Decorating anxiety: how to pluck up the courage to start 

Decorating anxiety can stop lots of us picking up a paintbrush, but here’s how to start if you’ve been too nervous to do so.  

For years I’d dreamt of having my own place to decorate; even before we (my husband and I) got the keys to our first home, I’d ordered furniture, created mood boards and bought the bedding. I was so excited to put my stamp on somewhere – I had big-big plans. 

Despite being overly keen, the day after we moved in, my stomach still somersaulted as we ripped up the carpets.

Other than helping (watching) my Dad decorate when I was younger, I’d never done anything like this. I began to doubt if I actually could. 

How can I decorate without getting overwhelmed?

Decorating can be wildly overwhelming, especially when faced with a big space or a whole house.

Even before the work begins, there are so many decisions to be made and so much preparation to be done, but once you start it can be really fun.

Having a clear vision and being excited about the end results can help outweigh any negative thoughts you might be having.

Still not convinced? Keep reading and these tips will get you (paint) rolling in no time. 

Be Prepared to prevent decorating anxiety

Preparation is always key – we know that, right? Well, when it comes to decorating it’s really, really, really key!

Decorating anxiety - how to start decorating when you're too nervous to do so.

You want to make sure you’ve done your research and you’ve got all the right tools for the job, you know what order you’re doing it all in and you know (roughly) how long it’s going to take. There’s nothing like a tight deadline to speed things up a little.

Make sure you have enough space 

Working neatly and tidily will reduce the risk of making mistakes; well, I try to tell myself that anyway.

Decorating around furniture is tricky, especially if you’re a messy painter (like me) so if you can hold off buying any until you’ve decorated then you’ll be winning. If that’s not possible, then moving as much of it out the way and into another room is going to be better in the long run.

Go it alone

I don’t mean you have to decorate alone, if you have someone to help then great, but encouraging people (and animals) who aren’t helping out to disappear for a short while, might not be a bad thing. Dogs have a great way of brushing up against wet walls and dipping their paws in paint. As do partners, come to think of it. 

Decorating anxiety - how to start decorating when you're too nervous to do so.

Take it step-by-step to prevent decorating anxiety

Work systematically and don’t take too much on at once. Most of the time, it’s easier to work room by room, which helps it feel less overwhelming and confines the chaos to one space.

Work out the best order to do things in 

One of our biggest mistakes, during our renovation, was building the kitchen and then deciding we wanted a new floor. Originally, we’d kept the original floorboards, but after a long winter and gale-force winds blowing through the cracks, we decided they weren’t up to scratch.

It worked out fine in the end but yeah, we won’t be doing that again next time.

Ignore unsolicited advice 

Unsolicited advice can tie me up in knots. It always comes at a bad time and unless something is dangerous, I don’t want to hear it. When it comes to decorating, follow your heart or your gut, whichever is the loudest, and go for a style that feels true to you.

Not everyone is going to have the same taste, but that’s okay so tell them (as politely or un-politely as you like) to do one! 

Read more decorating tips here: how to make old stairs look trendy and new

Mistakes can be easily fixed 

A lot of decorating anxiety comes from the fear of making an expensive mistake. I’ve had some scary moments *cue flashbacks to removing wallpaper and the plaster falling right off with it*, but it’s always worked out well in the end. Most mistakes can easily be fixed and you’ll be surprised how much confidence you build once you’ve made a few.

Read more about my decorating mistakes here.

Decorating to calm anxiety 

When it’s going smoothly, decorating can be very relaxing because it’s a very mindful task. There is nothing I love more than locking myself away in a room, putting a great podcast on and getting stuck into some DIY work. I’m sure with these tips, you’ll soon feel the same.

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