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Monday, June 20, 2011

Finally A Diagnosis...

At first I thought it was a simple case of DADD aka design attention deficit disorder. My bigger concern was that it may be DP, aka design paralysis. I've only had symptoms of DADD before. It never lasts long. I've seen clients and friends suffer greatly from both and left untreated, it can result in some pretty sad rooms.

I've never had DP before since I am typically a very decisive person. However, the rooms in my own house were whispering a different story. I had to address it. So this past week, I was not on some fabulous vacation, but instead getting diagnosed and seeking treatment.

Analyzing my head. Poor guy, I better help him with the diagnosis.
The symptoms of DADD are moving from one room/project to the next before completion. Not uncommon in design, especially when you're waiting for any type of contractor work to be completed or custom orders to be delivered. Like I said, I've had this. It's not permanent, the symptoms always pass.

The symptoms of DP in my mind are far worse. Harder to treat. They require a willing participant, and a serious amount of intervention. They include an inability to make any design decisions for fear it is the wrong decision. The wrong color, pattern, size, etc...I've never had that happen to me. I prefer to move forward and indulge my love of design knowing that mistakes will occur. Yes, even people in the biz make mistakes. The difference is that we know that they are not fatal. EVER. It's usually my challenge to help others figure this out. To move them from their current state of paralysis to making the decisions that result in a space they enjoy rather than one they obsess over everything they dislike about it...everyday.

Diagnosis: design deranged.
 As I looked around my house, each room needed something, both major and minor. I realized this was not DADD or DP but something else all together. Why wasn't I able to get these rooms done??? After a few days of pondering this, it hit me. I had let myself slip into complete DD. I was design deranged. I'd had a break from design sanity. Simply put, I forgot to treat myself and my own house like any other project that I would do for someone else. Sure I had a plan, but it had a major flaw. I was starting to force these imaginary deadlines on myself that weren't needed. Typically design plans for a room have a deadline. Or at least a completion date projected. Houses with unlimited budgets have deadlines. My particular situation was different. What was my deadline? The next room? The next project? A party? And why was using the word done?

Design for most of us is a very solitary process. This was one of those times I wish I had a design partner or friend with equal (or more) experience to bounce ideas off.

Mary McDonald has Nathan Turner. She's lucky and he's a saint!
 And, then there is budget. I have one. They impose limits and delays more than any other single thing ever does. But, what I'd lost sight of is that it also creates challenges and creativity. I needed to change my mind set to eliminate the word done.  Even though completion is the desired result when working with clients. It's usually what they want and expect. Still, I never like to suggest something just to make do when I know it's not quite right. And, here I found myself trying to do just that. Most designers see their homes as design labs. It's in our DNA to make changes and adjustments more than than average person. The reality is that in designer speak "done" seems like an oxymoron or at least to me.

The therapy and self diagnosis worked. By the weeks end the creative juices were flowing again and things are starting to fall into place, little by little. And, the best part? I was reminded that it's okay not to be working on design daily and succumb to DS. You know, design saturation.

Sometimes, you really do have to stop and smell the roses. I had forget that step. I was too busy getting bogged down analyzing color, size, shape and all the little details that go into a room. I had denied myself the best part: the enjoyment and interest of imperfection and letting things unfold in due time.


  1. This was a hoot!!! OMG I have had those "ailments" at one time or another myself, DADD, DP and DS (though I wouldn't mind a little trace of DS right now) but right now I am suffering from another side effect, DO, the dreaded design overload. I am overwhelmed, confused and feeling a bit 'out of my league" with all the decsions I need to make. I am going to take your well heeled advice and stop, in my tracks for a day or two...stop and smell the roses, decompress, take a deep breath (many) and re center myself, start anew and allow myself a chance to breath from all the chaos that is stirring around me. Thank you Doctor for allowing me to recoginze the various ailments that have plagued me...if I didn't know better I would have sworn this was written about me you have lots more company than you think you might realize. Is there a 12 steps approach to this too? LOL.

  2. My sons tease me and say Mom, make a choice, just choose and then I feel the DADD, DP, and DS start to take is awful so thanks for the reminders to stop and smell the roses.

  3. Rebecca this post was both poignant and made me laugh with total understanding!! I too have periods DP and AP (Artistic Paralysis)!!

    Looking around my office I see the paint trim that needs another coat and the stack of paperwork to be filed; oh and wasn't I going to switch out the window treatment for spring and summer...on & on!

    Great advice to all of us!

    Art by Karena

    Be sure to enter my exciting Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica!

  4. LMAO....this was too funny. Laughter is the best medicine and this sure did help me today. You are NOT alone in all of these ailments, we feel your pain. As you realized, it get's better, hang on to that. Go smell those roses and smile. Have a beautiful day and may your creative juices flow.

  5. Rebecca you are speaking to the choir on this one. This happens to me, only in my own home too. Never a clients home, where the ideas flow freely without limitations. I literally have to do an almost out of body thing where I pretend I am a client and what would I tell them. I have learned never to force my creativity. We creative types are mood workers, or at least I am. So glad you got a proper diagnosis and you are on your way to being cured, happy monday!!!Kathysue
    PS if you ever want to bounce any ideas off of me send me an email< Kathysue

  6. I think all things go in cycles. Somtimes we're "on". Sometimes not. Sometimes everything in the house looks great. Another day it just looks sad.

    I think you're cure is the best idea...just go outside when the weather is nice. Smell the roses. Cut some and bring them in. Fresh flowers....I think, can cure just about any design dilemna!!!

    Hope you're "feeling" better now!
    xoxo Elizabeth

  7. I loved this post, laughing out loud as I read it, and delighted with the images. Thanks for brightening up my day. Reggie

  8. Yes! I think I'm suffering from the same thing as you Rebecca, so glad to know what it's called. You made me laugh with this post but I also realized it's true. Our home is never done and that's something I'm happy living with because who wants a finished home then I'll have to talk to mister Thanks for the laugh Rebecca!

  9. I have had a very similar train of thought, lately. I often wonder why a near stranger's home or even a friend's home seems so obvious but the "perfect choices" for my home are so elusive.

  10. Okay...that kitty-cat thingy scared the pants off of me! I turned around for a second, turned back, and that was staring me in the face...and right before bed too...thanks!
    Anyhoo (can you tell it's late?), when designing and building 24C...I think I had DADD the whole time! Not being a designer...and never having done anything like this before, I was paralyzed by indecision more times than I could ever count. Every square inch had to be figured out...EVERY SQUARE INCH! Talk about pressure...but with tons of prayer, and no sleep... we made it, I made it, and there are only a few little things I'd change, mostly though, I'm extremely happy with how it all turned out. The permanent things were the worst...totally paralysing, but in the was the 'gut' that saved the day, that and calling in a bit of help towards the end when I had no brain left...they were lovely hand holders and reaffirmed my gut for me.
    Glad you're back on track again...and remember, it's so normal, so hang in there, remember you have an awesome gut...and keep that pretty silver cup filled with roses.
    xo J~

  11. What a fun post describing a condition that I think all of us go through at one point or another. And I think you're right - you just need to step back and take a breather!! For me half the time it's just the pressure to make the decision that's so imposing!

  12. you are hilarious! AND totally relatable. If I had clients like myself I'd be insane. Can't wait to see how your design plays out!


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