Allow me, just for a moment, to talk about the menu at The Cheesecake Factory. I’ve been twice, and not by choice. What I remember most of all is the sheer size of the menu. And not just for the cheesecake. The menu for EVERYTHING. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. After spending what felt like hours perusing my choices, I simply mumbled anything with chicken and dabbed my wrists with ice from my glass.

You can't see the spiral bound edge...too big to fit in the shot I guess.

You can’t see the spiral bound edge…too big to fit in the shot I guess.

Phase 4 of this series is a little bit like going to The Cheesecake Factory. When it comes to purchasing items for your abode, there are lots of choices – which is a nice way of saying there are TOO MANY CHOICES. The menu is too big. There are thousands of plain, white comforters. Really. I’ve looked.

Overthinking a design can be exhausting.

Overthinking a design can be exhausting.

Phase 4 is also a bit rough because you’ve now realized that all of the unexciting parts of a renovation such as asbestos removal, copper wiring, insulation, electric panels, water heaters, furnaces, permits, dumpsters, and anything containing the phrase ‘issue with the roof’ are expensive and, thus, the remainder of your already disgustingly unrealistic budget has dwindled significantly.

I strongly advise that you pick one specific person on which to place the blame. The good news is that you have LOTS of people to choose from, like the electrician, the head of your HOA, that snotty woman at Starbucks this morning who clearly thought she was better than you just because she brushed her teeth and hair and – of course – your parents, spouse and children. So go ahead and pick your target. I’ll wait.

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But the pain is all worth it because you now, finally, get to put all those long, late nights on Pinterest and Houzz to work. See?! You WERE right, no matter what your husband-who-would-die-without-you-unless-you-kill-him-first said. Some tips to keep you going. And sane. And sober.

Be Honest About The Difference Between Need and Want:

Of course we all want a brand new something (rug, headboard, three year-old who doesn’t take her shoes off the minute you start the car), but filling the needs of your space first will make feathering the nest with wants more defined. You NEED window coverings – unless you are supermodel Giselle – but you may not need a new set of cutlery. In fact, I can almost guarantee you don’t need new cutlery, but correct me if I am wrong.

Window coverings - yes.

Window coverings – yes. Cutlery – maybe no.

Be Brutal About What No Longer Serves You.

The chair from Aunt Gertie is sweet and sentimental; but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Letting go of an item does not erase the memory of the person, the moment it was bequeathed to you, or the good times you had in that chair (I meant reading stories to your children – get your mind out of the gutter!). Say goodbye to items that no longer serve a purpose and no longer make you truly happy.

Shop Around. And Then Stop.

Yes, look for great ideas on Houzz or Pinterest. Stroll through Target. Again. Page through design magazines for ideas. Shop online for coffee tables until you are blind with exhaustion. But. Then. Decide. I had a friend who bought a gorgeous wedding dress (I know, because I was there for the 6th shopping trip) and then kept purchasing bridal magazines and looking at other gowns. NO! You will make yourself crazy. And you just went through a reno, so chances of going over the edge are real. Once you find something you love at a price you can afford, buy it and stop there. I recommend to friends and colleagues to build up their Pinterest page with everything they think they want and then delete everything they are not going to purchase. Don’t be scared. Be brave and do it. And if you really can’t do it, then pin the ‘yes’ items onto a new page, which will allow you an uncluttered view of how your space is shaping up.

Imagine the money-making opportunity with this idea. Bazillions.

Imagine the money-making opportunity with this idea. Bazillions.

Use A Designer – Even If You Don’t Think You Can Afford It.

It doesn’t even have to be me. Really. But a designer is a secret weapon because he or she is more obsessed with your space than you are, wants to make you happy, has loads of suppliers and contacts, and might be able to score you a better deal on items than you can negotiate solo. And designers will work with you on time and budget if you tell them your thoughts up front. If you just want someone to give you an overall design for a room, say so. If you want to do the bulk of the buying and designing but need help with accessories, that can happen. Even a small investment with a professional will reap big rewards. And most designers are OCD (or so I’ve been told), so even when you’ve technically finished the job, a good designer is still thinking of you. And your dining room. And how great a firepit would work in your yard. And what kind of cutlery would shine in the kitchen drawer. It’s a sickness we have; use it to your advantage.

Neiman Marcus always gets it right.

Neiman Marcus always gets it right.

Tell the Truth.

If items arrive and you don’t love them – and I mean love love – not sort of like with the lights dim and a half a bottle of chardonnay in your system – send it back. Don’t use impulsive purchases as a way to soothe your ego. Things look different in real life; even Giselle. So if the ottoman you thought would be perfect in the living room looks like it belongs in a dollhouse, admit it, return it, and move on.

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Do your homework first to make your home work easier. See you next time at The Neighbor’s House!