three wishes.

As we all know, he was not granted an infinite number of wishes – only three.

If you stop to think about it, if you had an unlimited number of wishes it would be really hard to decide on anything.

It could even backfire, if you happened to wish for something unpleasant in a moment of anger.

With just three wishes, you will likely stop and think about the consequences, whatever they may be.

Making decisions works the same way.

Being faced with too many choices can be overwhelming.

Do you sometimes have trouble making decisions?

Perhaps it would help to narrow down the choices? Let’s take a moment to re-evaluate your situation.

Begin by choosing from one of the following categories to see which personality best fits your profile. (To make things easier I’m limiting you to just three choices).

Go ahead, which one are you?

The Empty Nester

If you are downsizing to a smaller home, you are likely dealing with a lifetime of memories.

The amount of accumulated stuff can be vast. Trying to decide which possessions to keep and which ones to get rid of can sap your energy in no time.

A similar scenario awaits you if you are dealing with the estate of a deceased family member. You are likely overcome by grief while at the same time being faced with a multitude of decisions related to the deceased’s estate.

Where do you even begin?

 

The Pack Rat

Then again, maybe you’re just a pack rat.

In your fifth decade of life you find that you are still holding on to many childhood treasures, including your English notebook from third grade and award-winning projects from grade school to college.

Clearly, your pack rat tendencies need to stop, but trying to unload years of accumulated clutter can be a challenge.

The Waffler (You Simply Can’t Decide. Period)

You want to paint your living room, but can’t decide on a color. There are just too many choices.

You need a new dining set, but can’t decide on the correct style for the breakfast nook. You’re terrified of making a mistake.

In this instance, being faced with too many choices seems to launch you into overwhelm.

Overwhelm can be paralyzing.

Whether you are dealing with household clutter, day to day decorating decisions or the mammoth task of downsizing your home, these decisions are clearly challenging.

My advice is to start small. Take it one step at a time.

Next week, I’ll offer some specific guidelines to nudge you along.