How do you ever choose?

legomom23May 31, 2012

This is just a vent, but maybe someone else feels like this and can help?!?

I just can't seem to make any decisions when it comes to decorating! I get so excited, say I am going to get things done, but then I can't commit to anything. I'm afraid it will go wrong, I just don't love it, I'm afraid it won't look good once it gets here and I will have wasted the money, so I just never move forward!

I have three very simple projects I wanted to get done - a new foyer light, a new outdoor light by my front door, and a new living room light. I have scoured the internet, thought I found something and then it was too small. Now I have looked and looked and they all start to look the same -- except for the really expensive ones, they still look great:) Plus it's all so expensive - I guess I don't shop for this stuff a lot so it just seems like so much money. How much should a foyer light cost? My house is really pretty nice, I can't go too cheap, yet I really want to.

What can I do? Does anyone else feel like this???

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I always struggle between buying what I really want and a compromise version. I've learned that, for me, I'm happier if I buy exactly the item that I love rather than settling for a substitute. That might mean a longer search, a long lead time to receive a special order, and/or waiting to buy until I have the necessary discretionary funds.

In general, if I'm unsure about an item, I won't buy it unless it can be easily returned. I do primitive mock-ups on my computer or physical mock-ups with paper and cardboard to check for scale and color and fit in my rooms.

Don't get discouraged. Limit your downside risk by ensuring that an item can be returned if it doesn't work for you. The more decorating you do, the more confidence you will gain and the better you will understand your personal style preferences.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:23PM
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I think you hit the nail on the head - compromise version. I know I'll never be happy with it yet I keep trying.

Must keep looking - there must be something out there I love!

For what it's worth - this is still about the lantern shopping help I posted earlier. This is the light I have come closest to loving, yet I need something 20-24 inches wide by 30-36 inches tall.

Off to shop more!

Here is a link that might be useful: foyer light

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:07PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Lighting is hard to judge because of the scale. It's hard to know what size is going to work. So I took a grocery bag and stuffed it full of crunched up newspapers and hung it where the fixture was going to go to get a sense of scale. That gave me much more confidence in knowing I was at least going to get that part right....

I've done lots and lots of mock ups with stickies and blue tape and even mock up valances for the windows and such before I take further steps. I do what's necessary to make sure that what I'm picturing in my brain will match the reality when it's done.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Part of the problem is that you can look at so much inventory online that it is hard to pick out the perfect one. Every day there are less stores to visit in person and the ones still in business are carrying much less inventory for a customer to see/touch/feel. I will drive quite a distance to see an item in person.

I need to choose 4 light fixtures and right now I'm not motivated to spend time looking. Maybe once the kids start camp and I have longer days, I'll take a ride to several lighting stores in my area ... need to find out where they are first!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:52PM
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I found the older sibling of the light you posted 22" x 44" ...

Here is a link that might be useful: Troy Maidstone Pendant

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Wow- thanks Chispa! I have been all over the internet and didn't see that. Thank you so much!
It's a little taller than I was thinking. I'll have to try the plastic bag trick Annie mentioned. I think it will work though.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:49PM
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You're welcome. I was "wasting" time looking for the 4 fixtures I need and recognized yours when I saw it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:23PM
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I feel your pain, it took me a long time to find a comfort zone. I couldn't agree more with F2BH about compromising or not. Seems like the odds of being completely happy with something I compromised on are against me; I will more often than not return the item or suffer until I can replace it again.

Something else I've also learned is that sometimes the journey of finding what you want can and does take longer than we think it will and patience is key. I've been looking for a new table to put by a chair in our living room now for months but haven't found the one that says, "its' me, it's me, I'm the one!". I saw some today that were close, each had a few of the features I want and could have worked but there was just something that kept me from committing to any of them. So don't buy something just to get it done, good things are always worth waiting for.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Part of making decisions is accepting that they will not all be perfect, and that most of them do not need to be perfect.

Here's a decision-making process that may work for you ... do more planning up front to limit the scope of the possible choices.

1 - Create your "specifications", including functions needed, size, style, desired materials, watts, and budget ... whatever factors are critical for that thing-a-ma-bob.


Do not lift a finger to order anything until you can describe what you want enough that you could tell someone what you want over the phone and they could visualize it reasonably accurately.

Give your specifications a sanity check ... you aren't going to get "hand-cast bronze Craftsman style chandeliers for less than thousands ... but if you spec them as "bronze colored, Craftsman influence" you can get a reasonable piece at a wide range of prices.

