Hitting Pause (And Pinpointing The Source Of My Decorating Frustration)

When I first started decorating my living room, I had a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like when it was finished.  I mean, I didn’t envision every single little detail, but I knew enough to provide a pretty detailed road map to get me from point A to point B with a bit of a detour in between.  (Phase 1 being the detour).

But somehow I got off track.  This detour called Phase 1, which should have led me into a smooth transition to the final phase once we get our foundation leveled, had actually started leading me towards a completely different destination, and I didn’t realize it until yesterday when I threw a fit over lamp shades.

Yes, lamp shades.

Yeah…that was definitely a big clue that something had gone awry.

The three options I posted yesterday were just the tip of the iceberg.  I started reading all of your comments (and yes, I read all 375+ of them, both on the blog and on my Facebook page!!), and I would try something else.  The I would read more, and I’d try something else.  This went on for several hours.  I kid you not.

And before I knew it, I had a room strewn with paper painted in various colors that I had wrapped around the lamp shades to test out, piles of fabric scraps, various colors and widths of bias tape, one lamp shade covered in fabric, another partially covered in paint, and a big confusing mess everywhere I looked…

lamp shade indecision 2

lamp shade indecision

…but still no decision made.

I went from mildly irritated, to increasingly frustrated, to slightly desperate, to completely exasperated.

And all of this…over lamp shades.

When I finally realized the depth of crazy to which I had plunged, I paused.  I took a deep breath.  Then I asked myself, ‘How did this thing that was once so clear in my head now become so difficult and unclear?  What is the variable in this room that has changed the whole course and is leading me towards a completely different destination?

The answer?

The credenza.

The credenza was always meant to be a temporary visitor in this room — a place holder until we get our foundation leveled and I can build a fireplace in here.  It was dark, dull, and actually pretty boring.  It was anything but eye-catching.

living room progress

It did just what a good place-holder should do.  It filled space while not drawing too much attention to itself.

Then, quite ironically, people started mistaking the credenza for a fireplace, and wanting to know details about my “new fireplace.”  After about the 20th question about my new fireplace, I got frustrated, grabbed a knife, and started chipping away at the peeling veneer on the drawers. Well, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had uncovered these amazing pieced wood drawers that created this beautiful and unique striped effect.

Antique mahogany credenza

And then the amazing striped drawers demanded that I paint the rest of the credenza in a showstopping color.  So I did as the stripes demanded, and I painted the credenza green.

Credenza makeover - after

And then, dressed in her new snazzy stripes and eye-catching green, this once-unassuming wallflower of a credenza burst out of her shell like a prima donna on opening night and completely stole the show.  She was now no longer a placeholder in the room.  She was the room, and she demanded that all eyes be on her.

And because prima donnas aren’t shy in letting their status be known, I started basing decorating decisions around the credenza.  This was leading me towards a completely different destination for this room, and it’s a destination that I don’t like.

Truth be told, the green paint was originally intended for the console table (way before I even built the console table, and when I still thought it was going to be a sofa table).  But then the credenza demanded it, so I gave in.  And then, because I didn’t want two pieces in the room to be the same color, I chose another color for my console table.

But, you see, the credenza is temporary in this room.  The console table is permanent.

And you know those lamps that I made to go on the console table?  Well, it just so happens that they look amazing sitting on a green surface.

DIY Herringbone Table Lamp made with "tiles" of watercolor paper

They don’t look quite so amazing sitting on a blue table.

lamp shade indecision 2

So all of that to say that it’s time for me to get back on track, and it’s time for the console to be put back in it’s place, figuratively speaking.  No matter how amazing it looks with its new makeover, and no matter how much it wants to steal the show and start barking orders to the rest of the items in the room, it’s still a temporary place holder.  And long term decorating decisions will no longer be considered based on how they look with the credenza.

And as a result, the console table will soon be dressed in its intended color. Yes, for a while I’ll have two pieces painted in the same color in the same room, but that’s okay.  I’ll live with it.  And hopefully, it’ll only be for a very short while.

