Decorating Fatigue – What You Always Need To Remember

The other day, I received an email from a lovely reader, Janis. (name changed) While she has written me numerous times over the years, I’ve never published any part of her beautiful home.

Usually, it’s timing or the topic. Something in your home strikes a chord that I feel will benefit many readers. So, if you’ve sent me something before and I didn’t do a post, please feel free to remind me or send something else. No promises, but I do love to post your homes if it works out.


The main topic of this post is decorating fatigue.


It appears that I have a chronic case of it. hahaha. Gotta laugh.

But, it’s a very real phenomenon. It often happens when we have a large project and are simply tired of making decisions. No, more like– DONE. No can do. Not happening.

I know that many of you have been there and it’s very stressful. And especially so, when you have a contractor breathing down your neck for an answer.


And then, there is the furniture. While you have a vision for the home, sometimes it doesn’t work out quite as expected.


beautiful property New Jersey


Janis lives in a gorgeous rural part of New Jersey in an antique home originally built in 1806.


Man, New Jersey can get such a bad rap sometimes, but this is reminding me of England!!!


Antique 1806 farmhouse in New Jersey


Originally, it was built to be a tavern!

But, it has had several additions over the years. Janis says when they moved in, every wall was stenciled!

I can’t even imagine. Well, I can, but I’d rather not. haha

As you will soon see, she and her husband have been lovingly renovating this beauty, the past few years.

So, instead of a Dear Laurel letter, I’ll summarize what I know with some quotes from Janis.


First of all, Janis’ home is really lovely. That’s why I’m posting it.

I think that they’ve done a terrific job, but I can see the decorating fatigue coming out as the room, while there’s nothing majorly wrong with it, it’s just not quite there yet.

But, I should talk!!!

It’s reminding me of this pretty home we looked at few months ago.

Here’s some of what Janis had to say:

Laurel, I’m hoping that you can turn this into a blog post. It’s been a rough year and I’m exhausted from this house! Massive decorating fatigue!


I don’t have one finished room, but I may be finished trying.


Life is pretty hectic as I teach ESL full-time. While it is immensely gratifying, I work very hard to help my students make the transition to their new country and find academic success.


beautiful living room - decorating fatigue

In addition, Laurel, I’ve lost a lot of my family in the past ten years. It’s been very hard… So many strong smart women and they are sorely missed. Most of my ‘pretty’ things were my nana’s. She loved blue and white as do I.


darling puppy living room - decorating fatigue

And, here’s my little pup who we almost lost as she was deathly ill with kidney stones but seems to have more than nine lives. (thank goodness)

Too adorable for words!!!

I am putting this rug upstairs in my bedroom. The blue in the rug doesn’t connect well with the more indigo blues in the room and will look beautiful upstairs.

I love the Serena and Lily Channing rug but not sure how to connect that gray rug to my beige couches.


In addition, I realize that the lighting in the room is awful, but it is a sore subject. However, a sweet electrician was at my house doing work outside and when he comes back, I have plans to send my husband on an errand and get the lighting figured out.


You might need to send him to California! haha!



Living room - French doors


I love the rug but it is so green compared to the other blues in the room. I can’t deal with it.


After school most days I go to the gym and lift heavy weights four hours a week because I have some osteoporosis at 53.


Fireplace wall - decorating fatigue

Oh, there’s more! I have a beautiful mother who is now dating and helping her write her Match profile was an experience I never expected.

Ugh. I hear ya, Honey!!!

She hadn’t dated for 50 years. I miss my father desperately. And my grandmothers.


Honey, it’s a sad part of us getting older. Very difficult. But, at least your mom is putting herself out there. That’s very admirable. I’m sure that she also very much appreciates your help.


living room - dining area - decorating fatigue


Laurel, how do women make beautiful houses? Did I mention I am taking courses, too,
and writing papers? Today, I worked in my garden. I love my flowers.




Wow! Thank you for sharing Janis! Your home IS beautful!!! You know… It is incredibly common to come down with decorating fatigue. And God only knows, you’ve had enough on your plate as it is.

I think that you’re doing a wonderful job!

Later, I discovered that the wall color is Benjamin Moore Feather Down 953.(below)


Benjamin Moore Feather Down 953

This is very close to the popular Ballet White which is also one of the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Color Collection


Benjamin Moore ballet white oc-9


I don’t know what the trim color is, however.


So, first, a few observations.


I am not having any problem with the rug whatsoever. In fact, I spent at least three hours “rug shopping” and didn’t come up with a whole lot that I like better for this space.

And, some of you may recall recently when we discussed actually INTENTIONALLY having colors “clash” a little. It adds a certain complexity and interest which is far better than choosing one tone and repeating the exact shade – EVERYWHERE in the room.

