We’ve all done it. Bought that brand, new shiny something only to regret it the next day. I still remember buying pink wall paint. Hey it was the 90’s! I painted a small swatch on the wall. It looked bad, really bad, like Petpo Bismal. Now I am going to stop here and ask what would you do at this point? The normal person would stop. Clearly the paint is ugly. I kept going because, I thought that maybe once the entire room was painted it would look better. I think you know where I am going here It didn’t look better. It looked hideous.
What about the time I bought fabric to slipcover my sofa, and wasn’t sure about the fabric? You guessed it. I bought it anyway. I started making the slipcover. The more I sewed the more yucky it looked. I hated the fabric. It wasn’t ‘me’ at all. I was trying to fit in with what other people were doing. I had bought a ton of fabric. Oddly enough because I had bought so many yards, they allowed me to return it, but I had to pay a restocking fee. It was well worth it!
So how can you avoid buyers’ remorse?
Go with your gut.
If you have a ‘bad’ feeling about it. Don’t buy it! If you aren’t crazy in love with it, don’t buy it. My daughter was asking about a jacket she wanted to buy. She said she wasn’t sure she liked it. There’s your answer right there. If you aren’t sure, then pass. If my gut screams YES!!! and I can afford it, I am done. I buy it. If I am not getting a resounding ‘I MUST HAVE THIS’, I will think about it.
Don’t buy under pressure
If you are on a time crunch, and are feeling pressured this is a setup for disaster. If you can wait, then do. These scenarios rarely end well. Sometimes you find something awesome, but often we settle because we need something right away. Often we don’t HAVE to have it right away, but we think we do.
Do some research
Do some searching on Pinterest to be sure this is ‘the one’. Then search online and in local shops. Check pricing to be sure this one is priced in the ‘normal range.’ If it is super expensive, is there a less expensive option that fits your budget better?
Sleep on it
Sometimes I just can’t decide about a purchase. If I can’t, I sleep on it. Does it still sound like a good idea the next day? Sometimes I am even more convinced it is perfect, while other times, I feel meh about it the next day. If it is at the thrift store or consignment shop, I sometimes wait until the price goes down. Of course I know I am risking that the item might be gone.
Know your personal shopping style
Are you a leaper or a plodder? Are you more prone to purchase on a whim or do you carefully plan out each purchase? I know I’m a leaper so I have to stop myself when I want to buy something. I have a friend who is a plodder. She carefully weighs every buying decision. I jump into new decisions while she takes her time. Yes it’s obvious that I am prone to buy things without a lot of thought and therefore have to be careful about what I buy. But oddly enough she too has issues with buyers remorse. I think because she spends so much time researching decisions, she assumes the item is pretty perfect when she buys it, because she has spent so much time researching it. So her expectations are much higher than mine. Then when it’s in her home, she realizes it doesn’t work exactly how she imagined it would. Or she felt like she had covered all her bases, but then realizes when the thing is in her home that it has this flaw or that flaw.
And sometimes she decides she wants something only to find it is already sold. So that’s not buyer’s remorse, but remorse nonetheless. It’s a balancing act for sure. If it’s a small item and I didn’t overpay, I know I can sell it and get my money back. Or I can use it as a gift for someone who also loves home decor.
Visualize the room
Some people have an uncanny ability to visualize a new element in their home. They can picture exactly how it will look and rarely buy the wrong thing. If you aren’t one of those people, find someone who is. If you don’t have a friend who is gifted this way, then consider asking a professional designer or decorator for help on big ticket items. It may not matter on which accessory you buy, but for a sofa, you want to get that right.
Know your style
This is why it is so important for you to know your style. If you know your style, then you will hopefully know if the item will work with your style. If you don’t know the look you are going for, then how can you select items for your home? Just food for thought.
What about you? Do you often have buyer’s remorse? How do you handle it? How do you avoid buying the wrong thing?
