The Paradox of Choice Part 2: Making a choice


As discussed in part one, the main problem with having so many choices is the stress that comes in making the wrong decision. In the past you had to decide if you wanted your coffee black, or with cream and or sugar. Now if you just have sugar, do you want honey, agave, Splenda, Sweet n Low, Equal, raw sugar or regular sugar? Do you want half and half, 2%, 1%, soy, almond? And that’s just your basic coffee. We’re not even getting into iced, hot, extra hot, syrups, foam, sizes, etc, etc, etc.

So our head is already spinning from decision fatigue and we haven’t even had our coffee yet. Why would one choose to take on the massive bundle of decisions that come with building a custom home? As someone who designs custom homes (and likes to eat and pay my mortgage) choosing to design your own home is a great decision. You just have to be prepared for the choices that are coming. Here are a few tips for dealing with these choices:

  • Know that the world will not end if you make the wrong choice. Think of all of the fixtures and materials in your home. You may have a few pet peeves, but chances are there are things you don’t even notice. The door hardware may not be what you would pick out if you had the choice, but you probably don’t even notice it on a day to day basis.
  • On that note, take stock  of your current home. Think about what really drives you crazy. For me, it’s that in my condo you can see the toilet from the dining room table. If I am ever able to design my own space, I will go to great lengths to make sure there are no situations like this. But we don’t have cabinet hardware, and that doesn’t bother me at all.
  • Enlist help from your friends. Put a call out on Facebook about people’s experiences with appliances, how different floors hold up to pets, etc.
  • Decide up front what the most important elements are, and that you want to have control over those elements. If you don’t care about, say, sinks, your designer will know you general style and can pick out a choice or two for you to pick from. There’s no reason to get decision fatigue looking at dozens of sinks and have little time or energy left to pick out the things you really care about.
  • Look for limiting factors to help narrow down your choices quickly. Maybe you don’t want to take the time to keep fingerprints off of stainless steel appliances. Undermount sinks are just not in your budget and you have never really noticed them anyway. Done.
  • Do you have the time to spend? If you do, give yourself limits: I’ll spend one hour looking at sinks. Narrow it down to a few choices, then sleep on it. Go back, and make a decision. If you have more money than time, your design will love to do this for you. If you’re worried about the amount of time, set a limit.
  • Leading up to the interiors decisions, over a few months or weeks, create a mood board using whatever method suits you-bookmark pages of the internet, use Photoshop to collage images, order samples to physically put together (your designer or architect can help with this), find pictures from books or magazines. Go through it and note what you like and don’t like about the picture. Even if you can’t articulate exactly what materials or style you want, your true desires should come through.

Resources for example photos: