Once we're aware of the different mind-sets of decorating-for-self versus decorating-for-sale, perhaps we can switch on the "seller" mentality before we're ready to part with a space. For each of the points above, here's a corresponding action you can take today.
- Decorate for Someone You Respect. It would be terrific if we overcame all our neuroses and began to esteem ourselves as much as we do random home buyers, but in many cases (no offense) that's just not realistic. Instead, imagine that one of your heroes is about to move in to your space. It could be anyone—Nelson Mandela, the Buddha, Cher, or all three—as long as the person would inspire you to create a welcoming, gratifying space. Today, walk through your home and notice what you would change if your hero moved in. Then make those changes.
- Shock the 'Rents. If your parents unfairly dominate your personal style, then, as soon as possible, introduce decorative statements into your home that would astonish or appall them. If buying a dryer would make them think you're hoity-toity, then spring for a towel warmer to go with it. If dad's a preacher, then hang nude figure drawings. If mom's a chic modern artist, then opt for homespun country comfort. Keep finding things you love that your parents hate, and you'll soon create a space that's yours, not theirs.
- Send Items from Limbo to Their Own Little Paradise. If an object you use sits in an awkward space for more than a day or two, then it's time to give it a home that allows easy access and a tidy look. Organization stores offer containers that are perfect for unanswered mail, incomplete scrapbooks, half-read books, and greenhouse clippings stolen from neighbors' gardens.
- Flip the Image. To get past decorating blind spots, try an old trick used by artists: Bring a mirror into a room, set it up so that it reflects the whole space, and study the reflected image as you would a framed photograph or painting. The reversed image reveals a space unfamiliar to the eye and brain, and problems that are so familiar they're invisible suddenly become eyesores.