The 5-Second Rule…and Beyond

First impressions count.  We’ve all heard this cliché.  It’s a cliché because it’s so very universally true.  But it’s not only about the type of impression you make on others, it’s also about the impressions that people, places, and things make on you.  “Follow your instincts,” “trust your gut;” why are these common phrases so alien to us that we need to be constantly reminded to do what’s natural?

The bottom line is if it takes you longer than five seconds to decide if you like something, then you don’t like it.  It’s that simple.

Don’t force it.  Whether it’s a piece of furniture, a paint color, a tile, a faucet, or a pair of shoes, it should feel good, real, right, inexplicably correct, authentic and calming. 

Ah, I’ve found you.

If you have to convince yourself of any of those feelings, then you’re trying too hard and creating tension for yourself.  Let it go.

Of course, it doesn’t end there.  Not for me, anyway.  That’s just the first step.  I’m a designer, and so I respect your emotional reaction, but I want to know why.  Why do you feel that way?  I want to get into your head and understand what makes you tick, what attracts you and what repels you.  Can you pinpoint it?  It could take some soul-digging, and memory-searching, but it’s worth it. 

Just as songs and smells and certain places remind us of long lost loves, past tragedies or embarrassments, and childhood insecurities, so too do colors, shapes, patterns, and even furniture styles.

Does that shade of green remind you of the wallpaper you had in your room as a child that you hated?

  Designer: Hey, look at this fabulous shade of green.

                You: I hate green.

Designer: Why?

     You:  I don’t know, I just do.

Designer: You’ve got to give me more to work with than that!  Tell me about your childhood.

You: Mom always made me eat pea soup, which I didn’t like.  It was gritty and had chunks of ham fat floating in it, and she wouldn’t let me leave the table until I choked it down.  Then while I was away for a sleepover once, she redecorated my room and papered one of the walls the same color green as that awful soup.  I tried to get her to take it out, but she refused.  So not only did I have to endure eating something I hated; now I had to look at it all the time as well!

Designer: Okay.  Now I get it.  You were not able to control how your room looked, and it reminded you of something else you couldn’t control: eating something yucky.

Therefore, unconsciously, Green  =  powerlessness.

Does a tufted leather chesterfield sofa remind you of your grandfather and the flavor of pipe tobacco he liked best?

Restoration Hardware Kensington Chesterfield Sofa

                You: Oh, I love this chesterfield sofa!

Designer: Really, why?

You: When I was little I stayed with my grandparents during the summers, and they had a chesterfield sofa in their den.  Every afternoon, my grandfather would let me sit on his lap while he smoked his pipe and read the paper.  I remember smelling his pipe tobacco and dozing off and feeling so comfortable.

Therefore, chesterfield sofas  =  comfort, family, affection, security

Identifying your emotional response to something is like a signal, a key to a lock, a sentinel at the gate.  Understanding where it came from clears a path- for you and also for everyone in your life that needs to communicate with you.  When you understand why you really like what you like, it’s easier to surround yourself and populate your life with more of That, whatever That is for you.

May your week be filled with more chesterfields and less pea soup.