CALL IT DECOR-PHOBIA: THE PARALYSIS THAT TAKES HOLD IN THE FACE OF A DECORATING PROJECT.
Which of the 159 paint chips should you choose? And will you ever find that perfect side table?
“Clients go through this all the time,” says Lynn Juhl, a Burlington, Ont.–based decorator. “And here’s what I tell them: ‘To avoid fear, seek pleasure.’ ” If curling up with a morning coffee sounds like heaven to you, place a comfy chair by a window. If board games with the grandkids are what you love, find a rough-and-tumble dining table. “Forget the detailed floor plan. Just focus on comfort and ease.”
That’s what Juhl and her husband, Mike, did when they downsized to a 1,400-square-foot 1950s build five years ago. The move cut their living space in half, so they had loads of stuff. Rather than getting rid of it, though, Juhl took it with her. “Then, I went shopping—through my own things!” she laughs. For instance, wanting a place to stash essentials in the dining room, she “shopped” her collection and found a roomy sideboard. A fresh coat of paint and—voilà!— storage is served.
For small spaces, Juhl recommends easy-care furnishings. “With no family room, a living room sofa has to be a workhorse,” she says. “Cat hair, spilled
wine, pen marks—it all happens there.” And the coffee table is durable enough to accommodate the couple’s regular pizza nights. “We don’t even use coasters.”
Bartering is a way to keep decorating costs low. “For example, I had a client who wanted a new backsplash, and she had dining room chairs I really liked. So my husband tiled her kitchen, and she gave me the chairs.”
Another tip? “Don’t take wall art too seriously,” says Juhl. “Calendar pages or greeting cards look great in frames—plus, they’re way more personal. I’m all for that. Who wants to live in a furniture showroom?”
“” Nervous about decorating? Focus on starting, not finishing.