13 Easy Ways to End Your Decorating Rut

The largest culprit of being in a decorating rut is not having a vision. When our dreams for our spaces are all over the place, we don't move forward, or we waste all of our resources on little things that don't help us achieve a beautiful space. Use these tips to narrow in on your dream home and end your decorating rut!

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Go Room by Room

hallway decor

Pick one room to work on, and only one. This will keep you motivated and prevent you from being overwhelmed as you dig out of your rut. Think cosmetic, not structural, changes. Start with a space that is doable, but will have an immediate impact on you every day, such as an entryway, foyer, kitchen, or family room.

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Think Deeper

coral living room

To have a home that you actually love, you will need to think a bit deeper about the end result. This is simply a shift in focus. Instead of thinking, "I want my home to have an eclectic, modern look," think more about how you want your home to feel, "I want my home to feel clean and fresh and welcoming." Once you know how you want your home to feel, keep those thoughts fresh in your mind as you move out of your decorating rut.

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Identify Your Vision

Memo board

Dive into your collection of magazine images and photo inspiration (we know you have one!). Keeping step two in mind, narrow these down to two or three images that really reflect the feel and general color scheme you want in your space. Don't overthink this step with "buts" or "can'ts:" simply select inspiration spaces that you fully love, love, love! Refer often to these images as you move forward.

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Choose Two Core Colors

living room

Select two neutral, core colors that can function as flexible background colors. These will be the predominant colors used for wide, sweeping areas that take up a lot of visual space (such as wall color, flooring, bedspread backgrounds, or large upholstered furniture). Think of these colors as your canvas on which you will paint. Having a flexible canvas is key in digging out of a decorating rut.

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Choose Up to Three Accent Colors

Decorating Gallery

Pick one to three bold accent colors that have a strong presence and pop out against any background color -- colors that pack a punch. Use your punch colors on your accessories and fabric accents. Selecting specific colors gives your room both a sense of focus and a guideline you can reference as you shop.

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Have Fun with Shades

living room

Two or three bold accent colors become a range of choices when you play around with all the related shades. For example, if you pick a yellow-green, feel free to use a pale lemongrass, spring green, or deep avocado.

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Clean Your Slate

book shelf

Grab a gigantic giveaway bag and EDIT! Storage solutions are helpful in editing, but if your home is overflowing with stuff, it will be nearly impossible to attain the gorgeous space you are longing for. Instead of seeing your stuff as things you might need "just in case," start seeing excess items as potential obstacles to the beauty you truly desire in your home.

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Fill Your Home with Things You Love

conversation room

Start weeding out the pieces you just like to make way for the items you truly love. This concept applies to all of your belongings, including sofas, art, and decor. This shift does not need to happen overnight, but as you have the opportunity to make choices for your space, always choose love over like. As you add these loves, you will climb out of that decorating rut!

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Shop Your Space


When you need to dig yourself out of a rut, sometimes the most satisfying change comes from moving an item from one space in your house into a brand-new space. Trying things in a fresh spot has no risk, since you can simply move your item back if it does not feel like an improvement. You will be surprised at how moving just one piece of furniture or accessory may lead to a brand-new spark of inspiration. It is likely to snowball into a fresh decorating streak that will get you right out of your rut.

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Paint It

Kitchen Cabinet Colors
The dark charcoal lower cabinets are a nice contrast to the bright white of the upper cabinets, trim work and countertops. Melissa chose Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore for the lower cabinets and Dove White by Benjamin Moore for the uppers.

As an interior designer, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, "I would love to have a white kitchen, but I don't want to paint my wood cabinets." Or, "I would love to have {blank}, but I don't want to paint {blank}." This kind of thinking is keeping you from having your dream home! Fear is the enemy of beauty. No more excuses.

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Use Pillows and Throws

Pillows and throws are like jewelry for your furniture. When your 'outfit' is looking sad and you feel stuck, toss on some fun, new pillows. Drape an old and drooping piece of furniture with a colorful, welcoming throw. These simple, little changes will be just the thing to get you seeing your space in a new light.

Style your couch like a pro with these throw pillow arranging tips.

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Work with What You Already Have

detail of console table

Think about the belongings in your home that you truly love. Could they be repurposed in another room? Can something be repainted? Do you have dishes that you adore that could be enjoyed daily if hung on your wall, instead of hidden away in a cabinet? How about a collection of favorite things that could make an impact en masse if displayed or hung? The end to your rut may be hiding in your closet.

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Make a Decision


I talk a lot about decorating paralysis with my readers and clients. One of the biggest culprits of paralysis and the decorating rut is indecisiveness. There comes a time when you simply must make a decision. Work within your limits, narrow down your choices, and jump in. It is better to make a few mistakes than to never have the home you have always hoped for.

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