It’s Only Weird if it Doesn’t Work: How to ‘See’ Ideas

You might guess 10-12% of the population is left-handed. Or, roughly 8-9% have blue eyes. But did you know that maybe only 5% have spatial visualization ability-that is, being able to ‘see’ anything beyond what’s in front of them? 

And in design and real estate, my experience is even those who can visualize ideas just don’t trust their instincts. Feeling there’s just too much at stake, they stall or pass. So, often, when ‘seeing’ something doesn’t come quickly or easily, good ideas just dissipate, and worse, people put themselves down for this ‘shortcoming’.

The logical brain knows we know we can’t be fluent in everything, yet it also shies away from unfamiliar learning paths or unconventional ideas. (You know, anything that’s weird.) But y’all need to settle down!  The ability to ‘see’ ideas is not a moral issue, an XX chromosome entitlement, or a competitive sport!

The Refreshed Home aligns people, their space, and their possessions. It’s not advanced string theory. But it is super-real and deeply personal to each client.

Rather than see cool ideas wither, or good information remain untapped, The Refreshed Home advocates first just getting out of your logical (and judgemental) brain.

With a nod to Dan Gookin and the folks at Bud Light for one of the best Super Bowl ads ever, (below), things are only weird if they don’t work.  Humor, unexpected analogies, and under-used vocabulary are easy ways to engage and start a conversation.  Seriously…a few candid minutes of back-and-forth on where you feel stuck and why is an enormous step to a figuring out how to get you un-stuck!

The Refreshed Home knows understanding, and facilitating what it takes for an idea to click can be just as important as the idea itself. Here, some simple ideas that’ve helped clients move joyfully past their speedbumps and get on the path to happy spaces.


Good design is personal. Not being able to visualize ideas fans the fear of entrusting a stranger with your dreams, your space, and your money.  In completion design is dimensional, but concepts and ideas are abstract, non-dimensional. (See, doesn’t just reading this make you feel better??) Bottom line: add dimension of some sort to aid visualization and build confidence.

Color Many things factor into how a color will read in a room. Don’t expect a photo or a screen to represent your finished, dimensional room. But like advice from a really, really good friend who has the eye, you’ll feel confident you’re going in the right direction.

  • First, check your lightbulbs!  Are they the right color? Three colors of bulbs, colors read differently with each.
  • Oversize paint samples or an actual quart of the color(s) are quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to try a color on for size.
  • Online apps from Ben Moore or Sherwin Williams let you color in your own hi-res room photos
  • Use oversize textiles! Draping similarly colored bed or table linens you might already have over existing upholstery (or pinning them to top of a window’s trim for window treatments) lets you easily see what that kind of volume of color looks like. Paper tablecloths from the party store, or a few yards of clearance fabric from the fabric store works too.


  • Can’t beat painter’s tape on the floor to mark a footprint. Tape newspaper together for an even better sense of volume
  • Moving DR chairs, placing BR pillows on them and covering them with sheets helps to visualize the volume of fully upholstered pieces
  • White/light sheets over busy patterns will demonstrate the power of soft, solid neutrals to lighten and open a space
  • Craft paper taped to wall in sizes of art helps you set up a collage wall.


Staging clients are planning to sell, so ideally they’ve put some space between their personal choices and the business decisions about getting their house ready for sale. But it can still be hard.

They can careen between the uber-emotional and bean-counting personas in a nano-second. Simply, my best advice is to stop thinking like a seller, and literally look at other spaces… as buyers. Much easier to reconcile with difficult concepts when seeing them in anothers’ space!

  • Turn off HGTV. It’s entertainment not reality.
  • Look at online listings in your area and price point
  • Go to Open Houses
  • Schedule viewings of comparable properties with your agent

Obvious? Silly or weird? Maybe. But free/low-cost and risk-free ideas? You betcha! Feeling stuck in your process? Talk to us today, we can figure it out!  Remember, t’s only weird if it doesn’t work!!