The ultimate fate of the credenza has yet to be determined.  It could end up being the star of the hallway, or even my office.  It could end up having its very own wall in our family room (once we remodel the sunroom).  It could wind up in the dining room, or even as a vanity in our master bathroom when we remodel.  The possibilities are numerous.

But its days in the living room are numbered.  That I know for sure.

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Comments

  1. Tammy Middleton says

    Kristi I love your frankness! It brings me joy to watch your journey! I am like you. But in the end we both end up doing what is best for our rooms. Kudos to you girl! Keep your chin up and keep on truckin!
    xo

  2. Dianne says

    Yay! I thought your lamps looked amazing on the green color of the credenza when you first photographed them there. I’m glad they will be used on a color that brings out their best!

  3. Tasha says

    How about moving it to be the console table? Since it’s already the color you want for that space.

    Also, for the record, when I commented on FB last night, I thought the blue was a solid color until I saw these pictures. I’m still going with light blue lamp shade with a border of something else if you are moving the green table maybe the dark blue.

  4. Lisa says

    That is what I love about your posts…You are a real person! Btw, now I kond of like that blue lampshade looking at that first photo again…:)

  5. MarySue says

    Yes! Good for you for getting a handle on this, and being brave enough to change what’s needed — That must be hard to do when the journey is so public. I can’t wait to see those lamps in their rightful home on a green tabletop! :-) I’m loving every step of your room transformation, and I’m glad you’re bringing us along for the ride!

  6. Genelle McDaniel says

    Oh, my. And all of that realization over lamp shades. LOL. You go, girl. We all knew the credenza was just temporary, but had become to think of it as a permanent fixture also. And it’s okey to have two pieces of furniture the same color, especially knowing that the credenza is temporary. So do not let the credenza affect your choice for lamp shades. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn. And the honesty to change your mind.

  7. Janet says

    You, of course ,have to make decisions that suit your home the best,no matter what the public says,but it is funny to know that most of us are alike,and get those feelings about something and change on a dime. Best of luck on the placement of the credenza,and I am enjoying the ride along with you!

  8. Shelagh says

    I often think one of the hardest things is figuring out what has a room or a project keeping me turning circles or stuck at a standstill. I will have a grand scheme but never get the project rolling……then once I figure out what it “wrong” I am off to the races and can’t get things done fast enough. The problem is I often don’t know there is a problem in my roadmap until I change an idea and the whole picture comes clear….then my husband best stay out of the way or get mowed over as I work at a feverish pace. Glad you cleared your roadblock…..that darn credenza is too gorgeous for its own good!!!

  9. Brenda says

    If the thing that kept one from moving forward could always be as visible as a credenza, I think we could have world peace at last! Enjoyed your self discovery monologue. I am a retired counselor.

  10. says

    Sorry that you are feeling such frustration over this, perhaps you should switch out the credenza and the console table. I would try that before I repainted the console table. I think the credenza by the door would also offer you some storage solutions for things you need while coming and going from your home. Whatever you choose – YOU need to be happy, we can only offer suggestions in the hope of helping you out of this frustrated state! Can’t wait to see what you decide

    • elizabeth says

      I agree about having a storage piece near the door. You have the room and it would look awesome there!

      Love reading your blog. You are SO creative!

  11. Angela says

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who starts in one direction and ends up in a total different direction and then am left wondering how that happened!! Honestly, nothing I start ever ends up the way I originally planned! Lol! Love to see your work! Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Judi says

    Over a six week period I hit every TJ Max within a one hour driving distance to see if they had a particular entry rug that I remembered liking but leaving behind at the store near me. I was obsessed. I finally found it, but when push came to shove, I decided to go with another I spotted at the same time. When I realized how much time and gas I’d invested… I’ve learned that when I start to obsess, it’s time to stop, pick up a good book and take a break. Your room is lovely and will be lovelier still. No decision has to be made today. Your things will wait for you to know where they belong. Now, what are you reading, and is that a pot of herbal tea I smell?

  13. joyce tx says

    Oh, my! I’ve been there and done that! You said the LR walls will be a different color? Maybe wait to see what accent you need then! Looking at the whole LR [discounting the sofa pattern- lol] maybe that credenza would look god sitting there with a color other than green??? Something to bring out the undertones in those fabulous striped drawer fronts? A mid-tone of the ottoman blue? Lampshade? Wow- I might wait til the end unless something sings to you before then. You are doing great! Big breath and focus on something else for a bit. It’ll all turn out right. [You’re right- those lamps look wonderful on that green!]

