Avoiding Ghosts Of Living Rooms Past

…or Dining Rooms…or Family Rooms.

In a  decision process-most* thought processes consider previous data gathered:  What were the actions taken, what were the results, and what did we learn?

*While these probing questions and their revelence might be brushed aside when one is considering, oh-say  another slice of pizza…another ‘new and fun’ hairstyle…or re-connecting with an ‘ex’… it arises mightly when it’s time to re-think a previous decorating decision that went badly.

Yes, indeed-Ghosts of Living Rooms Past come flooding back with a vengence! 

DISCLAIMER: Trendy does have a useful lifespan, so if ‘trendy’ was at the top of your list, by definition it will look cool and wonderful for a while, then it will look old, and you need to know that going in.

But what about paint colors on the wall that looked nothing like the 0.25″ square in the paint store, that ivory damask sofa you vowed to keep up, the dining room table or sectional that engulfed the room, the canopy poster bed with while lace your little-league loving daughter hates…the ‘whatever’ because it was the ‘newest and latest’, or that ‘everyone was doing it’.

I had a client once who even channeled her mothers, her mother-in-laws’ and her neighbors’ past decorating misdeeds!

Decorating is about fufilling dreams…but it involves dollars as well. Dreams not met will often involve introspection of some degree,  but when dollars are lost in the process it stings doubly.

When ready to make new decisions after a bad experience, hesitation and self-doubt is natural, but not productive. Here are  my suggestions for what is valuable in this process, what to toss, and why:


  • An open mind.
  • The opinion of A trusted friend. Ask 10 people, you will get probably that many different opinions, not so helpful. A friend who is trusted will answer your fears and thoughts with stuff that is relevent to you and your life, and not look at this as a ‘test run’ for their own space.
  • What you need/want TODAY in the forefront of the process. Chances are your life-needs-tastes are all different now. Give yourself that. The past is the past, move on.
  • Perspective. Surely SOMETHING good came from your alleged horrible, horrible lapse! Maybe a great story, a new ‘inside joke’….or just maybe with that monster Dining Room table you got to host the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner ever.


  • The negative emotions you’ve put on this bad decision. Look-no one died, and trying to re-write history just because you can will get you outdated solutions to problems you no longer have.
  • The notion this room is a personal challenge. Decorating is about making good plans and wise decisions so you can get on with your life, and fully enjoy your space. Focusing on the past keeps you from making decisions, and living your life.
  • The sense that second-, third-, even fourth-guessing yourself will guarantee the result you want. Trust me, it will not. It WILL make you unhappy, nervous and unsure of yourself…not how to make good decisions.
  • The idea that you must find all the answers at once. For most rooms, it’s the shortcut to not getting anything done, or making bad decisions. If you are doing a kitchen or bathroom over, yes, you will need to decide on many of the elements prior to the start of the work. But maybe not all, like the backspash, a wall color or a ceiling fixture. In a bedroom, what you put on the bed makes a big statement, but is not critical to the room’s function.


And if “worst comes to worst”  <imagine mischievous smile> you could always start a conversation with a kind and confident decorator.