This is reminding me of a beloved quote of my son, Cale and I which was said by one of his favorite music teachers in high school, Charlie Lagond.


Charlie said:

“If you play a wrong note, play it again and then it won’t be wrong.”


This is so true and applicable to decorating as well.


And, BTW, if you live in Westchester County or nearby and have a child or grandchild between the ages of about 10-17 and they play rock or jazz on any instrument, please check out the Lagond School under the link above.


The trick, I think is to have many variations of the blue in accents throughout the room.


Of course, Janis is free to change the rug, but, I do like it in the space. It could possibly be a tad larger, but it is not bad. Just saying. If it were a little smaller, it could be layered over seagrass. But, I feel that this rug is a little large for that.


dining area - decorating fatigue


However, I would love to see a seagrass rug in the dining area. I think that it would warm up that space very nicely.  Fabulous light fixture!

Let’s bring the shot of the living room back down here.


beautiful living room - decorating fatigue

Okay. Yes. The lighting.


I’m so glad that Janis realizes the issue. I have a headache just editing the photos. The recessed lights are fine for ambient light, but they should only be on very dimly.

The main lighting should come from table and floor lamps. I love sconces too, but that probably won’t work here.


What I would like to see are two end tables with lamps flanking the sofa adjacent to the windows.


For the opposite sofa, they could do an apothecary floor lamp on the far side by the fireplace.


Then switch the chest to the other window.


It is fine to have the occasional chair, but we either need to add something else to the other side, or move the one chair and add two more occasional chairs. There are some great chair options below in the widget.



They will need to move the sofas about a foot or so to the right. But it looks like they are off center on the rug, anyway. Actually, I would move the entire thing closer to the entrance.

The rest, are the details, but they are what are going be the cure for the decorating fatigue blues.


Please bear in mind, that you can take almost any room you see in a magazine and if you remove the deets, you’ll have what we have here.


The first thing I would add are some curtains. I would do a single panel on each side of the fireplace windows with wrought iron rods and rings.

For the French doors, I would probably only add a double width panel to each end. And then, with a pole going the entire length. If I were in the space, I could better ascertain if this is better, or if it would be better to add a single panel flanking the one middle door. And then, single panels on the ends.

In any case, these are decorative and not meant to close or provide privacy.

While I like the woven wood blinds, I feel that there’s a lot of brown and they need to be softened. This additional layer will also add warmth to the room, as well.


Exclusive-Fabrics-Kerala-Blue-Printed-Cotton-Twill-Single-Curtain-Panel - Overstock
I found these panels on Overstock and what I love is that the pattern is blue and brown!



ready-made curtains - Overstock
A close-up


trimmed draperies


Another alternative would be to do something like this, but these would need to be custom, and therefore a lot more money. I would do a simple black wrought iron rod like this.

Then, I would like to bring in some more pattern and color for the sofa pillows. We don’t need the plain same fabric. There’s a widget coming up with some possibilities for furnishings.

One idea adds some coral accents. There’s also a rug option with the rusty-red in it.  But, a little warm red can be added with the rug as is.

In addition, I’ve included some art pieces. Since the current art is all abstract, I chose pieces with an impressionistic feel, but not totally abstract.


Living room - entrance - decorating fatigue


The rug I’m not loving in this context, is the small Greek key corner rug. Although, of course, I do love Greek Key patterns. Yes, it clashes with the main rug. But, it looks more like a bath mat here. I just feel that this one thing is bringing down the room a little.


If we can move the main rug down about a foot, the gap won’t be so large.


Below is the aforementioned widget with some furnishing possibilities. If you’d like more information, please click on the individual images.




beautiful property - screen door - decorating fatigue

Another shot of this exquisite property through the screen door. Love it!


Thank you to Janis for sharing your wonderful home! I hope that this will put an end to the inevitable decorating fatigue that plagues most of us! But, I think with a few tweaks, it’ll really come together. What she’s done so far, is fabulous.





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56 Responses

  1. So just curious with regard to the stencil comment. I can understand not wanting them all over the house, but what is your feeling about stenciling the bathroom or dining room – there are so many to choose from, modern, traditional, kids, etc. Thank you Laurel. Where would we fatigued wanna be decorators be without you!

  2. Laurel you are THE BEST. Really you’re wonderful. The rug sizing info inthat post is exactly what I needed. Hugs 🤗

  3. Thank you, Amy! Where you were 5 years ago is exactly where I am now. I’ve got a lot of bare floors. I think the seagrass will look nice, too.

