down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - stressed lady

Decision Making in Interior Design

down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - inquirer article

Photo: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Our owner and design director, Amy Cuker, reads Carolyn Hax’s advice column just about every day. One day, Amy came across this particular advice article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and it struck a chord. The reader’s quandary was that her husband consistently waffled when making decisions, which often left them at a standstill. As an interior designer, who often counsels clients through decision paralysis, this situation was all too familiar to Amy. As a matter of fact, it is so common, that she has lectured on this very topic to interior design students at her alma mater, Cornell University.

down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - amy with fellow design students

Amy at Cornell graduation weekend with design friends Kari Frontera and Gayle O’Donnell

Decision Fatigue

Do you also struggle with making important decisions? Certainly, the last two years have been laden with them, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Do we spend time with our aging parents, potentially putting them at risk? Do we choose in person or virtual school for our children? Is it prudent to dine at our favorite restaurant, for fear of them closing their doors for good if we don’t? Should we plan an expensive trip that might be cancelled by the next surge of cases? It sometimes seemed easier to just do nothing. Never has doing very little in our social lives felt like so much. And that is where decision fatigue comes into play. We reach a threshold and find ourselves incapable of making even one more choice, whether it is about something substantive or trivial.

down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - paint chips

Image: Clay Banks

While the act of selecting a new dining table or rug is not as crucial as weighing a decision regarding our health, it can still create anxiety. Decision fatigue is real, and it stalls us. Consider a visit to the paint store. A wall of options faces you and all you can do is stare. You would think being spoiled for choice would be a good thing, but it turns out that it can make us miserable. The more options you have, the pressure seems to grow exponentially. See how d2e has made the paint selection process easier in this video.

The internet has made sourcing somewhat easier, but oftentimes purchasing something you can’t actually see or touch feels like a giant leap of faith. We continue to click and scroll, but never make a move. And as we are struggling to be decisive, we are already worrying that our choice will fall short of expectation. What a cycle!

down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - Steve Jobs through the years


All this circling in our heads not only creates pressure but also impedes our productivity. We all know that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs had a uniform of black turtlenecks, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers. By wearing the same outfit each day, he reduced decision fatigue, preserving his ability to be effective in his job. He was not alone, as many other notable figures have employed this same practice before him and since. Albert Einstein, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and fashion designer Michael Kors have all used uniform dressing as a way to optimize their performance in their work.

The Role of an Interior Designer in Effective Decision Making

One way to navigate an avalanche of choices is to work with an interior design professional. The knowledge that they have allows them to sift through the vast pool of options in an expedient manner. Anyone who has embarked on a redesign realizes, there is so much to know. You might wonder what materials are the most practical or durable for your needs? Or, where you can find the best sources for fabrics, wallpapers or cabinetry? A designer can provide much needed guidance in all of these areas, while offering tried and true advice as to whether they will be appropriate for your space, lifestyle and budget.

down2earth Interior Design - decision making in interior design - designer helping a client

Amy assists a client with paint color selection.

At down2earth Interior Design our team aims to simplify the process by offering a finely curated Pinterest board that illustrates the styles, colors,and textures that they feel best suits the space in question. Should the client want to see other options for a particular item, a second, larger board is available to view, but only if necessary. Too many options can lead to the aforementioned waffling. By offering a streamlined board the client isn’t bombarded with options and can move forward more quickly toward realizing their vision. Here Amy explains more:

Did you hire an interior designer because you were stuck? We’d love to hear the ways the process made your redesign run more smoothly. Please share in the comments below!

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