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I've certainly had my fair share in the past, and now that I'm in the trenches of decorating my forever home, I'm experiencing it more than ever. Just when I think I've found the perfect piece, months later I realize it doesn't quite fit my style or function the way I need it to. Then off to the garage sale closet it goes, along with my hard-earned money and wounded pride!
You think I'd learn.
But the truth is, I'm either under pressure when making a decision like that (i.e. company is coming over and I really need this one thing to make it look more like home), or I'm sucked in because it's a great deal and it's so adorable and oohhh, I love those colors!
But really the item doesn't fit my overall style at all.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working my way through Free Decorating: How to Shop Smart, Save Money, and Love Your Home Decor by Jackie Hernandez of SchoolofDecorating.com, and it has completely changed my perspective on home decorating. For real.
Jackie is an incredibly brilliant interior designer (she also runs School of Decorating), and I kept having these “lightbulb moments” every time I'd read another chapter in her book.
There are 2 main principles that really stayed with me, and I cannot wait to share them with you here. I truly believe these are key to avoid buyer's remorse when shopping for and decorating your home, and will make future purchases that much more intentional!
Principle #1: Know the Difference Between Love & Appreciation
It's SO easy to walk into Homegoods, Pier 1, or Target, and love 90% of what's on the shelves. My mind starts churning with ideas and the newest styles seem like just the thing to refresh my boring space.
But after I get them home, regret settles in, and those decor items don't look quite as awesome as they did in the store. That's because I didn't truly love any of the pieces I picked out. I only appreciated them.
Here's the thing, when you buy something you appreciate, you'll always second-guess yourself about the purchase, or try to make it fit with your other decor, when it obviously never will. You'll also be cheating yourself out of something you will ultimately love down the road, which is a waste of time and money.
A piece you love is one you can't stop thinking about, (yes, even if it's on the expensive side!}, and fits your style exactly. Everything about it makes you love the item even more, not second-guess it.
I had this happen recently as I'm finishing up my home office. I found this light at West Elm, and fell in deep deep love. It was the perfect light for my craft desk, and was the exact color to add a pop to that section of the room. But it was $99. And I didn't feel comfortable at that point spending $99 for a desk light.
But I dreamed about that light for weeks, months even, and I'd always check the website to see if it came down in price at all. When a 20% lighting sale popped up, I finally took action, and even though it's still more than I would normally pay, I couldn't be happier with my choice!
I LOVE that light, and am so happy I splurged. The feeling I had when I bought it was completely different than anything else I've later regretted. Now I'm absolutely convinced that it's never okay to settle. Buy only what you love, even if it means waiting for the right piece to come along.
Principle #2: Save and Spend Intentionally
Like I mentioned above, some of the home items we love may cost more, or can take a while to find. That's why it's incredibly important to save and spend intentionally when purchasing anything for your home. This includes big furniture pieces right down to the smallest vase. All of it matters!
Here are some ideas to help put this principle into practice:
- Start a Home Budget, and set aside a specific amount every paycheck to intentionally go towards new furniture, decor pieces, rugs, etc.
- Create a wish list, and when you shop, stick to the list! Going into a store without a plan is a disaster waiting to happen. Keep a running list of items you're looking for so you don't come home with something you regret a few days later.
- Consider paying full price if you truly LOVE it. Remember, items you love have staying power, and it's worth saving up for something you know you'll love.
- Make sure every item fits your style and color palette. Jackie talks a lot more in the book about how to determine whether a piece will work in your home, but the cliff notes version is this, if it doesn't work with the rest of your decor, you need to leave it on the shelf.
It might take a long time to find a decor piece that fits all your criteria, but after many years of my own mistakes, I can tell you it's totally worth it.
For instance, I have a gorgeous sand-colored love seat that I bought on impulse because we had a lot of company coming and not much room to fit everyone comfortably. The price was right, and would definitely arrive in time, but I didn't truly love it, nor was it the next item on our home wish list. I bought it because I felt pressured to.
Turns out the color wasn't so friendly to little nieces and nephews, and even I feel like I can't put my feet on it for fear of getting it dirty. It's not particularly comfy either, and certainly not the feeling I want to evoke in my living room!
Looking at that love seat every day reminds me that I should have waited, and spent money on something I truly loved and wanted, rather than experience the frustration of buyer's remorse.
It might seem like you have to get decorating right the first time, but you really don't. If you buy something that just doesn't work for your space, even after months of convincing yourself that it might, there is always a way out. Maybe not right away, but garage sales and Craigslist exist for people like us who are still learning our unique style!
In the meantime, get super comfortable with return policies. Yes, it's embarrassing to buy a vase or ottoman on impulse or because it was “such a good deal”, when it really doesn't fit your space or style, but learn from it. Let that inconvenient drive back to the store teach you a lesson in patience, and encourage you to be more careful next time.
Buyer's remorse isn't inevitable (I know I'll still experience it from time to time!), but there's so much you can do to help prevent it. Commit to smart purchases (intentional spending!) from here on out, and be proud of the pieces you do end up bringing into your home. You'll know when it's right!
In Free Decorating: How to Shop Smart, Save Money, and Love Your Home Decor Jackie shares practical tips on how to spend intentionally and make sure every piece you purchase is one you truly love for years to come. By bringing the right things into your home to begin with, you'll be able to refresh your space without spending anything at all, and enjoy your home without always shopping for it!
When was the last time you experienced buyer's remorse?
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.