De-stressing design decisions

Decorating your living space is supposed to be fun. If high prices, high-pressure sales tactics and clueless consultants have you stressing over your design decisions, it may be time to simplify the process so you can rediscover the joy of making choices about your decor.

Here are a handful of common design decision headaches and a few ideas for curing them:

Too many options

Walking into a big box store or a design showroom can leave you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices you face. Before you confront a dizzying array of options, narrow your choices by deciding what style you like. Settling on an overall style that will be carried throughout your design can help you eliminate design options right off the bat.

For example, if a traditional, country style appeals to you, you'll know you don't even have to look at stainless steel countertops or frosted-glass-front cabinets. Look to online resources like (the Better Homes and Gardens home page) or for ideas about design styles you may like.

High-pressure sales tactics

Buying design elements at a specialty store has advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, you're more likely to find a knowledgeable salesperson. On the other, you may face high-pressure sales tactics - something no one responds well to. The strong sell makes it difficult to know if you're getting good advice or a decent deal. Shopping online at specialty sites like is a great solution.

You can find plenty of advice and high-quality options, minus the pressure of dealing face-to-face with a pushy salesperson in your home. If you do need to talk to a person, you'll get someone who specializes in what you're buying, rather than trying to buy blinds from someone who usually works in the cosmetics department.

Clueless customer service

And that cosmetics department transplant is a perfect example of another major design decision stress-causer: clueless customer service. Sometimes you need guidance. And sometimes you need to talk to someone who knows enough about what you're buying to be able to interpret your description of what you're looking for when you don't really know what it's called.

Your chances of finding that level of expertise are much better with a specialty store or online seller, whether you're buying blinds, or flooring.

High prices and questionable quality

While it's generally true in life that you get what you pay for, it's also true that a high price does not ensure high quality, and that a low price doesn't exclude quality. When it comes to making design choices, it can be frustrating to find what you want only to realize the price is way beyond what you budgeted for.

Comparison shopping is the best way to avoid overpaying or purchasing poor quality goods. And the Internet is the easiest way to comparison shop. You can Google what you're shopping for, or try price comparison websites like or Online merchants typically offer a wide variety of designer-quality looks at more palatable prices.

Taking the stress out of design decisions doesn't have to be difficult. Refining your choices and using online resources can renew your enjoyment of the design process - and ensure you end up with a look you'll love for years to come.