  14. angela says

    who said you can not have two pieces painted in the same color in the same room. you can and to be honest i like to have two pieces painted in the same color in the same room i think it helps tie things together. looking at the pictures i like the all blue fabric. it looks good with the flower fabric and it gives you a little more blue. good luck and sometime we need to take a step back and let things marinate (to sit with, to ponder over time and not do anything)

  15. Bonnie says

    I’m so glad you reviewed the original plan and wrote about it. I have that same problem sometimes, particularly in my kitchen. Your work is so inspiring! Sometimes, I think I should start a blog on my own efforts only because I feel I need to give you so much credit. thank you!!!!

  16. Syble McCleskey says

    I’m so glad your painting the console green, I really was not liking that light blue. I’m also glad you stepped back and took a look at your original vision. You are such a little whirlwind, I’m sure at times you feel you need to get projects done, just to post for us. I know it is hard to wait, but the house leveling and fireplace are really such big projects and so much depends on them. Having said all that, I’m liking the bold stripes for the lampshades, I like the way it looks wadded up “pillow” like in that chair and you may need it to tie the green in from the console once the credenza is gone. You are doing an amazing job and at lighting speed too. I think the walls and sofa will influence everything so much, it is really hard to make some choices right now. It will all work out in the end, because you have fabulous taste and the ability to put it to good use.

    • Syble McCleskey says

      Oh, and buy the way you should just park that “show stealing” credenza at my house. How dare it throw you off track.

  17. Kismet says

    As soon as I read the title of this post I thought, Uh oh, the credenza. I could just feel it. Maybe since paint is just paint you should paint it over in neutral brown or whatever to bring it back to place holder status? And maybe the lampshades should stay ‘as is’ while in place holder status also? Just some random thoughts.
    Also? I love the lamps was quite surprised by these pics at how tall they are on this little table! Or maybe the table is just small? I dunno. They are lovely and beautiful but seem disproportionate to me. But again, what do I know, you are the decorator!
    Good luck and thanks for sharing your journey.

        • Rebecca says

          Yes, the lamps on the table are table lamps. It might just be the angle of the picture that makes the table appear smaller than what it is, perhaps coupled with the fact that because the lamps are turned on, they appear larger since the light is reflected off the wall? Either way, I think the table and lamps look amazing! I’m excited to see what you decide to do with this space, Kristi! Painting the console table green or putting the credenza in the entry way both sound like great options! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  18. says

    Oh wow, I’m sorry you got to that point, I think we all have at one time but I love that you shared with us..!! You will figure it out when you least exspect it.. Maybe try putting the tall standing lamps on either side of the entry table with the stripe fabric (since you love stripes) and the beautiful lamps you made on the smaller tables….just a suggestion then this way you can create a wonderful vinette on top and under the table… Can’t wait to see your choice..!!!

  19. Jeannette Dillon says

    Although I don’t agree with how the lamps are made because of the longevity of the quality. However, they are gorgeous and would be even more amazing in real bronze with a glass tile and a low light in the base for layers of light.
    Now my advice on the lamp shades in question: find a vibrant blue from the window treatments and cover shades with that. The area needs a pop of color and this is a perfect place to add it. Plus your lamps you designed have blue in them. This would be a great opportunity to bring that color to this side of the room.
    You might be able to wash the beige shades with a blue water color.

  20. says

    Good for you! I too, have ended up going off track because an unintended piece dictated all the attention. Sometimes it’s been a happy accident and other times I’ve had to go back and re-do it all. I think your console table is going to look fabulous in that shade of green and just might steal the spotlight from that diva of a credenza.

  21. Alicia says

    lol….I love this article but I do have to say my first thought without reading why you didnt use them on the green chest instead of the blue???? Love the change now on to the change of lamps for the console how about a single lamp and tall floral???????