Debra Matcovich says
Luckily most things you can return, like the three area rugs that were all wrong. (Grey is such a hard color. It looks blue, green,etc.). Sometimes in my case it takes a few days for things to grow on me. You know something new in a room, it looks funny to the eye at first..
suzanne ludwic says
You’re so right about knowing your style! When we moved to Florida we got rid of everything and started fresh. I was all over the place!!! One piece of furniture I bought came with free decorating services which I took advantage of. The designer said, “oh, I see where you’re going. You’re Key West elegant”. Go figure. With just those words in mind I was able to see what fit my style and what didn’t . It saved me from a lot of mistakes!
I’m a leaper for sure. A very impulsive buyer, BUT, I am gifted in knowing what would work with my style and what/where to put things. Great topic for a great bunch of designers who follow you!
Jo Wyrosdick says
Great advice. I have made many mistakes and learned from them. I am much more careful now. I am an artist and love to paint with color. However, I don’t always want so much color in my home.
Carla Beasley says
In my younger days I was branded “The Take-Back Queen” by my family, and I have to admit I earned the nickname. ? It wasn’t so much that I bought things impulsively—-I was painfully slow in making up my mind, but I would take the item home and decide it just didn’t work. So, back to the store it went. I think I have become more certain of my style as I have gotten older, so buyer’s remorse is a much rarer occurrence now.
So true on every point. Thank you, thank you.
Very good tips here. I’ve often had the impulse to buy, but somehow managed to not purchase because deep inside my gut was telling me it wasn’t the right thing. Impatience gets us all sometimes!
I too am somewhat of a “leaper”—I want to practice waiting more in 2017. Timely article.
Helpful tips and great reminders! Thanks
Thank you. Perfect timing as I’m finishing up a sunroom project and it is furniture time!
M Damen says
Buyer’s remorse is so disappointing. When you buy something that you think will be perfect and isn’t…. I am currently in the midst of removing all wallpaper in my entry way and texturing the walls and then will have to pick a paint color–yikes–it scares me–my entry way–the first thing everyone sees inside my home. So, any suggestions on how to go about picking a nice neutral color that will blend with the two rooms that funnel off the entry way? Or might it be better to change the paint color in all three rooms to coordinate–HELP!!
Patty Soriano says
I’m a leaper. But I’m at the point in my life where I need to get rid of stuff, which is hard for me. But I enjoy the treasure hunt at estate sales and thrift shops. So, I still go, but I can walk around with it in my cart deciding if I really want it or not. I often talk myself out of things and put them back on the shelf for the next treasure hunter to come along. I would love to have an outlet to resell many of these items, then I would rescue them from the shelves of oblivion for a life of love in someone’s home. 🙂
Jan Canales says
As always, your advice is spot on and much appreciated! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing, they are great tips. I am unfortunately a plodder 🙁 and miss out on some things that were great items that I realize later and now they are gone.
Chicki Atwell says
Very good article! Don’t think I have ever read one on buyer’s remorse. I am both a leaper and plodder. Just yesterday I visited 3 Goodwill stores just “to see.” Of course I bought stuff. But also at my favorite consignment the Waterford sherbets in my pattern were gone. I dithered too long. Woe is me! LOL.
Brenda Galiher says
I have been guilty of being impulsive.. but now I ask myself .. where in the world will I put it!! Less is best. It has taken me a long time to learn this.
Debbie Reynolds says
Great post, Anita. I am a researcher, wait 3 years, if necessary, to get just the right item kind of decorator.
And I still can get it wrong!
Thanks so much for this good post. I’ve had buyer’s remorse just a few times after I’ve purchased something and it’s not a good feeling.
I once let my sister talk me into a different sofa. Not just a different style ; an entirely different color. Talk about long term buyers remorse
Mary Ann says
I’m a leaper! And over the years it’s worked fairly well for me. But right now I’m staring at the worse case of buyer’s remorse I’ve ever experienced! A horrible sofa that I absolutely hate! At the time of purchase we were in a hurry and I was under some pressure from my husband (even though that’s not normally his way) and now we’re stuck for a while! Your tips are right on point , Anita! I learned the hard way!
