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I'm Erika Ward

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation.  My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

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Learn how to attack your biggest decoratings fears and go from wishing and wanting to doing and being.

This post is for you if:

  • One or more rooms in your house share the same paint color as your sister’s (or insert the name of your most stylish friend) house.
  • You are secretly envious of your neighbor’s home which is perfectly coordinated, styled to the nines, fresh-smelling, and organized. However you, have yet to remove the balance of holiday decorations from your dining room.
  • Your garage is filled with seemingly random home decor purchases—things you love no less—but they never seem to make an appearance inside your home.
  • You’d rather have a root canal, than to go alone to a home decor store, kitchen, bath, or furniture showroom.

I meet lots of clients who know exactly what they want, but I’ve met many more who need help discovering their personal style. They’ve tried to duplicate what they’ve seen elsewhere, but it fell flat. Why? Because it lacked their unique personality.

[Tweet “Creating a home with your signature style will never happen if you constantly borrow other’s ideas as your own. “]

Navigating an unfamiliar course is daunting even in decorating. However, the first step to “conquering the giant” is to evaluate the reasons why you fear the opponent. Here are a few reasons why home improvement projects may be tough for you:

  • Fear of spending too much money
  • Fear of not living up to someone else’s standards for your home
  • Fear of designing a space that’s too trendy or 
  • Fear of designing yet another lackluster room.

The list goes on…

I didn’t realize how paralyzing this fear could be until I had a client literally cry from frustration. It wasn’t that they shopped the marketplace only to return empty handed. The fear of making a wrong selection was so paralyzing that they did nothing at all with their space and it brought them to tears. Sound familiar?


Fear no. Here’s the answer your’ve been waiting for. The secret to conquering your biggest decorating fears (and all of the ones listed above) is (insert drumroll)…


Step 1: Make a List of Your Likes and Dislikes

The truth is we’ve been conditioned to look outside of ourselves for inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest, Houzz accounts, and blogs like this one play an important role in the discovery process. But the first step is to TRUST your own ideas then look outside for direction on how to get the look and how to execute the vision.

For goodness sake, please stop saying, “I don’t know what I want.” 

If articulating what you want is difficult, then first consider your dislikes. Make a list of what you don’t like gets you closer to what you do like. 

For example, if you told me:

I don’t like wood stained kitchens, dark countertops, and hate not having a backsplash. I hate modern design. It feels cold to me. Shiny surfaces aren’t my thing but the kitchen needs to look clean. White walls are depressing and my current window treatments are dated. 

I would respond with:

Let’s take a look at a few kitchens with painted cabinets and butcher block countertops. If the wood isn’t appealing to you, we can look at easy-to-clean solid surface materials in lighter colors. We should also take a look at kitchens with a solid backsplash and a few with pattern if you’re feeling adventurous. Let’s also browse a few images to gauge your perspective of warm and inviting. We can do this several ways; by keeping a clean color palette, introducing some natural materials via furnishings for the breakfast nook or maybe consider natural shades for window treatments. Next, we’ll move on to lighting…

Finding your personal style takes time, patience, and digging deeper to learn what you want, or don’t want in this case. 

Step 2: Visualize Yourself in the Space

Take a moment to visualize yourself in your newly designed kitchen. What colors surround you? Are you happier in neutral territory? Do you see yourself entertaining in the space? Is there ample seating?

Step 3: Daydream with a Purpose

Daydreaming is necessary to create a vision, however prolonging this phase gets you no where fast. Months and months of daydreaming and you become full of excuses, or fear, and don’t move. Fear causes paralysis but if you move, even just a little, you will start to gain the momentum you need to take the next step. Start small even if that means collecting samples. There’s little investment involved. Most samples are free or have a nominal cost.


Step 4: Get Over Your Fear of Decorating Once and For All:

When you start your next decorating project, instead of thinking, “Oh, I’m going to totally mess this up,” which already puts you in a self-defeating mindset, start with the understanding that it’s okay and even expected that you might make a few mistakes along the way. It’s okay if it doesn’t turn out perfect. That’s all part of getting to know your personal style and what works for you.

For example, if you’re looking to make changes to your kitchen, on your next weekend trip to the home improvement store, gather samples for your new countertops. When you return home decide which samples look best with the items that will stay—for example, a tiled floor. Then the following weekend, head over to the paint store (with favorite countertop sample in hand) and select paint chips that coordinate with colors in your sample. Go ahead and purchase a few sample pots and paint the colors onto a poster board. Tape the samples on the cabinet doors. The next day compare how they look at different times of the day On your next trip, take a look at cabinet hardware and so forth…

The is a great example of how to get unstuck and get the ball rolling!

Remember, updating your space is a process that requires a bit of patience to ensure the best results. Don’t skip the self discovery process in an effort to get it done fast. If you do, then you will soon be back to your original dissatisfied position.

If you get started and later realize that you in fact do need professional help, then you’ll at least have something tangible to serve as a starting point.

Hiring a the right designer can get you there sooner, however you have to give them something to work with. We can help. Contact us to schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation. Allow us to help you obtain the home you desire and deserve.



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  1. The more prepared and strategic you can be the less overwhelming the task will seem. Great tips.

  2. A room that looks like it’s a page from a catalog is a mistake because people don’t really live that way. It’s designed to sell furniture and give you an idea of what you might have in your house, but you shouldn’t be matching the look that closely.



Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation. My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

Learn more