  22. janpartist says

    Well, we’ve all been there! Enjoy seeing your mess, makes me feel at home. You know what you’re real-real problem is???? YOU NEVER LEAVE THE FREAKING HOUSE! Unless of course if you count those trips to the hardware store for projects for the house! You need a breather every now and then, why don’t you and your Mom do lunch?!

  23. Deb says

    I know exactly what you mean, Kristi. And I’m so glad you outlined your thought process for me. It all makes sense; I can see where you initially planned to go and how you got off track, and it is easy to do. It takes me forever to make a decorating decision, and I have to put time between them, because I’m not as visual as you are. I could easily make these mistakes. You figured it out. Good for you!

  24. Ashley W. says

    I love the credenza and I’m glad you aren’t going to repaint it. And while I’m not a huge fan of the blue on the console table, I have to wonder if the blue is really the problem, or is it the background to where the lamps are. The wall with the credenza is beautifully painted with a nice contrasting chair rail/wainscoting…and then there’s the wall that the console table is on that hasn’t had a thing done to it since you moved in. I think the console table will look beautiful in green, but I think it’s the rich brown wall that makes the biggest difference. To me, it brings out the brown “grout” on the lamps which makes the “tiles” really pop! Just my two cents…can’t wait to see what you do!

  25. Sue says

    I think you will work it out and whatever you end up with will be spectacular. Your credenza will look fabulous almost anywhere in your home. As for the console table, I do like the lamps with the green color but the blue is really pretty also. Call me wishy washy but I’d leave it until you get the hallway painted and the final product in your living room.

      • Alta says

        How about putting the credenza where the console table is, with the watercolor lamps, and placing the console table behind the sofa? Would that be too much in the entryway? That would leave room for your fireplace on the wall between the two windows…

  26. Michelle B says

    Oh, Kristi! Your patience must be infinite. I do agree that the credenza demands far more attention than you’ve designed this room for. The sofa table will be gorgeous in that green. Did you ever think of painting the inside a contrasting color? I just wonder what that would look like. Also, could you raise up your Roman shades about 6-12″? I am thinking it might open things up a little bit…they just feel a little heavy to me. I will have to say, I am totally loving the blue check for the lampshades. It’s the perfect combination of a print that is interesting without being busy.
    Don’t you just love all of our opinions??! :) You are so much braver than me–I’d be scared to hear what people think of my living room!! haha

    • says

      As soon as I get that ugly aluminum window on the left replaced with a wood window that blends with the rest of my windows, AND get the window on the right repaired and in good working condition, I plan to raise the shades quite a bit and let the beautiful sunlight in each day. Until then, I seriously can’t bear the sight of those windows. :-D That’s why I keep them low for now. I’d rather look at the fabric.

  27. Susan Clark says

    Oh girl, I have so been there!! So that all being said and the getting back on track…..what’s the solution on the shades? ;)

  28. lysa says

    Before you do anything – how about switching the credenza and the console? That console would look great in between the chairs (if its not too long) and the credenza would make a gorgeous entry piece.

  29. Denise Thousand says

    Loving your journey. I am sure there are times when you are not. When this room is complete & you look back on this journey you will too. Your creative thoughts are great to follow.

  30. Cathy says

    I have an idea!

    Maybe try leaving the underside of the credenza in the blue color – only paint the top in the green?? Just a thought! You can see hints of blue, with certain angles…it will go very well with the colors on the lamp base and the curtains. LOVE those lamps by the way!! You are amazing!!!!

  31. Sheila F says

    I really appreciate that you share your “Squirrel” moments with us. You admit when you get off track and it makes you so real to me! But I must say that looking at the pictures with the lights on and the room just the way it is tools, fabric pieces and all is so cozy and comfy looking. I feel I could just come in sit down and enjoy your company! I would be happy with the room just as it is now! (Ok maybe paint the entry wall. LOL) You are such an inspiration and I look forward to reading about your journey.