I have said this again and again, if I don’t love it I pass. A lot of times I will put it in my cart and walk around with it. When I am done and I am still in love with the item and excited about it I then will get it. Sometimes, I will be glad I walked around with it because after while it just doesn’t do it for me after all!! If I am at a flea market and I am on the fence about an item, I will walk around a bit come back and if it is still there I buy it, if gone then it wasn’t for me.
We did buy a sectional sofa once and after while sorry because it really was too big for the room. There was no taking it
back. That was my lesson and a big one!!!
Candy Thomas says
I am too much of a leaper! That’s the type of shopper I have always been. Your advise about sleeping on it was very good counsel for me!!!
Yes, I think we have all been there at one time or another. Of late, I’m practicing thoughtful purchasing. Even if it is an antique, and I know it may not be there when I go back, I’m practicing the live with the thought process. I was out with a friend today, saw two items that I’d like, but left them behind. If I’m still thinking about them tomorrow or the next day, I might go back and see if they are waiting for me. If not, it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t need either. They would simply be adding to my collections, of which I have plenty. But…..they are both 40% off because the store is closing. Will see what my heart says tomorrow. ‘-)
MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says
Enjoyed your post, Anita! I am definitely “a leaper”! However, I always ask myself a few questions before I purchase — and especially if it is a “final sale” item! I have returned quite a few items which, once they came home with me, I realized that the item just didn’t need to live at our home! My husband often asks me “Now, where are you putting that?”!
I love to shop at antique shops and second-hand shops and always get something that I just can’t live without! If it is a piece of furniture, I usually have the shop owner hold it for me until my husband comes to look at it! We both love antiques.
I have had “buyer’s remorse” a few times over the years but never on a big ticket item — for which I am very thankful! Like you said, you can always find another home for the item!
I have a friend who just loves to come shopping with me! She, too, is “a leaper” and we have lots of fun when we are shopping. We always fill our cart and walk around a bit and then decide if it’s needing to come home! She tells me that “I’m a bad influence on her because I make her spend money!”.
Have a great weekend, Anita!
Great tips…some of what I term as fads I like and will buy…when I start seeing the same things over and over on blogs, I don’t want my home to be just like every one elses…and that fact alone keeps me from falling into buyers remorse very often…
I am both, depending on the item. If it’s clothing or decor that is something small and that I can return easily, then I may buy it and take it home to see how it looks in my room or on my body if it’s clothing. When it comes to larger items, I’ve had some bad buys with major remorse (a sofa), some great buys with extensive research (a mattress), and some great luck where something fit into a space perfectly (an open style bookshelf that fit into a space in my laundry room for storage) that I just stumbled upon at a consignment shop when I wasn’t even looking – I was taking in items of my Grandfather’s to sell!
The sofa was a major faux pas….I needed a new sofa and remembered some years before where I was staying with a friend out of town for a period of time and slept on their leather sofa and loved it. I slept on it, had meals sitting on it, typed on my computer, just about all my hours were spent on that sofa and I did like the softness yet support of the leather. So years later when I needed a new sofa I thought I’d try leather for the memories I had. Unfortunately, there was a couple things I had forgotten about…the leather was cold (atleast compared to cloth) so I had a quilt over it at all times which looked shabby and NOT in a chic way! Also, I had forgotten how because leather is slippery, I was always fighting to keep the quilt tucked into the cushions and along the back….at least a few times a day.
So as I wrote, I had forgotten all that and purchased a fairly pricey leather sofa. The minute the delivery men left I knew I had made a mistake. Not just for the above reasons, but also because it just didn’t fit my decor. It is a beautiful deep brown smooth Brompton leather chesterfield style, but what I didn’t think about at the showroom was I already have some dark wood furniture items and a rather small space. It just looked all wrong and oppressive. It was that one piece that screamed overkill on the dark colors! Mind you, it looked great in the dimly lit show room with other gorgeous items around it, but it just stuck out like a sore thumb for some reason in my living room.
