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Error Mode 2: Overemphasizing Conceptual Value
Bruce has a dazzling apartment, but no one wants to be in it.

While the stark modernism of his furniture is striking, sitting on it is about as comfortable as being repeatedly struck in the backside. Bruce's art collection (enormous full-body photographs of an elderly man wearing only a hat) is dreamlike, but not in a good way. Even Bruce feels uneasy in the space. However, because the concept came from a designer he respects, Bruce grits his teeth, keeps his eyes off the full Monty, and thinks he is living well.

Conceptual value comes from what we know about an object rather than what we experience with our senses. It's what makes Grandma's wedding ring more precious to us than an identical ring owned by someone else's grandmother, or what turns snapshots of loved ones into precious treasures. It also makes many of us stretch our budgets to buy designer-name items or shop from high-end suppliers, since a lowlier design or store tag makes us fear being déclassé.

If everything in your home has to be explained or identified to impress you or your social circle, then get out of your mind and into your body. What does your skin feel when you touch a certain fabric? What about it makes your eyes widen? What scents and flavors make you sigh? If such things happen to have historic significance or designer labels…well, that's fine. But don't make choices based only on concepts in your head—it's your whole body that lives in your home.


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