  32. says

    Unfortunately I understand this story alllllll toooooo well. I have a few rooms in my house that I am struggling to make decisions around because temporary solutions are taking me in a very different direction then my original intended vision…. ahh! And one decision is like a snowball that feeds into something else…. I think I need to take your advice, review my actual vision, and then work back from there. So glad I am not the only one who experiences this – even highly talented and skilled decorators like you go through it. Thanks for your honesty and your story Kristi – I think it is going to help get me back on track:)

  33. Martha McGinnis says

    When you repaint the console table, would you consider the leaving the inside of the legs the blue color? I don’t know if it would be too busy or would fit with your vision, but I think it could look pretty cool. And you can always paint it green right away if you don’t like it!

    And I realize you didn’t ask for any input, I just couldn’t help myself :)

  34. Kacy says

    So Smart! I refrained from giving my opinion on the lamp shades because I liked each option individually, but couldn’t reconcile them so close to the roman shade fabric, even though they looked great near the credenza. Each piece on it’s own is truly beautiful, but when you remove the credenza from the equation- eureka! it all works so much better (and I LOVE the credenza!).

  35. says

    Please look on page 9 @ Joann’s of “Print fabric”. Look at the fabric called “Richloom Studio Chiasko Pool”.I think this fabric would go really good with your roman shades for the lamp shade fabric. What do you think? I am in love with your lamps you made. You are so gifted. Seems like everything you make turns to gold. I am making Roman Shades for my granddaughter”s room in a black & white zebra print. I can sew, but I don’t know if we will look as good as yours do. I”ll send pictures when I’m done.

  36. Brenda Pawloski says

    Kristi, you gave me a heart attack, I thought for a moment you were going to do something to the credenza (other than just moving it.) If you had threatened that, you and Matt would have had all us readers outside your house with pitch forks and torches!

  37. says

    Good for you for figuring out what was putting you in a funk. That is hard to do for sure. I think the console is going to rock the green! I hope you use the gold cross-hatch treatment on it too…

  38. Amy says

    I love custom design and look forward to reading each email that comes to my inbox from your blog. I’m slowly working at DIY-ing our house and totally get the joy, love and frustration that comes with being an artist as you perfect something to communicate a certain look and feel. You are so talented and good at what you do and are seriously an inspiration to me. I’m wondering if painting the room the color the grass cloth will be would help some of the other color/contrast decisions that are being made currently? I know it’s extra time and money.

    • says

      I’ve actually been considering that, Amy. That’s part of the reason I haven’t picked up a roller and painted the entryway just yet. You’re right, it would be extra time and money, but would probably be well worth it. I thought the dark brown would be a fun, daring interim color, but it just seems to be throwing things off.

      Looks like I need to pick a new paint color. :)

  39. Janet McKay says

    I love the credenza, but I agree 100% that it needs to star in its own space. Everything else in the room will look amazing with your eventual fireplace. And the lamps look great on the green surface!

    I was feeling a bit “off” about the room as it progressed, and was telling myself that you knew best, I love your taste, etc., but the uncomfortable feeling wouldn’t go away. When I read about your change of plans today, it hit me immediately: “That’s it!” I think you’ve really found the source of the discord.

  40. kelly says

    Great decision! Those lamps look awesome on green. I know what you mean about a hijacked plan. Glad you were able to take back the con!

  41. Peg says

    I know you were frustrated and I am sorry but I laughed harder the more I read . I go through this every time I tackle a decorating project. Here I thought you were so pro that no decision rattled you. Welcome to my world.
    It will look great no matter what you do, you’ve got that magic touch!

  42. Kelly says

    I agree completely… the table should be green! When I saw the picture today (the shot looking towards the door) all I could think about was the colors in your condo….and I know you did not want to go that direction. SO… good for you on figuring out your issue!!

  43. Rene says

    I find it amazing that you can figure out the problem in such a short time. Your living room will look wonderful because you have fantastic talent and ability to see more than just the object in front of you. All of your hard work exemplifies your desire to have a HOME that has your family’s personality. I’ve enjoyed the journey of your new home and look forward to each blog entry. Great job!

  44. says

    Kristi, can I just say thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Although I don’t wish that frustration on you again, I hope you realize that you make all of us feel like it’s okay to make a mistake or go down the wrong path once in a while and then change our minds. I have done that too, changed my entire vision for a room, over one piece and then regretted it when done. You rock girl. What makes you real and a good designer is exactly that – you can stand back and say “whoa…this is not the direction I intended” and then correct it. And you are so right. The lamps look gorgeous on the green! And again, seriously thank you for making us all feel normal..:)

    • says

      And by the way, I forgot to mention looking at the old pic before the credenza was painting-with lighter walls I could def see the blue checkered pattern on the shades and I couldn’t before with it green. So you’re right…it was taking over the room. (: Love your vision!

  45. Sally B says

    Hooray for clarity! I get confused by things far simpler than this sometimes, and I also have found walking away for a short period and trying to look at things with ‘new eyes’ really helps. My projects are usually really small, but the idea is the same.
    They do look amazing on green…this article was really funny, I’m sure you were a bit frustrated over all this, but it was really funny the way you put the credenza in it’s place;) lol…

  46. Gilmer Gal says

    Kristi, I know you will work all the kinks out before your are finished. Don’t stress – it’s bad for your health! It will come together. It always does, and look how far you have come in such a short time. We are all impressed with your work, and probably all of us have had a project not go as smooth as we would have liked. But take your time and ENJOY the fact that this doesn’t have to be done immediately. You have a wonderful bunch of followers that will stick with you, thick or thin. We’re surrounding you with {hugs} !

  47. Colleen F says

    Yes! Those lamps do look awesome sitting on the green, and, yes, that is why the striped lampshades look like “too much” because of being so close to the credenza. Take the credenza away, and the striped lamp shades look so much more “right”. Yep. Love it. The credenza is awesome, and it will be awesome somewhere else, once you get your fireplace.

  48. Joy says

    Oh, Kristie! I feel your pain! I once tried to plan a whole room around a painting that looked sooo much better in another room. The phrase square peg, round hole comes to mind. Once I pinpointed the painting didn’t work, the whole room fell into place and I found art that worked with everything else. I appreciate your honesty. Now that you have pinpointed the problem, I hope your vision is much clearer to you. Good Luck!

  49. Scot says

    By the way, your “pieced” drawers are made from polar. It’s a very common furniture wood because it is durable and stable. It’s most often use as a substrate (like your drawers). Not considered a “pretty” wood because of the inconsistent color and an overall green tone to the wood.

    But, it’s absolutely fantastic and is prettier than the veneer you pealed off! Good for you. I love the way it turned out.

  50. says

    Hi kristie. I really enjoyed this post. Not because of your frustration but because it’s real. I think we all get into these types of situations where we don’t know if we are coming or going. For myself I am stuck, unstuck, then stuck again. I pick colours, fabrics over and over, I deep things to death. I have been in our current house three years and to be honest haven’t done the painting because I can’t make up my mind. Just recently I put all my current choices away, and gave my head a shake and really thought about what made us by the house in the first place. Then I started with a clean slate and am going with my gut. Thanks for keeping it real.

  51. says

    You are so great for letting us in on your frustrations. Thank you – it’s nice to know we are not alone out here with our decisions. One note that you might consider going forward – in the picture with the credenza in its original dark wood tone, it “anchored” the chairs and the room – and it looked fab with your gorgeous floor lamps. I found myself missing that touch of dark between those chairs. Perhaps you might consider that when planning your fireplace?

  52. calla says

    Have you tried color blocking on the console table. Not permanently but may paint 16inch square wood pieces and paint them the green and then try it. I someone mentioned the wall color and I think they are right on that too. You painted the picture without preparing the canvas, easy to do.

  53. Jeanne A. says

    Another thing that’s stealing attention from your good work — the highly-patterned sofa! Maybe slipcovering/reupholstering that as a next project would also eliminate some of the confusion in the room and stop the flowers from demanding attention.

  54. Naomi Williams says

    This post cracked me up. Nice to find out that you’re only a mere mortal, after all.

    If Mr. Look-at-me credenza still winds up being the Richard Sherman of your furniture after you move it, I bet selling it on ebay would give you a nice head start on your foundation work.

  55. Kevin says

    I feel the lamp base is to heavy, that seems to be the problem to me. I love all that you have done with the rest of the room so far. Maybe just one lamp or a pair of candlestick lamps. just my idea. Best wishes, Kevin

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