The cure for furniture fixation

Start with an empty space!
Find design inspiration by removing all of the furniture from a room and starting fresh. Photo by Alyssa Wagner.

We all get stuck in a design rut sometimes.

You know the telltale signs: your space feels monotonous, the furniture has never been moved, and your pictures are practically cemented to the wall…

We get attached to the way things are, but in the process, we lose the fresh energy that a newly rearranged space can give. The good news is, you can absolutely break out of that dull design state—all you need is a blank canvas!

So how do we start? Hear me out: by moving everything out of your room. Yes—EVERYTHING! Why is this important? Well, let me introduce you to a term I learned about problem-solving wayyy back in my college days called fixation.

Fixation is the inability to see a problem from a new perspective; essentially, it’s the human tendency to try solving a problem the same way over and over again—we tend to get stuck in one mental set.

So, if you’re looking at your space with all the current items in it, likely in the way you’ve had it set up for the last two, five, even ten years, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to come up with a new or creative way to use the space. Whereas, an empty room will encourage you to think outside the box of what you’ve done in the past.

The empty room “before.” Lauren Figueroa courtesy photo.

So—grab a few friends, move that furniture out, and start with your beautiful blank canvas! Then, you’ll be able to take in the space alone and let yourself reimagine what could be.

Now you’re ready to start redesigning! Look for items from other areas of your house that could be moved into your empty room. Think about pillows, end tables, even sofas and artwork that you might not have thought of putting there before.

Once you’ve got some pieces to work with, begin moving things back into the room. Try your items in a variety of places, especially in spots they’ve never been. This will not only breathe new life into your space, but it will also help you think more intentionally about what additional items you may need to purchase in order fill out the new room, as well as the other spaces you may have borrowed from.

Mostly, have fun with it and don’t be afraid of messing up. Sometimes the most beautiful designs come to life when we give ourselves the freedom to play!

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