  4. Beautiful home! It’s already so warm and inviting. I especially love how the color of the sofas relates to the stone in the fireplace. Janis, I can relate to “decorating fatigue” but think you’re much closer to a rich, layered look than you realize. Good luck & have fun adding these beautiful finishing touches that Laurel and other readers have suggested.

  5. I love the room and really think they have done some great things. I noticed that they are blessed with lots of french doors, and the one to the right seems to be the one they use for a door-door. I wonder if the reason things are positioned the way they are (sofa, rug, no end table there) is to make room for those using the door.

  6. I love her use of more modern art in this traditional space! She just needs to add some layers to make the room feel more finished. Your suggestions will go a long way.

  7. Donna, I have seagrass rugs all over my main living areas. We moved in 5 years ago and I needed lots of rugs at one time as we have all wood floors. Seagrass was affordable and neutral enough as I was starting to decorate over time. They have held up very well, and I have two young boys. I can see a bit of a flattened area under my husband’s chair legs, but it isn’t that noticeable. I got mine on sale at Home Depot and they even had 12×15 which I needed and is hard to find something at that size that isn’t thousands (I don’t like cheap poly rugs).

  8. All great advice for a room that is almost there. The rug looks great! But is it just me, or do you think the rug needs to be turned in the other direction? I think the size would look right if it was turned so the long side was facing the fireplace.

  9. Hi Laurel,
    Janis’s home is really lovely. But the lack of lamps and window treatments were the first things I noticed also.
    (How can you read at night without lamps?)
    If she orders the things you recommend, her home with be magazine ready.
    Thanks for sharing Janis’s home.

  10. I loved reading the comments about the room with the woman with fatigue. I get that!
    As I look at the room, I would like to see some of the furniture painted, if it is not too valuable a type wood to paint. It would lighten the room and take some more brown out. Not sure what color to paint a piece of furniture. What do you think, Laurel?
    Love that the house is so open for an older home. Vicki Bowman

  11. I looked at the S&L rug and it is too similar to all of the blue and white pottery with similar scrolly-stuff and positive negative space. I think the one she has now is better. I Like a simpler panel for the space VS more small pattern added to the room…so would go for the solid with the edging…just my two cents worth. ALSO love that she used more modern at in a very traditional space!

  12. Thanks for another great post, Laurel! Every widget you create is a work of art. Love looking at them! This is a dumb question, but would the throw pillows on the two couches be exactly the same? I have two facing couches like that, and have been completely stuck on how the pillows should be…

    1. Hi Kathy,

      That is a very good question. Usually, I do them the same. But if one is doing a more free-style approach, one or two pillows could be different, but they would be more like accent pillows, most likely.

  13. Love all those ideas Laurel. I think you got it spot on that Janis has some good basics but what is lacking are the accents. More colourful and patterned throw cushions will make a huge difference and I completely agree with the addition of curtains. There is too much brown with all those blinds. The curtains will soften the look a lot. End tables and standing lamps. All wonderful. Good luck Janice

  14. Janis’s home is lovely. I love rural NJ; I’m from a town along the Delaware River on the PA side. It’s a beautiful area! And decorating fatigue is real! LOL!

    Dining room rug question: I’m considering putting a seagrass rug in my dining room, too. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a seagrass rug up close, but I love the look in pictures. But, I’ve often wondered about wearability in a dining room with chairs moving around on it. Is this ever an problem?

    Lighting: Funny story. My dining room is almost complete so I entertained guests a month ago. As the night wore on, and sunlight ceased to stream through the windows, I sat there looking around the room and actually thought, Laurel is right; “if you light the corners of the room, the rest is easy” and beautiful! I’m seriously obsessed, right? For God’s sake, I thought of you at my dinner party! LOL! I don’t do anything in this house without consulting your blog! I’ve also added mirrors in front of lamps, and a crystal chandelier that sparkles, and finally, I use warm incandescent bulbs and the room looks beautiful at night! Thank you!

  15. Loved this post, Laurel. It’s really helpful to see a room at this stage and read your suggestions for flushing it out to accomplish that pleasing and inviting look we strive to achieve. I like comparing your suggestions to my ideas and learning how a little tweaking can improve the overall appearance of a room. I would really enjoy seeing more posts like this one.

  16. What a beautiful home and natural setting in The Garden State! All that green and mist looks especially inviting to us cowgirls out here in the dry, dry, dry West! Just wondered whether you might have time to update the coffee table widget? Several of the links are now no longer available. Thanks so much for the continued education and inspiration!

    1. That’s a good question. I’m not sure if the size is right or not. I guess I think that the main area needs the stronger rug, but I don’t think that I’d do two strong rugs in that space. But, that’s certainly not a bad idea.

