With all this freedom, my creativity has been dying

Here’s a word problem for all the math whizzes out there: What does a growing to-do list, plus less free time, multiplied by a strong urge to continue home improvements equal?

Insanity. It equals absolute insanity.

This insanity, for me, has manifested as an inability to make any decision that doesn’t involve caring for my 4-month-old infant. That sure doesn’t stop me from trying, though. I feel like I’m riding a carousel of madness as I cycle through my to-do project list, take a week or two researching options I have to carry out said project, get exhausted by my options and try to move on to something easier.

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Take, for example, the kitchen backsplash I’ve had plans to install for an embarrassingly long time. The issue is, I can’t decide which tiles I like. Do I go bold and moody with a shiny, deep-green subway tile? Or do I want to splurge with a more handcrafted look with Zellige (an imperfect type of terra cotta) tiles? Or, perhaps a funkier pattern would make a statement?

As you can probably gather, I tend to overthink things, and making decisions has never been my forte. It’s tough, too, when I’m making decisions that are more permanent — and, by proxy, more expensive.

Theresa "Tess" Bennett  [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

Theresa “Tess” Bennett [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

A few weeks ago, I came across an interview on Sheer Luxewith designer Sarah Peake, who was discussing her design style and ethos. She said: “If you ask me, art lives in constraints and dies in freedom.”

Whew! If that didn’t hit the nail on the head. At that moment, I realized a big part of why it was so hard for me to make decisions: I wasn’t setting strict-enough parameters for what I wanted. Sure, a budget helps set up a constraint, but it’s not enough to combat the never-ending choices available online. My tastes certainly don’t help, either, since I like such a broad range of styles. Even the color palette in my home is open to numerous options.

Ms. Peake was right: with all this freedom, my creativity has been dying.

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Since I read that quote, I began to think about other parameters I could give myself. I’ve put a lot of thought into not only color schemes and pricing, but also the mood I want to convey. Creating mood boards on Pinterest has helped me visualize what everything would look like put together.

So far, I’ve found focusing on creating a mood rather than sticking with a certain style is just restrictive enough to help me dial down my eclectic tastes, but not so limiting that I’m forced into one specific look.

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I think it’s paying off. I’m proud to announce that after dreaming about limewash paint since we’ve moved into our house about three years ago, I’ve finally taken the leap and ordered — drumroll, please — paint samples. Please, hold your applause.

This is a big move for me, people. It means I’ve not only narrowed down my color choices, but I’ve also actually decided on one color to move ahead with. I feel rejuvenated in my design endeavors, and it’s all because I set limits for myself. Who would have thought?

Now, let’s hope I make it far enough to order actual cans of paint.

Email your questions to Theresa “Tess” Bennett at [email protected] and keep up with Tess on Instagram @homewithtess

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Don’t overthink things on interior design

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