And funny enough, as you said, I DID have a hint at the store that maybe this wouldn’t be exactly right . Also, it’s odd that before I even sold it I stumbled on the perfect cream colored organic cotton slip covered sofa and KNEW right away it was the one for me! I know…slipcovered white compared to dark leather is an extreme difference but it’s perfect. It looks so much better in my home, it’s warmer than the leather, and it was less expensive for sure.
Having shared all that, my tips to add would be:
1) Think long and hard about major furniture purchases. Often you cannot return sofas especially and you’ll rarely recoup what you spent even if you sell it.
2) Do not let nostalgia of a time and place gone by affect your decisions. Chances are your decor, needs, and lifestyle are different now. Take that into account!
3) there is rarely an excuse to NOT think long and hard about a large costly furniture purchase. Most large stores will have a style for months or even years to come. Sure consignment shops, estate sales, Craigslist etc will only have items for a limited time, but my advice would be stay away from those places until you have really explored your needs and emotions.
I had a bad habit of buying something because the sale price was so tempting. Too many times it was an accessory that I just liked. Once home I realized I had no place to put it or it didn’t fit my decor. I always would say “I can just bring it back or keep it for another time”. Well, sometimes it never got returned or a return ended up with me buying something else I didn’t want. No more! I can always find something else another time that I will love
Naomi S. says
Just a few months ago I suffered–and still am–some severe buyer’s remorse. Granted, it wasn’t a huge sum of money–around $100. but in my budget that’s a significant chunk. I saw a set of off-white feed sack drapes that were just what I was looking for to hang on my patio door window. They were the best price per pair that I’d seen, so I thought, “Great, this is just what I was looking for and I can afford them!” I sent for them, really excited to have found what I’d been wanting for months and months. Well, when I got them, they looked pretty good, but were quite a bit too long when I hung them and very stiff. Also, when the light came through them in the daytime they had a definite yellow cast which I did not like at all. So I tho’t I’d struck out and would return them not realizing that the company’s web-site states that it does not accept returns! Not enough research there, right?
Well, I was stuck and I’d bought four panels! So, thinking that washing them would help the stiffness, I decided to wash them. I assumed they’d still be too long, but I could hem them and I would just have to live with the color. So I put them through a cold-water wash and dried them on the lowest, lowest dryer setting I could. When I took them out of the dryer they felt much softer which I was pleased with, but I quickly saw that they were also about 2 feet!! shorter!! I could not believe it!
So, at present, I have two washed, shrunken, very soft, but too yellow panels, one of which is hanging at the patio door and two more unwashed, stiff, too long and too yellow in their package. I have tried and tried to brain-storm a way to use them, but at present haven’t come up with anything that works for me.
What were my mistakes with this? I think I bought without reading the fine print and I bought without seeing or touching or measuring which I couldn’t do since I bought on-line. Also, I was so excited about the price, it didn’t ocurr to me that
there was a reason they were so low. The company that sold them is a reputable on-line source, though, so I trusted, sight-unseen. I think my impulsiveness was the biggest problem, though. If I’d been less excited, I might have read the disclaimer! So there you go, you win some, you lose some! Thanks for the article, Anita; I needed it! Hopefully, it will keep me from any more such blunders. Anyone want some nice, soft grain-sack material to make a slip-cover? I’ll cut you a deal, but no returns!
Antoinette de Janasz Baxter says
I’m definitely a ‘plodder’ for big ticket items. I gets samples of everything – fabrics & finishes – whenever I am putting together a room. I also create a scaled floor plan so I know the sizes of the furniture pieces. That really helps prevent mistakes and buyer’s remorse! With accessories I’m much more of a leaper.
Excellent advice, all of it. Pinning it for me and forwarding to my DIL who is just beginning to decorate her first real home. So glad I can point her to you, a wise “femme d’une certain age.”