  17. I notice there is a lot of discussion about the current rug, although Janis has clearly stated it has too much green in it and she “can’t handle it.” I can’t see the green but that may be the lighting in the photo. No response to Janis’ question about the Serena and Lily rug. I took a look at it and agree that it’s lovely. A swatch is available for $10.00. The stones of the fireplace are grey. I think she should at least buy a swatch and investigate if she likes the color with her couches. I agree that she needs more pop/color in her sofa pillows, on the mantle, and perhaps in the curtains.

    1. Hi Emily,

      You’re right. I didn’t address it. I think that it might be a little too gray for the sofas? But, then, all that would be needed is some more gray as you’re right. The fireplace does already have some gray in it.

  18. Love her home, and your suggested changes. My first thought was to change the direction of the rug. My living room is similar in size and layout, turning our rug made it seem bigger! The bath mat rug needs to go, but the little area to the left of it could be so charming with a chair ( perhaps the blue one near the window) and some of the art you sourced!

  19. Such a wonderful post and, boy, can I relate! We tore our house down to the studs four years ago. My living room is still the saw room. I’ve become so accustomed to turning a blind eye to construction that when something is barely functional, it looks “finished” to me. But I keep reading your wonderful and encouraging advice and putting one foot in front of the next…
    This home is lovely and I thank your generous reader for sharing it. She has great taste and I’m sure with just a few “Laurel tweeks” her rooms will sing. My first reaction was to the blinds. They are not only dark but also seem to be of a different era or style than the house. Hopefully your suggested drapes will tone them down. Yes, please move the Greek key rug. Also that gorgeous chest beside said rug could do with some styling. Maybe lamps and/or framed pictures of those beautiful woman? Sorry for your losses and happy decorating. You’re on the right track!

  20. This is a beautiful house! I could see doing something with that really cool workbench/chest of drawers by the Greek key rug. Maybe a picture above, a lamp, even a bar set up?

  21. What a lovely home, and what a great job so far! I love the comment about sending the hubs out when the electrician comes. I’ve done the same!! One comment about the Greek key rug…from a safety standpoint, it is a great idea to have a rug at the bottom of those steps so visitors realize to step down. My late mother, who also had osteoporosis, went to see a neighbor’s new house; they didn’t warn her of the step and she fell, badly breaking her arm. A sea of wood doesn’t give any depth perception.

  22. A smaller less contrasting rug over a seagrass that fully accommodate the sofas would anchor the seating area. Has Janis tried turning the rug in the other direction? The sofas teetering on the rug edges is off kilter to my eye. I love all your other suggestions for drapes, pillows and lamps.

    1. Thanks for the ideas Stacey. I have to run right now. I hadn’t thought of turning the rug the other way. I just felt that the whole thing was too close to the fireplace by about a foot. But, sometimes things are deceiving in photos. I did consider a lighter rug, but feel in this case, that something with some light and darker tones is a better choice because of the dark blinds.

  23. This is a great post, I love all the ideas you gave Janis. It makes me take a longer look at my own room/s and wonder where I might benefit from some of the same suggestions. You’re right, Janis does have a beautiful home – she’s done a great job decorating.

  24. I think the colour of her sofa’s are dragging the room down. At least that’s how they look on my ipad. To me, they just blend right in with her wall colour. Maybe the paint needs to be changed.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      Good point. And what I was touching on in Sunday’s post with too much sameness.(although those rooms have the necessary punch in every case) I think with more color on the pillows, I would add three to each sofa, it will make a big difference. And maybe a throw, as well. In addition, having a drapery with some color will add more depth. There really isn’t that much wall area. I did consider a change of wall color, as well.

  25. Thank you Laurel. Great post. We all hit the fatigue point! Love the ideas on the widget. I see the room a little differently. I would either move the rug to the dinning area, if it fits, or turn it length wise. I have a thing about sofas being ON the rug. The artwork shows a very modern twist, so I would balance out a little more modern with the blue/white accessories. Plus IMO that stone fireplace is screaming for some added organic fabric or accessories. LOVE the trees in fog. Wow. I could look at that every morning. Good luck Janis!!!

  26. Laurel you’re so helpful!! Love every post, the timing of each one is uncanny and feels like you’ve written them all just for me! :-))) I’m pretty much done with my huge home reno (new: kitchen, family room, mudroom, pool bath, office, playroom, —which was totally inspired by your “could my starter home be my forever home” post) at the finishing touches point, and am having a hard time moving fw with the small accents.
    one question that this post made me think of is:
    How big is too big for a top layered rug?
    I have a 12×15 jute rug and wanted to layer my old dash and Albert 8.5×11 rug over it…. haven’t yet attempted to move the couch off and try but in general— what size should the top rug be in relation to bottom?

    Thank you!!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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