STEP 1: FIND AND PIN INSPIRATION
Step 1 is truly where most people get paralyzed and they
stop before they start. Yes, you are likely a mix of styles. And yes,
mixing your mix of styles with a partner’s mix
of styles is indeed challenging (and brain melting). But it can be done and it
will make your home look more like your collective selves. Just know that all
styles can be mixed together if you have a consistent color palette.
Don't know your style? Go to Pinterest (it's a design life saver) and pin any room that you are really drawn to. Once you have 40-50 pins then look for commonalities.
Also, within this first step, you want to ask yourself what mood do you want to provoke? What you want your friends to FEEL when they walk through your door. Use expressive adjectives to answer that. Designing a room that is “exciting” is different than “calm.”
Ask yourself how you want it to “FEEL,” not just “look.”
The more contrast in colors and patterns in a room, the more energy it will have. The opposite is also true. A lot of contrast can look too busy, and no contrast (just neutral matching furniture) can often look boring.
STEP 2: CONSIDER YOUR FUNCTIONAL NEEDS
Ask yourself some questions to determine your true needs:
What are you going to use this room for? This determines the scale and comfort level of the furniture. Do you want blackout curtains? Do you want people to be able to lay on the rug? Do you want to worry about lemon and wine on your countertop ? How much storage do you need? How many people do you want to sit in here? Do you like to face the window when you are working?
Balancing style and function can be very challenging, especially when you have kids. Some rooms need to be multi-functional (for us our living room is our only family/tv room). It was so much easier before kids – but now comfort, durability, and storage are much more important to me. So if you are struggling know that you aren’t alone.
This may seem like common sense, but making a space truly functional is important for you wanting to actually use it. Try to give yourself a few pieces that are more statement-y and stylish, then ensure that all the others really work.
STEP 3: MEASURE AND KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS (AND OPPORTUNITIES)
This is the very important but boring part. Take measurements and do a simple drawing. I have not always done this and many “wrong” pieces have been returned because of it. Some rooms truly don’t need fancy renderings, but others do. Rugs, sofas, dining tables, and beds – you should know the ideal size of the big stuff before you shop. Take time to know what your opportunities and limitations are. Where is your junction box for your lighting? Where are your outlets? Can you do inside mount shades or only outside mount? Can you wall mount your TV?
Lastly, think about your budget. If it were a client we’d likely have this conversation earlier, but before you start shopping have a hard conversation with yourself
STEP 4: PICK YOUR COLOR PALETTE
Ah yes, the color palette. Now, this can be done earlier or even after step 7, but at some point you need to think about color palette. This is what will make your room have the energy and feeling that you want, plus ensure that it looks cohesive.
STEP 5: SHOP AND FIND YOUR “JUMPING OFF” PIECE
You’ve heard about the “jumping off point” on those old HGTV shows but it is actually super, super helpful. It doesn’t mean that you HAVE to have a big statement, but it’s just so nice to have something that you LOVE to start with. It could even be a pretty white tile for your bathroom or maybe that perfect shade of indigo that you know you want to paint the walls because you’ve seen it enough to be sure.
So whether you find your perfect “jumping off piece” or “a feeling” you know you want to evoke, start to shop and pin individual products. Think about your color palette and materials you want to use. Then once you have a bunch of shoppable products, head on to the next step.
STEP 6: CREATE YOUR “WORKING” MOOD BOARD WITH REAL PIECES AND START PLAYING
This is where the fun really begins, but it can be messy and that’s ok. You have your pinboard, sure, but now you need to see all the pieces together to make sure the room as a whole looks good. You can use Keynote and Google Slides. But the playing around should be easy and fast, and I promise it’s SO MUCH FASTER in Keynote or Google Slides.
STEP 7: START PURCHASING
We are getting so close to your beautifully designed room. Now, professional designers order almost everything at once, but that’s after rounds of edits and approvals. Don’t feel pressured to work that way!. If you are feeling less confident in your overall design, order the big stuff and build the room more slowly to ensure it’s truly working.
But before you purchase, make sure they will fit (tape off rug, bed or sofa on the floor). Nothing is a bigger bummer than finally getting your beautiful sofa delivered and realizing it can’t fit through the door. So, always check the specs (measurements) of a piece with an actual tape measure in your space, don’t just guess by looking at the online photo.
STEP 8: ACCESSORIZE, STYLE, PLAY, AND HAVE FUN
This is the REALLY fun part (or at least I think so). Once you have all of your main pieces in place it’s time to make the room special, full of soul, and unique to you. Know that things might change, mistakes will be made, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Put art in an unexpected place, frame an object in a clear box – really just play around with your lamps, pillows, books, decorative objects, etc. Well, there you have it. It’s not “hard” to design a room but it takes time and patience (and usually some money). But boy is it worth it when you get to come home to a space you love.