Btw, thanks for the wisdom in your birthday post today, Anita! Happy Birthday and may God bless you with many more healthy and happy trips around the sun!
Taste of France says
Great advice! I usually am a plodder, not very impulsive. But I change my mind. I often am solving a specific problem, and, while pondering over whether to buy something, I will rethink the situation and find a very different solution. My husband will get upset–“you said you were going to buy X!” But in fact, X would have been a band-aid, and, thanks to having done out-of-the-box thinking and changing my mind, I get a better result.
Good tips, especially on : ‘Do not buy under pressure’, I ever bought an item and was disappointed not to think about other important factors, but it became a valuable lesson … thanks for sharing these tips!
I nodded my head all the way through your post… I’m a combination leaper/plodder. Things have always worked out better in the long run, when I have leaped to a decision. The plodder part of me tends to overthink everything and then I just get confused and freeze…
Anyway, what I really wanted to ask you is, in one of your photos, there is a painting or watercolor. It really caught my eye. Are you an artist too? So much talent!…
No I didn’t paint those. I love them too! I wish I had that talent.
Great post. . .perfect timing!
I went out of my comfort zone and purchased a patterned shower curtain.
Once I hung it up, I realize the huge error I had made!
Oh, my goodness, luckily I could make a return the very next day!
I did keep the soft blue hued bath towels and purchased some new accessories.
I should have trusted my “gut”. . .
We’ve all done that Pat. But that goes with experimenting. Sometimes those risks end up being great ideas. But so glad you kept your receipt!!!
Michele M. says
Great post. Buyer’s remorse stinks! Have had it way too often.
Have to compliment you – I love that hand painted tea pot and that gorgeous dragonfly artwork – so so pretty, both of them. Have a fabulous weekend.
Aww thanks Michele!!!
When i first got married my husbands family had a great “connection ” to a store! I got talked into buying a heavy Mediterranean SET for the bedroom! God but I hated dusting those pieces! Heavy and dark. He got them all in the divorce. Same w the living room stuff. You’d think after 40 yrs I’d have learned but this husband wanted a couch, cheap! That thing is so blasted uncomfortable. When we move this time, it goes. I will do without until i can save for what i want. It is often very frightening to think of spending 2 grand and being wrong! I know it won’t be 7 ft long like the last one. It never fit well ANYWHERE!
Most people want a corner so 2 love seats work best. Great article!
Oh I think we’ve all been talked into dumb decisions. If only we had known to trust ourselves more.
So true, can say the first time i was barely 17 but this last time i was 66! Slow learner! Now ive wised up, somewhat, i buy my stuff used. Most of it from before 1950. When real wood was still King. I abhorre MDF. Some people include veneer but that has been around for centuries.
Your articles are so informative and fun! Thanks.
Loved the article! So many great points.
Luckily I am somwhere in between a plodder and a leaper. This comes about mostly from two things: 1. My budget is always quite small and I have to truly be sure I want the item and 2. Before I buy I have contemplated the look I want long enough that if “it” doesn’t work for the look, no matter how great the deal or how much “I think I want it”, it stays in the store. If it sells, I tell myself usually there’ll be another option just as good. 🙂
Because most of my accessories are thrift store or garage sale finds, I’m usually not out much money, but even those are clearly thought out. Big items like sofas have been with us for many years. And although we bought our LR furniture when our children were 2 and 4 years old (they’re grown with kids of their own now), we still have them…and they’re VERY light colored…not white but very light. Everyone thought I was crazy but I knew I wanted them then and I still love them…and they’re still in great condition because we were able to buy good quality at that time.
OK…so have I ever made a purchase I had remorse over? Oh yes! But thankfully I always ask about the return policy before I even consider buying….so I was “saved” on a few near mistakes.
When you know your style, what you love and how to achieve it, it’s much easier to purchase things your home needs. But take heart…even pro designers and decorators make mistakes once in awhile. 🙂