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Question: I’m looking for new furniture and just when I think I know what my style is, I find ...

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

something else I like that’s a different style. I’m looking online to get ideas but the more I look, the more confused I get. How do I finally make a decision?

Like many who do their due-diligent research, you are suffering from design information overload. You are wading through millions of gigabytes of data on the internet in order to cover all bases and possibilities. Who wouldn’t be confused exploring the ends of the universe. When you don’t really know what you’re looking for, or cannot discern good design from bad, you can end up in a black hole. Or, if you do know what you’re looking for, will you ever find it?

And, if you do find it, will you keep looking just to make sure there isn’t something else that’s even better?

So, what’s the best approach to using the internet to help you define and implement your style? If you’re working solo, limit your search to two hours a day for five days. Ten hours may not seem like a long time but if you don’t give yourself a time limit, you will continue to look and look and look as the internet is populates with millions of more entries. You have more important things to do with your time.

If you’re looking at Houzz or Pinterest, save the photos and at the end of the five days, analyze them. Whatever they have in common is your style. You can use the photos to purchase furnishings but note that, unless you order directly from the manufacturers, they may be knock offs or seconds. Sites like Houzz and Wayfair advertise brand names but there is no proof of authenticity. Make sure to get a written guarantee and return policy.

If you’re working with a designer, show these photos to him/her. I remember a client, many years ago, who was just starting out in a new condominium. She had marked pages from magazines to show me rooms she liked. She was worried that she didn’t have enough photos and the ones that she did have would not help because the styles were so different. But, at a glance, I was able to tell her that she liked pastel, monochromatic spaces. She was unconsciously motivated by color schemes rather than shapes. Once she realized this, we next used the size of her condo to choose the right size and scaled furnishings. All pre-internet, by the way.

When I work with clients, I usually start with a brainstorming phase. This is when they do their searching and gathering of photos. But I put a deadline on this task – for two reasons. I don’t want them to burn out on a project before it starts, and, adding more photos after a project has begun can contradict, confound or derail it. At best, it delays progress and consumes both time and energy.

Keep in mind that designers were successful for many decades without the use of the internet. Good ones only need a few descriptive words from their clients to understand what they want. While the internet can be helpful in conveying your preferences, this designer rather you not get hung up in cyberspace. Enjoy family, friends and the fresh air. Play golf or volunteer your time to a worthy cause. Read a good book – even one on design. The point is, while the internet can be helpful, it can not only steal your valuable time but lead you down the wrong design path.

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