2 - Make mock-ups and take measurements. In the case of the too-small lighting, hanging a series of cardboard cutouts in the foyer to see what size range was best would have saved you time and effort. The plastic bag filled with wadded paper is brilliant!

3 - Look in stores and on-line, using your specifications, and see what's out there that fits the specs.

4 - If you absolutely can't find anything, revisit your specs ... are you looking for something that can't be manufactured? Way out of your budget?

5 - If you find something that fits the constraints and makes you feel good about it, buy it and STOP LOOKING.

Buyer's remorse is partly driven by the buyer's continuing to look for the perfect unicorn.


I usually do what is called "satisficing"

Here's an example: We just bought an 1890s adobe in an old mining/ranching town, basically the simple "craftsman" sort of thing the locals built. It has a lot of light fixtures from various eras, obviously not the era of the house.

Overall plan for the house is to do a modest restoration on it ... get it back to the 1890s but with plumbing and electricity instead of the outhouse and kerosene lamps. I'm looking for a vintage NM feel but I'm not a purist.

We've done a lot of discussing about the general approach to the rehab, to the point that either of us could buy something for the house and it would fit.

My lighting specs were:
Style: Vintage industrial, Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman

Materials: iron, blackened iron, bronze, or copper

Dimensions: 4 for baths and hall and center of kitchen with not more than a 10-inch height (This was a non-negotiable limiting factor due to low ceilings and a 6'4" roommate)

one pendant for over the sink between 12-24 inches drop - height not critical here.

Budget: As low as possible, with an average of $150 each being the maximum I can afford at this stage in the project.

If I had been unable to find anything I liked with those parameters, I would have waited for the budget to improve. I'll live with ugly.

Several otherwise acceptable candidates were dropped because of their height, a couple were lovely but came in silvery metals or polished brass (I'm OK with brass, roomie hates it), and some were out of the budget.

I ended up with these, looking like someone stole them out of the mine's lift control shack, and $250 under the budgeted amount.

The ceiling fixtures:

And the pendant:

It may seem that satisficing would produce a net result of "merely adequate", but getting things done has a quality all its own.

And it may seem that I'm an anal-retentive planning sort of person, but because I have done all the planning and measuring, I can make a snap decision when something that fills a slot shows up.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Wow! I wish I had that clarity. I guess part of the real problem is not knowing the style I want, a goal to work towards. That is a very good point. I feel I'm in a suburban 1990 builder grade house that had no real style to lead me! And when I do start looking/ shopping I get pulled into the trends of the times. Which is ok if you love them. I have the white cabinet, dark floors, black counters kitchen which was popular when I did it, but i still love it 8 years later, so that's a good thing. I'm not stylish enough to follow the trends!
Anyway, in my search I also found this very simple lantern style. So hard for me to decide. Is one trendier? More timeless? Do I like one more than the other just because what I'm seeing now?
Thanks for thinking all this through with me. I'm really learning a lot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Classic? Lantern

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:32PM
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You can start trimming the choices by deciding which would look best:

1 - Square Vs Round
2 - Cage vs Closed
3 - Exposed lights vs translucent shade
4 - Finish

Looking at the pendant lights in that link, I see two that are very similar, but at wildly different price points. One is 3 times the price of the other, but hung in a foyer they give a similar effect.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Legomom, I feel the same way! I have learned the hard way. I am now taking my time and making sure that the items I buy I am able to return them if I don't like them once I see them in my home. I feel very lucky I have found this forum. Everybody has wonderful ideas and very helpful.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:37PM
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Can't offer advice just wanted you to know I know what you're saying. I'm YOU all over again : ( I've been trying for 4 years to finish a little "updating" and that only means I may have chosen 4 things by's excrutiating ... I feel your frustration. I basically have decided: take a breath, know it'll come sooner or later, it's not like I have a deadly disease & will die if I don't decide instantaneously, so whatever!

I was told one time to choose one thing or one room at a time...but I seem to have flies in my head about every room and every thing I need and....that's why I feel insane sometimes! ahhhhhhhhhhh

I soooo ENVY the folks who just have the instinct and confidence : /

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:43PM
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Legomom - feel the same way, in the same boat. I have been looking for an outside hanging light for my new porch....have been looking for over a year. I think I like something, then go back a few days later and decide I don't like it anymore. Well two days ago I finally just said the "heck with it, it's just an outside light" and ordered one I was ok with.....but here's the kicker - just got an email today saying the light was on backorder till Oct 2012!!!! Now I have to cancel that order and find a new one!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:16PM
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